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Rishi Sharma

Cambridge Professor

0 · 461 views · located in The Haven Universe

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

Groups

The Citizens of Haven

Description

Image


Name- Professor Rishi Sharma

Age-47

Gender- Male

Physical description- Professor Rishi is kept in average shape from early morning calisthenics and habitual jogging. He is often found staring off into the distance, or looking ‘through’ people, which is usually accompanied by unrelenting fidgeting. Unless he is completely focused on a task, he twirls pencils or other writing utensils between his fingers or taps them on his lips when thinking deeply, which is normally at all times. He stands tall at 6’3”.

Biography- Professor Rishi Sharma was born in Cambridge to third generation Indian parents. As a child Rishi was quite modest and had very few friends, instead spending his time indoors drawing or reading books. Though he was very introverted and quiet, he was also exceedingly inquisitive. His desire to learn eventually led him to the University of Cambridge at an early age, where he studied chemical engineering and computer sciences and graduated with a double major. Though he mostly kept to himself, he quickly developed a burning passion for what he was learning, and decided against his naturally timid personality to bring to light the world he so dearly loved. He went through more training in the education department, fighting and struggling against his withdrawn nature until he completed his courses, until he moved onto lecturing at the University where he studied through the bulk of his life.
It wasn't until the outbreak happened that Rishi discovered he had an immense fear of the reanimated corpses bordering on kinemortophobia. He didn't stop running until he was clear out into the country. He didn't look back until he collapsed against a tree, and only then did he recall everything that happened at the University. His pupils, the future designers of the world, were being reduced to wet meat, the sounds of groaning, bones snapping, muscle tearing, and lip smacking ringing through his head. He was overcome with guilt that he didn’t even stop to think about his students, or even to find out if his parents were okay. He travelled for what seemed like an eternity, doing his best to stay out of sight, until he stumbled upon Haven nearly starved to death.

Skills- Professor Rishi is a very smart man who scored slightly below genius level on every IQ test he has taken. His passion for the world of the small and the infinite have him endlessly testing theories and writing equations, which lends heavily to his problem solving skills and technical knowledge. Though he is quite possibly one of the most valuable minds in light of recent apocalyptic events, his ability to defend himself is almost exclusively limited to running in adrenaline soaked fear, his life in the city lending him no quarter to his survivability.

Though the missions he hands out aren't exactly combat focused, they each tend to be very difficult.

So begins...

Rishi Sharma's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rishi Sharma
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Sunday November 2nd, 2013

Haven

1245

There was a knocking at the door to Rishi’s room, which went unanswered. There was work to be done, and there was to be no distractions. The knocking continued, and their calls remained unheeded, Dr. Sharma busy scribbling his latest formula on the walls. He ran out of paper, and found it unnecessary to go find more when there was a readily available surface on which to write. After all, time was of the essence.

“Rishi, its Gary. Can I come in or what?”

Distraction. Ignore.

“I’m coming in.” Gary said plainly, cracking the door open. What he saw when he walked through the door sent his alarms blaring.

“I’m busy damn it!” Rishi turned and shouted at Gary, who was wide eyed and had his jaw dropped. Dr. Sharma shook his head, clearly annoyed that somebody was in the room with him, as he continued writing. Gary stood there in shock for a few more seconds, as he looked around the room. The furniture was all moved to the center of the room and stacked irregularly on top of each other. The couches had their stuffing torn out of them, and there was what looked like a poorly stitched, human sized dog bed lying beside the stack of furniture, complete with a poorly stitched comforter blanked and pillow. The thing that caught Gary’s attention the most was the writing. It covered all the walls, parts of the floor, which had its carpet ripped out in places, and somehow there was even writing on the ceiling.

“Uhh…”

Gary snapped out of it and walked towards Dr. Sharma, hesitantly.

“Rishi, what the hell is all this?”

Without so much as batting an eyelash, Dr. Sharma replied in a shaky but direct tone, not bothering to turn his head.

“What does it look like? You’re a man of knowledge, of ability. You tell me.” Gary looked around, recognizing many of the symbols and formulae that was written, but was more concerned with Dr. Sharma’s current mental health. He took a few steps closer.

“It looks to me like you were working on quite a few things. I see something about solar cells in that corner, which is what I’m here to talk to you about. Uhh…When was the last time you left this room?”

Dr. Sharma stopped dead. He was so busy…when was the last time he ate? It must have been a handful of sleep cycles ago. That might be why his lips were cracking too. Involuntary shaking, light pressure in the forehead…he was dehydrated. His performance would suffer if he didn’t eat. It was a good thing Gary came in when he did, there might have been a flaw that would have crept past Dr. Sharma’s eyes and made it onto the wall.

“I can’t remember. You said you were here to talk about solar cells?”

“Yeah. I think I can put something together to power Haven. I remember you mentioning something a while back about knowing how to work with computers and figured I could use a hand with the setup. I mean…if you’re not… busy…” Gary’s voice trailed off, unsure of what else he could say. Everybody else’s knowledge about how computers worked was limited to how to Tweet and Facebook. Monroe was a completely different story, but Gary remembered just recently that the Indian guy said he knew his way around a keyboard. Even though he kept to himself, it would be nice to have somebody helping him who wasn’t a complete newbie when it came to coding.

Dr. Sharma dropped his arm to his side and walked hastily past Gary, through the door, down the hall, and down the stairs without saying a word.

“Uhh…”

Soon after Gary turned around to walk to the door, Dr. Sharma appeared, racing back up the stairs with a glass of water and a bowl of food. He walked past Gary again, towards the pile of furniture, and put the water and food on the table. The chair directly above him was taken down and set aside, and another chair that was beside the first made its way in front of the meal.

“Have a seat.” Rishi said as he followed his own advice, sitting in front of the food. Gary turned slowly, a look of ‘what the hell’ plastered all over his face. “Or stand, I don’t care. What do you want from me?” Dr. Sharma stated matter-of-factly while he took a sip of the water.

“Well, like I said, I need somebody who knows how to use a computer. You know anything about—”

“C+? C++? JavaScript? GNU? I know how to use quite a number of Basic and Esoteric programming languages. I can fluently speak twenty-four languages, and twenty-two of them are computer languages. I designed several of them myself. Microsoft was quite livid with me when I introduced RX Plus. But it was all for nothing!”

“You…Wait, what the hell? You can speak twenty-two languages? Fluently?” Gary’s jaw hung slack once again. Dr. Sharma continued to munch on the slop in the bowl, his cheeks stuffed to the point where he looked like a cartoonish chipmunk. Gary shook his head a little, clearing his stunned expression. “Alright, I’m going to pretend you just told me you know how to do what needs to be done.”

“Twenty-four.”

“What?”

“I said twenty-four. You’re a specialist, aren’t you? Whatever. Listen, I’ve been dealing with some problems. I’ve been trying to come to terms with some things.”

“I’m no shrink, I just work here.”

“Clearly.” Dr. Sharma said whilst chewing. After he swallowed that mouthful of food, he set down his utensil and turned to face Gary. “I’ve had some time to think. Too much time, I think, to think. I’ve been dwelling on what happened during the outbreak. My students, they all had so much potential, and now they are…regressed. I think I have spent too much time in here, thinking. Just thinking. I need to be doing some doing. Follow me?”

“Sure.”

“I need to deal with my thoughts in a more constructive manner. I haven’t had any contact with people from the point I arrived, to the point you knocked on my door. Keeping to myself in this room, mumbling half-hearted answers through the door to alert people I’m not a walking corpse. I feel like I have been a corpse for these past couple of months.”

“So you’re going to help me?”

“Yes yes. But I need some assistance of my own.” Gary looked around the room.

“I told you, I am not a psychiatrist. Whatever you have going on in here is beyond me, and quite frankly it’s giving me the willies.”

“For a learned man, you sure are slow. I’m quite alright in the head, I assure you. I need a living specimen for study! I can’t go near them myself, but if you can round up a few of them for me that would be wonderful.”

“Hold on, I think you are talking to the wrong person here. I’m not one of the Scav’s, that’s their business.”

“The who now?”

“Right. I guess you’ve missed out on a few things. You should probably talk to Callie or Monroe, they’ll be able to fill you in. I’ll come back when I need you.” Gary left the room far quicker than he entered, closing the door behind him.

“Indeed.”

#

November 4th, 2013.

0300

Rishi raced to the kitchen to post his ‘job’ on the mission board. It was quite nice how they had things set up. It took some time to process all the information, about everything Callie and Monroe put together, and the tales of the Scavs and their missions. Quite nice. Dr. Sharma hadn’t managed to work up the courage to begin conversing with anybody spare Gary, Callie, and Monroe, and figured his ‘job’ would be a good enough first introduction. He would meet everybody eventually, but he needed to do some ‘scheming’ as his colleagues called it. He would introduce his presence to the Scavs that brought back his little project first, and then he would expand his social network from there. Yes, the job board would do for the time being.

After pinning his message to the board, he snuck back to his room, and began scrawling on the new stack of paper Callie had given him. Hopefully there weren’t too many protests. He didn’t exactly tell anybody what he was up to.

Job.

Bring Zack Back.

Suggested Number of Scavs- 2

Area- Anywhere.

Objective- Find a reanimated corpse and bring it back to the southern outbuilding.

Information- First off, I would like to introduce myself. I am Dr. Rishi Sharma, and I have been the crazy Indian man in the upstairs sitting room making all the strange noises, I’m sure you’ve heard at one point or another. Next, I would like to state that I was instructed by Ms. Winters that I was to be creative with the job title. Blame her.

The mission is quite simple, really. Find a corpse, preferably the kind that is trying to eat you, and bring it back to the empty building to the south. As you can imagine, there is an abundance of corpses shuffling around basically everywhere, but there are a few requirements that need to be met. The subject must have full locomotion in their legs, and arms (which must be attached to the main body), they must be relatively damage free (no missing eyes, jaw still attached, preferably little to no deep wounds, though flesh wounds are alright), and lastly, they must be mostly free of decay. Signs of decay include mould, cataracts, and excessive bloating. The fresher the specimen, the better.

The method in which you capture the specimen I will leave to you, but please refrain from damaging the corpse as much as possible. They are very fragile. I would advise the use of some strong rope and a sturdy pole. Duct tape and magazines are a couple other tools you may find useful to avoid direct contact with the subject. I will be waiting in the southern building by the time you get back, and should have a device prepared to hold the specimen. I look forward to meeting you in person, so please, don’t get eaten. And don't bring back more than one, we don't want to be overrun.

Rishi

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Tilo King Character Portrait: Callie Winters Character Portrait: Jonathan Monroe Character Portrait: Kiera Trennan Character Portrait: Rishi Sharma
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(co-written with VindicatedPurpose)

Bring Zack Back

Tuesday - November 4th, 2013


"Oh...bollocks. How are we going to catch one of them? They're not fishes!" The other jobs had been taken.

"I am Dr. Rishi Sharma..." Tilo read through the brief.

"Hmm, so he's the wanker who's been keeping me up. I expected more from a doctor," he wondered aloud.

The cold crept on and took a heavier toll against the older people, like Tilo. To exacerbate problems, he had to deal with the maniac that kept him up for the past several nights. Tilo woke up late that morning. He decided he could no longer continue losing the battle against age, now that he no longer lived in the old world. Of course, it was easier said than done. They were sleeping comfortably enough in the bags, and there were spare sheets and blankets to go around.

However, as he read through the only brief available, he had his hands in his pockets. If it wasn't the zombies, it was going to be the cold. The old dog, however, flatly refused to let the beginning of winter claim him. Once he finished, he paused and tried to figure out how he would go about trying to capture a zombie. He felt like he needed to sit down, scratch his chin, and plan it out.

"What's wrong with using a dead one?" Tilo closed his mouth as he said this.

They were practically dead, but Tilo meant the ones that were no longer walking and eating.

Kiera had been avoiding the job board, choosing to pass the time by pacing back and forth across her small room. Now that the day of her first mission had finally arrived, the young woman seemed to be plagued by self-doubt. Kiera knew she couldn't hide from it forever, so with a final deep breath she set out on the path to the Jobs Board. The stalling tactic had worked in a sense; the other jobs were already taken before her arrival which prevented her from agonizing over making a decision between them. However, the one that remained sent a chill down her spine. Bringing back a fast, carnivorous corpse would be no easy task. At least the pills would kick in soon, which reminded her that the stash was getting low.

Tilo saw the younger woman approach the bulletin, so it would seem she was his partner for the day's adventure. She had brown hair and was of shorter stature than he was. He had never seen her before, but then again he had only joined Haven about two weeks ago. There were plenty of others who he failed to get a name from.

"Ello!" Tilo said, he was sitting on a log again, near the board. He wasn't sure if she noticed him.

Unable to find another excuse to look busy, Kiera turned and smiled at the man that sat nearby the board. She had noticed him, but her shyness had prevented her from walking up directly and speaking to him. However, she had taken the time for several sidelong glances while she pretended to be fascinated by the posting on the Jobs board. Blushing slightly she replied to his greeting.

"Hello. My name is Kiera Trennan, from the looks of it I guess it will be the two of us going on the Zack mission. I know I've seen you around Haven, but I don't believe I know your name. How would you like me to address you?" Perhaps she had overdone it with the formal greeting, but Kiera always felt that it was better to be overly polite than unintentionally rude to a new acquaintance.

"Well, they used to call me Doctor King," Tilo grinned, he recognized the American accent immediately, and deduced that she was another Yank.

"Not the American civil rights leader, I was a professor. Emphasis on was. But you can call me Tilo or Mr. King now, not that it matters." Tilo coughed.

The wind was getting to him a bit.

"Really, what subject did you teach? I have a Bachelor degree in Mathematics and I was eventually planning to become a teacher myself, probably at the high school or college level." This was quite the pleasant surprise. By Tilo's appearance she had assumed he would be the gruff "no-nonsense" survivalist, but this was a much better discovery to be sure.

"Ah," Tilo warmed up to the thought of fellow intellectual, one that was actually sane.

"Well I am a history professor. Was...was, I keep forgetting that," Tilo could not forgive himself for that. He needed to move on from everything, everything except his family.

"So, a bachelor's in mathematics?"

"Yes indeed, it wasn't easy let me tell you, but I fell in love with the tricky subject, algebra especially. Though it is such a shame it has gained such a bad reputation. Look at me carrying on, next I will be trying to teach you factoring." She actually felt relaxed in his company.

"Hmm," Tilo's short chuckle turned into a laugh, it was perhaps the first time he had actually laughed in a conversation with someone ever since the beginning of it all.

"Not if I teach you a thing or two about Cicero first. But anyway, we should probably get going."

"I wouldn't mind that too much." she replied with a laugh. "Yes, please lead the way."

------

The weather had changed rather rapidly. It had gone from a slight chill in the air to full blown snow almost overnight, though that was probably exaggerating the situation a bit. Snow and rain, either one or the other, on the isles. It made living in Britain a bit depressing at times. At the same time, however, it challenged people to rise above the gloom, one that was now compounded with the walking dead, to maintain a sense of optimism. The kind that John Lennon talked about, British socialism.

Tilo hefted the long pole on his right shoulder as they walked. His other hand was free to carry some rope, while Kiera walked with the pack slung across her shoulder with duct tape, magazines, and the other equipment that was now standard with Scav kits. These items included a first aid, a hand-cranked flashlight, walkie-talkies, and a map. Life would have been much easier had they had a dog catching pole, the kind that could be lowered onto the neck of a dog and then tightened to control it. Life was not easy.

"Have you given much thought as to where we'll find a live one?" Tilo looked over his shoulder to the mathematics graduate.

Despite everything that had happened, Kiera still couldn't deny the beauty of this place; one could almost believe everything was normal, almost. The illusion easily shattered by the scenes of carnage both along the road and the ones unseen just out of sight. Drawn away from her somber thoughts by Tilo's query, she tried to think of places they might find a Walker.

"Hmm, I think we should stay away from populated areas, while we might have a better chance of finding a fresh one, I think the danger of being swarmed would be too great. Plus, I haven't stretched properly for a mad dash for my life." Kiera added with a small laugh. "Seriously though, maybe our best bet would be to stray from the road and hope we find a lone one in good condition. What do you think?" Finally coming abreast of Tilo, she watched for his reaction.

"Ehm," Tilo cleared his throat. She made a couple of valid points, in particular the one about the swarm stuck out in front of Tilo. The last time he had faced a swarm was on a lake. He was lucky that they were bloated corpses and not...well, swimmers. A swarm on land was a different thing, and Tilo did not want to find out how.

"Very well, I don't know if we'll find one soon if we are to search the lone roads. So...you're American?"

"Yes I am, from the squarish state of Colorado in fact. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit my lack of geography knowledge, so I will have to ask what part of Britain you're from." The ignorant social bubble she grew up in was showing like a bad dye job, Kiera really wished she knew more about the land where she would likely spend the rest of her life barring a miracle.

"Squarish?" Tilo looked at her, "Right...well I'm from Colchester, it's northeast of London. You know where London is right? It's on the Thames River. Actually that doesn't really matter, you probably don't know where the Thames River is," Tilo paused, she had something to say.

"Well you certainly have more experience with the Walkers and scavenging in general, so I would be glad to hear your opinion of the best place to find one." In a moment of distraction Kiera noticed the trees along the road with leafless branches**

The old professor, or rather middle aged professor, chuckled at her statement as he continued walking.

"Experience? I've only been here for about two, three weeks, I haven't done much around here. So I wouldn't really know where the best place to find them would be. For all we know we could walk into a live one on this very road."

"Oh, don't be so modest, this is my first mission, so you're an expert compared to me."

Then along the way, he neared a tree and decided to drop the rope and place the pole gently on the snow covered grass beside the gravel path. The frost bit him like a viper, winter had just begun. They might need gloves to keep their hands covered as the cold encroached upon them.

"I think we should consult the map before we continue," Tilo said as he rubbed his right shoulder.

"Good idea, make sure to hold it the right way though." She said in a teasing tone. Kiera had learned that lesson the hard way.

Tilo gave her a sharp glance, followed by a lopsided grin.

"I'm a history professor...we practically sleep with maps."

"Thank goodness for that. I would probably get us lost in a small stand of trees." She replied with a laugh, as she gazed over his left arm at the foreign and confusing piece of paper he was intently reading.

The laminated sheet found itself within the grip of Tilo's left hand as he attempted to search for their location via his right index finger. He popped off the digital watch, underneath there was a compass. The red arrow began to orient itself, and once it had found north, so too did the pair.

"Okay so we left Haven here..." Tilo began to trace their path.

"Fifteen kilometers from here, and we might reach Cromwell. Let's hope we'll find something between here and there."

------

About a mile back, Kiera had begun to develop the start of a blister on her right heel, it was slowly getting worse, but she refused to acknowledge it. The boots she wore were far from a perfect fit, about a half size too small, though it was better than wearing her sneakers to death. They seemed to have traveled a good distance, likely halfway to the town, but Kiera didn't want to sound ignorant by asking Tilo how far they had actually traveled. The pair had spent much of the time walking in silence, broken by short conversations about trivial topics. Finally she decided to just ask him, perhaps more due to the blister than anything else.

As casually as possible, Kiera asked the burning question on her mind. "How far from Haven do you think we are?" Hastily adding, "I was never a big walking fan back home, so distance is not something I tend to keep track of." as a way of explanation for her sudden interest.

Tilo pursed his lips, recognizing that she was probably a bit sore, as he was. In fact, he might have been sorer, considering he was lugging about the pole.

"Um, I really don't know," Tilo said simply, sort of shrugging. They had been walking so long past many trees and shrubs that were almost slowly losing their leaves.

The ground was covered in a soft, thin layer of damp snow, above a layer of dirt.

"But we can take a break here if you want. It's surprising to see that we haven't found any stiffs at all so far. Isn't that a bit bizarre?"

Did he suspect her desire to take a break? She wondered. In times past she would have claimed to be fine and insisted that they continue, but this was a different world and time, where even a small mistake could mean a particularly gruesome death.

"Just for a minute or two if you wouldn't mind. I think I need to adjust my sock really quickly. Then we can continue on."

Something about her reminded Tilo of one of his students. He saw it often, not so much lately, but he knew she tried to maintain an unfaltering facade. In a time like this, it became incredibly difficult to continue with it.

"No it's quite alright, I'm.." he rolled his shoulder, "Aching a bit. Besides we're not really in a hurry. Let them come to us, and if we don't find one today, then we can try again tomorrow. We at least need to be able to make it back to Haven by the end of the day."

"I'll make it fast then, I don't like to think about the possibility of being forced to spend the night away from Haven either." Kiera decided to keep the pack on her shoulders since the fresh snow would probably wick onto the bottom if she set it down. Taking several steps away from her companion, so he wouldn't see the state of her socks, Kiera opted to stand while removing her blister causing footwear. She barely noticed the steep embankment towards her left, normally having great balance; she was forced to hop around awkwardly clutching her boot in one hand while adjusting her sock with the other due to the lopsided weight from her backpack. Luckily all her hopping had brought her near a tree that stood on the edge of the embankment, reaching a hand out to steady herself, Kiera made the mistake of looking back at Tilo. Without any guidance from her eyes and the single foot stabilizing, she was suddenly off balance and leaning at an alarming angle.

Tilo had his eyes away, watching the trees again, but he turned just as Kiera began to slip off the embankment. He reached out toward her as she went down. Too late she tried to recover, but she just succeeded in looking ridiculous by wildly pin wheeling her arms, the boot flying from her hand before she pitched backwards down the hill. During one of the rotations she felt a sharp pain in her left shoulder, but it was quickly forgotten when she took a mouthful of dirt and snow as she landed face down on the next turn. Finally she reached the bottom, in a snow covered pile, Kiera checked for injuries. None seemed to be immediately apparent, so her next task would be to find her missing boot. Perhaps Tilo hadn't seen her embarrassing fall. That would be a nice thing. She finally spotted her footwear a few feet away, a few awkward hops later and she had reclaimed it. Her sock looked worse than ever though. She let out a sigh, oh well.

Tilo ran to the edge where Kiera had tumbled from. Terror shot through his heart like an arrow. He was about ready to fear the worse as he heard her roll down the side, small pebbles and dirt chasing after her. As Kiera looked up the embankment, she noticed the fall had only been seven or eight feet. Unfortunately, her embarrassment did not end there. Tilo had seen the whole thing and was peering down at her, a concerned expression on his face. Scrambling up on hands and feet, Kiera tried to regain her composure before facing her scavenging companion.

"Are you alright?" Tilo was about to make his way down to help her, but he saw that none of her limbs had broken or fractured during the slip. A slip like that often turned simple missions into dangerous ones. If she had twisted her ankle, and they were on the run from a horde. It was not a pleasant thought, but then again, it never was.

Safely on the path once more thanks to a help up from Tilo, she tried brushing the worst off, but she only succeeded in smearing it further, making a muddy mosaic across her coat and pants. Awesome. Another load of laundry that she would have to scrub by hand at least there wasn't any sewing to be done.

"Sorry about that, thought I would take a peek down the bank real quick, and then took a mud bath while I was down there." She said with a nervous laugh, trying to play the whole event off as a silly accident. Truth be told her shoulder felt like it was wrenched at the very least. Her foot made a squelching sound due to her soggy sock, her blister was going to love this development.

Tilo had no words to say as he looked on, mentally though, his brain was running on mach three out of anxiety. This one incident reminded him of the many times his sons would get into trouble, the many times they got scrapes, and the many times they injured themselves. It was a normal thing for boys, that was Tilo's way of thinking, but he had no conception of how to treat a younger woman that was barely older than his sons. Protective, over-protective maybe, would have been a word. The close call with Laney weeks ago, and now this, all were accelerants of his gray hair. Age was a nemesis that perched atop his shoulder like the raven from Edgar Allan Poe's poem.

"Try and be a bit more careful next time, yeah?" Tilo smiled with raised eyebrows.

"I will. Sorry you had to witness my clumsiness in action. Well, I guess that was a bit longer of a rest than it should have been. Should we resume our stroll?" She asked, finally able to calm down from the shock of her tumble.

"Are you sure? You barely had time to adjust your sock..." Tilo gestured to the now soggy, deformed, mushy cloth called a sock that Kiera was wearing with her boot.

With a bright blush, Kiera consented and quickly proceeded to wring her sock out as best as she could.

------

They were within a network of various gravel paths and dirt roads that intermingled and went many directions with no destinations. They continued along through the snow and beyond the trees. The snow had melted slightly, leaving a few puddles. Winter was not in full bloom yet. It still had a ways to go before the great blizzard could unleash its fury on the isles. As the sun began to pass over its apex point in the sky, Tilo guessed it was about an hour or so after noon, they chose to take a short break. It also gave Tilo a chance to drop the pole, which was taxing on his shoulder and arms at this point. It was already past noon and they had yet to find one, which meant that they were to turn back if they planned on being in their sleeping bags at Haven before night blanketed the sky.

"I think we should turn back," Tilo sighed.

Kiera couldn't deny the relief she felt when Tilo was the one to suggest turning back. The pain in her shoulder had gotten worse once the initial shock had worn off, but she was determined not to complain about the injury. The stupid blister was a constant sharp pain, regardless of how she stepped the thing found a way to chafe and burn like a hot poker.

"What terrible luck. The one time we go out to seek one, they disappear like cockroaches run from light." She replied with a small scowl.

As they rested, nearby a man was on a bike. He was riding slowly, in a tempo that seemed to lag behind a person's pulse at rest. Part of this was due to the fact that he was hunched over the bike, while his legs pushed forward as if he had the heavens upon his shoulders. This man was no titan like Atlas, he was only a man in a white coat. This signified that he must have been a scientist or doctor perhaps. He didn't seem conscious, or rather he seemed half-conscious. His motile functions driven by will perhaps, or by a single voice in his head, where there used to be a chorus of vocals that conversed of various ideas. The pair exchanged concerned glances before they returned their attention to the half-awake man on the bike riding down a road to nowhere.

"'Ey mate, are you lost?" Tilo voiced his thought to the man.

He continued on as before, it seemed as though Tilo's call slipped past him.

"'Ey I'm talking to you!"

His left leg, then his right leg, pushing down. The pair walked over to him, and stopped the bike in its tracks. The man seemed to stop pushing, aware that he could no longer do so.

He lifted his head back, there was blood and dirt wiped on his face and on his wide framed glasses. His mouth kept itself open, trying to draw oxygen. The blood did not seem to come from any wound on his face. The startling feature, though, was the wound on his neck. It was concealed when the man rolled forth, grinding on his bike mindlessly. The bite itself was red with his blood, and his flesh was torn off in chunks like ground meat. It was clearly a bite. It was nearly a miracle how he managed to balance and push himself forward on a bike with a wound of that size.

His face seemed clammy and sweat beads formed on his forehead. Standing a step behind Tilo, Kiera spotted the gruesome wound and her hands flew to her mouth in shock, stifling a loud gasp. How was he even still moving with such a severe injury? Fascination and fear kept the young woman rooted to the spot, staring wide-eyed at the man on the bike. Unsure of how to react, Kiera looked to Tilo as she tried to process this awful discovery.

"What should we do?" She whispered to Tilo, while also keeping a watchful eye on the unsteady stranger.

Kiera wanted to help the man who was in obvious distress, but she knew a bite like that could have only been caused by one thing. Simply by his current behavior, the bite was probably several hours old already and there was no telling when he might suddenly turn. For her friend in that abandoned warehouse it had only taken four hours till he had succumbed to the infection and rose again as one of them. Pushing that dark memory away, Kiera took a tentative step towards the man who had an almost glazed expression on his face.

"Hello there, my name is Kiera and this is my friend. We don't want to hurt you. We're just passing through the area. What is your name?" Kiera kept her hands away from her body in a gesture of peace, she didn't want to risk spooking him by hiding her hands.

"Cree-Craw toad's foot, geese walk barefoot." He said with an eerie sing-song tone in his voice. His eyes seemed to clear a bit after uttering the sentence of nonsense. "I'm on my way back to my flock, I have food for them in my pocket. You may call me doctor," The doctor's eyes suddenly becoming unfocused again and began to dart rapidly back and forth as he finished speaking.

Perhaps the fever was causing hallucinations or he might just be crazy. It was kind of suspicious that he was heading in the direction of Haven, alone, bitten and unarmed. He might not even be an actual doctor for all they knew, a white coat wasn't proof of the credentials he claimed to have. A thought suddenly occurred to Kiera. This man was obviously doomed to die and rise again as a Walker, but why should his death be just another statistic. What if he could help the living?

Cautiously backing away Kiera returned to Tilo's side. Speaking in a low whisper, she proposed her idea to him. "Maybe we can learn more about him on the way back. If there is another group of survivors out there, we should try to figure out where. What do you think?"

As Tilo was about to reply, "I need to get to them! I need to get to them!" The man blurted out, startling the both of them, but he remained weakened.

When he finally settled down and closed his eyes, Tilo whispered "There's no telling how long ago he's been bitten."

He eyed the man with caution, "I think we should tie him up first."

Whatever response Kiera had been looking for, that was not what she had expected Tilo to suggest. However, everything was different now, it was better to be cautious than too trusting, still her conscience whispered the injustice of what they were about to do. It was prudent, he thought. The bite was a zombie bite, at least that was the appearance that it kept. If indeed it was not a zombie bite, then they had a dying man on their hands. And how he died...would be an interesting question to think about. At least if he turned or when he turned, he would be restrained.

"Maybe we can ask him questions once he's tied up."

"Okay, it's probably safer for him and us that way." Kiera replied, keeping her doubts about their decisions to herself.

They set about pulling the man from the bike and laying him on the ground flat on his stomach. The two proceeded to place the pole on his back, Kiera went about tying the man's hands and feet in knots bound to the pole. Then they proceeded to roll him over and see if they could comb him for some answers. The doctor, or whatever he was, seemed out of it still. How could you coerce a semi-lucid person to reveal the location of their base? Maybe with a bit of kindness first, then a harder approach if necessary.

"Let me see if I can get something out of him. I'll try talking about his flock and see if he gives any clues."

"You don't want to grill the lad, he's almost about go," Tilo watched the dying man stumbling in and out of consciousness, it was the second of this kind of encounter.

Tilo was again reminded of William the other day, just thinking about it gave him a headache. The emotional burden of one man was enough, to learn more about this man felt like reaching a critical mass.

"Just a few questions, then we can start heading back." Kiera strode over to the Dr. and crouched down, she had to lean in close to hear his wavering voice. Probably it would just be more rhymes, but maybe some of what he said would prove useful.

"They need...they need me," delirium shook him.

"Who?" the pair asked him.

"I don't have much time, I need to...to..."

"To what?" Tilo asked, the lack of concreteness in his words puzzled them.

"I need to get to them before...before..."

"Before? Before what? Hey!" Kiera tugged at his shoulder when he finally passed out.

"You're right, he's just spewing more nonsense. Let's start heading back to Haven before it gets much later. How should we carry him and the bike?" She asked her Scav partner.

Tilo looked at the man strapped to the pole and the bike painted with blood. He tried to think of a way that they could carry while wheeling the back home.

"Monroe, this is Tilo, are you there?"

The gruff man's voice buzzed through the walkie talkie, "Yeah what is it?"

-------

Tilo led the way, his shoulder supported the pole which he gripped with his left hand. His right hand was free to push the bike along, while Kiera pulled up the rear holding the weight of the pole on her end with both her hands. The added weight of the man made their return trip considerably slower. They kept the man's head inside of a drawstring bag that they tightened at the neck. They kept their conversation to a minimum because at any moment they were waiting for the growl that meant the man had become one of them. The pair tried to keep their eyes on the surrounding woods, always cautious of any ambush by zed or otherwise.

Kiera's shoulder was excruciatingly painful from walking with the pole, each bounce and shift exacting an additional dose of pain. Taking one step at a time, trying to breath through the worst of it. Then, a sudden spasm from the trussed up doctor nearly yanked the pole from her hands. He jerked violently twice more then hung limp. Her heartbeat sped up, this was the time. When he passed from the world of the living to whatever state the Walkers could be called. She held her breath, dreading the sounds he would likely be making for the rest of the trip. She locked eyes with Tilo across the length of the pole. One of her eyebrows raised in question.

"I think this might be it. Do you think the bindings will hold? He's probably going to rise as a very strong Runner." She asked the question while taking nervous glances at the man strung between them.

Tilo felt it as well, the man began to twitch and jerk. His covered head began to convulse and a bit of moaning was heard. A final cry of humanity tried to escape from his mouth but died in his throat. They could hear his teeth gnashing and his incisors trying to bite at the air. His fingers bent in an awkward manner as if they tried to break free from his skin, which had by then began to turn an inhuman color. Secretly though, Tilo felt a bit of remorse in the way they used this man. His fate was his own though, he would eventually turn and then be offed by the living. Maybe they were putting him to better use in finding a cure. And perhaps all of the twitching, the tics, and the jerks were actually just part of the animal inside Tilo. The animal that no longer had guilt or sympathy. Then he wondered, what had this man actually done to earn his sympathy, or lack of, for that matter. He was simply another human being. Tilo felt like giving him a couple of rites, but the time to do so had long passed.

The unnatural sounds and movements coming from their captive really put the situation in perspective. While the pain from her blister and shoulder were quite intense, that was nothing compared to being a hands length from something that has a desire to kill and consume you with brutal savagery. Kiera vowed to keep this lesson in mind when she felt the responsibility and hardships of survival beginning to weigh on her. This could happen to her or anyone at Haven, unless they stayed vigilant.

It was significantly harder to hold the pole now that a Walker was strung across it. First she had been grateful to be on the end where she could keep an eye on him, but now every creak and sway tested her nerves, the fingers never ceasing to bend and claw for the two meals that remained just out of reach. One particularly strong swing caused something to tumble from the Doctor's white coat pocket. A small human hand lay in the feathery snow. Stifling a scream of horror, Kiera straddled the appendage as it passed beneath her. Why was there a hand in his pocket? She tried to think of a plausible explanation for it, but nothing came to mind. She immediately wanted to tell Tilo about the discovery, by sharing the burden of it, maybe it would lose some of its horror. Something stopped her though. Maybe it was a look in Tilo's eyes that hinted the depth of what he had lost during the collapse of society, the kindness that he had shown to her throughout the day. No, she would carry the burden of this revelation. Or rather revelations; three more severed hands fell from the pockets before they were finally empty.

After traveling awhile, Tilo had drown himself in his thoughts. Their marching pace only furthered his daydreaming regardless of the walker that hung from the pole like a roasted pig and snarled like an alligator. They were carrying a man who had turned, the wrenching sounds that the man made with his mouth made his blood curdle slightly and his sweat cold. The pole felt as if it was ready to slip from his hands. The snarls and growls happened every couple of minutes accompanied by rough snifffing and some tugging on the pole by the stiff. Tilo just tried to ignore it all, concentrating on the road home.

Time seemed to pass slowly during the journey back especially for Kiera, when it wasn't her shoulder, blister, thirst, hunger, or the walker that was on her mind, she spent staring at the back of Tilo's head. More than once a rogue thought about the former professor had illegally jaywalked through the regular flow of her thoughts. Something to explore in the future, figuring out how to escape the friend-zone would be step number one. While Kiera was busy running mock scenarios about Tilo, she suddenly spotted movement in the nearby trees.

Thankfully it was not a Walker or another person, but some sort of animal by the looks of it. A dog she realized with surprise, from her current distance it was impossible to tell the breed, only that it was brown, medium-sized and wearing a blue collar. She also thought the dog might be carrying something in its jaws. Kiera tried to grab the binoculars from the backpack in order to see better, but they remained stubbornly out of reach. Besides, all the time spent reaching and stretching the dog had fully disappeared back into the trees. Almost making her doubt the dog's appearance at all.

------

Evening, the sun began to dip down on the horizon, and the sky shaded itself blue. The gate of Haven was a welcome sight from a daylong trek. The body still struggled within the blindness of the drawstring bag drawn over the man's head. By now the wound had decayed like the rest of the man's skin, it had turned from red to a numbing black and purple. The ripped pieces of flesh surrounding the neck wound dangled like peeled skin or torn sheets, the blood had dried onto the bag itself.

They took the hogtied zombie around to the south building, where Dr. Sharma and his device were nowhere to be found.

As they laid the pole down with the zombie flat on its stomach, the doctor appeared from the building with a cup of ramen and a fork in his hands. His mouth fell agape.

"What the hell took you so long?"

After the zombie had been secured by Dr. Sharma, the pair headed to the farmhouse to return their gear and report in. As they walked Kiera tried to figure out how to broach the subject that weighed on her mind. Once she brought it up, she knew there was no taking it back. She opened her mouth to speak, but closed it just as quickly, later she promised herself.

In the command post, Monroe sat with his feet on an old wooden desk. An alert and intense expression on his face, despite the lateness of the hour.

"So, you two finally made it back. I was beginning to wonder if you'd be spending the night out there." He said gruffly as he expertly checked the gear for damage.

"It took a bit longer than we expected, but we found one that was in pretty good condition." Kiera answered quickly to explain their tardiness.

"Anything else to report?"

"No sir." Kiera replied.

Turning to face Tilo, she couldn't tell how he felt about the lie, but he kept quiet and didn't contradict her. Once Monroe was satisfied that everything was in order he sent the two Scavs off to their rooms. The pair stood in the hallway, the events of the day stretching between them. What the hell! Kiera thought, going for the full hug. She held the gesture a bit longer than necessary, but not uncomfortably so. Tilo felt a bit uncomfortable when she wrapped her arms around him. The day must have been tough on her, he returned the hug only lightly because he himself was tired.

"Sleep well." She said while stifling a yawn.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rishi Sharma
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Epilogue

November 4th.

Southern Out-Building.

When the zombie was properly secured in the specially prepared chair Dr. Sharma had put together with the help of Mark and Monroe, he grabbed his ramen noodles and continued to slurp them up. With a mouthful of food, he turned to the Scav’s who’d just finished helping him put the specimen in its containment.

“Phank oo fo vaa affiftenff.” He managed to say before swallowing. With a smile and a nod, he turned back the zombie. “With his help, maybe we can learn a bit more about our situation.”

After he learned their names, they left and went on to do whatever the Scavs do. He stayed in the building with the zombie, simply watching it struggle against its restraints. Dr. Sharma had a list of tests he intended to conduct on the subject, but for the time being, he was simply looking at it, recalling the day of reckoning. It was extremely difficult to get it in that position, but now that it was there, Dr. Sharma had little to fear. Though the others didn’t really want a zombie inside the walls, neither Mark or Monroe put up any arguments when Dr. Sharma had asked for extra redundancies for every part of the chair’s restraints. Dr. Short was a little less forgiving when he asked her for a needle with muscle relaxants, but he eventually managed to persuade her. It had helped when he and Tilo and Kiera moved the chair, and by the time Tilo and Kiera left, the muscle relaxants had done their job. The only thing left to do was to take the bag off its head and gag it.

It didn’t matter what precautions were taken, the memories of that first day still came to the forefront. Once he grabbed the bag, the zombie moved its head weakly in his direction. Dr. Sharma jumped back, the bag still in his white-knuckled grip. The zombies head hung low, and its movements were sluggish. Even its eyelids were only half open. Shivers ran down Dr. Sharma’s spine, and he cursed under his breath for being so jumpy.

“You can do this…”

He pulled the bit out of his labcoat, courtesy of the Scavs, and walked back in front of the zombie. He closed his eyes, drew in a deep breath, and exhaled. As soon as he opened his eyes, he lunged for the zombie before he had a chance to second guess himself. The rubber strap went around the back of its head, and with his left hand Dr. Sharma essentially smashed the wooden bit into the zombie’s half-open mouth with his palm. The thing bit down on the bit, and Dr. Sharma dove away from the thing into a pile of hay. As quickly as he could he looked at his left hand, going over every millimeter of it before sighing heavily. The zombie hadn’t bit him. Looking back at the subject, Dr. Sharma noticed he had broken its two front most teeth in his attempt to put the bit into place. It didn’t seem to care, its pupils focused entirely on Dr. Sharma. Its temples pulsed over and over again as it attempted to close its jaw.

Dr. Sharma stood up and brushed the straw off himself.

“What just happened, let’s just keep that between you and I, shall we?”

Drawing confidence from the subject’s inability to do harm, Dr. Sharma moved on with the next phase of his plan. He stuffed cotton balls in its ears and nose, placed a pair of ear-muffs on its head, and put the bag back over its head. He looked at his watch, and marked down the time of sensory deprivation. He would return later to see if the subject had calmed down. As he walked back towards the Farmhouse, he paused and looked back at the out-building.

“Subject Zero isn’t exactly a suitable name.”

Quickly, he sprinted back into the out-building. Neither of the Scav’s told him how they found the subject, and it was very curious how they could manage to secure one in the fashion they did, what with it being so…fresh. The most worrying thing about it though, was that it…he…had a name. The husk of a man in the building used to have a name, and now nobody knew it. If he was going to help in any fashion, he needed a name, for the history books. Dr. Sharma entered the holding room and moved behind the chair. He quickly patted the man down for any signs of a wallet or cellphone or any piece of identification. The subject was agitated, but luckily the relaxant was still in effect, and the muffled moans of the zombie were its only response. After a few minutes of searching, Dr. Sharma produced nothing.

“It looks like fortune was never something that looked favourably upon you, my friend.”

Disappointed, Dr. Sharma made his way back to the Farmhouse. He still had to write up the list of materials he required for the more in-depth tests he needed to perform. Without delay, he made his way back into his room and began scrawling on the stack of paper on his desk. Halfway through writing the list, a thought popped into his head.

“Watson.”

It seemed fitting, considering Dr. Sharma was the closest thing anybody had to Sherlock Holmes.

“Yes, that will do nicely.”

He finished as quickly as he could, and just like he had a couple days earlier, and rushed down to the jobs board and posted his request.


Job.

Mission Impossible.

Suggested Number of Scavs – As many as are available

Area – The Roslin Institute, just outside of Edinburgh.

Objective – Acquire the supplies mentioned in the attached list, and bring them back to the southern out-building.

Information – Many of the items on the attached list are very delicate. I cannot state the importance of proper handling. If one of the highlighted items is broken, the entire mission will have been nothing more than wasted efforts. It is of the upmost importance to maintain a low profile. I am still conducting preliminary tests on Watson, the man in the outbuilding, to determine perceptive capabilities of the reanimated, so I cannot give any insight into the subject at this point in time. Drawing any attention to yourselves, at all, will put the equipment at risk, as your need to rush and tumble will become very prevalent. The proximity of the research facility to a population center is to be of major concern; there may be large quantities of the reanimated shuffling around. It may be necessary to set off major distractions in other locations to the north-west or further east of the institute to draw them away. Do not hole-up under any circumstance, because if you do, you will have to fight your way through 480,000 cold bodies to get back.

Additional information – This facility may contain a variety of extremely dangerous substances, such as the Spanish flu, small pox, and every other apocalyptic disease or pathogen known to mankind. If you break ANY vial of fluid or disrupt ANY containment that is not described on the list, you must, by ANY MEANS NECESSARY, combust the entire facility, with you inside of it. Because I do not yet know if the contagions are transferrable by the reanimated, the risk posed by releasing any of the contagions into the world may be the end of all as we know it, so please, do a good job. In addition, there may be quite a few locked doors that you may need to break to gain entry to certain locations, which may attract attention, unless you can somehow acquire the keys and passcodes.

I wish you the best of luck, because if you fail, you risk potentially more than just your lives.

Rishi

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Delaney Byron Character Portrait: Kiera Trennan Character Portrait: Rishi Sharma
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Mission Impossible
Collaboration with Selene Durlan

Waking Bad
Stiff and sore would be a major understatement for how Kiera's injured shoulder currently felt. Rest had not helped to relieve the constant ache that pulsed down her arm in waves, a small mercy at least was that her blister seemed to be healing well, which meant no more awkward hoping around on one foot for her. Really Kiera should have allowed Dr. Short to take at look and make sure nothing was permanetly damaged from her tumble down the hill. But with the recent deaths and the appearance of a critically injured pilot, Kira would have felt guilty for taking up the doctor's time for a relatively minor injury, so she was determined to grin and bare it for the time being.

Why did the Apocalypse have to happen in Winter? Kiera thought wryly. Why couldn't it have been Spring? Taking a quick leap from her warm comfortable nest, Kiera rapidly tossed on a thick sweater, hat, gloves, sweatpants and boots before even thinking about braving the cold weather just outside the Farmhouse door. Halfway out the door, she suddenly remembered her stash hidden beneath the floorboards in her room. Kiera had been rationing the pills for a while now, but eventually they would run out and then there would be a problem. Hopefully it wouldn't come to that and an upcoming mission would provide an opportunity for Kiera to replenish her dwindling supplies.

Once Kiera felt suitably clothed she headed out to the job board. With the other jobs taken, the only one that remained was another mission for the reclusive professor that spent most of his time scribbling on walls and scaps of paper if the rumors were to be believed. Kiera really hoped it wouldn't involve any more contact with live Walkers, she still felt unsettled after her last encounter and would prefer not to repeat such an event.

"Edinburgh, I wonder how far that is." Kiera wondered aloud, her breath forming small clouds in the early dawn's chilled air. In times past, she would have clung to sleeping in even for a few minutes longer, but now the early risings felt natural and even enjoyable to Rookie Scavenger. Kiera attempted to rack her brain, trying to think of who might be available to accompany her on this task. Finally the answer presented itself, though she had doubts if it was really the best idea. Laney had been recovering ever since her disasterous last mission where two of Haven's recently aquired allies and a fellow Scav, Toby had lost their lives. Laney had suffered an injury to her hand and who knows what kind of emotional trauma from the experience. Maybe she would welcome a chance to "get back on the horse" so to speak and start to put the mistakes of the past behind her.

Kiera approached Laney's room with caution, unsure if she was about to awaken a slumbering wolverine. She entered the room and called out to the sleeping figure, eventually able to rouse the snoozing Laney, though she gave Kiera an aggravated look. Which was actually understandable, given the fact that they hardly knew each other if at all and Kiera had just invited herself into Laney's room without asking permission first. Cringing mentally, she needed to turn this first encounter around or this first impression might hang between them like rotting meat.

"Hi, sorry I barged in like that, I should have knocked before entering." Kiera said guiltily. "I'm Kiera by the way and I believe your name is Laney. I've never met a celebrity in person before, I guess I should have brought something for you to sign." She said with a smile in an attempt to brighten the mood as Laney propped herself up on her elbows, her face screwed up in displeasure at being woken. It was probably best to leave certain topics alone while in Laney's presence or at least until Kiera had a better grasp of what type of person this former actress really was. Kiera decided to press on with the interaction. "There was a job posting on the board today, I know you're still recovering, but it is more of a team job rather than a lone wolf one. Would you be interested?" Realizing she had left out any details about what the mission entailed Kiera hastily glanced to the paper and summarized the first few parts of it. "We're supposed to travel to Edinburgh, to the Ros-"

'Edinburgh? Gimme that.' Still scowling, Laney snatched the job list from Kiera's hand and peered at Dr Rishi's tiny, neat script. That was a bit rude. Kiera said to herself while she waited for Laney to read the description of the mission herself.

'Edinburgh's hundreds of miles from here.'

What? Kiera's eyebrows shot up in surprise, Traveling hundreds of miles in a heavily populated Walker territory, that would be crazy!

Her frown deepened as she scanned the job. 'Watson... outbuilding... perceptive capabilities of the reanimated...' Laney stared at Kiera. 'Man in the outbuilding? Does this mean what I think it means?'

Kiera shrugged her shoulders, "I don't know what he does with his time."

Laney held her tongue at the American's answer, and returned to the notice. 'Dangerous substances... apocalyptic disease... combust the entire...' She couldn't hold it in any longer. 'Combust the fucking facility with us inside it?' she shouted. 'What the fuck? Have you actually read this shit?'

Slowly it was beginning to dawn on Kiera that maybe this had been a bad idea to wake Laney. From the colorful language she was currently using, it was obvious this task was not a great idea according to Laney. "Well I-" Kiera tried replying, but Laney continued with her line of questioning without pause.

'And you're okay with this? Heading out like happy fucking campers for a city crawling with Zeds, hundreds of miles away, to pick up deadly fucking poison and bring it back here? And if we spill any we have to set ourselves on fucking fire?!' She balled up the piece of paper and hurled it across the room. The lightweight missile bounced unsatisfyingly against the wall. Laney had wanted it to smash, to destroy the wall, anything to reflect the anger that seethed inside her. Monroe was dead, Toby was dead, Ben was as good as dead, and this pampered Indian doctor, who had yet to set foot outside the safety of Haven, wanted her and this American to go on some suicide mission. And that wasn't all...

'Does this guy seriously have a live zombie in Haven?'

"Listen, I'm not happy with the situation either, but we are both Scavengers for Haven and it is our job to go out there and do whatever is necessary to ensure this small farm continues to exist. If that means treking a long distance for something, then so be it. And yes there is a Zombie in Haven, Tilo and I risked life and limb by going out and managing to capture a live one. I do not want to see all that hard work go to waste by us not at least giving this mission a shot. At least it will give you something to stay busy with." Kiera felt commited to seeing this through to the end, one way or another she was getting Laney out of that bed and into a better mindset.

Laney heaved herself off the bunk, rolling her eyes. She saw the bunk opposite her was empty. 'There's something I gotta do first. Stay busy.' Kiera left as Laney dragged on warm layers of clothes, hampered by her splinted right hand.

Breaking Bad
She eventually found Callie out by the chicken coop, standing alone in the half-light of dawn, wobbling the imperfect workmanship. Laney recalled who built them, who'd given the chickens such stupid names. Nasri was the only one she could remember. She hoped she wouldn't forget humans' names so quickly.

Now that Monroe was gone, Kiera had to find the right equiptment herself. Eventually after several tries she was able to successfully assemble both packs, though Kiera hoped they wouldn't need to use the fireworks or flares. Stringing a pair of binoculars around her neck, she did a final gear check before walking to the Farmhouse door. Laney was still speaking with Callie, so Kiera leaned against the door frame while she patiently waited for them to finish.

'I'm sorry, Callie,' Laney whispered. It felt so inadequete, and a hot wave of shame rolled through her. She put a hand on Callie's shoulder, felt how slender she was. Laney realised the former schoolteacher wasn't a lot older than her, in the grand scheme of things. There'd never been the slightest hint of a physical relationship, but Callie and Monroe's friendship, strange though the pairing was, had been obvious. She wondered if Callie had come to respect the short-tempered soldier by the same route Laney had. She wondered if he'd given her a nickname like the rest of the Scavs?

'It's how he would have...' She couldn't finish the phrase, it seemed such a hollow sentiment. How could Laney know how Monroe had wanted to go? Really, she'd barely known him. 'We won't forget him, okay?'

Callie simply nodded, her back still to Laney. The resignation Toby displayed in her final moments sprang to mind, the perfect balance of weakness and bravery, and Laney struggled to push from her mind the thought that every single one of them was doomed.

She turned to find Kiera watching from the door of the farmhouse. 'Come on then, what's the plan? Got everything we need?'

Handing a pack to Laney, Kiera began to lay out the plan. 'I think we should stay away from Cromwell, you know how dangerous it is. So maybe the Jones farm, where Toby found gas - sorry, I should say petrol now, shouldn't I? The Jones farm, where Toby found petrol -' she gave Laney a wan smile '- is the best place for finding a vehicle.' She kept it simple, not wanting to draw more scorn from her current companion.

Laney half-listened, not objecting - yet. It all hinged on finding a vehicle, then on finding one with enough petrol to get them to and from Edinburgh. If that unlikely eventuality came to pass, she'd speak out then. She hefted her share of the equipment awkwardly with her left hand and followed Kiera down the road. Her right hand ached in the cold. The snow that had fallen in the last couple of days had settled in, reinforced by a typical British winter day. Grey clouds hung heavily over the hills of the Lake District, obscuring the higher peaks. It hardly seemed as if the sun had risen at all. Cold gusts of wind blew the damp inside the girls' protective layers. After half a mile in silence, Laney realised her reluctance for the mission was making her surly.

'So, um... Where in the States you from?'

Taken by surprise at Laney's sudden interest in talking, Kiera was unsure of how to respond at first, as she still felt wary after witnessing the woman's earlier outburst. "I'm from Colorado. It's about in the middle and has the shape of a square."

'Colorado? Yeah, you're gonna... I mean, over here we know about New York and California and not much else.' She shrugged. 'Whatever's on TV. I mean, everyone was an expert about Albuquerque all of a sudden, back in the old world...'

"Well I can't say I would be much better at identifying the geography of Europe unfortunately." She replied with a short laugh.

'You know Breaking Bad though?'

"I know about that show. I didn't know it was broadcasted to other countries." Maybe this mission wouldn't turn out so bad after all, Kiera had just found a common interest with the former pop-star.

'Yeah, did you watch it? I wonder how that was gonna end."

"You bet, every Sunday evening I was glued to the tube. Me too, I always envisioned Walt getting away scott free, though that's probably not how it ended." Kiera said with a small sigh. "I guess we won't know how a lot of things turned out."

"True that. Hey, you know what I'd love?'

"I would personally love to eat a funnel cake again, dusted with plenty of powdered sugar."

'Yeah?' 'I'd love just to order a pizza and watch TV. Smoke a couple of joints and veg out. Weird, huh?'

Kiera mentally paused for a moment while she tried to remember what type of drug a joint was. "Whatever works, I guess." Kira replied while looking away, talking about drugs made her uncomfortable especially since collecting supplies for Dr. Rishi wasn't the only reason she was keen to get to Edinburgh.

Laney watched her turn away. She didn't feel like she was getting through. Maybe she'd been a bit too upfront about her party lifestyle. she'd forgotten Americans could be a bit staight-laced. How come so many teachers had made it to Haven anyway? First Callie, then Tilo, now this subdued maths teacher. Hell, even Monroe had been a teacher at heart. She remembered his praise for her at his military lessons and smiled, then recalled how poor a shot she'd been with the rifle, and the outcome of that failure, and fell quiet again. Fuck making an effort.

The silence prevailed until the road began to climb towards the crest of a hill, then a low groaning reached their ears. As they approached the top, the noise amplified and seemed to come in stereo. Kiera and Laney stopped at the top of the hill. Half a mile ahead stood the smoking ruins of the Jones farm. Around it, and dispersed throughout the farmyard, milled more zombies than they could count. The thick press of creatures had spilled out across the road and down the hill. The women scampered back into cover, shocked at the numbers massed in front of them.

'It's gonna take a long way to get round this lot,' Laney whispered eventually. 'I think we should get back to Haven.'
'What about Edinburgh?' Kiera hissed. 'What about the stuff for Dr Rishi?'

'Look, we're two steps outside our front door and there's a hundred Zeds. How many more do you think we'll see before we get to Edinburgh? How many do you think are in Edinburgh? I don't know if you were near any cities when the old world went to shit, Kiera, but you gotta know that's where you find them most.'

'So that's it? You're not even going to try?' She could feel her chance slipping away. Had she really thought the unpredictable former celebrity would be the one to help her? Pretty soon she would be forced into more drastic action.

Laney caught the pleading tone in Kiera's voice, but pushed it to the back of her mind, angered by the second suggestion of the day that she wasn't committed to Haven. She'd never say others hadn't done more, and she'd never forget the ones who'd paid the ultimate price, but she knew damn well she wasn't going the same way as Monroe, Ben or Toby just because this brainbox American wanted to suck up to the rest of what represented Haven's intellectual cadre.

'Haven't you been listening to me, White Bread? Hundreds of miles, millions of Zeds. And that's not all.' She took a theatrical look at the hills around them. 'That gang that got the Caravanners is still out there, and there'll be a lot more like that, and worse.'

'I can't believe this,' Kiera snapped back, struggling to keep her voice down. 'Are you giving up on us, on Haven? It doesn't work if we just sit there waiting for the zombies to finish us off. At least Dr Rishi is trying to do something. Monroe and Callie were trying to do something. I'm starting to think you didn't even want to come on this mission!'

'You know what? You're right! I never wanted to go with you,' Laney spat. 'Don't you think it should be the army or the government or whoever else official is still out there should be the ones dealing with anthrax and a cure and all this heavy science shit? Instead of some guy - one guy - in a shed on a farm? Don't you think "just outside Edinburgh" is a bit vague? I mean, Ben and Hoppy went looking just outside Cromwell, and only one of them came back, and all they were looking for was a fucking truck!'

As Laney's voice rose, Kiera peered over the crest of the hill. Peering through the binoculars, it looked like a couple of zombies' heads had turned in their direction, though none made a move just yet.

'Laney, keep it down,' she hissed, gesturing towards the horde around the ruins of the Jones farm.

'Fine. Fuck you, fuck this mission and especially fuck Dr Rishi. I'm going back home and put an end to his fucking science experiment before someone else gets fucking bitten.'

Taking It Badly
Laney turned on her heels and began striding back to Haven, her fingers playing across the grips of the hatchet she'd taken from Toby. Though she'd had a head-start, and she was normally fit and strong, the after-effects of the fever had weakened her, and Kiera caught up with her easily before they reached the gate to Haven. Laney scanned the farm's outbuildings.

'Which one is it?' she demanded, pointing with her hatchet.

'What are you going to do?' asked Kiera.

'I told you, White Bread. I'm going to smash its head in. Then Rishi's.' Laney stomped towards one of the outhouses.

'But he needs it!' Kiera responded, hurrying close behind. 'He's working on a cure or something.'

'A cure? You for real, girl?' Laney spun round abruptly, bringing her face to face with Kiera. 'He's working on a cure in a fucking shed?'

The American returned the Englishwoman's stare. Although she normally avoived confrontation, Kiera was beginning to feel like Laney had been unfairly blaming her all day for the troubles that had befallen Haven and its inhabitants. Annoyance at the way she was being treated began to well up inside her, a secret rebellious voice. She followed as Laney peered in the window of one of the outhouses.

The outhouse contained tools, lengths of wood, and other building materials, but the windows of the building behind it were blocked out with black plastic bags. A padlock held the door shut. 'What's behind door number 2,' Laney muttered, drawing Toby's hatchet from her belt. Unused to swinging with her left hand, and unused to the different length and weight of this weapon, Laney's strike skittered weakly off the lock and jarred her arm.

'Laney, stop it!'

Two more blows in quick succession found their mark more accurately, but still were too weak. Cursing in frustration, Laney shouldered past Kiera and smashed one of the windows with the back of the hatchet. The sharp smash of shattering glass was almost immediately followed by a muffled growling from within the outhouse. Laney ripped away the black plastic and peered into the gloom. Despite Kiera's story, she hadn't quite been able to believe someone would keep a live zombie on the farm, but there, strapped to a chair by arms, legs and neck, was a savagely writhing figure. The drawstring bag over its head couldn't disguise its hungry lunges.

'Laney!' Kiera grabbed her by the shoulder, tried to turn her away from the window, to face her. She felt her pulse jump at the prospect of physical confrontation.

Laney shrugged off her grasp with a flick of her arm, at the same time wriggling the backpack off her back. 'Get the fuck off, White Bread!' she snarled. For Monroe, for Toby, for Ben, the captured zombie had to die.

'Hey! What is happening over there?' came a call from the farmhouse itself. The sound of smashing glass had brought Dr Rishi out.

Laney dropped her hatchet, reached inside the backpack and drew out a flaregun. 'I'm gonna blow this fucker's head off.' She leant in the window and aimed, recalling all the time she'd spent at the gun range with her father. It was only a distance of feet. Even firing left-handed, she was confident of ending this threat to Haven's safety. Suddenly she was flung backwards onto the cold, wet ground, and cried out as her injured fingers instinctively tried to break her fall.

Kiera stood over Laney, shocked at herself. 'You can't...'

The pain from her fingers and the humiliation of her tumble soaked through Laney just as the mud soaked into her back. Tears of self-pity filled her eyes as she slowly picked herself up. Just then, Dr Rishi arrived at the outhouse.

'What are you girls doing here?' he cried, puzzled rather than angry. 'Why aren't you going to the Roslin Institute?'

From her half-crouched position, Laney barrelled into Dr Rishi at the waist, knocking him to the ground. All the complaints she'd made to Kiera about the mission, about the unfairness of Dr Rishi, all of her pain at the loss of Monroe, Toby and Ben, burst out in an incoherent roar. She stood over him, brandishing the flare gun, her teeth bared. Mud dripped from her hair and tears from her eyes as seconds ticked by and she stared through Dr Rishi's askew glasses. Once again she recalled the bravery, the nobility almost, of Toby's last minutes. There was nothing but fear in this man's eyes.

Kiera could feel herself holding her breath. Tempermental and distraught the former star might be, but surely she wasn't going to kill one of Haven's leaders? She was on the balls of her feet, ready to throw Laney to the ground again, but scared her intervention might trigger the flare gun.

'Laney!' The voice calling from the farmhouse was cracked and tired, but still strong. It was a voice Laney had feared she would never hear again. She flung the flare gun to one side and rushed to the farmhouse.

Kiera watched her go, then knelt down to Dr Rishi. 'Doctor, I'm so sorry about that. Are you okay?' The mission had gone badly to say the least and now she was left to explain the reason for the failure as Laney stopped suddenly in front of Ben. She looked at his bandaged hand, the dark hollows around his eyes.

'What happened?'

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Delaney Byron Character Portrait: Kiera Trennan Character Portrait: Rishi Sharma
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November 4th through to November 6th

Things were going swimmingly, even with the limited equipment Rishi had. Once Watson was secured, Rishi went about tailoring the surrounding with plastic bags and paper and staples to further isolate the room from its surroundings. Great care was taken so that the room could be completely blacked out if need be, and footsteps muffled out. Rishi’s adrenaline was rushing through his system, keeping him awake for longer than normal. The idea that he could be helping, contributing to the situation in some way gave him solace, and gave him excitement he hasn’t experienced since before the outbreak.

The tests were fairly simple, and they could be crucial in the creation of a guidebook or manual. Every bit of information he could garner about the subjects would be useful. It was unfortunate that he didn’t have the appropriate facilities or test groups to be able to come up with solid results, be he worked with what he had. The first thing Rishi did was leave Watson alone once the room was properly set-up. He would leave for an hour to write up several hypotheses, and return to see if the subject ceased its writhing. It could be different from subject to subject, but it would give Rishi a starting point to work with. Seeing that Watson was completely still after he returned, he lightly brushed the Watson’s left arm to see if it would elicit a response. Strangely enough, it didn’t begin writhing violently as Rishi had suspected, but it did turn its head to the direction of the touch. It looked as if it were trying to move its body to investigate the touch. It didn’t even vocalize as much as he thought it would.

That was new.

Rishi waited and watched quietly for a full twenty-two minutes before Watson began to regress into a more apathetic state. Rishi waited for a full half-hour before it returned to its apathetic state, and repeated the procedure on its opposite arm. Watson imitated its response again, but instead of calming down in twenty-two minutes, it took nearly a full hour for it to return to its vegetative state. Rishi brushed its left arm once more, in the same place as before, with the same pressure as before, and Watson once again attempted to move its body towards the feeling. Watsons activity continued for slightly over an hour, and once it had calmed down, and Rishi had repeated the procedure again on its opposite arm, it’s vocalizations became slightly louder, and it took nearly an hour and a half for it to calm down.

Interesting. There is an increase in time length of activity every time I graze its arm. It’s not aggressively pursuing interest though…Its sense of touch remains intact. The fact that it isn’t trying to engage in violent actions might be some sort of mechanism to store energy. That could mean it is able to differentiate between its target and its surroundings. Though it is likely that executive functions are absent, its actions are reminiscent of more instinctual patterns found in earlier organisms. Parietal lobe is functioning…It has a functioning brain, which means it’s getting the required fuel. Drawing breath is necessary…But…how does that explain the reanimations? Potential electro-chemical reactions brought on by the contagion itself is plausible, but that would require blood flow. Perhaps transmission vectors are different than expected? Hmm...I’ll put that aside for now.

Dr. Rishi moved onto the next part of his test, and physically grabbed Watson’s left arm. This immediately drew its full attention, and Watson began writhing aggressively and moaning loudly. Rishi let go of its arm and waited for it to calm down. Instead of regressing back into full vegetation, it gradually calmed down into its apparent ‘search mode’ after a half hour of struggling, and an hour and a half after that it completely regressed back into its vegetative state. Rishi repeated the procedure on its opposite arm and garnered a similar response, with the writhing and the searching lasting only slightly longer than previous. Dr. Rishi collected himself and withdrew into the main building to refresh himself with some water and a couple eggs. He pondered over the results as he took his time eating.

So it is able to clearly differentiate between being grabbed and simply brushing by an object. The time difference suggests that its amygdala could be putting it on higher alert the more sensory information it receives. One rustle in the bushes is something to investigate, but two rustles isn’t a coincidence. It does retain some sense of predation, basic instinctual concepts. So far, as a whole, they seem to lack idea of self-preservation, and only seem to act on some morbid sense of hunger…This seems very reminiscent of parasites. Ophiocordyceps, Paradoxum, Sacculina, these are all parasites that take control of the host’s cognitive functions in order for it to complete its lifecycle…But, where is the cycle? Maybe this isn’t parasitic…

He continued his musings all the way back out to the outbuilding, and once again quietly slipped into the room with Watson, careful not to disturb it. With him, Rishi brought his sewing needle. His next test was to determine its ability to sense pain. He quickly pricked its left forearm, and it brought Watson to its investigative state. Dr. Rishi continued through most of the night repeating the procedure in different parts of Watson’s anatomy, and it drew nearly identical responses.

Quite intriguing. Watson, and likely the rest of the reanimated population are unable to sense pain, though they are clearly aware of touch and pressure. There must be damage to that part of the brain…but if it is consistent with every subject, then that clearly shows that there is some sort of intentional re-wiring that happens after death…no, that may not be correct. Based on the reports, people expire after being bitten at different rates…this could mean that there is some sort of catalyst in the saliva that sets off the chain of events…The rewiring happens as the person is dying, which would explain the vastly different rates of expiration and reanimation. Since every brain is different based on personal experiences, the contagion would have to work through more or less connections. If what I’m thinking is true, then that means not only does body mass and heart conditions affect the rate of degradation and alteration, but also how many neural connections the subject has. Essentially, people who are generally more intelligent may take longer to turn than others, which would explain why the athletes tend to last longer than their obese counterparts…

Dr. Rishi retired for the night, content with his results. After approximately four hours of sleep, he was up again, ready to complete more tests. He moved onto testing its thermoception, and placed a lit candle underneath its hand. It didn’t move its hand away, even as its flesh began to cook. In fact, it even began to lean towards the heat, shifting its body weight towards the warmth.

You are just full of surprises aren’t you? Its sense of temperature seems to be intact, though I have a suspicion that is simply in order to find body heat of its currently living counterparts. Watson is also slightly cooler to the touch than I am, though that could just be because of the environment. Attracted to heat, attracted to feelings, but you only react violently towards something recognizably human, at least, from what I gather…

Dr. Rishi pulled the candle away after searing part of Watsons hand, and it seemed to fall back into its normal vegetative state almost immediately. Rishi waited for fifteen minutes, weighing his options, before going back to test a new hypothesis. He once again grabbed one of Watsons arms, and it immediately began to move to attack Rishi. Instead of pulling away, Rishi held onto its arm. He held its arm for a full hour before letting go, noting the lack of change in Watson’s behaviour.

Confirmed. Watson is capable of discerning my human nature, though I’m still not entirely sure how. It could be a combination of factors, but regardless, it can tell the difference between the clasps on its wrists and my own hand. This is very disturbing…

Instead of waiting for Watson to calm down, Rishi took the bag off its head and unwrapped the duct tape around its nose, unplugged its nostrils, and put the bag back over its head. He left the room and returned several hours later to a dormant Watson. He made his way into the corner of the room, and sat for approximately half an hour before Watson became active. It went into its search mode, unclear of which direction it should be heading, and after fifteen minutes of whipping its head in multiple directions, it eventually focused its attention in Rishi’s corner of the room, and began writhing. Rishi sat there for nearly two hours, and placed the plugs back into Watson’s nostrils, and left the room with more thoughts to ponder.

Sense of smell is acute. It’s able to smell my presence, and it doesn’t seem to adapt to my scent, which means my smell in particular is its main focus. Lack of sensory adaptation, as well as sensory amplification indicates a very strong change in perception of smell. Could it be because of a change in olfactory sensory neurons, or another change in the brain itself? Memory retention of smell and forms of humans is remarkable, though this could be a by-product of some sort of neural pruning…The lack of regression in terms of aggressive behaviour when in contact with a living human suggests that its ability to adapt to new circumstances may be hindered…maybe its ability to form new memories is non-existent…Too many variables to look into at this point as far as that is concerned…

He left the outbuilding to make himself some breakfast, and jotted down some point form notes from his observations.

• Three stages of awareness: Dormant, Searching, and Attacking.
• Feels no pain.
• Is able to differentiate people from objects, as far as touch and smell go.
• Enhanced sense of smell.
• Incapable of turning away from obvious human presence.
• Goes dormant with lack of stimulation within two to three hours
• Rate of change from living to reanimated could be partially determined by neural pathways.

Once he finished his breakfast, he left his notes on the table. When he came closer to the outbuilding, he hear the voices of a couple women. Why was there anybody else in the outbuilding? It sounded like the girl he met earlier and another familiar voice which he could not put a face to.

“What are you girls doing here? Why aren’t you going to the Roslin institute?” Those words landed him on his back with the dark skinned woman on top of him threatening him with a flare gun. Rishi nearly shat his pants when she pointed the weapon at him, and rightly so. Luckily for him, she threw the weapon aside and flew away in another direction shortly after. “Phew.”

After getting to his feet, he had a few questions for Kiera about the events that had conspired while Rishi was busy in the outbuilding.


November 8th

It was jarring, to say the least. Even without the events of the deaths and torture of the people of Haven, and the refusal of anybody to go on the Roslin mission, Rishi was experiencing feelings of dread. After going over several dozen more tests with Watson, he came to the conclusion that whatever it was that had decided to bring it back to life had repurposed it entirely for one mission: to spread. It may have been painfully obvious to most people that of course it would spread, but the difficulty wasn’t in the what’s. It was never with the what’s. It was in the why’s, and that was Dr. Rishi’s speciality. Why was that its mission? Why go through that process? Why go through all the work of jumpstarting a host back to life, or semblance of? Something of the level of complexity shown in the whole process would take generations and generations of evolution to come to be. There was absolutely no indication of the contagion to have evolved from anything remotely resembling anything analogous to any other human affecting contagion. Even in cross species contamination, there were no contagions that even closely resemble what was present in Watson’s case. That meant it was more than likely engineered. For what purpose remains unclear, but that hardly mattered. But that meant if it was engineered, there would be an origin source, and if Rishi were able to locate the original sample…

Of course, that was just a pipe dream. There was no way he could find it. He was more likely to be struck by lightning. Regardless, Dr. Rishi has gained valuable information based on his tests that he was working into turning into a sort of ‘zombie guidebook’ for the Scav’s to use as a reference when dealing with the undead. Of course, there was only one copy at the moment, but left it out on the table by the job board for the Scav’s to peruse at their leisure while he compiled more notes. In it contained rudimentary notes and observations regarding the entire spectrum of the undead's sensory perception, as well as behaviour patterns and likely timelines for turning into one of them, based off of level of fitness, proximity of bite wounds to major blood vessels, physical make-up, and level of brain activity.


Job

Recording

Suggested number of Scavs – x

Area – Cromwell/any farmhouse along the way.

Objective – find devices capable of recording video, and record your surroundings on your way back to Haven.

Information – Understandably, there seems to be a lack of interest in travelling towards Edinburgh. Of course, the Roslin institute is the closest facility I am aware of to our current location, which for the time being, makes it inconvenient. The results of my baseline tests on Watson have revealed quite a number of surprising facts, which I have detailed in the pages of the ‘book’ nearby for your benefit. While I’m sure you are well acquainted with a large portion of the material covered, there are a few portions which you should read over, as I have gleaned some new information from the man in the outbuilding.

As for the mission at hand, it certainly sounds like a simple task. No doubt there are still piles of working batteries lying around, and any cellular device works wonders. The small electronics shop or the pawn shop in Cromwell will no doubt still have a decent supply of working camera’s, batteries, and memory cards available, if most people’s priorities remained reasonably intact. Gather as many as you can to bring back to Haven, and if possible, several laptops as well.

What I require is for you to take these cameras with you wherever you go. It will be unnecessary to record absolutely everything you do, but from this point forward, you should carry a recording device of sorts with you. Aside from the obvious properties of capturing evidence, depending on the device, you could create a reliable distraction for the undead or even living people, which may come in handy in certain situations.

That’s all for now.

Rishi

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callie Winters Character Portrait: Rishi Sharma
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November 9th, 2013

0925

It was absolutely brilliant.

Rishi had managed to compile several small handbooks containing his observations on the nature of the undead. It was fairly short, speaking relative to most novels, only ten pages of his small and neat handwriting. It gave him a sense of accomplishment, knowing that he was contributing, in some small way, to the way of human life. The Scavs had their wits and their weapons, and the actions they took were necessary for the continuation of their lives without a doubt, but Rishi tended to be more forward thinking. True, his work wouldn’t show immediate results, but he was patient. If he learned anything from his four decades of schooling, it was patience. The payout for all the toil he had gone through the past couple weeks had presented itself in the form of the pocket-sized handbooks bound together with his sewing needle and some glue. He included ten extra blank pages in addition for the Scav’s to write in, should they’ve found it necessary. For some strange reason, it was as if they had an endless supply of pens and paper, so there was more than enough to hand out to everybody, not just the Scav’s.

“Finally.” Dr. Sharma exhaled as he leaned back in his chair. He sat back and admired his handiwork. He attached a pen to each and went downstairs to the command center with the notebooks in hand.

“Ms. Winters, I have some good news!” he exclaimed when he saw her scrambling some eggs. She turned around and gave Rishi a weak smile. Rishi was aware that she had taken Monroe’s death as a heavy blow, but his quirky mannerisms remained the same around her regardless. There was no need to drop morale any more than it had already been.

“What is it?”

“I’ve finished writing up new guidebooks for everyone! I have taken the original mass of paper and ink back to work out of, and in its place, I have created several pocket-sized and to the point versions of my earlier work. I understand that only a handful managed to skim the original, and it was laced with personal opinions and other unintelligible scribbling, but these copies are clean cut and easy to read!”

He dropped the lot of them on the table and handed one to Callie to look over. With a slightly tired, but quizzical gaze, Callie looked it over.

“Half of this book is blank?”

“Yes, of course they are. I added in the extra pages so that everybody could take notes, or jot down their thoughts whenever the need arose. I understand that some of our populace has taken to expressing their feelings in a more…recreational manner, but I figured it would help. I know it helps me.”

Rishi grabbed a pen out of his pocket and gestured for Callie to take it.

“I know it isn’t much, but here you go. I will hand these out to the rest of headquarters, just be sure to inform the Scav’s that these are here for the taking.”

When she took the pen, Rishi immediately turned and grabbed books for the rest of the residents of Haven that were present.


November 9th 2013

1600

“Mr. Fowler! Look at all this wonderful equipment the Scavs brought for us!” Rishi exclaimed as he burst into the techie’s room without warning.

“Fuck!” the man said as he jumped straight off the couch. “Dear god don’t you knock?”

“Waste of time. Gary, you must have a look at these! There are the new super phones, a dozen or so top of the line video cameras, and the new 50 Terabyte laptops! They were even so thoughtful as to pick up cables and chips for us to use.”

Though the larger man was livid at Rishi’s sudden intrusion, his anger began to subside once the professor began listing off the brand new equipment. Gary noticed Rishi was carrying a sack full of the stuff he mentioned.

“Think of it as an early Christmas present.” Rishi said as walked over to Gary and handed him a laptop with some cables. “I hear you’re going to go out tomorrow?” Rishi asked.

“Thanks. Yeah, we’re going to grab one of those solar panels. I’m just going through my files on it right now.” He sat back down, setting the laptop to the side. When the professor didn’t leave, Gary shook his head ever so slightly and threw Rishi a frustrated look. “What?”

“I will need your assistance with a project of mine once the solar panel is installed.”

Well?”

“Many of these cameras aren’t designed for use by our Scavs. They need to be less hand-held and more ‘attachable’ to the user. I have drawn out some diagrams for you to look over.” Rishi said as he reached into the sack and produced more paper. “There are several different versions I had in mind, but I need your assistance taking the cameras apart and re-organizing them into proper Scav-Cams.” Gary took the papers and looked through them quickly. The drawings were surprisingly good. There were depictions of makeshift helmet cameras to shoulder mounted cameras and even wearable lipstick cameras. “As you can see there, once I re-program this one, we will essentially have homemade nightvision goggles, albeit visible, but far less so than the torches. In this one, the Scavs will essentially have a rear-view mirror at all times, and with this one, they will even be able to zoom in, effectively creating binoculars! All the while, we are recording the footage. What do you say?”

Gary sat on his couch bent over in serious concentration. Unlike his first awkward dealings with the professor, he was actually presented an opportunity to work on something else worthwhile, something challenging. Instead of balking at Rishi’s enthusiasm, like the others surely would’ve over such a project, Gary simply nodded his head, the gears clicking in his mind as he looked over the drawings.

“I think a couple of these are doable. This nightvision idea you have is good, but it’s too bulky.”

“So you’ll help me with these then?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I can do this. It’s better than cleaning the chicken coop.”

“Wonderful! I will leave these here with you then. There are some others that I’m keeping for now, as I will still have to hand out something to the Scavs.” Rishi placed the sack of cameras on Gary’s desk. “And please, do come back alive. I would hate to have to do this myself.” Rishi said as he turned and left Gary’s small room, the icy glare of the techie stabbing at the professor’s back as he exited the room.


November 10th 2013

0444

Rishi woke early as usual, grateful his sleep cycles granted him the time he needed to conduct his research. With the camera’s they brought him, he could finally reach out beyond the walls of Haven. He was simply not cut out for dirt work, and it showed when had to escape from Cambridge. Because of the safety concern posed by letting Watson free to roam, he couldn’t conduct any more real research without the proper tools. Dr. Short made it very clear to him earlier that she would not surrender any more supplies to his work either. So much for professional courtesy.

He grabbed his glasses and began scratching out another job for the Scavs, excited to see the outside world.

Job


Big Brother

Suggested number of Scavs – x

Area – anywhere

Objective – Simply to observe and record.

Information – Thanks to the efforts of the Scavengers Kiera and Tilo, I have managed to compile a relevant series of guidebooks on zombie behaviour and biology. Unfortunately, due to the hazard of setting Watson free, I cannot obtain further information regarding the nature of the undead. However, once again thanks to the efforts of Tilo, and another Scavenger by the name of Ben, I may continue delving deeper. You may notice the aforementioned booklets on the tables, if you have not already received one, as well as a number of camera-phones. These phones have been charged and programed to function normally. What I require of you, is to take two or three of these devices with you, and walk around, recording the undead, and anything else of particular interest.

Since you are once again actively seeking out the presence of the undead, the mission is of course, dangerous. Though there are tests I will need you to conduct in the field in my absence, I urge you to use discretion when it comes to whether or not you follow through, as the hazards may very well outweigh the benefits reaped.

I have outlined below a number of tests you may try to accomplish throughout your journey.

• Flick your torch on and off repeatedly directly at one or more subjects from a distance
• Shine your torch around varying surfaces nearby one or more subjects
• Moan like one of the subjects whilst nearby
• Throw a Molotov cocktail directly into one or more subjects whilst remaining undetected
• Light a fire nearby one or more subjects and observe
• Sever the arms of one or more subjects, retreat, and observe
• Puncture the torso of one or more subjects, retreat, and observe
• Gouge the eyes or otherwise blind one or more subjects and observe
• If eye gouging is successful, move around subject constantly making different noises
• Break, sever, or otherwise severely cripple the legs of one or more subjects and observe
• Throw the remains of a dead animal directly at one or more subjects from a distance
• Throw the remains of a dead animal nearby one or more subjects from a distance
• Throw a living but crippled animal directly at one or more subjects from a distance
• Throw a living but crippled animal nearby one or more subjects from a distance
• Throw the remains of a previous subject directly at another subject from a distance
• Throw the remains of a previous subject nearby one or more subjects from a distance
• Talk to one or more subjects
• Sing to one or more subjects
• Verbally threaten one or more subjects
• Tell jokes to one or more subjects
• Laugh at one or more subjects
• Launch fireworks directly into the sky above one or more subjects and observe
• Splash liquids directly into a subjects face
• Make an excessively loud noise nearby a subject

These are of course just a sampling of tests you may conduct during your excursion, though you may also include any you feel relevant. I will be on the radio during the entirety of your mission, along with Ms. Winters, and will be here to advise you should the need arise. I understand that the danger of operating at night will increase the level of potential danger exponentially, and thus, until I have prepared appropriate night vision, this operation will be performed solely throughout the daylight hours.

Special Equipment – If I have not already given you a booklet and a pen, there are several on the counter nearby for the taking. Several cellular devices are also required, as I need you to record your ongoing throughout the day. I will also recommend you take several food items with you, as this will likely be a long excursion.


Rishi


November 10th 2013

1830

Rishi was tinkering with the laptop he claimed for himself back in his room. Gary had hoarded a surprising number of programs since the start of the apocalypse, some of which had Rishi physically pump his fist into the air when he saw them. Some of them had already been used the maximum number of times, but Rishi was a world class computer programmer. Hacking was but child’s-play, though the lack of internet was upsetting. There was so much knowledge that had been acquired over the past few decades, and now most of it was inaccessible. Such a waste.

“Rishi, its Callie. Do you have a minute?”

“For my saviour, anything. Come in, come in.” Callie opened the door and looked around at the scrawling on the walls before making her way to the pile of furniture in the middle of the room. Since the beginning of winter, Dr. Sharma had re-arranged everything to resemble an imaginary fort a child might make, though it resembled an artificial cave more than anything. He reasoned it would help keep him warm, which was met with ridicule. Unlike the others who had seen his room for the first time, Callie didn’t appear surprised or curious. She didn’t seem fazed at all by the professors antics, and instead retained her typical easygoing yet businesslike attitude.

“So” she said as she pulled a chair up to the table “I heard a rumour recently.” She continued, as she crossed her arms over the back of the chair.

“I assure you Ms. Winters, I did not consume Mark’s secret stash of cookies.”

Callie let out a single high-pitched laugh as her head fell into her arms, shaking the entire time.

“Oh, were you talking about Ben and Laney?”

“No,” she said still shaking her head, suppressing another laugh at Rishi’s expense. Once she composed herself, she looked back at him. “No, nothing like that. I just had a visit with a messenger from the Rands.”

“Oh?”

“While we were talking, she mentioned that one of the people in their group had turned, but the strange thing is there were no bite-marks.” She said plainly. Her face became hard to read after that point. “Seeing as how you’re spending time with one of, you know, them, I figured you might have some insight into why that happened.”

Rishi’s brow furrowed heavily as she spoke, his curiosity sparking.

“What did you say?”

“She said the man was on heart medication, and that he might have taken the wrong pill. The Rands that found him apparently blew his face off, but from her account, there wasn’t a zombie anywhere near him at any point. Do you have any idea what might have caused him to turn?”

“You say there were no bitemarks?”

“Supposedly.” She said, shrugging her shoulders.

“If that is truly the case, then our situation might be far more dismal than previously thought.”

“Why is that?”

“If he turned without being bitten, then there are several potential reasons as to why that may be, and none of them are good. Where is this woman? I need to speak with her right now. Where is she?” Rishi stood up, knocking his chair over in the process, and rushed to the door as he talked. Callie reflexively stood and followed the man, worried at his reaction.

“She’s downstairs in the family room, Rishi, what’s wrong?”

The two of them quickly made their way to Sandra, Rishi explaining on the way.

“So far, we have only seen bitten people turn, so it’s safe to assume the typical method of transmission is in the saliva. Of course, I don’t have a microscope, so I couldn’t confirm this, but because we hadn’t 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.”

Callie didn’t say anything, but she understood very well what the professor was saying. When they came to the woman, Rishi began speaking without introducing himself.

“What were the circumstances of this person’s death?”

“Pardon?”

Callie quickly came up behind him and cleared the situation down, explaining to Sandra the hypothesis Rishi came up with. She once again explained the situation to Rishi in detail. When she finished, Rishi’s face had fell into his hands.

“What is it? Rishi, say something!” Callie said as she grabbed his arm and gave him a shake.

“Callie, do you know how many germs we carry around in our mouths?”

“Rishi, what does that have to do with any-”

“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?”

“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.

“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 sight. “Let's just hope that for once, I am wrong.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Tilo King Character Portrait: Callie Winters Character Portrait: Mark Lawson Character Portrait: Richard Brand Character Portrait: Dominic Fields Character Portrait: Rishi Sharma Character Portrait: Alison Carter Character Portrait: Erin 'Hoppy' Hooper
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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: Tilo King Character Portrait: Callie Winters Character Portrait: Mark Lawson Character Portrait: Richard Brand Character Portrait: Rishi Sharma Character Portrait: Alison Carter Character Portrait: Erin 'Hoppy' Hooper
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...

Did you not read the first three?

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callie Winters Character Portrait: Benjamin Kinney Character Portrait: Delaney Byron Character Portrait: Kiera Trennan Character Portrait: Dominic Fields Character Portrait: Rishi Sharma 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.