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Dominic Fields

The smoker

0 · 600 views · located in The Haven Universe

a character in “Live Together or Die Alone”, as played by VindicatedPurpose

Description

Name- Dominic Fields

Age- 24

Gender- Male

Physical description- Dominic stands at exactly 6'0", his hair is a brownish red, kept short from his military buzzcut days. He has a lean build, which was maintained prior to the outbreak through military regimentation. Even after the outbreak, however, Dominic did what he could to stay in shape, especially as a hunter of Upton. He has thin lips despite his loud voice. He has very visible laughter lines that surround his mouth and run to his chin.

Since coming to Upton and later Haven, he has not shaved as much as he used to in the Forces, so occasionally he might let a beard slip by. His eyes are a sharpened green. If they had their way, he could have commanded the whole army with them, or at least be an actor. His eyebrows are thin, and his pale skin is often left unprotected from freckles and the sun. Some also say he has a big forehead, or bigger than average forehead.

He escaped from Keswick wearing a T-shirt and military fatigue pants.

Biography-

Dominic Fields was born on January 7th, 1989, to Roland Fields and Halie Fields (nee Lavelle). Dominic grew up in Keswick and had a decent education. He was never the under-achiever, but never the over-achiever either. The modern education system failed to captivate him, and at around the age of 17 he was still unsure what he wanted to do.

At the time, there was already much in the news about the conflicts in the Middle East, not to mention the economic distresses that were starting to occur. Dominic decided to enlist once he turned 18, after he had given some thought to it. His parents were just glad that he found something to do. Despite the fear of danger if he was ever sent to the frontlines, they still supported him and wished for his welfare.

He joined the 2nd Battalion of The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment or the LANCS. The unit moved to Cyprus in August of 2008 where he completed basic training.

The 2nd Battalion saw the longest operational tour in Afghanistan in contemporary history from August 2009 to October 2010. In that tour, as Dominic recollects, he matured as he was elevated to the rank of Corporal. He killed other people, but he also saw friends die. There were many close calls with death, as he was exposed to small arms fire, rockets, mortar, artillery fire, and IEDs.

The loneliness and to an extent, the stress, made him take up smoking.

In May of 2013, Dominic was on leave. He and a number of soldiers from the LANCS were welcomed back by crowds in Cumbria. That was one of the most relieving moments of his life.

Three months later, the viral outbreak swept across Europe and the Isles. Dominic lost his parents to the infection as he tried to save them. He had to kill them himself, and then he was on the run from Keswick, trying to make it to the Antonine Wall where Prime Minister Cameron said that HM Government would be retreating behind. Unfortunately, he ran out of supplies before he reached the wall. Luckily, he was taken in by a fellow named William Rand, whose father owned a stately home called Upton Abbey where they provided refuge for a number of surviving locals. He joined a group called the Hunters, who were responsible for hunting game, scavenging supplies from the region, and fighting off zed to ensure their community did not starve or die from the stiffs.

After Upton was overrun in early November, Dominic escorted Elizabeth Rand and her son Eric Rand to Haven, which was the only remaining safe place in Cumbria aside from Eden Valley.

Skills-

As a soldier who served in the frontline in Afghanistan, he developed his marksmanship skills. He learned how to use a map, compass, and first aid supplies. He was a local of Keswick, but he never really knew much about Cumbria, and Afghanistan was a completely different setting than Cumbria.

He can follow orders to the letter, but he may also be a bit unaccustomed to civilians, unsociable even. Back at Upton the only people he could really trust were the Rands, Finley, and Rory. He's still young though, so at times he may lack better judgment.

So begins...

Dominic Fields's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Tilo King Character Portrait: Callie Winters Character Portrait: Jonathan Monroe Character Portrait: Dominic Fields Character Portrait: Richard Brand Character Portrait: Ken Rand
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I Think This Is Yours

Wednesday - November 5th, 2013


0900 Hours

“It’s been pretty dead around here Tilo so I was thinking it might be time to call in with the Rands. You said you wanted first crack at it so here you go. We don’t know much about them except they’re pretty much all locals and know the area like the back of their hand. We’ve had some reports from runners that they aren’t too friendly but all that info is in the briefing pack. Head over there and see what you can learn.”

Tilo nodded, "Right, I'll see what I can find."

Callie walked over to the map and pointed to Upton Abbey. “They’re holed up here, Upton Abbey, it’s a bit of a trek but the road should be safe enough and not too strenuous. I hear it’s an old stately home so the place might be of interest to you.” Callie said with a hopeful smile.

"Accurate as ever milady," Tilo returned the smile.

The school teacher was one of the nicest women Tilo had come across, she had this seemingly infinite ray of hope, if he could call it that. Perhaps it was prior her work with pre-pubescent children that gave her a sanguine demeanor.

“The place is owned by an old guy called Kenneth Rand, he’s a rich guy, like has a butler rich. William was his son. We don’t know much else about the family but I’m sure you’ll find out more once you get there. Keep your wits about you though, could be walking into the Texas Chainsaw massacre for all we know.” Monroe was sipping the tar black coffee as usual.

"I'll keep that in mind."

The way the two managed the 'command post' seemed almost picturesque. On any given day it seemed as though Callie would be up and about, and Monroe would be at the table seated in his poorly crafted chair, sipping the same deeply odorous black coffee, the beans of which many have wondered about the origins.

Between the two men, there was a level of agreement. Tilo acknowledged a silent respect for the man who served in Her Majesty's forces. The training that Monroe gave around Haven was essential to their survival, and Tilo never complained. For his part, Monroe knew that Tilo was a book person, but he had seen the old professor return physically unscathed and in one piece from several sorties. However, the soldier saw through that and had seen the mental and psychological toll it had taken on the old man. As a soldier, Monroe had been through those, and perhaps he knew that a civilian had a lower level of tolerance when it came to matters like this. Monroe had tried to instill resilience in them. However, not many of them had seen death on the scale that Monroe had, so he just tried, not expecting to train people to become desensitized.

Tilo was about to leave when Callie stopped him. “Your briefing pack.” Callie said with a smile as she handed the older man the notes and map she had prepared for him.

1500

Tilo decided to set out after lunch. He had spent most of the morning in his room writing on what pieces of stationary he could find. He was writing a chronicle of sorts, a history, of Haven and the zombie apocalypse.

Up to about Manchester, I'm still surprised that I managed to make it from Colchester to the Lakes. It must have been a miracle if anything.

He stopped with his current direction of progress. He was still alive, he realized, and he wasn't telling the stories that needed to be told. He reached for the pen again.

We were visiting Hamilton's retreat, a luxury resort of sorts situated in the Lakes. It was in the countryside among the hills, secluded from the world for the elite. They came and enjoyed the outdoors that the resort offered. By the time we came, it was already perhaps weeks into the apocalypse. The place no longer resembled old world elegance, which was very common among many buildings.

He wrote on for minutes trying to pour what detail he could.

We had cleaned out what we could find in the kitchens and were searching the West wing for any survivors. No progress was made, until we heard a sound coming from the East wing and immediately ran to the source of the disturbance. When we came we heard a single shot from a firearm and then we saw a zed stumble backward out of a doorway with its head gone. And that was where...

------

1540

His first mission alone. Before he left, he made a checklist of everything that he needed. He gripped the sawn off in one hand, and the other held onto the map, while the compass watch was strapped to his wrist. The torch and first aid kit were inside his knapsack as was a couple of pages of stationary, while the radio rested snugly inside the pocket for drinks. The binoculars dangled by a strap around Tilo's neck. The hatchet was holstered in his jeans' strap. He looked at the map once in awhile at junctures to determine his location and where he was headed.

The walk was silent and solitary. Birds and squirrels were present; they were scarce though. The snow was starting to grow thick. Clumps of it were now nestled on the branches of the oaks and ferns that dotted the Lakes. The Lake District consisted of many u-shaped valleys carved out ages ago by glaciers, leaving behind lakes and streams within the giant crevice of green lands.

Tilo had never been this close to nature since he spent most of his life in a borough close to the big city of London. It was a new experience for him, as was this entire journey from his home to the Lakes. He had endured, seen much, and done much. Before as a professor, he lived among his books, his family, and his colleagues. However, the natural world was something else entirely. For some unknown reason, he felt as if he was naturally equipped to enjoy nature and everything about it.

At the same time though, he was very much aware that the next turn might be a slippery slope into a pit of festering undead. Around the next bend might be a dying man. Past the tree line in the distance would be bodies mangled beyond recognition shuffling back and forth. He was also aware that nature was still dangerous in itself with quicksand pits like those in Morecambe Bay that he had heard of from scavengers coming from directly south of the Lake District. And yet...above all this, nature watched on with indifference, or perhaps pity on the human race.

Tilo re-opened the pack of briefing notes and quickly skimmed through once more like he had done after breakfast.
Haven was going through some minor tumult at the moment. All Tilo knew was that this mission required him to be a diplomat. He settled disputes among people before, his family, students, and fellow professors. This, however, was something different.

"Keep your wits about you."

If Tilo had forgotten anything that Monroe had ever said, this would be the only thing he did not. This was an entirely different field of play, he believed he might find himself bargaining, or negotiating. He wasn't sure what assets Haven had in comparison to the Rands, and this worried him. He feared his position would potentially be lower than the other party, which meant he would have to work very hard to gain leverage.

If he secured the aid of the Rands, though, life along the Lakes would be less burdensome, he thought. He imagined both sides coming together and cooperating in order to survive, perhaps jointly with the Caravanners as well. Haven would no longer just be the name of the farm, but a description of the Lake District.

Then he remembered the brown leather wallet which he kept in his back pocket. It was the first time in days that he had looked through the wallet since he came back from Hamilton resort and handed it to Callie and Monroe for safe-keeping. He pulled it out and looked at the image of the boy. He sat on a bed of grass, with the trucks and cars beside him, staring back at Tilo. He resembled his father in so many ways. He had these bright blue eyes and short dark hair, and his smile was brave. What's his name? How old is he? Does he remember his father? Does he know where his father is now? Does he miss his father?

His ponderings were disrupted almost immediately as he reached the edge of a small hill among a range of others. And below, at the base of the hill were five zeds. They seemed to be wandering somewhere, recently turned no doubt, as they sniffed the air with the ferociousness of a canine. They clamored and moaned in indistinguishable grunts and huffs. They snarled like rabid dogs. And just as they glanced up the hillside, Tilo ducked back into the brush and snow to avoid being sighted. His breath increased; he was afraid that they had already detected him with their heightened sense of smell had they not caught him with their eyes.

He tried to think of a plan to get around the zed. His sawn off was not really manufactured for marksmanship, but for blowing wide holes close range at least that was what Monroe had told him. He had never actually fired the armament to know, and they never practiced with live rounds. Maybe he could fire away into the distance, but that would only turn their attention to him. Perhaps he could disguise himself as a bush with snow and sneak past them. It was bullocks for an idea. Perhaps he could go around them, but they would still remain on his return trip, or perhaps move off somewhere and catch him off guard. He needed to remove them permanently, not temporarily. There was nothing in his sack for this kind of encounter, it was all wits.

Quickly thinking, he noticed several rocks and pebbles that were not covered by the snow. He wondered whether they would make a loud enough sound to distract the stiffs if he threw them somewhere. That would only lure them away, he dropped that idea along with the pebbles. He set aside the sack, and the shotgun in order to get a closer look.

Tilo got on the ground and crawled on the damp, cold ground until he was over the edge again, he peered down to see the zed still milling about. It was a very different sight for him. When he was on the run from Colchester, the zeds and stiffs just looked like one massive throng of flesh and hands and dirt and blood rolling about, smashing through everything like a tidal wave. This was different, they looked nonchalant, standing almost like statues. A red squirrel, an insignificant creature, slipped past them. But Tilo had seen them, once they hear the sound of a living human, they would wake like predators.

Two had distanced themselves from the group, they wandered alone. The other three stood still as ever. Tilo looked around for any slopes leading up to where he was, and there was only a single path. He reared back, returned to the shotgun, and un-holstered the hatchet from his jeans. Then from there, he grabbed a sizable pebble from the ground. He hoped that he wouldn't have to go out in this manner.

The pop on the head was enough to turn their attention up the slope, and their disfigured faces cried out with a wrenching screech that made Tilo's hairs stand on end. He almost froze for a second, just as they clawed their way up the slope, almost flinging themselves at him. He aimed the shotgun carefully at the closest one, pulled the trigger, the head shattered into bits smeared on the ground. Then he aimed at the next one, fired, the blast sliced through its arm, but it continued its ascent. Another one thrashed about on its way up, Tilo reloaded while trying to maintain composure.

Sweat began its buildup underneath the many layers he had on. He fired again; the bullet almost missed the thrasher as it seared through the top half of the zed's head, but it was enough to incapacitate it. Two more twitched and jerked with their unnaturally bent arms and festering flesh wounds running from the top of their skull to their discolored torsos barely covered by their half ripped clothes. He fired one shot at the first one, the pellets did not penetrate as deep, so the stiff continued coming. Tilo had almost missed the next reload as he twitched with his unsteady hands, they were getting closer, a few feet from him. He fired again, the lower jaw was severed along with the neural connection. The other one managed get within several feet of Tilo, he fired a round, he missed narrowly. The thing had its hands nearly at the crest of the hill. Tilo dropped the shotgun and ran back to grab the hatchet from the ground just as it lunged at him with its arms. Tilo spun around and screamed almost with a warcry and swung the hatchet with all of his might, the blade went cleanly through the neck of the walker, its blood content and other fluids spraying into the cold, damp air of winter. The other one that had its arm blown off finally ascended to the top and flung itself at him without balance and stumbled over.

Tilo looked down at it, and then for some reason he remembered William Rand.

With both of his hands he used the hatchet like an axe and smashed apart the zed's head.

"Fuck you!" he cried out each time he axed wedges into its deformed neck and skull. He made sure that each cleaving blow, each was for Toby and William, drove straight through the flesh and into the ground. He probably did that about six or seven times, or to the point where the head was no longer a recognizable skull, but simply pieces of meat wet with blood. The snow bled red that day.

Then he fell back against a tree, and he tried to breath as the cold air scratched against his throat. His head ached slightly, and the muscles in his arms, shoulders, and back were warm. His hands were shaking as if he had a mild form of Parkinson's, but it was probably just the adrenaline. In his mind, if there were anymore zed around, this was their chance to strike. He was done.

"I'm sorry guys," he spoke to himself while trying to breath and trying to swallow what little saliva he had.

"I'm sorry, I wish I was there," he said, he wanted to cry so hard. It felt as if it was no longer just his hands, but rather his entire self was shaking. The cold provided no comfort.

Then he turned his head slightly as if he was speaking to someone else standing before him at the edge of the crest, "If we had went through the East Wing first, we could have saved you. I'm sorry mate. I'm so sorry."

------

1645

England was a beautiful land. Tilo traversed through the valley and continued on the main road to Upton Abbey. He finally reached the great country house of the Rands, Tilo did not really have any expectations other than to admire the home for what it once was. Colchester lacked many great houses, most had been ruined through disuse and disrepair. By the time the National Trust took over, most of the old manors had ceased to exist, those that still survived were dilapidated and had to be renovated. In Colchester, only the ruins of the nave of St. Botolph's Priory remained, the original structure was ruined in the siege of Colchester in 1648 during the English Civil War as Tilo had read.

Tilo entered the grounds, which was a patchwork consisting of woods and streams that melted away into paved roads that led directly toward the manor-like home. The exterior remained almost untouched, perhaps even modernized as a result of Kenneth Rand's ownership. It looked restored, Callie had said it was old, and Tilo expected it to be in disrepair like most remnants of aristocracy. However, the professor realized that he needed to venture inside to confirm or disprove his thoughts.

Tilo radioed in to headquarters, "Is anyone there?"

He tried adjusting the frequency to clear up the static, until he heard a familiar voice reply, "Yes, who is this? Over."

"Callie is that you? Eh...over."

"Yes, Tilo is that you? Over."

"Yes ma'am, I've reached the grounds, relatively unscathed, over."

"Good, we hope for your success. Come back with whatever you can. Callie out," a slight zip of static ended her message.

Come back with whatever you can.

It was so little, yet so much.

------

1700

A marksman with a long bandage across his forehead sat on a window ledge of Upton Abbey's third floor smoking, with his rifle standing by his side. He spotted a figure moving about quickly through the grounds, he was clearly not a walker. The sniper quelled the small ember of his cigarette, and proceeded to flick the fag out the way before he scoped out the man with his rifle to determine his identity. He did not recognize him as part of their group, but he noticed that the man was holding a sawn off shotgun, carrying a knapsack, and clutching a map. The sniper wondered what business this lone man had with them, them being "The Rands."

Ever since the local community came under the sheltering of Kenneth Rand and his refurbished manor, everyone considered themselves as part of the minor magnate's extended family. Now wheel-chair bound, he seemed sage-like in wisdom and appearance at times, though the latter often gave way to people believing the existence of the former. His son William inherited leadership over the dynasty and thus they provided stability in a world that was no longer familiar. His disappearance days ago in the midst of a trek began to stir up rumors among the inhabitants inside the walls of the country house. Given the fact that the townspeople were now holed up inside of the Rand estate, they did not have much to do except maintain order, scavenge and forage for food items and supplies; and hopefully survive through the apocalypse so that they could return to their homes.

With the establishment of nearby groups such as Haven, and the Caravanners, the townspeople of Upton Abbey had to identify themselves. Rather than call themselves 'Upton Abbeyites', they decided to rally behind the banner of the businessman and his son.

"Oi mate, we got a live one comin' through the old gate. He's armed with a...sawn off. He's got a sack...and I think a map," the marksman said to his fellow brother-in-watch, a younger lad, who was sitting nearby against a piece of cloth draped furniture. He was leafing through one of the many volumes that belonged to one of Upton Abbey's libraries.

The fellow looked up to his comrade, "Alright I'll run down and tell Mr. Rand."

They would have liked to call him 'Sir' for his contributions to the nearby towns and charities; and his altruistic decision to harbor them. However, the old man refused, simply stating that it was his duty as an Englishman. Whenever there was an issue the people always conferred with the old businessman. As of late, however, a group of hunters known as the Gang of Five, led by Richard Brand, had gone rogue. Rogue in the sense that their ringleader began to challenge the Rands' authority. They included James Hanover, Neil Froggat, Lewis Stuart, and Abel Speleers. Though Richard had easily taken advantage of the charity the Rands offered; he became increasing belligerent. He managed to gain a following among the four other men that he went out hunting with. William, and to an extent his wife Elizabeth, had to police them. Elizabeth was educated, but she could only do so much without William around to enforce it. Politics...it was a British past time, a 'noble art.'

Of course that was not to say that the Rands did not have allies, among them included the Wilsons, a couple married for some thirty years, they were around Kenneth's age. The husband, Ian was a carpenter and the wife, Valerie worked in the kitchen, their children lived in London and Manchester. They lost contact with their children, and had prepared for the worst. Rory Bennett, a twenty six year old, was perhaps the last surviving member of his family. He was nowhere near a younger brother, but he was a bit old for William to have considered him like a son. He simply conferred onto the lad a relationship that was similar to mentor and student.

The McInnisses, a family of four from Scotland, were on vacation when the undead began to rise; they were a sturdy folk and had spent much time in the outdoors. Finley McInnis, though a hunter, was more aligned with William and less with the rambunctious clique. Claire McInnis, and the daughters Isabel and Sidney both of whom were in their twenties, often went out with the hunters to get supplies. The Aldens consisted of couple Ewan and Talisa, and Talisa's sister Flora. They were city folk from Carlisle, the largest population center in Cumbria. There was also Dominic Fields, a corporal in the British Army who was on leave from the last brushfire conflict that the UK had devoted manpower to. He was one of William's trusted aides, who recently injured himself on a mission and had to be bandaged up due to the bruises. Then there was Sandra Hargrave, a middle aged woman, who was Kenneth Rand's caretaker and had lived in the manor prior to the outbreak. She had a husband who lived in a local town, who many claimed to have succumbed.

Rory Bennett ran down the stairs to find Mr. Kenneth, along with Ian and Sandra sitting in the saloon watching little Eric playing with his trucks.

"Is something the matter Rory?"

------

1710

The topiaries that lined the pathways grew abundantly, they no longer resembled whatever fauna they were meant to be. The water works had long dried, but were once again filled with melted-snow water. The balustrades of the walkways needed a fresh coat of paint. And of course, there was the hedge maze that was inextricably tied to the country house, winding through the grounds leading to some exit elsewhere on the property. However, who would care about such aesthetic features of the home's exterior when there were more important concerns to tend to. Tilo spotted what appeared to be the main entrance of the once-classical mansion. The main doors with their rich engravings and metal work were locked as Tilo tugged against them, then he decided to knock several times. He looked around, though the brief mentioned that the journey up the main roads would not be as zed infested, Tilo had acquired a habit to always look behind him twice. He shivered slightly before the wind.

After waiting outside for what seemed like an eternity of thirty seconds, the front door opened with a slight creak. Without looking, Tilo stepped straight into two hunting rifles and a shotgun. Tilo pulled his hands up, the look on his face was held like concrete.

"Whoa whoa, don't fire. I come in peace," that was one of the most uneducated things that Tilo had ever said, but he could think of worse.

"Who are you and what do you want mate?" a brownish red haired man in military fatigue with a bandaged forehead and a grizzly gaze asked him.

"My name's Tilo," he looked around, he saw a rugged man with brown hair, brown eyes, and beard, watch him with caution. Then there was a younger lad with unkempt darker hair, and a growing beard, probably in his mid twenties, Tilo guessed, who held the shotgun.

He was about to talk when he was interrupted, "Put down the gun and kick it over to me," the bandaged man said.

Tilo knelt down and placed the gun on the floor slowly, with one hand still in the air. Then he kicked the sawn off over to the bandaged man, who kicked it behind him, it was no longer a factor.

"Whit's in yer sack?" the rugged man asked, rifle still centered on Tilo's chest.

"Just a map, a first aid kit, a torch, uhm..." as Tilo spoke, he saw a much older man in a wheel chair roll up behind the three men in front of him, he was attended by two women and a child.

They came to see the commotion. The older of the two women attended the old man, while the child clung to the younger of the two women. Instantly, he recognized the child.

"Are you Kenneth Rand?" Tilo asked the old man in the wheel chair, who looked back at him with a fixed and calm gaze.

"Yes and who might you be?"

------

1730

"We don't have any more cups, I hope this would be sufficient. Care for some scones?" Sandra handed him a mug of tea.

"Oh no thank you, ma'am," Tilo smiled, as he inhaled the fresh aroma of the warm drink, it was a luxury Tilo had missed. Scones? These people must have been living in comfort compared to Haven.

He was seated in the saloon on one of the many pieces of arm chairs that rested on an Ottoman rug and adorned the spacious room. The end table beside him had an outdated issue of the Guardian. The crackling fireplace was controlled, and continued to burn, and the fading sunlight gave its dying light to illuminating the cherry red walls of the interior through the half covered windows. The chandelier that hung from the high ceiling and sconces on the walls no longer served their function. There were various paintings hung on the walls, each in extravagantly ornamented frames, and the books on the shelves were recently dusted. Other end tables and desks were empty of decor. The manor was not as ostentatious as Tilo had expected, and he realized that it was only so because of the apocalypse. If the lights were on, it would seem as though the interior of Upton Abbey had not seen much decay. The lights were off and they left to let the fire and the sunset light the room.

The old man was across the room from Tilo, and the young woman was seated on a luxury sofa between the two of them. The three men stood around the room, with at least one of their hands on their weapons, even though Tilo's shotgun was still on the floor in the foyer. The little boy was playing with his trucks, and he occasionally looked up to Tilo and the woman. Tilo deduced that the woman was his mother. She had red hair and green eyes, and her face was fair for a woman living through this time. She wore no makeup, and a few lines of wrinkles showed, but she maintained great composure as she watched both Tilo and the child of William.

"You say you're from Haven? Why that's quite a ways from here isn't it?" Kenneth inquired.

"Indeed sir," Tilo took a long sip of the tea, it's deep flavor was something he long missed. The warmth of the drink eased his cold scratched throat. Then he set the mug on the end table, and rubbed his hands on his jeans in a nervous manner.

"How is miss Callie doing? And um...mister Mundry was it?"

"Uh Monroe sir," Tilo tried to be respectful of the older man.

"Right right, my age gets the best of me at times."

"They're doing fine, I thank you on their behalf."

"So why are you here?"

"Um well, I came, because uh I have news regarding your son, William."

Kenneth's mouth opened slightly, fear was beginning to rise. The hunters exchanged worried glances, and the young woman began to tense up.

"Wait," the young lady said to Tilo, then she turned to the young man, "Um, Rory can you take Eric to another room?"

"Uh cer-certainly Mrs. Elizabeth," Rory walked over and led the boy out of the room.

"Well go ahead," Kenneth gave him a grave look, while Elizabeth looked hopeful. The two hunters, they had the same face as Kenneth, their eyes grinding into the professor.

Tilo saw the look on their faces, he sighed and closed his anguished eyes for they had seen much. And that was enough for Kenneth and Elizabeth to know.

"I recently visited Hamilton's retreat hotel on a mission with a partner," they all looked to each other, aware that William had departed for the place a week ago.

"And while we surveyed the wreckage and scavenged for supplies, we confronted some zed. And um...we found...William..." Elizabeth covered her mouth with her hand, her eyes welled up.

"Is he okay?" she asked.

Tilo paused a bit, unsure which route to take.

"By the time we got there, it was too late. He was already bitten..." a cry escaped Elizabeth's mouth as she buried her face within her hands, the brownish-red haired man stepped to her side and placed his hand on her shoulder.

Kenneth had his eyes closed, and he exhaled slowly. It can't be true.

"He knew he was about to go, so he gave us his wallet and told us to come here and tell you how he died. Then he asked us to..." Tilo cleared his throat, "Shoot him...so that he wouldn't turn and prey on the living as one of them."

"How do we know what you're saying is true?" the bandaged hunter was skeptical.

Kenneth spoke, "Because... only William would have asked this man to perform such a deed."

Tilo produced the wallet and one of the hunters came to retrieve it, he handed it over to Kenneth. The old man nodded, it was his son's wallet, with the picture of his grandson.

"Why...why are you lying? He's still alive. Where did you find that wallet? You must have stolen that wallet. You are a thief and a liar!" Elizabeth cried incredulously amidst her sobs.

"Elizabeth, please," Kenneth tried to calm her, but he himself was having trouble holding back the pain.

Maybe it was because he had dealt with death before, with the death of Theresa, then again everyone at Upton Abbey had dealt with death at one point or another. Several members of the community had passed since Kenneth took in survivors. It was nothing new, but it was his son and Elizabeth's husband. The community looked on to William as a leader, for even the hunters had their heads down. It had been perhaps a week since William disappeared, and even the hunters knew that the odds of his survival were low, despite the sliver of hope that remained.

This time Elizabeth's sobs were even greater, as she finally knew, after days of waiting anxiously for her husband's return. He departed, saying goodbye, but she never expected it to be his last, not yet. No, it was not possible. It was too soon, he could not have died. She hoped that he had simply found himself stuck somewhere and would be on his way home soon. He had to come back to them, Eric and her, he had to come back. What took him so long? Why isn't he home yet?

Kenneth felt sadness on two levels, one for his daughter-in-law who had crumbled despite being a normally confident woman, and one for himself for he had lost a son. He was supposed to die before William, not the other way around. His son had died before he died, it disrupted the natural order of things. That knowledge was profound.

He tried to recall from memory his time raising the boy, and then the man he named William, but his old age had taken a toll on his memory. He tried to remember what he could of his son, he remembered that he was proud of the man that he came to be. Sometimes, he thought, maybe he did not do enough as a father. Wealth was one thing, but to be a father was another. Regret poured into him, he had so many things he wanted and needed to say to his son before he left.

A part of him had died.

Then he thought of Eric, and the sadness he felt the day before for his grandson only grew. His grandson would grow up without a father. Kenneth Rand felt helpless in his wheelchair, he tried to break the metal armrests in his palms in silent wrath. In his youth, he conquered the world, but in his maturity, all he could do was observe the world until he could no longer wake from his sleep.

Tilo watched in silence as the turmoil unfolded, and kept his eyes at the fireplace.

------

1840

After about an hour of grieving, during which Elizabeth fled to another room to be alone with her thoughts and Kenneth bade the hunters take leave to return to watch, the old man spoke again.

"She's just dealing with grief normally."

Tilo nodded.

"You said you had a partner at the time of William's death? Where are they now?"

"She could not make it. She, died, last night. She was out on a mission and she was bit by them and...had to kill herself to save a comrade," Kenneth nodded, so he knew that Tilo himself was not unfamiliar with death.

For some reason, he trusted Tilo. He knew the younger man, compared to himself, had seen much as evidenced by the way he saw Tilo clasped his hands and the trouble he had trying to maintain a straight face while telling the story of William's death.
At the moment, the old man realized that there were pressing matters arising. With knowledge of William gone, the hunters of Richard Brand were free to take over. None of the others dared to challenge him and his group, not without William. He feared they might institute a new, and unsavory regime.

Kenneth wondered what kind of person Tilo was, and from there he could determine whether the professor was a friend enough to confer onto him the current social climate of Upton Abbey with this new revelation, or a foe who he would hide the affairs of their community from.

"So Tilo, you say you're a professor. Do you have a family?"

"That's quite right sir, I was a history professor at the King's College in London. And yes, I had a family. I have a wife and two sons. We lived in Colchester, but we were separated at the beginning of the outbreak. I don't know if they are still alive."

"I might venture to ask what are their names?"

"My wife Lucille, and sons Edmond and Horatio. Have you by any chance..?"

"No...they aren't here at Upton. I'm sorry."

Tilo pursed his lips, that was about all he wanted to say regarding his personal life.

Kenneth nodded, understanding that he might have pried a bit too far into the younger man's life. He was a family man and he had sons, and Kenneth believed that he understood the pain or even the fear of losing a son. Kenneth felt a bit of pity on Tilo, because the wheel-chair bound man knew the fate of his son, but the younger man was still looking for his own sons. The uncertainty was a dreadful feeling that loomed over Kenneth the past couple of days, but he knew it was nothing compared to perhaps the months of isolation from his family. That was coupled with the fact that Tilo was far away from his home in Colchester, here in the Lakes, and news of sons would be very unlikely to reach him here. All of this, however, hinged upon the question of whether or not this information was true.

Kenneth saw the tormented man's eyes in the way he faltered at maintaining a conversational gaze, his gestures in the way he clasped his hands and rubbed them together, his expressions in the way he leaned forward and did not recline against the chair, his wrinkles when he told the story, his voice in the way it trembled at times when he spoke, his nervousness in the way he rubbed his legs, all of these seemed to indicate that he spoke the truth. At the same time, Kenneth wondered about the likelihood of the man's origins, Colchester was quite far from the Lakes.

"From Colchester? That's quite a long trip you've made. How did a college professor such as yourself end up all the way up here? Tell me your story."

"Yes, um, well one day I came home from work, and the things came out of nowhere and blocked all paths to my home. So, I tried to evacuate northward, since the Prime Minister had declared that they were retreating behind the Antonine line. And I believed my wife and sons would most likely have headed north like everyone else. Along the way I found shelter with many people, but everywhere I went was just a day's rations away from starvation and the undead were never far behind. I realized that I could no longer stay with them and had to set out if I wanted to survive and find my family. Luckily, I managed to find a caravan of survivors and we drove as far north as the petrol could take us, following the M6. We had hoped that maybe Cumbria was spared, but little did we know then, that the sickness (I don't know what it is), hit the major population areas. And I'm sure you know that the main motorways often drove from one major town or city to another."

"Indeed."

------

1940

"When we arrived at Carlisle, we were lucky to have gotten out of the city alive. The city had been overrun and we lost a few here and there. Then we ran out of petrol in the wilderness somewhere along the Lakes. To be honest, at the time we did not really have a long term plan. We had just hoped to make it to the wall and regroup with our families and friends, if they survived. Fear was a prime motivation. One of the problems was that we did not use what little fuel we had wisely. We thought maybe we could pick up a couple of cans here and there, it seemed smart. We never factored in that other people would have the same kind of thinking, especially in this world. So from that point we made it on foot, moving northward, and one night (I don't remember the day) we were ambushed by zed and everyone scattered. I probably spent two or three days traversing the wilderness in a fatigued and hungered state. Then I found Haven, and well the rest is history I suppose," the irony of that last statement.

"In those two or three days in the wilderness, I often thought about my chances of survival. I thought about whether or not I would have the chance to see my family again. It was a miracle if anything that no zed found me wandering along in the woods, otherwise I would not be here today," Tilo exhaled, his story was told.

Kenneth nodded, the tale was compelling. He no longer had any doubts, this man had seen much, and the conviction through which he spoke convinced him that he might be a worthy ally.

"Well, I want to thank you for your tale, and for telling us the fate of my son William. He was noble until the end, he got it from his mother, that I am sure. I didn't think he would have preferred to leave this world in a manner similar to myself, of old age."

Tilo nodded in agreement, the burden seemed to slowly lift itself from him. He remembered the stationary he had brought with him, and he reached into the sack and pulled the sheets out.

"I'm currently writing a small volume of history regarding the apocalypse and the people I've met along the way. My personal history I suppose," Tilo paused, "Could you tell me a bit about your son?" Tilo had his pen on the slightly bent and crumpled sheets.

Kenneth's eyes looked out the window.

------

"Thank you so much sir," Tilo smiled modestly, the subject was touchy if anything. "There's also something else."

"Oh?" Kenneth was curious.

"I came here on a diplomatic mission of sorts. We want to engage in trade, and more cooperation with the people you have here at Upton. We believe it would be to our mutual benefit."

"Explain. How do you suppose we go about doing this, given the distance between our two communities?"

"Not just us two, but the Caravanners as well. As far as we know, the three communities are the largest, and most stable settlements in this region. All of us have managed to survive the undead thus far. If we worked together trading supplies and clearing out the region of undead, perhaps we could make it safer for us to venture outward. At some point...we have to start looking toward the future."

"The offer sounds tempting, but who would spearhead such an effort?"

"Well, the leaders of the three communities of course. Ms. Callie Winters and Mr. Jonathan Monroe of Haven, Ms. Jane Meadows of the Caravanners, and you yourself Mr. Rand. I believe all of you are capable leaders who have managed to successfully maintain order within your respective communities," Tilo paused, "We're all Englishmen, Mr. Rand, we can continue to compete, but that would leave us vulnerable to outside forces."

"What do you mean?"

"Recently we received reports of a group of five marauders wandering the district. They recently killed several Caravanners, and were the cause of my partner's death yesterday," the band he spoke of seemed disturbingly similar to the gang of five in Kenneth's mind.

"The possibility of more hostile groups of armed men, outlaws, militants, bandits, taking the law into their own hands in this world seems to be growing."

"The last thing we would want...is for someone...like William...to die by the hands of these scoundrels or the undead for that matter," the mention of William struck a chord.

Kenneth fell into thought, Tilo did not want to pour more onto what he said because that would be redundant. He felt as though he tried every trick in the book, pathos, ethos, and logos. He felt a bit guilty for using William the way he did, but it had to be done for the greater good.

"Give me some time to think about, Mr. King. Perhaps I'll have an answer for you by tomorrow morning."
Tilo nodded.

By the time their conversation had ended, night had fallen upon them, and the light of the incandescent fireplace bickered for their attention. The wind and the snow picked up outside and was directly crawling inside of the manor.

"Oh dear, it's getting late, I need to return to Haven. I apologize for overstaying my visit," Tilo got up from his seat.

"Oh no, it was my fault. However, it's quite dark and cold outside. It would be a dangerous return trip," Kenneth paused, "How about you stay the night? Perhaps you can leave in the morning when the conditions are more favorable, my friend."

Tilo wanted to decline the offer, but the older man had logic and reason on his side and this was a stately home. Perhaps it couldn't hurt to stay the night, besides he had not actually had the chance to tour the manor from the inside.

"Speak no more, I will be sure to tell Sandra that we have a guest for the night."

"Oh well I should probably tell Ms. Winters about this, she would be worried if she didn't hear back from me."

"I would imagine so." Kenneth rolled out of the saloon and into another room, one among the many rooms of his home.

------

2140

Dominic and Finley were on night watch, Finley had switched out with Rory after the sun was no longer in the sky. The two men were eating from plates filled with potato slices, radishes, and squirrel meat. It was a decent meal for them, and they didn't complain. Finley sat on the window ledge while Dominic was on the floor on one of the Ottoman rugs in the bedroom. Dominic had just finished his plate and set it beside him while he sat and waited for the food to digest.

"Wad ye leuk at that!" Finley cried as he saw a spark of light in the distance from the open window.

"What is it?" Dominic got up and there they both saw the beacon of light in the distance. It was an explosion, in the middle of the night.

------

Tilo, Kenneth, and Sandra had their supper in the saloon area, everyone else ate, wherever else they ate. People often moved about after the meal, the place seemed fairly lively. Tilo came to believe that Sandra was Kenneth's caretaker, the way she managed his things and followed him about. Elizabeth had returned with Eric, Tilo later found out the child's name, and joined them for supper.

Supper was one of the finest Tilo had in perhaps months, it was a surprise how the Rands lived. It was probably due to the fact that they had a number of experienced outdoorsmen who knew the land better than most of those at Haven, Tilo included, therefore it was no wonder that they acquired a larger supply of game compared to Haven. Not to mention they even had a small farm in the back, cultivated by the women and men every now and then. It afforded potatoes, lettuces, and radishes, and if there were any squirrels feeding on the crops, a huntsman would make it part of one of the day's meals. Kenneth made no objections to that either, red squirrel charities was old world news.

As Tilo thought more about it, Monroe never actually sent the scavs on hunting missions, they just went out and about gathering canned foods and other supplies that were still critical to handling the zed threat, such as the fireworks, and bikes. All of these equipment were for better scav operations as the days went on. Upton Abbey's pantry, however, was decently stocked at the time of the outbreak, and the outdoorsmen came with the equipment that they survived with. The comparisons were interesting, for a settlement to be permanent in this kind of world, there needed to be a stable source of food. In history it was through the efforts of agriculture, now with the automated farms down, and workers nowhere to be found, they had to scavenge for food. There was only so many cans available in nearby towns. The second requirement was safety, this was afforded via weapons, but those were only needed insofar as the zombie threat still existed.

Tilo's fears were about to come to fruition, why would the Rands bother allying themselves with the Caravanners or Haven. It seemed as if they had all they needed to live comfortably, food, shelter, supplies, and safety. They seemed better off than Haven, and perhaps even the Caravanners if what Tilo had heard was true.

As they finished, Tilo set aside his plate for Sandra to pick up. Eric had finished his meal and was playing with his trucks. Tilo
watched the innocent child roam on with his imaginings, he felt pained that the child would never see his father again. Somewhere in that family was a reflection upon Tilo and his. Elizabeth caressed the boy, he was the only living link she had left to William.

Eric's trucks found their way to Tilo's foot, and he obliged by nudging them along and smiling to the boy. Eric returned the affection with a smile.

"Did you finish supper?" Elizabeth asked the child.

"Yes," he answered bravely.

Tilo sighed.

The young man from before with the unkempt hair, Rory, came into the room, addressing Kenneth.

"Um, Mr. Rand, Richard is back, but he's alone," Rory was slightly disturbed, as was Kenneth. Tilo had no idea who they were referring to.

Another man, he seemed to have been ravaged by the day and the sun, stepped into the parlor with a couple of weapons.

"Ah Richard, you're back," Kenneth said. Tilo detected a slight hint of distaste as he said this, this man was the 'Richard' they spoke of.

"Mm," Richard noted Tilo, the grey haired professor. To Richard, he was probably just another survivor that found the place, he did not seem to pay much attention to the old man.

"Where are the other four?" Kenneth asked.

"Eh," Richard had not really thought of an alibi, he was more concerned with getting back to the mansion alive through the night.

"They're uh...probably back in Cromwell. They'll survive the night in some old cottage," he tried to play it off cooly. He did not want to hint at the fact that they were all killed, with him as a sole survivor.

"Who's he?" Richard asked, glancing over at Tilo.

"He's from Haven," Kenneth said.

"Haven?" Richard was surprised, and he became...defensive, "What are you doin' all the way here? Did that place finally run out of food? How many people have died so far? Are the leaders still alive?"

Tilo did not have time to react before, "Richard, please be a little respectful of our guest," Kenneth Rand had this firm gaze that pacified the hunter.

"Apologies mate," Richard sprung a smile at Tilo. It seemed to the professor that it was oddly uncharacteristic of Richard to do so.

Kenneth had saved Tilo from answering the questions, and gave him time to wonder why the man would ask him such questions. The short confronation between the two melted away, Richard had other bones to pick. Kenneth tried to hold on as long as he could. It seemed as if he was trying to gather intelligence on Haven, and that reminded Tilo about what Monroe had said, to keep his wits. He had not exposed much regarding Haven's affairs, just his own personal matters. At all costs, he knew he had to maintain a firm front for Haven.

------

November 6th, 2013

0900

They were up early in the morning, Tilo was lucky enough to have a tour of the mansion the previous night. The entire time the fellow Richard seemed to be around, always eyeing him like a vulture of sorts. He was a wiry man, and his shifty eyes made the professor uncomfortable. He had a habit of carrying a knife around with him, brandishing it almost. Tilo feared the man would try something on him in his sleep, he was after all in "hostile" territory as Monroe might have called it.

However, when Tilo woke up he was just grateful that he could open his eyes. They had a short breakfast, a plain breakfast with eggs, toast, hash browns, and beans. It was scrumptious, Tilo made sure to savor each bite in secret, because he was sure he would not be able to eat such food again in awhile.

"Perhaps we've been too isolated here," Kenneth paused, "Cooperation...it sounds interesting. At the moment, I have not come to a decision. However, I do thank you for your effort to make it from Haven all the way up here, it was a perilous trip. And we will be more in touch with your leaders from this point on, and perhaps your vision might be realized."

"Oh no, please, it's not my vision. I just simply want to go back to living like before," Tilo said.

"Mmh, my friend, you are a history professor. You should know that before is no longer here, but long gone. Anyway, take some biscuits for your return."

Sandra gave Tilo a small cloth with a few biscuits wrapped inside as he was about to depart.

"Oh I can not possibly take this..."

"No I insist. It's for your troubles."

"Very well, thank you. I don't know how I'll be able to pay you back."

"Worry about getting home first. We'll see you." Kenneth Rand, his caretaker Sandra, and Rory returned inside of the mansion, and the doors closed shut.

------

1100

The path home was clear of zed, it seemed almost like a golden brick road. Tilo reached the gate of Haven with a smile on his face. He would be happy to report good news, and only good news for once. The past week had been complete hell of a new sort. Whether or not he'd get over Toby and William, he didn't know. People seemed to be dying left and right, and his smile began to falter. It worried him that someone else might have died while he was away, Laney, or Hoppy, or who the hell knows anymore.

As he stepped into the 'command post,' he saw Callie alone. Something was out of place, where was Monroe? He was supposed to be in his seat as usual. Callie turned to him, she looked different than from the day before. Something was lost in her
expression, despite her smile. It seemed like a facade.

"Where's Monroe?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Tilo King Character Portrait: Callie Winters Character Portrait: Mark Lawson Character Portrait: Dominic Fields Character Portrait: Richard Brand Character Portrait: Alison Carter
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An Inspector Calls

November 10th, 2013

Upton Abbey


Ewan Alden had not received any transmissions from the rest of the gang of five through the radios that they were carrying or were supposed to be carrying. And any attempts he made to call out were met with static.

The situation at Upon seemed to be deteriorating by the minute as of the day before, when Ken Rand had to be put down by the hunters remaining at the abbey. People were still fearful and wondering how their elder leader turned. There was hysteria. At first the hunters went through checking everyone for bite marks, they began combing the halls of the manor, hoping to find an undead roaming about. However, none were found and they began to closely examine the late Ken Rand's body. They saw that he had no bite marks or wounds of any kind on what remained of his body after Richard Brand, almost remorselessly, blew off his head. They concluded that the only possible place he could have been bitten would have been on his head. It was inconclusive. That news made it even worse. People began to fear that there was some new form of transmission of the zombification.

Richard Brand, opportunistic, a word to describe the man, seized the initiative. He quickly took command, even though past incidences have proven that he was far from the sort of leaders that Ken and William were. Of course, he was a hunter, and they supplied the most in terms of food and safety. And by that point, news of William's death had reached everyone. The confusion as to how he died though was a result of the ever accurate rumor mill. That worked in Brand's favor. The mantle of leadership was up for grabs, but there were no claimants aside from Richard. The hunter smiled upon his fortune, and handily took his throne.

This only added insult to injury, especially to those who perceived the feud between the Rands and Brand's group and sided with the former rather than the latter.

From there, the ground seemed to shift. At once, Richard made it clear that the four hunters of his clique had probably turned or killed themselves to prevent turning. It would explain why they did not return to Upton. Most of the remaining hunters immediately fell under Richard. Those who were formerly with Kenneth grudgingly accepted him as leader, only Rory went so far as to make a claim for Elizabeth, saying that this was her father-in-law and husband's property. They spat on the boy and sent him out into the garden to tend the crops. Property in the new world belonged to the one with guns not to the one who held onto a defunct legal document.

Interestingly, in the old world, the legal document was just more than paper. There was an arsenal of guns behind it, so it was actually nothing new, not that many people cared. Except paper no longer had the support of guns.

------

That same morning it came to Richard's attention that one of the residents at Upton, Sandra Hargrave, had gone missing. She had been the caretaker for Kenneth, and she was a close friend of the Rands through her connection with the late elder. Richard knew all of this. He also knew that she was responsible for managing his medication. He wondered if she discovered what happened and immediately fled. It would only make him wonder more as to whether or not she told anyone anything before she left.

"Do you know where Sandra is?" Richard inquired.

"Sandra?" Elizabeth had a quizzical expression.

"She's nowhere to be found. Do you know where she could have went?" Richard raised his voice.

"No, I have no idea." Elizabeth replied.

It was bad enough that he could have been responsible for both her husband and her father-in-law's death, and now he was attempting to make advances on her. If not that, then perhaps threatening her and and her son's lives.

"So she just up and left then?" Richard said, like a wide-eyed maniac.

Elizabeth tried to come up with a possible reason to dissuade Richard's doubts.

"Maybe the incident yesterday took a heavy toll on her."

"But do you know how dangerous that was? She could have left the doors open to zed as she left. I'm damned surprised she managed to get past the night watch."

Elizabeth nodded in silence.

"Did she tell you anything? Before she disappeared?" Richard seemed to calm himself, it was atypical of him to do so.

"No, nothing."

"I know you're still a bit down after what happened with your father. If you ever need anything, I'm here for you." Richard's attempt at sincerity was disgusting.

"I'm fine." Elizabeth said, rebuffing him.

Richard simply nodded his head and left Elizabeth in the hallway.

Elizabeth knew Richard was going after the various people who were with her husband and father-in-law's side before they both perished. Sandra believed he was responsible for turning her father into a stiff, and the fact that he was the one to pull the trigger only added to her suspicions. It was possible to say that he could have been responsible for William's death as well, since they were out on their trip to Hamilton's resort. Elizabeth instinctively believed that he had injured Corporal Fields to prevent him from accompanying William. She imagined that Richard had probably trapped her husband somewhere and left him to die. She imagined him laughing with those four others when they had done it. She imagined William's last moments, the same image coming forth to her mind's eye as the one she conjured up when Professor King told her about his fate in the first place. And the sexual advances that her husband's killer made only discomforted her even more. These thoughts flooded her mind. She was upset, angry, disgusted, disturbed, sad, horrified, fearful, anxious, and even helpless. But perhaps not...hopeless.

At the same time, the cocktail of emotions was too much for her. Taking a page from British politicians, she tried to hide herself beneath her exterior and maintain a stoic countenance to prevent the man from becoming suspicious. She hoped that Sandra could get help, as she passed word to whoever still sided with her. Rory promised to stay quiet, and Dominic promised to always look behind himself. They were capable people.

------

November 10th

0900

Haven


Sometime after Tilo had recovered from the news about Hoppy, he decided to shut himself in for a bit to think. He slept, he ate, and then he slept. He felt no desire to talk to anyone, there was a lot already weighing on his mind. And it seemed to him that, as each day passed, the more his family slipped from his memory. The other day he cursed himself in angered silence that he forgot his youngest son's name. He knew he was only in his mid forties, but it stung him a bit. Secretly, he felt ashamed. He spent an hour to two writing Horatio's name over and over and over on a sheet of stationary. He never told anyone about the incident.

The old man looked over the notes he had written while he was at Upton. He was glad that the sheets weren't as badly crumpled as he expected them be as a result of the return trip, and that the ink had not smudged.

Ken Rand was born in London, and he later moved his home to Liverpool, on the west coast of England to expand his business of greengrocers. He met Theresa Kenny there in 1976, and in that same year, William was born. This made William 37, compared to my 45, it was only an eight year difference. From there, young William attended a preparatory school from 4 to 11. After that he attended senior school until he reached adulthood. Both schools were independent schools, unconfined by the national curriculum, and paid for in full by the elder Rand. I think it would not be too much to conclude that William had a quality education. After that, William enrolled in the University of York's law program. When I spoke with the elder Rand, he said that the only thing his wealth did, was giving his son opportunities, and he emphasized that it was his son who made the choices that got him where he was in life...

Tilo had asked people around Haven about Monroe and Toby.

Some say Monroe was born in Belfast in 1975 or 1976. They said he was in the Forces as part of the Paras. He joined mainly because he wanted to get away from the Troubles. I remember hearing about that, just a lot sectarian violence that did not needed to happen. He received a military cross for actions in Sierra Leone. After he left the army he became a contractor, but he never settled down. Truth be told, I can see why that was the case. He was probably unaccustomed to civilian life, and accustomed to military life. Institutionalized, I suppose. His personal life was riddled with womanizing and alcohol, at least that's what I heard. When I came to Haven, I saw none of that. In fact he was more of a gruff no-nonsense type, sobered up even. And maybe he talked about me behind my back, he was a soldier, and I was a...well...a student. One thing that I will never forget about the man, he often drank this rank smelling coffee that rotted the nostrils. And for some reason, and maybe this is pure coincidence or maybe not, but it seemed as if whenever I was there, he would be drinking it. Of course, I'm hoping that as the days go on I'll remember him by just more than that. He did what he could to prepare us, us as in the Scavengers of Haven...

He stopped there and moved on to another piece. Cramps? No, he had none of that. His mind was too busy thinking about people to worry about a little hand fatigue.

I was kind of sad to find out that nobody knew about Toby. In fact, I kind of beat myself up for not knowing her real name in the first place. The only people around who actually knew her real name were Callie and Mark, October Harrison. Since this is what I would hope to be my memoirs, I want to honestly say that, when I first met her I dreaded the possibility of having to work with her on a mission. It was the scar above her lip that made the first impression for her. She was shorter than me, and stouter framed, and somewhat more muscular. Her arms had tattoos, which I only found out about after our mission to Hamilton's retreat. She was not really sociable, but maybe that was just me or the rifle that I held. I doubt I looked intimidating because she knew that I had no prior experience of using such a firearm. I later found out that not many people knew her. She was almost like a ghost. She seemed to be the self-reliant type. Mark told me that she had made her way on foot all the way from Halifax. I think lesser people would have crumbled before reaching Haven. I don't think she deserved her fate, but then again I'm not God, and I don't get to pick and choose who lives and who dies. Food for thought I suppose.

As Tilo's hand cramped again, he heard a knock on the door, goddamnit. He took a moment to let that sink in, had he just swore under his breath at a minor annoyance? It seemed his fuse was getting shorter. He immediately hid the guitar in the corner, covering it with his sleeping bag.

"Who is it?"

"Tilo it's Gary, open up."

"Have you checked this out?" Gary handed Tilo what appeared to be a small booklet.

"What is this?"

"You saw Rishi's book that was pinned to the board right?"

Tilo nodded.

"This is a pocket sized version that the man spent, who knows how much time, to make."

Tilo skimmed a few pages.

"He ran some tests over the zed that he's got locked up in that building, and he managed to write down what he could find. By the way, is it true that you actually found him that specimen?"

"Well I..."

"Actually, how did you even manage to catch one and bring it back here?"

"It's a long story," Tilo waved his hand, "Um, I'm a little busy right now Gary, could you?"

"Uh...yeah, sure," but before he left, "You've been in here the entire morning. I didn't see you get breakfast. Are you okay Tilo? About the whole Hoppy thing?"

"I'm fine," that was a partial lie, "Mark was kind enough to leave a plate of eggs outside," Tilo smiled.

He reached over to the cabinet, where he left the empty plate, and handed it to Gary. Once the man had taken the plate and left, Tilo shut the door.

------

1230

By about early afternoon Tilo decided to check the job boards. He found that the only job around was one by Rishi. Tilo simply looked past it, too tired to try another one of the man's forays. He was sure that Callie sent word out for medical supplies, as to where, Tilo did not know. He was a non-native. He drifted along the farm, hands in pockets, the cold beating against him.

He entered the infirmary, or what was supposed to be the infirmary. Doctor Short did what she could to convert the large room into an adequate facility for the sick, the injured, or the wounded. Hoppy was sleeping, her face growing almost as white as the snow outside.

Doctor Short came in. She started coming into the infirmary at intervals to watch Hoppy's progression. They were both quiet for a time.

"I told Callie to tell Ben and Kiera to hurry," she finally said.

Tilo glanced at the doctor, observing her concerned expression.

She sighed, "I don't know if she's going to live."

It was a mental thing for doctors to prepare themselves for the worst. They out of all people, with the exception of perhaps soldiers, dealt with death almost on a daily basis. And as each day passed, they accumulated a mental and emotional conditioning that made the burden less burdensome.

"How is she?"

Doctor Short shook her head, unsure if there were any words left to express.

"I think she's the first one I actually managed to..." she searched for the right words, "give a chance to."

"Kim was already bitten. I heard about Toby. And Monroe..."

"She'll pull through doc," Tilo said, trying to reassure the middle aged woman, calming her nerves.

Tilo left after Doctor Short told him she would watch over Hoppy's condition.

1500

The day passed by quickly. Tilo occupied himself in his room. He had told Mark and anyone who came to his door to tell others not to disturb him. He was still intent on writing. Once his first pen was out, he placed it aside on the desk, and grabbed another one. Every couple of minutes he would write about one person and then move on to another, jotting down notes about them. He skipped around. Then he would stand up to stretch his arms or walk around. His solitude was incomplete because he had a companion, which was the mid day sun permeating into the lightless room. He had gotten used to living without light.

As soon as it got dark, Tilo made sure to turn off the power in his room. It was one of the little things everyone had to do to ensure that the petrol would not run out. 'Light discipline' was what Callie and Monroe had called it. Their earlier attempts at finding an alternate source of power were not fruitful, so they made sure that scavs tried to grab a jug of petrol every now and then. Once they found out about the Silent Valley plant, they began drawing up plans and trying to find a way to set up a panel, or a couple of panels, at Haven to make sure they didn't freeze through the winter. Cumbria was well to the north in the Isles, and the Isles themselves were just as far north as they could get. As a result, winters came early, unofficially. Tilo felt this winter seemed colder than usual, perhaps it was due to the lack of heating.

He wanted to write what he could about anybody. He tried to capture his thoughts in little snippets. Then he went about trying to strum the guitar that was to be Laney's present. He had played a bit when he was younger, but he gave up on it once school picked up and he had to redouble his efforts on his studies. Now he just played a note or two and tried to hum a song. Then he would sigh. Then repeat the entire cycle again. At some point Mark had left a cup of ramen with some canned sausages outside his room, which Tilo had almost kicked over as he stepped out.

Mark was thoughtful. He made sure that everyone maintained their strength. He definitely deserved a couple of words. Tilo had heard about Kim. The old man admired how Mark continued on, giving what he could to Haven, despite his loss. It was probably one of the toughest losses a person had to deal with. Nobody would have known just by looking at the man. In a way he was sort of like Monroe, but a bit more polite and less unsavory.

Speaking of unsavory, Tilo stepped out of his room and entered the bathroom. Nobody really used it anymore, since there was no running water. The mirror showed him that his beard had grown almost as thick as the bark on an oak. He looked like a caveman.

He saw what he wanted to see and returned to his room.

------

1730

Tilo sighed. He wiped his forehead and massaged his scalp, racking his brain for anything more he could write down about anyone. He leaned backward in his chair, hands behind his head, content with what he managed to do. He let out one long exhale in the silence of his room. Then he decided he would go check on Hoppy again, but as he reached for the door he heard a knock that made him jump.

"Tilo open up! It's Mark, someone from the Rands is here for you."

Tilo immediately opened the door.

"From the Rands, you mean Upton?"

Mark nodded, "Comon', Callie and Alison are already in the kitchen with her."

Her? Was it Elizabeth Rand?

"Alison?"

"The pilot that Monroe saved," Mark said as they went down the stairs.

Then they entered the kitchen, where the pilot had taken Monroe's seat at command. Her appearance at the coffee table was an incongruity in Tilo's mind. Maybe he wasn't used to seeing someone else in that poorly fashioned seat. She had a cast on her left leg and a makeshift crutch resting against her seat. Short blonde hair, her face was straight to the point.

Callie sat beside the middle aged woman that Tilo seemed to recognize. She was the same woman who tended to Kenneth.

"You're..."

"Sandra Hargrave. Thank God, you're here Professor."

The formalities were cut short as Callie commanded, "Speak."

“Elizabeth Rand sent me. I have a message in my jacket pocket.” Mark checked her jacket and found a wallet, it was the one that belonged to William. And with it there was a note with Tilo's name on it.

"Guess that’s for you Tilo.” Callie said.

The old man read the letter to himself before he gave it to Callie to read aloud.

“Professor King,

I apologise for intruding but Upton Abbey is in trouble. Ken Rand has been killed and I suspect it was murder as does Sandra who you hopefully remember from your visit here. She can fill you in on the details.

I implore you to help us, the people here are scared and are reaching out for anything. Unfortunately that seems to be resulting in the wrong people getting in charge.

If Sandra makes it this far please ensure she is not mistreated.

Yours

Elizabeth Rand.


------

“So the plan is to use the trade agreement to play up to Brand and make contact with Elizabeth Rand?” Mark asked.

“Correct. I say we send Tilo he knows the area and has a relationship with the people.” Callie said.

“I see. Will he be able to take care of Brand if it comes to it?” Carter asked.

All eyes fell on the old man, but by God he was thankful that Callie saved him from having to answer. “Tilo is smart and knows what’s at stake he can deal with it whatever way he needs to.”

Carter shrugged. “Fair enough what are you going to trade?”

“Haven’t thought about that.” Callie mused.

“We were carrying a lot of supplies might be something there worth salvaging. Food, that kind of thing. I think you guys should hold onto the weapons.”

“Yeah I think so too. What kind of weapons, we talking here?” Callie asked

“Couple of 9mm Brownings, probably a few SA-80s. Nothing too heavy.”

Callie stared blankly. “I do people stuff, we had someone else for the guns. What does that mean?”

“Pistols and assault rifles.” Carter said simply.

“Ok so sounds like we got ourselves an honest to God Scav mission. I’ll prepare the briefs.”

Everyone was still somewhat mystified by how Ken Rand died.

Tilo tried to wrap his head around the idea, but he couldn't. "I still can't...he turned without being bitten?"

"Well, I didn't really get a good look at him when I saw him, but I'm sure he wasn't bitten anywhere on his head. We checked his body and everything,"

"And the head?" Mark asked.

"Brand blew it off with a shotgun," Sandra said matter-of-factly.

"You know what, I'm going to go talk to Rishi about that," Callie promptly left the coffee table.

The room was bathed in silence, before Mark finally spoke. "Well, it must have been a long trip, and you're a guest. So I'll get you some water."

"Thank you." Sandra said, she was no longer as visibly shaken as she was before when Tilo saw her.

------

1800

"...seen any other method of transmission, I thought it was safe to assume the bite is what got you. If there are other methods of transmission, we are vulnerable to infection without further information on the virus, or whatever it is that is doing this to people," Rishi's voice echoed down the stairs, he was followed immediately by Callie.

When Rishi entered the kitchen, he immediately spotted the visitor and shot out, "What were the circumstances of this person's death?"

“Pardon?” Sandra was caught off guard, as was everyone else.

------

“There is no transmission!” He yelled at her, Sandra simply staring in a shocked sort of awe.

“Rishi, calm down. Tell me, what are you talking about?” Callie asked.

“People don’t die because there is a virus in the saliva that slowly turns them into a zombie Callie. People die from the bite wounds because of infection brought on by the germs in our mouths! They just die Callie, they just die. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it before. Callie, this is very important. We might all be zombies already.”

“Excuse me?” Sandra said, clearly outraged at the statement.

Mark, Tilo, and Alison looked at each other with raised eyebrows and wide eyes. They thought he was mad, but this much? It was almost astronomical.

“Slow down. We might all be zombies?” Callie said, motioning with her hand for Sandra to calm down.

“Yes. How do you explain so many people turning at once, all throughout England? Everywhere at once? Look, not all of us might be infected, but I would reason otherwise. It would be safer to think that all of us have contracted this ‘zombification’ process, and that if one of us were to pass away, we would come back regardless of the circumstances surrounding our deaths.”

“Can you be sure?”

“I would need to see it for myself, but I believe that might be the case.”

“I can’t listen to this.” Sandra said, getting up and leaving the room. Rishi looked at Callie and sighed.

“I am going to watch over Hoppy while we wait. Mark told me about her condition, so if she doesn’t make it, I need to be there to make sure…” He trailed off as he let out a sigh. “Let's just hope that for once, I am wrong.”

"Wait hold on," Tilo said.

Rishi turned as he heard this.

"We were wondering if you knew of any...possible method of killing someone..." Mark said.

"Well yes, there are plenty..."

"But making it look as if it were by accident," Tilo finished the sentence that Mark began.

"Oh?" Rishi's eyebrows were raised, "And who do you want killed?"

"A bastard named Brand," Alison blankly stated, "Not Russell Brand, another one."

He paused for a moment, not catching the pop culture reference. Then he began to think, trying to comb his memory for any novel information that might help.

"Amanita phalloides. A deadly basidiomycete fungus found throughout most of Europe. The primary toxic agent is alpha-amanitin, in short, acute liver failure and eventually death. Toxicity can not be reduced by cooking, freezing, or drying. Half of it is enough to kill a man," Rishi said.

"If you do manage to find one, try slipping it into a meal reserved for this Brand fellow. Once he consumes it, it'll take some time before the abdominal pain kicks in and gastrointestinal symptoms appear. These will be delayed anywhere from six to thirty hours. The man is sure to die within a matter of days afterward as long as you make sure he ingests it."

"And where might we find these?" Tilo said.

"Right, right, um, they form mycorrhizae with many broadleaved trees such as oaks, chestnuts, and pines. The fruiting bodies are most likely to appear during the summer and autumn. I'm not sure about the winter. They are white in appearance, look for a large and conspicuous flat or convex cap, that is pale in the ranges of yellow to perhaps olive green. Young ones look like eggs coming out of the ground. The smell has been described as sweet, but I don't suggest inhaling it. However, I do advise you gather a large number of them, to guarantee the man's fate because there are a number of edible species out there that are similar in appearance. The taste has been described as sweet, which will work to your advantage at disarming any suspicions from this Brand fellow," Rishi paused to sigh, "Anything else?"

"Thanks Rishi. By the way, how do you know all of this?" Mark said.

"Call me a renaissance man, anyway I'll go check on Hoppy," before he went out the door, "Be sure to take a copy of my little pocketbook. They're flying off the shelves!"

Callie chuckled at that.

"What happens if I can't find one?" Tilo looked to Callie.

"Find one, or improvise," Alison cut in and Callie shrugged.

------

1900

After dinner, Tilo sat outside on the steps of the porch in the cold for a bit. He tried to feel the cold again. The night was dark and the farm house was silent. The only light was the candle that Doctor Short had lit in the infirmary to keep watch over Hoppy.

Mark came and sat beside Tilo. The man sighed.

"Cold isn't it?"

"Yeah."

"Are you ready for tomorrow?"

Tilo exhaled through his nose, "I don't think I could be more ready. I've got the sawn-off if it ever comes to that."

Mark stared at Tilo, unsure what to say.

"So you've got the panels charging?" Tilo asked.

"Yeah. Gary and Jesus were with me. Jesus hasn't checked in yet, that's got me worried."

"You think he's..."

"There's a high chance. But the kid's a footballer, he's supposed to be fast. He should have been back before nightfall."

"It could have been the Rands."

"Could have been, or even the Vanners."

Tilo looked at Mark.

"As much as Callie wants to trust them, I can't. I think the pilot had the right idea." Mark spit.

"It's already bad enough we have to fend off zed, but other humans?" Tilo asked.

Mark shrugged, "Get some sleep old man, you've got a long day tomorrow."

------

November 11th, 2013

0400


Tilo put everything he needed into his pack. The map and compass were on hand, he had the sawn-off and a couple of rounds. His hatchet was holstered into a belt loop. It was still fairly dark, so he decided to bring a flashlight. The radio was turned off to conserve the little battery power it had. He also carried a canteen half filled with water. He knew a trip in the cold was sure to dry his throat.

The old man had on the pack and stepped outside into the winter sky. No lights, no city. He was surprised to see all the stars glittering above against the black velvet of night. He exhaled, his breath swirling with frost from the cold.

He stood on the porch a bit to watch the horizon above the line of trees. Time seemed very slow and non-existent.

Callie was up behind him with a thin sweater so she held herself to brace the cold, "Beautiful isn't it?"

"Hmm?" Tilo turned around.

"Monroe once told me that as a child he would often look up into the sky and imagine that he was a bird. He wanted to fly far away from the Troubles. I suppose he got his wish."

They lapsed into silence for a time.

"I couldn't have sent Ben."

Tilo looked at her with a quizzical expression.

"He would have gotten both of you killed. Matters like this need discretion."

The old man nodded before he started to leave.

"Come home safe, Tilo."

"I'll try, ma'am." Tilo looked back with a smirk.

Callie simpered, she mouthed "I'm not the Queen," before turning in.

------

0500

The path to the crash site was clear. It was located near Jones' farm which was the opposite direction of Upton. The place had seen much blood and fire.

The chopper itself was strewn atop the crest of a hill. One of its rotors was lodged into the ground, while the other three were bent. The paint had begun to fade and snow had gathered into icicles. Its cargo content had spilled out beside the shrapnel and other parts of the chopper. It seemed as if the chopper had been searched through, but not fully cleaned out. Tilo left his sack outside and went through the cabin hatch that remained upturned and not buried in the snow. Most of the space still had cargo, the average Sea King could hold about twenty to thirty people.

He pulled out the flashlight and kept it dimmed so as not to attract any undead. As he went in, he saw several corpses, rotten. Maggots and flies. They were still in uniform with blood dried. The skin had darkened on those who had pale complexions, and it became cracked on those with dark complexions. One of the corpses was impaled on a long pipe with a sharpened tip. Another one had a limp grip on a pistol. Tilo retched at the sight.

The old man spotted some duffle bags. He rubbed them, feeling out the solid and metallic items inside. They had handles, they were probably the weapons. He remembered that the pilot said they should keep those for Haven. Another scav would be sent after him to retrieve. The old man then rummaged through the other strapped packages looking for kits with the red crosses on them. He found only a few remained, which he shoved into his sack. He turned to look at the deceased. He would have buried them, but he did not have the tools. He would have uttered a prayer if he was Catholic, but who said he needed to be Catholic to do so.

"Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name..." Tilo paused trying to remember the next verse.

He was not one to attend church much in the old world, but he did study the Bible for other purposes. He wanted to curse himself at observing how age had ways of deteriorating a person's mind.

"Thy kingdom come, thy will...be done, on earth, as it is in heaven."

"Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us...from evil," he drew a breath from the air.

Then he slung the pack over his shoulder and forged on with his shotgun in hand, trying to erase the sight that he just witnessed. The night was behind him and the day was before him.

------

0730

Once Tilo reached the valley with the many hills he began to search for the mushrooms. The trees of the valleys were tall and stood with splayed branches. He combed the ground while keeping his eye out for zed. The brush on the ground consisted of dead dry leaves that had fallen off from the trees to prevent water loss. Fauna no longer roamed freely, they were shut in their little nests or dwellings, contemplating the weather outside. They balled up inside their fur coats and closed their eyes, hoping that this year's winter would be shorter than last year's.

The pebbles, leaves, grass, and snow formed a sea that covered any possible mushrooms that Tilo could find. If what Rishi had said was correct, it would be incredibly hard to identify the white mushrooms against the white snow.

Fortunately, the sun began to rise in the eastern sky. The rays of orange and gold melted away the night and shone clear the forest path. It felt warm. The white clouds though, distilled the light. It was not as clear as it could have been.

Tilo continued looking at the bases of the trees, where the ectomycorrhizae would be.

Then he found some of the caps that indicated mushrooms. They were brown though, and so he moved on. He knew that the mushrooms he was looking for would be nestled near oaks and pines, however, he was not a tree expert. All he knew was that the Lake District had many pines and oaks.

After searching for what seemed to be an eternity, he found some of them. They were young ones, recently sprouted from spores. They looked like eggs. Then he found some more, and as Rishi had advised, it would be safe to gather a large sample. So he did. They had wide flat caps and yellow to olive green coloring on top.

Once the rest of the space in his pack was filled with the poisonous things, he thought about whether he should radio into headquarters about his progress. It couldn't hurt, he supposed.

"I found the medical supplies. I left the guns where they were, and I managed to find the mushrooms that Rishi spoke of."

"Good job Tilo, over," it was Alison.

He was unaccustomed to her voice, after being so used to Callie and Monroe.

"Where's Callie? Over."

"She went to check on Hoppy, anyway I've got to go, you can check back in about an hour. Over."

"Got it. Over and out."

Tilo clicked the little walkie-talkie off and slid it back into a sidepocket before he continued.

------

The trek was quiet. No birds anywhere. Just snow and trees, and the occasional babbling brook that had a few chunks of ice in it. His throat was sore with the cold, and every so often he pulled out his canteen and took a swig of water from it.

He continued walking, eyes always darting side to side. The zombie threat at times seemed present at times and absent at times. He walked past a line of trees until he spotted a shadow in the distance. His shotgun grip tightened and he inched forward to the figure slowly. As he crept closer, the figure made no motion to turn around and face the old man. Once he got close enough to see it clearly, he determined it was zed by the color of its skin. It was no natural living hue.

However, the thing made no move whatsoever. Tilo noticed the icicles that had accumulated on its elbows. Maybe it was frozen, but he did not want to assume. So he grabbed a pebble and tossed it in front of the stiff.

No motion.

Tilo then whistled, no motion.

Maybe it was frozen, he decided to test even further. He whispered to it, still no motion.

So instead of firing his shotgun, he decided to save the rounds and just use his hatchet instead.

He swiped the head clean off the body, unbalanced it fell forward while the head rolled to a stop on the ground.

Tilo walked on.

Some time as he continued walking, he decided to start singing. The quiet was unnerving and he felt the need to calm his mind. He began to hum a favorite tune of his.

"Yesterday..."

"All my troubles seemed so far away," he hummed in between.

"Now it looks as though they're here to stay. Oh I... believe... in yesterday..."

"Suddenly... I'm not half the man I used to be..." he hummed, "There's a shadow hangin' over me... oh yesterday.. came suddenly..." Tilo hummed, he had forgotten the other lyrics.

It didn't really matter.

"Yesterday..."

"All my troubles seemed so far away..."

"Now it looks as though they're here to stay. Oh I... believe... in yesterday..."

"Suddenly... I'm not half the man I used to be..."

"There's a shadow hangin' over me... oh yesterday.. came suddenly..."

And he repeated those lines for a time.

------

0700

"Is everyone ready?" Richard loaded the last round into his rifle.

The hunters nodded in agreement. Dominic had taken off his bandages, the bruises on his head had disappeared. This only revealed the unflinching gaze with green eyes the man had that made him a threat in Brand's view.

He was taking Dominic, Finley, Ewan, and four others of his loyalist cadre with him on a hunting mission. He told them that they were going to be searching for a new source of food. Perhaps they might try for Penrith or Appleby. He left behind most of the hunters that were loyal to him to guard Upton for his return. They weren't as loyal as the four, but the shift in the situation made them willing dogs.

"Safe journey lads," one of the remaining hunters said to the group as they left. Then they proceeded to lock the giant main doors of the manor.

Elizabeth was having a private conversation in her room between her, Rory, and Talisa Alden.

"Are you sure it was him?" Talisa questioned.

"Who else could it possibly be?" Elizabeth said in a hushed voice, "You've seen how the man acted when William was gone."

"I don't know. What can we do with him? He's restored order for the time being, it isn't so bad," Talisa tried to pacify her.

They didn't know that Talisa was actually sleeping with Richard. She had her needs.

"I'm not so sure about that," Elizabeth said.

"Well...what do we do?" Rory looked at her with concern.

"I sent Sandra to Haven to get Professor King, I hope to God he has a solution. In the meantime, keep on the lookout for him."

------

0830

The topiaries and manor, once again illustrated old world splendor before Tilo, but he ignored it and made his way quickly to the door. He had a mission. However, he stopped halfway to report back to headquarters.

"I've made it to Upton, over."

"Good job Til--"

"Callie?"

...


There was static and then the battery died. He looked at the thing, pressing several buttons, trying anything to revive the talker. Still nothing, he decided to just slip it back into his pack. He looked at his sawn-off, they would probably confiscate it like last time. He decided to place it inside the pack, removing several medical kits for space.

The great doors opened before him once he reached them, to welcome him were four men who looked completely unfamiliar. Tilo should have expected the changing of the guard.

They pulled him in at gunpoint, asking him questions.

"Slow down mate," Tilo pleaded, his hands in the air. It was almost like deja-vu.

"Who are you? And where are you from? And what's in the bag?" A burly hunter asked him, his beard almost as thick as Tilo's own.

"Tilo King. Haven. I came here with some supplies for Mr. Kenneth Rand," Tilo said, showing them the kits in hand.

Then he unslung his sack and rifled through the bag, making sure they could not the shotgun. Once he pulled another kit out, the hunters lowered their guns.

"I didn't ask what you were here for, but he's dead anyway. You came here for nothin'."

Tilo already had beforehand knowledge, but he knew it was best to hide the fact that he knew. So he tried his best to portray shock and confusion, which partially succeeded. He was never the actor, but he had to up the ante.

"When? How? What happened?" Tilo asked in false exasperation.

"Two days ago, on the ninth. The old man turned, someone was screamin'. The old man was a crawler. Had to put him down."

Tilo kept on a confused face before Elizabeth and Rory came through the hallway. Her eyes widened as Tilo could see, and she acted quickly.

"Professor King," she said, hoping her little stunt would lower their guard.

"Miss Elizabeth. I'm so sorry to hear about..."

"It's okay..." Elizabeth looked to the rest of the hunters who loitered about, unsure what to do, "You guys can return to your post, he's a friend."

"I don't know about that, Miss Rand. Richard said we shouldn't let strangers into Upton."

"Well, he's been here before, so he's not a stranger. Now go on," she emphasized with gestures.

Jeremy scratched his beard, sighed, and left them alone.

Minutes later, Tilo was in Elizabeth's room.

"So what do we do?"

Tilo showed her the mushrooms and explained.

------

0900

Richard and the band of hunters laid in wait at the crest of a hill overlooking a field that was a chopper crash site.

"What are we doing here Richard?" Dominic asked as they sat against some stones for cover, "There aren't any zed around, we should just loot the chopper."

"Just waiting," he said, watching the chopper for activity. Then out of the corner of his eye, he saw two men.

Immediately he grabbed his binoculars and examined them closely, it was an older man probably in his fifties. He had a rifle with him, and accompanying him was a younger fellow. The younger fellow had a beard, pimpled face, and he was armed with a machete or some blunt object, Richard couldn't tell from the angle and distance.

Richard and the hunters watched the two people circle the chopper, inspecting it. Then the hunters spotted the zeds, swarms of them coming from Jones' farm.

"Shouldn't we go help them?" Dominic asked.

"No, those bastards deserve to die," Richard said.

"But they're people," Ewan protested, "Each one we can save is one less we can fight."

"You think so mate?" Richard's eyes bulged psychotically.

"They're just like us, willin' to do anythin' to survive. I'm willlin' to bet my life that when the chips are down, they'd stab m-.. us, in the back for potatoes."

Everyone remained silent after that.

"'Sides, they were responsible for William's death," everyone stared at him in shock.

Dominic, and Finley were caught off guard by that statement. They heard from Professor King that he had to kill William before he turned. The news about how William died was kept a secret between those who were present when Professor King was there. Among them was Kenneth, Dominic, Finley, Elizabeth, and Rory. Nobody else was in the parlor when he spoke. Now that they heard Richard denouncing the Caravanners as the ones responsible for William's death, it made them suspicious. They looked at each other and shook their heads subtly, remaining silent. In the corporal's mind, he came to the realization that Richard had a hand in William's death, and he would find out. He was injured the day Richard and William went out to Hamilton's retreat, which was the day that William disappeared.

"That's right, they killed 'im. I saw it with me own eyes. Wankers even killed Abel and the other three. Damned sick of them."

Richard's ploy was working, from what he could tell. There was no one else proving him wrong. He peered into his binoculars again to see that the two people had noticed the zed. They realized they were surrounded, and so they decided to climb the chopper.

------

Elizabeth entered the kitchen with a plastic bag. Flora was chopping some vegetables, but she noticed her walk in.

Mrs. Wilson was maintaining the fire of a stew. With the lack of power, they had to rely on a fireplace cooker that was previously installed in the abbey before the elder Rand bought the home. Elizabeth approached her and showed her the bag full of mushrooms.

"Where did you get these mushrooms?" the old lady inquired.

Elizabeth whispered into her ear, "Nevermind that. These...are for Richard."

She emphasized her meaning with a sharp glare, the old lady looked frightened, but she understood and nodded.

"It won't matter if you cooked it or cut it. Just make sure he gets it."

Elizabeth left the bag beside the old woman and promptly exited.

Flora watched the two of them from afar, unsure what was going on. She sneaked slowly behind the older woman and peered into plastic bag. She saw mushrooms. As a city girl, she wasn't really sure what the mushrooms were for and why the two were acting so fishy. A new ingredient to liven up the spirits, she supposed. But, what if they were poisonous? Flora had never given a thought to such things when she lived in the old world.

"Valerie? What..?" Flora pointed to the bag full of mushrooms.

"Oh dear me," the older woman nearly jumped, she was startled by the younger woman.

She panicked slightly at the inquiry, "Oh these? Um...new ingredients that the hunters found. White mushrooms. Haven't had any here yet."

"These are pretty big for white mushrooms."

"They're like that before you cook them," Valerie hoped that the girl would stop asking questions soon.

"Ah," Flora accepted the answer and returned to her place, cutting vegetables, "But..."

"Hmm?" The Mrs. Wilson nearly jumped again.

The older woman had a mental sigh, unsure how far she could have continued with the farce.

------

0930

"Your sister-in-law's got a fine ass mate," Richard said to Ewan who sat quietly with his rifle.

"Aw cheer up, don't be a bore. It was a compliment," Richard laughed.

They had been watching the pair fight off the hordes that were now gathered. The two strangers managed to thin the ranks of the dead, until the older man appeared to have run out of bullets.

"Damn it I need to go help them," Ewan said.

Richard grabbed him by the collar, "Don't be a fool Ewan," he swallowed, "They killed William. And now you're gonna go save them?"

The hunter knew how to act. His eyes had crocodile tears that lent an intensity and conviction that convinced the other man. Ewan believed him, so he sat down.

Richard peered into his binoculars again; he saw some cracks ring from a nearby hill just past the field enclosed by the stone wall.

"A newcomer," Richard watched her closely.

She had dark skin and wavy hair beneath a ridiculous looking helmet. For some reason she looked familiar, then something clicked in his mind, it was the same woman that shot Abel.

What are you up to? he wondered.

She came to the chopper once the zeds had been cleared and the two men on top jumped down to meet her. They conversed for a bit until the older man went to the wall...to piss.

Then suddenly the younger man smacked the woman to the ground and jumped on her.

"A little tiger aren't we? Look at that wee bastard. He's been deprived," Richard snickered, "Dom, I think this one's for you. You can be her knight in shining armor."

Dominic scoped the rifle and aimed at the younger man who was on top of the woman, and he pulled the trigger. The kid doubled over from what he could see.

Richard whooped, "Good shot!"

The boy was still writhing on the ground in pain, another hunter, Clive, ended that pain.

There were some faint screams and the old man disappeared into the woods. Dominic pulled the trigger again and missed the woman, who scrambled to safety behind the chopper.

"Damn it man, I thought you were in the Forces! Didn't they teach you how to shoot?" Richard taunted.

Dominic shrugged it off. The man's insults were only skin deep in his mind, but his motivations were dubious.

One of Richard's loyalists grabbed his own rifle and checked for the woman who appeared from behind the chopper and made a dash for the wall where the old man pissed.

The hunter pulled the trigger, hitting the duffle bag, but hoping that it penetrated and got through to her leg.

"Again, again," Richard yelled.

The hunter missed her as she crawled.

"Shit," the hunter sighed. The woman appeared to have escaped.

"Clive, Finley, go check out the chopper." Richard descended the hill heading in the opposite direction, followed by Ewan and two of his loyalists, "Ewan, you're with me."

"Where are you goin'?" Dominic asked from the crest.

"You, Simon, and the others go check the chopper for supplies. I'm takin' these three to Penrith. Just head back to Upton when you're done."

"Penrith? What for?"

"Supplies," Richard yelled back, but he whispered to himself, "And business."

He wasn't really going to Penrith.

------

Two men walked along a forest road, one was armed with a pistol and a crowbar, the other with a shotgun.

"Somebody oughta do something about those Haven people. We haven't heard anything from Jake or Sam since they went out with them. They've been missing for six fucking days," said the first one.

The second man sighed, "I miss her too man, but...you have to accept the possibility that she's..."

"Gone? No. Fuck that, she's still alive somewhere and I need to find her," the first man spat.

The two were knocked over by another man who seemed to be running for his life. They fell against the brush.

"Jesus Christ it's one of them!" said the second man.

The first man had his pistol ready and was about to fire until, "Charles? Charles is that you?"

"Oh fuck, thank man," Charles was out of breath.

"Charles what happened? And where's Benson?"

"It was..it was.." Charles tried to catch his breath, "Bitch from Haven. She shot 'im."

"What? Haven?" the second man stood up.

"Bloody hell I knew it! We need to tell Jane," the first man's triumphant appeal was cut short when he fell to the ground at the sound of several cracks.

Then the second man jerked as the pellets hit him and fell over. Both of their bodies were slumped on the ground, blood pouring profusely from their wounds. They coughed up blood and choked for air.

"Ah shit!" Charles, completely stunned for a moment, got up and ran off in the direction the two men came.

Out of the nearby brush, Richard stepped out and took off his beanie, revealing his flowing hair that had not been shaved. He ran his hand through his hair and looked off in the direction that the old man had run. This would be as far as they would track him. He pulled out a pistol and fired several rounds randomly into the same region that the old man fled, hoping he would hear them on his run back to camp. It would be a nice little signal, Richard thought. Once that was done, he holstered the pistol and looked down at the two lifeless bodies.

"Sorry mates. A man does what he needs to do to survive."

He pulled out a Bowie knife from his jacket, and proceeded to sever the heads from the corpses. Blood squirted onto his jacket and face which he wiped off. It took him a couple of minutes, but he managed to brutally decapitate them.

Then he carved into their stomachs crudely the word, "Haven." He put the beanie back on, and then he slipped back into the woods.

------

Tilo sat waiting in Elizabeth's room. The door opened and Elizabeth came in, followed by Rory.

"He can be trusted," she said of Rory.

"Professor King," the lad nodded.

"I hope for my son's sake," Elizabeth paused, "That we can weather this storm."

"I know I won't be strong enough to take over, but I need to be once Richard is out of the picture," she turned to Tilo, "You should probably leave Professor, I don't know what Richard will do if he found you here. He might already have suspicions, what with Sandra gone already. The man is a pure psychopath."

Tilo shook his head, "No, I think he's responsible for more than just sir Kenneth's death. I have to find closure for my friends."

"And we have reason to believe he was responsible for the deaths of several people from Eden Valley."

"The caravan park people?" Rory asked.

"Yeah, I don't know if he's trying to orchestrate a war between us and Eden Valley over misconceptions."

"Dear God, he is mad." Elizabeth covered her mouth with her hands.

------

1100

"Shit!" Simon screamed, as a zed lunged at him. He blew its skull to bits, but more of them came after that one.

"Look it's the kid!" Clive pointed out as he spotted the re-animated corpse of the kid that he had killed. Wounds and everything in his torso where the hunter had shot him.

"Damn thair a' place. Jist keep shootin'!" Finley howled, as a bullet from his rifle connected with another zed.

"Comon! Let's get out of here! Leave them damn it!" Dominic waved at them and they began their dash back toward Upton through the woods.

The hunters dropped whatever supplies they were carrying to lighten the load to allow them a quicker pace. They were being pursued by a horde of walkers that had appeared out of nowhere. They had left the crash site about twenty minutes ago.

One of the hunters, Clive, was unaware of the wound he had acquired on his arm when the undead came out of nowhere. Amid the fear and the adrenaline that was pumping him onward to Upton, he completely lost sensation of the pain.

-----

Back at Upton, Tilo and Elizabeth were seated in the parlor. The former's stomach was grumbling, he was hungry for not eating breakfast. Mrs. Wilson told him that he could dine with them during lunch.

"He's back!" Rory swung down the stairs.

Tilo was slightly startled by the younger man, but he was a foreigner, unaware of their routines and protocols.

It was usually the person on watch's job to tell the hunters at the door to open up for any friendlies they spotted from the window on the second or third floors.

The hunters immediately opened the door, Tilo remained in his seat, unaware who had returned. Perhaps it was Richard. Several men shuffled in and they conversed in the hallway, their voices mingling in the air.

"Aw fuck, I'm hungry. Mrs. Wilson is lunch ready?"

"Almost," a soft sweet voice replied from the kitchen.

The words were crude and impolite, and the tone was coarse, carrying the air of a scoundrel. It was Richard.

The man stepped into the parlor, and placed the gun on an end table. He noticed Elizabeth and the old man that visited before.

"Lizzie," He nodded, "And you," he looked to Professor King.

"I remember you...you're..."

"Professor King," Tilo answered.

Richard chuckled, "Yes a professor. A Professor King, or a King Professor."

It wasn't really funny.

"You were here last time, when Kenneth was still here."

"Yeah. I've heard, I'm terribly sorry to hear about it."

Tilo noticed that the man fell silent, whether it was half-hearted or earnest, he did not know. He leaned toward the former though, Brand could not be trusted.

"Is he joining us for lunch?" Richard asked Elizabeth.

She nodded,"Yes."

Ever since Kenneth departed, Richard became increasingly verbal, forcing Elizabeth onto the defensive. She forced herself to voice her opinions, lest she came off weak and be swept aside by Brand and his cronies. Upton Abbey belonged to her family, and she had to try at least.

------

1200

Mrs. Wilson sent Flora out, the kitchen was all hers now. She decided to create a separate, smaller stew just for Richard. The water vapor continued to rise from both pots as she managed and took care of them.

She pulled the large white a. phalloides from the plastic bag that Lizzie had given her. There were a lot, and every single one of them was for Richard. She swallowed before she set to work. She hoped the things would not release any poisonous spores that might kill her. Immediately, she took the knife and began slicing the mushrooms and then dicing them until they were bite sized bits. She cut several down even further until they resembled cheese gratings to ensure that if he did not eat the large chunks, he would at least sip the soup with the little grains in it. Then she balled the plastic bag up and hid it inside one of the counter top drawers.

She wiped her head of sweat, and every few minutes she checked behind her back to make sure no one was entering the kitchen. She swallowed, and proceeded to dump the many mushroom chunks into Richard's stew. Then she stirred them and she was about to taste the flavor on accident as she raised the spoon up to her lips. Then she remembered not to, breathing heavily at her very close call with death.

She proceeded to spoon Richard's bowl first, get it over with. The old woman made sure that she scooped all of the white chunks into his bowl.

------

Elizabeth, Tilo, Richard, Ewan, and only the other hunters were eating at the table. Everyone else was eating elsewhere.

Mrs. Wilson watched closely as Richard looked at the bowl of soup. It looked as if he wasn't going to eat it.

Shit, Tilo thought. He might have to improvise and devise another method of killing Brand. In the meantime he hoped the man would at least sip the soup.

"What is this white stuff?" Richard asked, unfamiliar with the new ingredient.

Tilo and Elizabeth were both cold with fear, as Mrs. Wilson answered.

"Oh those?" Mrs. Wilson paused, "Those are mushrooms, we started grow'n them recently."

"Mushrooms?" said one of the hunters, "'Ow come I didn't get any?"

Richard had no hint of suspicion, as he finished the soup. Tilo and Elizabeth were relieved.

"Oh..." she was panicking, Elizabeth and Tilo eyed her as they spooned some of the other soup into their mouths.

"Well, ay suppose I may hae scooped th' only mushrooms of th' soup intae Richard's bowl," she smiled, "We only had two."

"Seconds Miss," Richard handed her the bowl.

Mrs. Wilson took the bowl and went directly into the kitchen, once she was beyond the conversation of the table, she breathed a sigh. Anxiety washed away from her.

Once lunch was finished, most of the hunters disbanded and headed back to their posts.

Only Richard remained with Elizabeth and Tilo. And so there they were, the man who had robbed them of their friends and families.

Tilo was never a man of action, but he wished to God at that moment that he had a shotgun or something to shoot the man with, and clean this pestilence from the face of the Earth. The old man, however, kept his emotions tightly knotted in this confrontation. Any sudden expressions would only give the man a hint.

"Trade huh? I don't think you'd have anything that we would need, or want." The man's voice was dry and rough.

"Not even medical supplies?" Tilo tried to played it cooly.

Hoping to bide some time, maybe he would be lucky enough to see the mushrooms take effect. Highly unlikely though, as Rishi said, the symptoms would be hidden anywhere from six to thirty hours after ingestion. Of course, that was only for one mushroom. Neither of them, Tilo or Elizabeth, knew that Mrs. Wilson added all fourteen mushrooms into Richard's stew.

"You guys will need it more than we do." Richard said calmly.

Tilo's eyebrow raised.

There was a brief moment of silence before Richard communicated his thought fully.

"That's right I killed your friends."

What was that?

That's right I killed your friends.

Did he just say that?

"What...what are you...?" Tilo was lost.

Elizabeth stared on in horror.

Why would he...

"I know all about your little group. And frankly I'm fuckin' sick of you pricks coming into our territory. You made it out of here last time, but you won't be making it out this time."

"Richard!" Elizabeth cried.

"Shut up woman," as he said this, there were several large thumps coming from the foyer, the sound of glass breaking and screams followed after.

"What in Go...?" Richard's attention was toward the direction from which the sound came, and they immediately rushed to the main hallway.

They found two hunters, Clive and another hunter holding the front doors as they were being beaten upon by the zed outside. Cracks rang out from the second floor.

"Shit they're fuckin' everywhere! Get a board or somethin' to cover the damn door!"

Simon was sprawled on the ground bleeding out of a wound on his abdomen and others on his arms. He was slipping in and out of consciousness. Dominic and Ewan were tending to him, they examined his body for bites. Mr. Wilson came with medical kits.

"What the hell happened?" Richard stared in complete confusion.

"It was th' feckin' kid, ah swear," Finley cried with his Scottish accent.

"We were coming back from the crash site and zed just came out nowhere, one of us misfired and shot Simon by mistake."

By this time, Finley's wife and daughters came to see what was happening.

"Just keep shootin!" a voice screamed from upstairs.

Rory came down the stairs, stopping halfway, "We need more gunners up here, there's stiffs everywhere outside!"

"We'll pull him out of here, Rory come and help." Dominic and Finley dragged the wounded Simon into the back.

The hunter holding the door back against the beating bodies saw that his partner had gone limp. Clive had a feral look in his eyes. They had turned milky white, then the hunter noticed the bite on Clive's arm.

"Jesus..." his prayer was cut short.

Clive dove for him and sank his teeth into the man.

The doors, with no one to hold them, fell open with a giant thundering.

And the bodies poured in like a wave, falling over, because the entire time they had been pushing against the doors.

"They're inside!" someone yelled, and everyone began to flee.

Tilo and Elizabeth fled down in separate directions, Brand and another hunter ran in another direction.


------


Halfway down the hall Elizabeth met up with Dominic and Finley.

"Fuck! Behind you!" Finley fired a round, the walker's head exploded into bits against the wall.

"Elizabeth we gotta get out of here quick!"

"But my son!" she protested, the tears of fear and panic streaming down her face.

"We can't stay comon'!" Dominic grabbed her wrist, but Finley stayed behind.

"Fin! What are you doing?"

"Ah need tae fin' mah fowk," Finley disappeared into another room.


------


Tilo did not know where he was running, just that he was running somewhere. The manor was filled with twisting hallways and rooms all interconnected. He wanted a god damned map or maybe even a lighted path to tell him where to go. Fueled by adrenaline, and fear, and perhaps something greater.

Then he spotted something hiding in the corner. It was Eric. Screams, cries, gunfire echoed in the hallways. Bones broke and unnatural growls followed.

I couldn't save your father in time. I won't make that mistake with you.

He grabbed the boy and held onto him as the child buried his head into Tilo's shoulder, and the old man ran for dear life, away from the hordes.

A zed fell out in front him and almost made his bones jump out of his skin, but he darted past the slow walker.


------


Several weird things were happening in Richard's mind at this point as he tried to recover his thoughts. He was wondering what the hell was going on.

"Keep shooting!" Richard screamed, firing his assault rifle. The repetitive rattles shook the entire room and perhaps even the ground they stood on. Blood popped and mists of red sprayed the walls.

He spotted Rory running, this was his chance to clean out the pests he thought. But weren't there greater concerns to deal with? Brand didn't think so.

He fired seven rounds that hit Rory, the impact sounded like hard snowballs as the boy shrieked with a cracked voice and fell over.

Then a sharp pain jabbed Richard in the stomach. What the hell? And it got increasingly worse. He fell over in wrenching torment, his insides were being clawed apart. He felt a great pain build up at his rectum, boiling almost.

"Argh what the fuck..." Richard tried to speak, sweat almost covering his face.

The vein on his forehead bulged and he was sucking his breath in to deal with the agony.

"Mate, are you alright?" the burly man, Jeremy was still firing.

Richard got up and tried to walk away, but only succeeded in stumbling.

"Where the fuck are you goin'?" Jeremy cried, but he had to maintain fire on the undead.


------


Tilo was running for a bit, his breath was nearly gone, the weight of Eric was slowing him down, but he couldn't drop the child. He continued until he felt two incredible shocks hammer him in the back.

He cried out in pain. And immediately he was sent skidding to the ground into another room, but he was still conscious enough to make sure that Eric wasn't the cushion for his fall.

Tilo and Eric fell beside a hunter covered in blood.The deceased man had a dead man's grip on the shotgun.

It was Richard who had shot him in the hallway. The man's discomfort now doubled to the point where he could barely gather breath. It shifted from his stomach to his nether regions and then back and swirled around like a hurricane.

"Goddamnit!" he cried like a demon.

Tilo held the child, who was crying in his arms. Tilo was aware of the possibility that he had been shot. He took his free hand and rubbed the area that was throbbing on his back and brought it to his eyes.

Thick, dark red, hemoglobin and plasma covered his shaking hand. And he gasped for air, the sting slowly spreading across his back. He looked at the child whose teary eyes looked back into Tilo's for hope.

This is the end

Dominic and Elizabeth had ran past many of the gunfights, the zombies, and the dying. They even ran past Brand, noting the man clutching his stomach tightly and they reached the room Tilo was in.

"Eric!" Elizabeth cried, grabbing her son from Tilo's hands.

"Mommy!" the boy reached out to her.

"Professor King! We need to get you out of here!"

With what little strength he had left, "Leave me...go...there's too many of them."

"We can't leave you!"

"He's right Elizabeth, we gotta go before they surround the place," as the corporal said this, they heard zed coming from down the hall, someone cursed and screamed in agony.

"Elizabeth comon'! We don't have time!" Dominic had his shotgun, peering out the hallway.

She was reluctant to leave, but she saw Tilo nod to her. She left, mouthing two words. Thank you. Tilo gave one last glance to the child that resembled William.

And then they were gone.

Gunfire and screams continued.

Tilo laid there thinking. He looked over to the dead hunter, and pulled the man's bloody grip off the gun with his own bloody hands. He ignored the pangs on his back as his breath faltered.

He looked up through the windows where the sun shone through, and he wondered if there was another reality in which this never actually happened. He wanted to laugh at himself about how his last dying moments mirrored the way he lived, but he knew he didn't have the strength to do so.


------


1430

After trekking through the wilderness on nothing but fear, Dominic, Elizabeth, and Eric reached the walls that Tilo knew.


------


Gunfire and screams continued back at Upton.

Tilo was thinking about whether he was selfish for saving only Eric and not other people.

My only friend the end.

Alright everyone, smile! This one's for the album.


Horatio, are you alright?

My boy's going to university...

He missed his boys and his wife.

The faces skipped past him, as he faded in and out of reality. He didn't have time to cry, because time was gone.

He saw a zed out of the corner of his eye, it seemed to be a slow one. His dizziness getting the best of him.

He pulled the shotgun's barrel up to his chin. He would miss the friends at Haven. He didn't even get the chance to spend Christmas with them.

Were they worth it?

Yes.

Tilo's last feeling was his finger pulling the trigger.

Beautiful friend, my only friend, the end.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callie Winters Character Portrait: Benjamin Kinney Character Portrait: Delaney Byron Character Portrait: Kiera Trennan Character Portrait: Dominic Fields Character Portrait: Alison Carter
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#, as written by Bosch
November 10th. 2013

Haven.

Early afternoon


Carter was getting sick of being off her feet the entire time and had taken to pacing the kitchen as a way to keep active. She was standing by the window when a flake of snow impacted on the pane. She looked up and saw the clouds had turned a light grey but she knew better.

“There’s a white out coming.”

“How can you tell?” Callie asked from the table.”

“My office was the sky. Trust me.” Carter answered.

A silence fell between the two for a few moments before Carter spoke again.

“The colonials are back... and they brought a friend.”

Callie’s chair screeched on the tile floor as she pushed it back and raced to meet them. By the time she arrived at Doctor Short’s medical bay the doctor was already working on Hoppy.

Callie went back outside where she met with Ben, Kiera and the new arrival.

“So I take it this guy is trust worthy?”

Ben shrugged so it fell to Kiera to speak0. “He helped us get the things Hoppy needed. He’s an EMT.”

“You’re a Paramedic?”

“Yep. Name’s Jay I...”

“I don’t care right now. We have a wounded girl in there. Go and see if you can help Doctor Short.”

"Yeah before I do though there's a dead woman in the back of the car."

"What?"

"You said she'd live!" Ben stood anger or possibly grief flashing in his eyes.

"Yeah she would have if we got her to a hospital in time. Could have been an internal bleed."

"Alright I think I have a man who can deal with that. For now get in there and help Doctor Short."

Jay nodded and stepped back into the room. Through the door Callie could hear muffled voices which quickly went from annoyed to calm and professional.

“Good find. We need someone like him, I don’t think we’ll be able to dispatch Doc Short if something happens to a Scav in the field so he can fill that role. Anything else to report?”

“Who’s the new kid?” Carter said stepping into the corridor.

“Jay, a paramedic. Ben and Kiera say he’s ok.” Callie said, the fact that neither of the scavs had actually said that slipping her mind.

“Good. Another saw bones is... good.” Carter said nodding as she turned and hobbled back to the Kitchen.

#

After Callie had received a fuller debrief from the pair she returned to the kitchen where Carter was updating the medical supplies list.

“What’s with the new hairdo?” Carter asked Callie.

“What? I haven’t had a chop in weeks.” Callie said as her hands instinctively went to her hair.

“I meant Ben.”

“Oh, I like it.” Callie noted. “Reminds me of Britney.”

“Britney?”

“Spears.”

Carter shook her head. “Your taste in music is terrible. It’s not a bad idea though. Long hair can be grabbed and pulled down. He’s thinking.”

“Yeah I suppose so. You know I’ve been thinking too. It’s been weeks since I’ve been outside Haven...”

“So? You’re not missing anything, it’s not exactly Ibiza out there.”

“Yeah I know, that’s what I mean is I’m worried about being out of shape.”

“Oh my God Callie, we’re not having a ‘does this make me look fat talk’.”

“No I mean before we found Haven and defended it Monroe and I ran everywhere. I mean we had to live on our wits. Now I’m thinking about what I said about Short.”

“What?”

“That now we have Jay he’ll be able to respond if the Scav’s get into serious trouble. Like an ambulance. I was thinking though what happens if we have to run?”

“Well I’d be up shit creek.” Carter said lifting her crutch to demonstrate her point.

“Well we’re not going to leave you are we? I mean the support people at Haven are getting it a little too easy. The Scav’s go out most days so they’re pretty athletic and Mark works out but apart from that everyone is just sitting.”

“Mark lifts weights. Great for manhandling, sure, but not so great for running.” Carter said finally seeing Callie’s point. “You want to run a PE class?”

“I think so. If Zack is going to get me, he’s still going to have to work for it.”

#

Tilo was fully briefed for his trip to Upton Abbey and Sandra was under close watch although no longer bound. Callie was feeling nervous again but instead of fretting and going over the endless maps of the area or searching the airwaves for traffic she pulled on her running shoes.

She spent an hour just going around the perimeter of the Farm. It wasnt a long distance but she did it multiple times. It reminded her of a Louis Theroux Documentary about American prisons and how the inmates just endlessly did laps of the exercise yard while devising new ways to stab each other with toiletries.

It was cold and as promised the snow had begun to fall lightly but it wasn’t lying becuase of the wet ground. The grey clouds had turned a nasty looking black though and Callie hoped Carter was wrong.

Callie had surprised herself and she had been able to run for quite some time. Her problem had always been pacing. She’d go too fast at the start and have nothing left in the tank for later. It was a constant battle to refrain from going too fast. She came to a halt and resolved to do the same thing again the next day.

She jogged back to the farm house and got ready for bed.

#


September 21st 2013

The M6.

North of Liverpool.


Callie wrapped her arms around her knees and rocked slowly while she shivered in the wind. The cold air was cutting under the motorway overpass and the column she was leaning against provided little protection. She was somewhere north of Liverpool on the M6 and was dog tired. She glanced at the street light overhead and remembered the weird orange light they used to emit. Now it did nothing but she could see the stars.

At least she would have been able to if she wasn’t under a motorway underpass.

Her outbreak story was similar to most. She’d fled to her mother’s house and spent a few weeks there but she’d left after the old woman turned. She then travelled to the Anfield Evacuation site when she heard military choppers were on the way. However on her arrival she could see the place was chaos. Thousands of people were straining to get in and it was clear the place was a powder keg. The sight reminded her of the pictures of the Superdome during Hurricane Katrina.

Callie was smart enough to turn back, if America couldn’t get it together enough to make that work there was no way the country that elected David Cameron would be able to.

Without a plan or place to stay she decided her best bet was move north, the City was becoming increasingly dangerous and the undead seemed to be everywhere. This was how she found herself on the M6 with nothing to her name.

Then she remembered the weight in her pocket.

She snaked a hand into it and produced a tin Heniz Baked Beans. She flipped the tin and looked for the ring pull. She checked the other end and came up empty. That was Callie’s breaking point.

“Oh fuck it!” She roared.

“Shhh!”

Callie nearly jumped out of her skin when she noticed a man standing at the far end of the underpass. He was dressed warmly and was carrying a large rucksack.

“S-s-s-sorry.” Callie stammered.

“What’s the matter?” The man asked as he slowly approached.

Callie quickly got to her feet and took a step back.

“Look I ain’t gonna hurt you.” The man said as he took another step forward. Callie dropped her hand to her pocket and produced a large kitchen knife.

“Ok. Ok. Be calm.” The man said as he raised his hands. “I just want to give you something.”

“I bet you do creep.”

“Look it’s not like that. You want to stab then stab away.” The man said as he slowly took off his rucksack and opened it. After some rummaging he produced a tin opener. “I see your problem.” He said pointing to the dented tin of Baked Beans that Callie had dropped when she sprung up.

“Oh.” Callie said but she kept the knife pointed at him.

“Look, my name is Jonathan Monroe and I don’t want to hurt you. I haven’t eaten in a while and I was wondering if you’d like to split that?”

Callie glanced wildly from Monroe to the Tin of Beans. “You Scottish?”

“Northern Irish. Your accent is all over the shop.”

“Born in London, but I grew up in Liverpool.” Callie replied.

Monroe nodded. “They give you a name in either of those places?”

“Callie Winters.”

“Ok Callie. I’m going to pick up the beans and then open the beans. Are you ok with that?”

Callie nodded and the man approached the tin like it was liable to explode at any moment. His overly dramatic gestures brought a faint smile to Callie’s face. He fanned his fingers like Indiana Jones might do and quickly snatched the tin off the ground. He then exhaled loudly and mock wiped his brow.

“That was a close one.” He said as he opened the tin. He then returned to his rucksack and produced a white plastic spoon. He sunk the spoon into the cold beans and took a bite.

“Yeah, they’re clean.” He said with his mouth full. He then walked up to Callie and gingerly handed her the tin.

Callie took the tin with her left hand but still hand the knife in her right.

“Gonna have to put something down.” Monroe said with a smile.

Slowly Callie slid the knife back into the pocket and Monroe relaxed slightly. She took a bite of the cold beans.

#

? ? ?

Broadgreen Primary School,

Liverpool.


Callie was back in her classroom now, looking at a room full of people. It wasn’t her class though. Instead of children sitting at the desks there were adults. Slowly she realised who they were. Tilo, Shinji , Hoppy, Monroe, Mark, Laney, Ben, Carter, Kim, Toby, Gary, Rishi, Kiera and Jesus.

“What is going on...” Before she could complete her thought the bell rang and Kim, Toby and Monroe stood and shuffled towards the door. Monroe stopped and picked up the rucksack, or as he had called it his Bergen, he’d been carrying the first time she met him.

“Monroe wait. What’s happening?”

Monroe stopped and looked at Callie like she had two heads. “It’s the bell, I’m going home.”

“Wait but what about the rest?”

“You’re the teacher.”

“But I don’t know what to do.” Callie protested.

“You’ll figure it out, Heinz.” He said with a wink.

He then walked to the door and stepped out of the classroom. Callie was going to run after him but stopped. The rest of the class needed her.

#

Haven

November 11th

Morning.


Callie woke abruptly as if from a nightmare but instead of the usual weighty feeling in the pit of her stomach she felt good. Hopeful, for the first time in a long time, this was a feeling she could grasp.

She swung her legs out of bed and made her way down stairs to Gary’s room. She knocked the door but didn’t get a response. She twisted the knob and stepped in. Much like where she had been sleeping many unconscious bodies were strewn about the place. Despite the recent losses Haven was still a very small place.

She found Gary curled up in a corner and gently shook him awake.

Gary flinched and knocked his head against the back wall.

“Jesus Christ Callie, you scared me half to death.” Gary muttered.

“I need help with something.” Callie whispered.

“What now? It’s...” He looked for an alarm clock that wasn’t there. Gary wasn’t much of a morning person. “It’s really early.”

“It’ll only take a moment.”

“Yeah... just give me a sec, I’ll meet you down there.” He said defensively.

“No you’ll fall back asleep. Come on it’s important.”

“I know Callie, just, just give me a moment.”

“Gary you would sleep thought anything, get up.” Callie said.

“Callie I’d put a tenner on it he’s sporting morning wood.” Mark said from across the room followed by a few muffled laughs from the supposedly sleeping room. “It’s biology.”

“Gross.” Callie said as she stood back up. “Meet me downstairs when you’re... awake.”

Callie then left the room.

“Thanks Mark.” Gary moaned.

“What? It’s a natural thing.” Mark replied.

“Yeah well I don’t have one and now Callie thinks I do.”

“Really?” Mark said with an eyebrow raised.

“Really, I don’t.” Gary replied.

“Stand up then.”

Gary waited a moment. “Fuck you.” He said, beaten.

“That’s what I thought. Think about Grandma or a sad puppy or something.” Mark said as he rolled over in his sleeping bag. “Usually works for me.”

#

Ten minutes later Gary joined Callie in the room Gary was using as a tech lab of sorts.

“Mark was only kidding around earlier, I was just prett...”

Callie raised a silencing hand. “Enough biology. I’ve had my fill of bloke problems for the day and I haven’t had breakfast yet.”

“Uh ok so what’s so important?” Gary said happy the conversation was moving on.

“I want you to get this working.” Callie said as she produced a small black mirror.

“Really? Is that the best use of resources?”

“Yes it is. There’s surviving and then there’s being an asshole.”

Gary nodded. “Sure all it needs is a charge.”

#

Later

Carter was already getting pissed off with the crutches. She’d only ever broken one other bone, her finger during a squash game. As she hobbled down the hallway and into the Kitchen though she could hear something new.

Something Bad New.

Carter stepped into the kitchen and saw a beaming Callie Winters sitting at the kitchen table with a very depressed looking Mark Lawson and a very confused looking Shinji Yamada.

“You must be kidding me.” Carter exclaimed.

“She’s flipped.” Mark said. “I haven’t heard this since the nineties.”

“Is this Aqua?” Carter asked.

“You bet ya!” Callie said happily as her head bopped to the music.

“これは地獄です” Shinji said.

“In English.” Callie said in what Carter assumed was her teacher voice.

“Shite.” Shinji said slowly trying to approximate Mark’s scouse accent. Mark tapped him gently on the shoulder and nodded.

Carter walked up and approached the source of the music. It was a black I phone with a photo of an elderly woman as the desktop. Carter turned the volume down and turned to Callie.

“What is going on?”

Callie frowned like a thespian but quickly explained. “Things have been a little tense around here recently and that’s not healthy. I figured the group could use a morale booster. Then I saw Laney and Tilo singing so I thought music would be a good way to build morale.”

“So you got them Aqua?” Carter said. “That would drive anyone to suicide.”

“Hey that’s my best play list.” Callie said. “Ok it’s not to everyone’s taste but I’ve said to Gary, it’s ok if people want to charge MP3 players and listen to some music. It’s not that big a drain on the Solar panels and he says if the only thing they having running is music a charge should last for ages.”

“So I’m guessing the phone can’t make calls or get internet access?”

Gary, who had just entered the kitchen, answered her question.

“No, while the Net and phones are all controlled by computer programmes those programmes and hardware need engineers to keep them running, not to mention electricity. Callie’s I phone is little more than a cruel and unusual torture device now.” Gary said while shaking his head. “I feel like Oppenheimer.”

“Right. One more question.” Carter said.

“Shoot.” Callie said.

“Does this thing have Candy Crush?”

#

Later

Carter and Callie had decided on a playlist that suited both of them but to an observer it sounded like the playlist of someone in the grip of a dissociative identity disorder episode. It swung from bubblegum pop to dubstep.

Carter adjusted her leg which was propped up on a chair opposite her and took a drink of tea.

“You know it’s funny. This feels like any other office job.” She commented. “I don’t know why you stick to that coffee, you haven’t even touched it.”

“Yeah but I like the smell. It feels like the staff room at school.” Callie said with a shake of her head. “We used to fight over the radio in there as well. Radio 1 vs Classic FM. Well the rest did I was normally too busy getting caught up on marking.”

Carter laughed. “A school teacher. I was thinking about that earlier when you told Shinji to speak English. Guess you’re still teaching in a way.”

“Yeah, it’s a pretty big career change I guess in some ways. Similar in others. You want what best for the kids but want them to be able to cope in the real world. Back then it meant singing ‘Head Shoulders Knees and Toes’ now it means making sure everyone is armed.”

“So that means you view us a kids?”

“No that’s not what I meant... I mean I just feel... responsible. Does that make sense?”

Carter smiled and returned to her notes. “Completely.”

“Excuse me, I wondering if I might have a word.” It was Rishi standing in the corner of the room nervously.

“Go for it.” Callie said casually.

“It’s a delicate matter.” Rishi said shakily.

Callie looked at Carter who shrugged.

“Ok.” Callie said as she left the kitchen and stepped into the hall with Rishi, the man kept walking though and brought Callie to the room he had been using as his lab. He sat on his chair and exhaled loudly. Callie eyed Watson suspiciously.

“This thing had better come up with a cure. God the risk we’re taking Monroe would have had kittens. You still got that shotgun?”

“Yes it’s... Where is it now?” Rishi mumbled

Callie shook her head and lifted a stack of papers covered in insane scribbles from the top of the Harry. “You need this in case that gets lose.”

Rishi didn’t respond.

“Ok Rishi you’re freaking me out now.”

“I reviewed the Tape of Byron’s last outing.”

“Ok and? She got the guns and did your research.”

“Perhaps you should watch the video.”

Rishi played a short video clip of Laneys encounter with Benson and Charles.

“What the hell?” Callie said when the recording had ended.

“I didn’t know what to do. I was going to go to Byron with it directly but...”

“No do not do that. Tell nobody of this we don’t know how Laney will want to play this situation. Let her work it out on her own and come to us if she needs it.”

“Alright. What about her attackers.”

“I know the name Benson, it’s not exactly common.”

“Really? Well I’ve done my part now back to the research.”

"What about the woman Ben, Kiera and Jay brought in?"

"The test are on going but she..."

"She turned." Callie said flatly.

"Yes but that doesn't mean the theory is completely sound."

"Good indicator though."

"Yes but more tests are required."

"So where is she?"

"Dead. For good. I thought two test subjects might be a little dangerous even for me. Now if you don't mind..."

He bundled Callie out of the room and towards the door she stopped just short though.

“I have one question, Rishi.”

“I removed Watson’s vocal cords. I’m attempting to study communication between the undead.”

“How’d you know I was going to ask about that.”

“Of course you were its elementary my dear Winters.” Rishi said with massive smile obviously pleased with his attempt at humour.

#

Callie went directly to the radio and got in contact with Jane Meadows.

“Jane I was wondering about two of your runners. A guy called Benson, he was part of the rescue mission to save one of our runners and another older guy.”
“Charles, have you seen them?”

“Uh no why?” Callie lied.

“Both have gone missing. They left camp just after they rescued your man.”

“Missing?”

“Well maybe that’s a bit far. They left took weapons and supplies too. We guessed they had just left the group.”

“Right well they assaulted one of my people.”

“My God, what?”

“They assaulted one of my people.” Callie repeated.

“Are they alright?”

“Yes I think so but I’m just giving a heads up. Those guys are dangerous.”

“That doesn’t make any sense Benson was always so... I mean he was always one of the first to volunteer. He volunteered to find your man.”

“People change I guess.” Callie said.


#

1430

Haven.


Dominic Fields stumbled towards Haven with Elizabeth and Eric Rand in tow. When a voice called out from the town. Instinctively he pushed himself in front of Elizabeth and her child.

“Who’s that?” A Scouse voice called out.

“Do not fire! We have a child!” Dominic shouted.

“I know retard, I can see you. Who are you?” Was the reply.

“I’m Dominic Fields, from Upton. I’m with Elizabeth Rand. Tilo King sent us.”

“Did he? Well then he would have also mentioned told you we don’t let armed strangers inside our walls. Drop the guns.”

Dominic complied and set his weapons on the ground in front of him. After a few moments a squat but strong looking man was standing in front of him.

“Hands behind your back there chief.” He ordered

Dom got a sinking feeling as his hands were tied behind his back and he was marched into Haven with Elizabeth and Eric in tow.

#

Later.

He was sitting in a kitchen looking at two women who had introduced themselves as Callie Winters and Allison Carter. He could tell Carter was forces from her demeanour, maybe Green Slime or something, but the other woman was different, He couldn’t draw a bead on her.

He’d briefly seen Sandra when Elizabeth and Eric had been reunited with her. Dominic though had been marched straight to the kitchen.

“You say you’re from the Rands?”

“Yes. Tilo king told us to come here, if you want we’ll be on our way...”

“Where is Tilo?” Carter asked.

“He’s back at Upton.” Dominic answered.

“Why isn’t he with you?” Callie asked,

“He got... held up.”

“Held up how?” Callie asked but she could feel the bottom of her stomach in free fall.

“I didn’t have time to check he...”

“Held up how?!” Callie repeated, this time shouting.

“He was shot.”

“What?” Callie screamed. “So you fucking left him?”

“You cunt!” Mark roared as he lifted the butt of his rifle and crashed it into Dom’s face.

“Enough!” Carter screamed and Mark stopped before he could land another blow but he kept the weapon held high. Mark’s eyes shifted to Callie who nodded almost imperceptibly. Mark lowered the Rifle and exhaled loudly like a bull getting ready to charge.

“Take a walk, Mark.” Carter said.

Mark slapped his palm against the wall and roared but he complied.

The passage of events had surprised Dom, Mark looked like a goon but he was a goon who knew his place. It was also apparent while Carter appeared to be in charge the loyalty was to Callie.


“Where was the last place you saw Professor King?” Carter asked. Callie was sitting in her chair quickly going through the map books.

“I don’t know... at Upton Abbey.”

“Be specific. I can have Mark come back in.”

“The library on the ground floor. It’s a mess over there Zombies breeched the walls, the place is crawling. ” Dominic replied. Silence fell as the two women started scribbling on their respective pieces of paper. Dominic thought for an instant about attempting to flee but there was a small Asian guy clutching a shotgun staring directly at him.

“Got it.” Carter said after a few brief seconds and she slid a page to Callie.

Callie lifted the page and her maps then raced out of the kitchen.

“You better pray they find that guy alive or these people will kill you.” Carter said matter-of-factly. The only other person in the room was Shinji so only Dom comprehended her words.

Dominic looked at the floor and remembered the wound he’d seen Tilo with. There was no way, bar a miracle, that King had survived.

#

Callie crashed into the room and bundled a crumpled piece of paper and a map into the hands of the first Scav she saw.

“Tilo’s hurt.”

Job.

King among Men.


Suggested number of Scavs
– 3


Area – Upton Abbey


Objective – Rescue Tilo King.


Information – Tilo King is missing presumed wounded somewhere inside Upton Abbey. He was last seen in the Library on the Ground Floor. Attempts to reach Tilo via radio have proved fruitless. We believe Upton Abbey has been over run. Bring the Paramedic Ray, whoever to provide first aid to Tilo.

A. Carter.

“Hurry.” Callie said as she returned to the Kitchen.

#

Dominic was scared but he could understand where the fury was coming from. Haven had lost one of their people and in a way it heartened him to see them react in this way. It was clear to see they cared for each other, something that had been missing in Upton.

“Were you one of the Hunters?”

“Yes.” Dom replied honestly.

“What happened to Richard Brand?”

“Don’t know. Last I saw of him he was face down outside the Library.”

Callie allowed herself a smile of satisfaction but it occurred to her she had better warn the Scavs of the possibility that Brand was still alive she stood and walked into the hall of the kitchen where the Scavs tasked to get Tilo were prepping.

“There is a possibility Richard Brand is still alive. I’m going to talk to Elizabeth Rand but theres time for you pair to wait. Go and I’ll brief you on the run.”

The Scavs nodded and stepped out into the cold air.

Callie continued to where Sandra and Elizabeth were sitting. The boy was clinging to his mother and clung tighter when Callie entered. She figured in a year or two he would have old enough for her class. Gary was sitting in the corner with a Harry on his lap watching the two women.

“Hello I’m sorry about all this but we’ve had some real problems with the Hunters and Richard Brand over the last few weeks. You understand the need for caution.”

“I was just explaining that to Mrs Rand.” Sandra explained.

“Yes I understand.”

“Good. Now I’ve just sent out a few of our Scavs to rescue Professor King but I need to know what the situation is at Upton Abbey.”

“It’s overrun. Dead everywhere.” Elizabeth said.

“What about Richard Brand?”

“He ate the poison Professor King brought. Last I saw he was bent double in pain.”

“What about Tilo, Professor King?”

Elizabeth looked at the ground. “I am so sorry. Had I known when I sent that...”

“Did you see him die?”

“Excuse me?”

“Did you watch Tilo King die?”

“No, but I mean, his wounds were severe...”

“Are you a doctor?”

“No.”

“So then if you didn’t see him die and you aren’t a doctor you aren’t really in any position to say anything about who’s alive are you?” He voice cracked as she struggled to keep emotion from it.

“Callie.” It was Gary who had spoken. “That’s enough.”

Callie could feel a headache coming on.

“You’re right, sorry.” Callie said. Her rage was misdirected and impotent the only ones who could make a difference were the Scavs.

“I understand. Doctor King, Tilo was, is a good man.” Elizabeth Rand as Callie made her way back to the kitchen.

Once she arrived Carter was still in the middle of her questions. Callie didn’t say a thing but instead walked straight to the radio and contacted the Scavs on the way to Upton.

After she had identified herself she turned and looked at Dom. Both he and Carter had stopped speaking and were looking at Callie.

“Scavs, Richard Brand ate Tilo’s poison but we don’t know if he’s alive or dead. Just a heads up.” Callie said. Her eyes never left Dom’s face and he knew it was a test to see how he’d react. He tried to give nothing away.

“Ok let’s go over this again, Dominic...” Carter began.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callie Winters Character Portrait: Mark Lawson Character Portrait: Dominic Fields Character Portrait: Alison Carter Character Portrait: Erin 'Hoppy' Hooper Character Portrait:
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(Co-written with Rann)

Welcome Party

November 11th, 2013

Hoppy woke up.

It was a fitful sort of thing, the whole ordeal. The struggle between life and death. There wasn't any of that cheesy, cliche'd shit you'd expect of a near-death situation. Just an impending darkness and the vague feeling of needing to fight, rather than blindly accept and go with whatever flow there may or may not have been. And damnit, Hoppy really liked a fight. She knew it was close - given the tube sticking out of her chest and all that. And the pitying looks everyone gave her more or less made sense now. They'd written her off as dead.

Luckily, she didn't like to meet expectations. Never did, really. And this time she'd defied it, just like any other time. She still felt odd in the head - sedatives were probably still in effect, after all. A good thing, because it meant she didn't have to feel the pain of a fucking tube possibly poking into her lung. Her chest was tender, though - didn't need feeling to know that. But breathing wasn't so bad now. Though her leg still felt awkward and alien-ish. Like it wasn't a part of her. She scowled impatiently at it, even as Doctor Short - and this new guy who introduced himself as Jay - tended to her, giving her tests and examinations and whatnot.

Apparently she checked out, and when Hoppy asked for a wheelchair - because fuck, she didn't want to just sit around like a dead weight for however long it took to recover - they gave it to her, more or less easing her into it carefully, which annoyed her even more - being dependent like this was fucking annoying. She almost wondered where the wheelchair came from - but more or less expected Gary to have rigged it together somehow, since her leg was fucking up since the gunshot on that damn boat. Even after waking up, she was relying on people. Being a drain. But there wasn't anything to do about it. And - she realized that she owed Mark an apology for before. The shame somewhat burned at her mind - also she was really damn hungry. So after Short went to call up Mark - the man sauntered into the room, with a nod of the head, and a look of relief.

"You've been out for a while." The man remarked, and Hoppy gave him a bit of a nervous grin in response. How to talk to him? What to say to him? There really wasn't much to it, was there? "How are you feeling?"

Well, that more or less cut out a chance to apologize right then.

"...Tidy." She made a flawlessly acted chuckle - put on the mask, as usual, right? So people don't worry as much as they probably would have. So they'd be at ease. If anything to help, Hoppy could at least do this much. "Feels like I c'n go an' kill zacks 'gain! Easy, easy."

Mark just nodded, and Hoppy was sure he was somewhat dubious, but chose not to contest the lie.

"That's good. Once you can go out on the field again, things should be easier." He patted her on the head, earning another wry smile from the Welsh. "Glad you pulled through. We all are. Almost had to pull Shinji away from his watch of you."

They both laughed a little then, and a pleased feeling set over Hoppy. Though, it was time to get to business. She had to get caught up to speed on whatever she may have missed. Being out for about thirty hours probably meant she missed out on some events. And almost as if on cue, Mark also adopted a more serious face, looking almost slightly ashen. Hoppy, too, wiped the easy expression from her face, and the tone of the room quickly became more somber.

"Tilo went to the Rands." Mark said, and Hoppy's attention went to the man that had invited her for a nice, light-hearted chat under the tree. He was peculiar - and heck, she'd almost embarassed herself pretty badly in front of him that one time. Knowing that for his name to come up probably meant something bad had just happened. Her heart went to her throat as she thought - what if he died? - but she forced it out. Negative thoughts are what made her reclusive in the first place. And that was a disastrous few days for her. Had to at least pretend to be positive. Upbeat. The things Hoppy usually carried with her within Haven. Whatever reason Tilo's name was brought up, they'd be able to handle it. It won't go down like it did with Chip. Or Toby. Or - a painful pang - Monroe. Damnit, they wouldn't lose anyone else. They'd already lost way too much. Hoppy's eyes darted around for her cleaver, the weapon's prescence usually giving her a sense of calm, as if the blade soothed her, whispered that it'd protect her, and by extention, help protect Haven. "To investigate about recent events concerning Richard Brand. Pretty... bad shit. We lost contact of him, Hoppy, so..."

Damnit. Goddamnit. That was it. She was going out, this very damn second, to Upton Abbey, wheelchair and injury be damned. she'd wheel herself there through sheer force of will because fuck they couldn't lose another one. Not another damn person. She couldn't let it happen. She didn't want to be alone again, like she was before Haven, and arguably, at some times, even before the apocalypse even happened. She made a determined face and started pushing on the makeshift wheels, somewhat awkward, out of the room, only to have the handle grabbed by Mark. She glared at him fiercely, resolutely. Because fuck. Just fuck.

"En't losin' anyone else." She muttered. "Let go a' me, damnit ta' 'ell, Mark. En't g'na sit 'round an' wait fer the news like some useless twyp."

"Calm down." The man sounded almost weary. "Don't go off again like you did in Cromwell, okay? Just... stop acting and listen. There is something you can do here, you know. A way to help. You won't just be useless."

She stopped tersely, waiting for an explanation. Because she sure felt like a worthless sack of meat; powerless to do anything right in this world.

"A man, from the Rands is here. In Haven, with two women. Sandra and Elizabeth. He was there when the whole thing happened. Callie-" Mark paused, taking a breath. "You're good at reading people, right, Hoppy? We could use you to help... interrogate him, discern the facts of what happened. Name's Dom." He then turned the wheelchair so that it faced him, Hoppy staring into his eyes. "You can help in this way, at least for now. And once you're better, you can be back out there, doing your thing again. So don't think you're useless."

Hoppy didn't answer, but she as at least calmed down. The girl now was trying to wheel herself in the other direction, to where she assumed the "interrogation" was taking place.

"Anyways, I'm off." Mark said. "Gotta meet up with some people from Eden Valley. You, take care of yourself, alright?"

"Aye." Hoppy murmured in response, already groaning at the effort of using her arms to more or less move the weight of herself, and the wheelchair. "Oh, an', Mark?" He stopped walking. "Can' yew get someone t'get flour, milk, eggs, sugar? an' git Gary t'make a non 'lectric teamer or summat. I got an idea t'cheer things up 'round 'ere." The usual smirk splayed across her face, and a devious narrowing of her eyes. "A real good idea."

----------

1520

The rifle butt to the face did not help Dominic's case. In fact, he believed it revived the other bruise he received in late October. His hands were bound, he wished they weren't. He wanted some ice or something for the bruise, he felt like a headache was about to come on. His lips were chapped, he had been running for most of the day without water to handle his thirst. He watched the two women eye him and circle him like vultures.

"Okay let's go over this again, Dominic..."

He sighed, head fallen to his lap. He felt as if they were getting nowhere. He stayed silent for a moment until he noticed the woman had a cast on her leg, "Where'd you get that?" he nodded to her leg.

"I'm asking the questions here."

"Look I've told you everything that I know."

"Did you?"

He glared at her in silence, she was unsympathetic, what could he do?

"When did Tilo arrive at your place?"

"I wasn't there when he arrived. I was out with some hunters to check out a chopper crash site, RAF I'm sure."

"How do you know it was RAF?"

"I recognize them from a mile away, I was in the Forces."

Alison's curiosity was kindled, "Forces?"

She began to come around, believing that people who used to be in the military could be trusted to some degree.

"British Army. Um, Second battalion. Duke of Lancaster's Regiment. I am, or was, a Kingsman. I was in Afghanistan through most of..."

"That's not important right now." Callie interrupted.

Carter gestured to herself, "I was the pilot of that chopper."

Now that made some sense to Dominic, it explained why she was wearing military fatigue. It also explained that her short hair was a result of military regulation and not bad hairstyle choices.

"You went down on the fifth? I saw a plume of fire that night coming from the west."

Before Alison could reply, Callie cut in, "Let's get back to you, what happened after that?"

She was slowly losing her temper at the fact that they digressed into a tangent.

------

"I tried to get Mrs. Rand out of there. We passsed through the halls, found Richard on the ground holding onto his pistol. When we saw Professor King on the ground with Eric, I could pretty much tell what happened. Professor King was running with Eric until they went past Brand who shot him in the back."

Callie let out an impatient sigh.

He continued, "Richard, I don't know what happened to him for him to be on the ground."

Dominic sighed, "It was a damned warzone over there."

"He insisted that we leave, he already knew that..." Dominic trailed off.

"Knew that what?"

To the side, and just entering, was the wheelchair girl, more or less glaring at the new guy. Her brow was furrowed, and her face was drawn in a taut, angry expression. "An' call 'im Tilo, fer fuck's sake. It's 'is name."

Dominic looked at the girl, then back at the two women who stared at him.

"Do I have to spell it out?" he waited for a response, "...that he was a goner."

Hoppy then directed her glare to Callie, as if trying to get some sort of explanation. Tilo wasn't allowed to die, after all. With some more effort, she manuevered the wheels so that she ended up positioned next to the school teacher.

"And did you know he was a goner?" Callie ran her hand through her hair.

"I..." he paused, "I didn't."

"I'm...I'm sorry," Dominic said calmly.

He saw their expressions, they had lost somebody important to them he guessed. He knew what that was like, Afghanistan and Keswick was enough for him.

"...If'n 'e's dead," She said, ignoring the apology - it wasn't going to help anyways, wasn't going to do anything. "Coulda at least got the body back 'ere. Twyp."

Callie took a breath of forced calm, trying not to lose her head. She turned to Hoppy with a raised voice, "Would you please cool it?"

"I had to get Mrs. Rand out of there, it wouldn't have done any of us good if we tried to carry a wounded man out of that place. We were barely lucky enough to get out ourselves."

This time Carter spoke, "And are you sure he's one hundred percent dead? No chance to get him medical help? We do have a paramedic here, just recently."

"Well I wouldn't have known that would I?" he countered.

Dominic continued in a subdued tone, "We were gone by then. I had to save Elizabeth and Eric first. I owe it to William for what he's done for me."

In a more snide tone. "An' yew decided, 'fuck all' for whatever Tilo did over there." Hoppy was still in a dark mood, but at least she didn't look as if she wanted to cleave at a certain someone's neck.

"Hoppy!" Callie snapped before she returned her attention to the soldier, "So you just left him there to die?"

"Between a woman and child, and a wounded man, who would you save?"

Soldier's logic.

"I'd save Tilo." Hoppy said clearly. "'E's one a' us, ent 'e? Trust 'im more than any Rand or 'Vanner."

Carter sighed, and shot Hoppy another warning glance.

"Stop or get out," Callie lashed at Hoppy, her eyes had turned red.

Hoppy frowned, and took a few breaths. She was supposed to help somehow. This wasn't really helping at all. She remembered the feeling she got when Mike was trying to reel her in - that litle nag at the back of her head - and shrugged. She wasn't getting any of that from the new guy.

The wheelchair girl shook her head grudgingly. "I dun' think 'e's lying. Jus' a twyp, Callie."

The ex-soldier scoffed at the comment, if he ever stayed with the Haveners, the wheel chair girl would be one of the people out to get him.

"You're staying here until our people come back from Upton, and then we'll decide what will happen to you," Callie eyed the man suspiciously.

Hoppy nudged Callie, at that, an idea striking her.

"I'm g'nna bake sumethin'." She murmured, gesturing at her more or less physical helplessness. "Since I can't... move much, you be me 'ands or summat." She frowned further. "En't lettin' yew outta me sight 'til the others git back. Gives us stuff to do when waitin', too."

------

Dom had nodded off, sitting there staring at people was awkward enough for him. Not talking to them was boring enough for him. And it was around the time of day when people were most vulnerable to sleep. It could not be helped. Just a little bit, rest the eyes. Just a little a bit before he wakes and faces the world around him.

"Wake up," a sharp voice jabbed.

His eyes flit open, trying to adjust to the single light in the farmhouse kitchen. His little rest disrupted. His eyes roamed around to a sight that seemed familiar and unfamiliar at the same time, maps stuck with pins and marked with red circles.

"I bet you're damn tired after leaving a friend of ours back there to die right?" Carter glared at him.

Dominic glanced at her, the ropes on his wrists felt tighter than before.

"Sleep deprivation," he blinked with a daze, "Were you about to get a bucket of water for me?"

"Don't push your luck," Carter said, "How did you even manage to become a soldier?" her tone cut deep beneath the belt.

Dominic looked at her as she said this, what was she trying to do?

"Don't throw stones when you live in a glass house, last I checked you're the pilot who crashed a chopper and killed everyone inside."

The pilot remained silent, unfazed by the comment.

"Stay on topic. Was Tilo dead when you found him?"

"No."

"So why did you leave him?"

The soldier hesitated for a moment, "Because he was wounded."

"But he was still alive."

"Wounded and alive in a mansion filled with zombies means dead and zed."

"Are you sure he couldn't stand up and walk? Are you sure it wasn't another hunter holding Eric?"

Dominic's brow was raised, "What...? He...he was wounded, two bullet holes in the back of his jacket. I saw him, I saw Professor King. He had grey hair and was wearing the leather jacket that he wore the first time he came."

"Tilo didn't leave Haven this time with a leather jacket. Are you sure it wasn't someone else?"

He shook his head confused until he realized something, "I know what you're trying to do." Dominic returned her gaze with his own stoic visage.

"You can try every damn trick in the book that you want, but I know what I saw. I saw him get shot."

"You saw him get shot?"

"I mean, I meant I saw the wounds on his back."

"Did you shoot him?"

Dominic was irate, "No. I already told you that he was shot by Richard."

"So you saw him get shot by Brand?"

Dominic paused, "No."

"So it's possible that Richard didn't shoot Tilo?"

Dominic shook his head, unsure where she was going, "Possible. But unlikely."

"So you just assumed that he was shot by Richard," Carter paused, "And then you assumed that none of you would have survived if you tried to pull him out of there."

Dominic avoided her gaze, lost in his own thoughts. His lips were still chapped and his heart was sprinting just as it had been the entire day.

Carter pulled him back, "You made two assumptions that might cost you your life."

There was a lapse of silence.

The man finally spoke, "As a soldier, I've learned it's the only thing you can depend upon in a life or death situation."

"This isn't a war," the pilot stated.

"It isn't?" the soldier gave her a blank stare.

She understood very clearly what he meant.

"You're no court martial, and even if you were, I don't regret what I did. There was the possibility that we could have gotten out of there with Professor King, but then there was also the possibility that none of us could have gotten out of there alive. So I made a decision."

"That was better than nothing," he concluded.

cron