Announcements: Initiative: Promoting Forum Roleplay » Universe of the Month! » Finding Universes to Join (and making yours more visible!) » Guide To Universes On RPG » Starter Locations & Prompts for Newcomers » RPG Chat — the official app » USERNAME CHANGES » Suggestions & Requests: THE MASTER THREAD »

Latest Discussions: Empty Skies » Does Mind Affect the World? » I have an announcement. » Iskjerne Ballad by dealing_with_it » Viking Music / Norse Songs - Germanic Paganism » Capitalism » Panspermia: a Case for Cordyceps » The Ethics on owning a Housepet » I just really had to share this plot idea. » Materialism » Satire & Comedy » Platonic numbers » No complaints (a little bit of rappin) » Any multi-player roleplay videogamers here? » Needing a woman's perspective on a concept » Gluts and Gaps » Universal Basic Income » Impending Pursuit Q&A » Eudaimonia » Loot! »

Players Wanted: Long term partner to play an older male wanted » DEAD! » Looking for new RP Buddy(s)! » Sands of Oblivion » Looking for Role Players to join an active universe » Looking for Empire of Cendalia Players » Seeking Roleplayers for The Isekai Wonderland Project » Hadean The Brave - Fresh Blood » Just a trophy of status - long term, story focus! » Kingdom come looking for roleplayers » The Last Dragon! » Roleplay Return for 1 x 1 » Players wanted for a science fiction adventure. » Players needed for Fantasy Romance reboot » One(1) male & Two(2) Female Roles OPEN <3 » Talmora: Kingdom of magic » Looking For A New Partner » Hellboy characters » 18+ Writing Partner [Fantasy, Romance, Etc.] » 18+, Multi-Para to Novella Writers please! »

0
followers
follow

Tilo King

The old man

0 · 1,568 views · located in The Haven Universe

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

Groups

The Citizens of Haven

Description

Name- Tilo King

Age- 45

Gender- Male

Physical description- Tilo stands 5'10, his hair is prematurely fading to a white, but is still mixed in with his black strands. Most of the time he doesn't like his hair to stick to his forehead, so he'll usually keep it either bald or spiked away from his skin. The only thing that he's dressed in is a black jacket and a grey long sleeve shirt underneath, as well as a pair of Levi jeans and dress shoes. As for physical form, he's not particularly muscled, cut or trimmed like more athletic men, he's just right for his size.

Tilo has light blue irises in his eyes, the whites are no longer as white as they were in his youth. The sides of his eyes are lined with light crow's feet wrinkles. His beard is about the same color as his hair, black fading to gray. He keeps the beard, but always maintains his upper lip clean shaven. At least that was the case before the outbreak, he may become lax as razors become commodities. His chin is distinctly drawn in a circle beneath his lower lip.

Biography-

Tilo King was born on April 25th, 1968, to Noah King and Daphne King (nee Hollingberry). Prior to the outbreak, Tilo lived in Colchester, which was a town northeast of London, with a population of just over a hundred thousand. He studied at the King's College in London, as a history major. Then he pursued a career as a part time history professor at the King's College and writer.

Following the major market shocks of the early 21st century, in what was known as the "decade from hell," Tilo lost most of his investment and savings in the stock market. By this time he was already raising a family with a wife Lucille, and two children, Edmond (19), Horatio (16). As a result of the economic setbacks, he had to find ways to provide a stable income for his family, which his degree in history could not aid in the process of.

He attempted to return to school in order to pursue another degree that could perhaps open up occupational possibilities. Of course, this is all history now.

Following the Outbreak, the Day, or whatever it is they call it now, his little suburban life was changed forever.

He was on his way home from his job as a waiter when the "undead" came, and from that point he went on foot into the countryside. The horrid things had already cut off all direct routes to his neighborhood, and he feared the worst.

His attempts to find his wife and children have been met with futility. He sought shelter from many places, most of which denied him. Other places were simply overrun in a matter of days by the lack of supplies, manpower. Once again he was back on the road. That was the case until he found Haven and the people there.

Skills- A history major doesn't really know much about the future, but he can tell you everything about the past. That would be of use, had the zombie outbreak occurred once before. Aside from that he's perhaps handicapped by lack of practical skills. He knows how to cook, maybe a few dishes. He knows how to dry his clothes, and he knows damn well how to lecture, or just talk. Surviving the zombie apocalypse, for some, requires much more than that. The fact that he made it to Haven, might be a testament to some hidden skill of his at least.

- Usage of a few firearms - sawn-off shotguns and bolt-action rifles
- Fairly good navigational skills
- acquired knowledge of the Lake district

Deceased Circa November 11th, 2013

So begins...

Tilo King's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Tilo King Character Portrait: Callie Winters Character Portrait: Mark Lawson Character Portrait: Jonathan Monroe Character Portrait: Delaney Byron Character Portrait:
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

0.00 INK

(Co-written with Faith Fanon)

Tilo King had arrived in Haven about a week now, and he was still getting to know everyone. He came unexpectedly, that might be an overstatement. At the time, surviving settlements were consolidating, and he just showed up on the doorstep as if the zombie horde had only just begun. For the student of history, and father of two, it did. After eluding the first wave on the day the stiffs came, Tilo had been trying to survive and find his family ever since. Seeing the situation at Colchester, Tilo didn't know what to think. Maybe, maybe they survived. Both boys could care for their mother if anything had happened to Tilo himself. He knew that, or maybe he didn't. He didn't know.

He wasn't that physically fit, or able compared to most of the others at Haven. However, he realized that it was something he'd have to manage or he'd be left behind. The group here, in his mind, consisted of various peoples from many walks of life. He was surprised to see the diversity when he first showed up. One of his fears was that this little place would be overrun pretty soon, it had happened at various other places that he stopped at. Maybe he was a bringer of ill-fortune.

Rubbish.

Forget about it, he thought. He was suprised at how superstitious he'd gotten. But sometimes, and this might be one of them, a person must find some consolation, or solace in what ways they can.

----

She got the distinct feeling Monroe wanted her to stay on the farm and help out, but after last night, Laney had set her mind against getting lumped with the domestic chores, and helping out on the barricades with Mark was creeping her out. The man was almost like a zombie himself now, methodically lifting and securing lengths of wood, backwards and forwards, unspeaking, almost unseeing. Any attempts at conversation were met by a dull stare, utter silence and then the cold shoulder. Sure, he'd lost someone - a fellow Scav, who'd died right here in Haven after being bitten on a mission - but who hadn't? So when the new guy, Tilo, had volunteered to go back to Tull Hollow to check out the boat, Laney had blurted out her offer of help immediately.

She felt some resentment towards him, for volunteering for what should have been her mission, and towards Callie and Monroe for accepting. It just reinforced her fear that she'd let the group down, that she could have done more. She felt like letting Tilo go on his own. He wasn't all that, let him face the unknown by himself. But after an hour on the barricades with Mark, she'd swallowed her pride. When she saw him sitting outside, hunched and nervous, she realised all new Scavs were scared. It was only natural. This guy was just trying to make his way same as anyone else.

---

Tilo sat on one of the logs that was set aside on the grounds as part of what was formerly a firepit. Now it was just a hole in the ground. He sat with his knees bent and his hands clasped together. He didn't sign up for this job, but on the day he came, Jonathan Monroe, one of the leaders of Haven, made it clear that everyone would have to do their part if they wanted to eat. Tilo's stomach told him that even though he was in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, he still had to eat. Tilo's head told him that even though he was hungry, he was in the midst of a zombie apocalypse.

He didn't care, the primary goal on his mind was to survive and find the whereabouts of his wife and kids.

So he sat there and waited. One of the other 'scavs,' short for scavengers, went out to Tull Hollow the other day to check for any survivors. As an urbanite, Tilo wasn't much familiar with Tull Hollow, perhaps he might have overlooked the place as he referred to the Romans and their northward expansion. If there was anything important at Tull Hollow in history, it was perhaps a camp for some druids and their followers. Nothing more than a footnote in history.

Having a guide who survived a trek to and from the region seemed a prudent idea, on the part of the volunteer who chose to lead the way. Delaney Byron, Tilo remembered hearing something about her in the news. He didn't really keep up much with popular culture, as he relied on his sons to do that for him. From what he knew, she was the daughter of Morris Byron, or rather, the late Morris Byron. Tilo didn't know if the rocker had survived, but he did enjoy the man's music. Tilo's adolescence practically revolved around the man, him and other musicians such as Elton John, the Beatles, and Rod Stewart.

The thoughts dissipated, as Delaney Byron appeared from the farmhouse, or as Monroe put it, the 'command post.'

----

"Hey," she nodded at him. "I'm Delaney." She looked him up and down. He was younger than her father, but still what she would call old, even though he was probably not much older than Monroe. It was the educated air that clung to him, she guessed, compared to Monroe's robust physicality, that had that effect, she supposed.

"Okay, let's do this thing," she announced, setting off down the road. She'd been here a day or two longer than Tilo, no more, but the fact she'd been out on a mission and he hadn't, that she'd survived and come back, made her feel capable, at least in his presence.

"Right then," he gestured for her to lead the way and he followed.

The way they went about, it seemed like he was on a hike, since he had to carry a bag among other things. The hatchet was something that he was never accustomed to using, but he knew he'd eventually have to learn. He held it with both hands, almost with a death grip. They came to the S-bend, Laney casting sly glances at her new companion. He wasn't of the generation that would know much about her career. Mostly she was glad, but part of her was disappointed - that same disappointment she always felt when confronted with the transcience, the artificiality of her celebrity. It wasn't important, in the grand scheme of things. Not like her dad's had been. People would remember things he'd made forever. At least, that's what people had thought, back in the old world.

"So I hear you're Morris Byron's daughter?" Tilo attempted to socialize, although it wasn't a priority for him at the moment. His eyes scouted the surroundings, trying to spot any zack.

'Yeah, I am,' she replied, glad to be talking about her father, not her own career. 'You... I don't know... you into him? This way," she said, vaulting the stone wall.

Tilo climbed over the wall, and once he got back on the ground, he began, "Well I'm a history professor, or I was. Before that I rocked out to your old man, the Beatles, Elton John, that sort of thing."

"Elton John? Yeah, my dad knew him, believe it or not. He used to play me Goodbye Yellowbrick Road all the time when I was little, the whole thing, on vinyl."

"Oh, no kidding?"

"Yeah, taught me to play it too. On piano. The song, I mean, not the whole album."

"Well I'm not surprised, I suppose Sir Elton was very much a family friend."

"Not really, I think they fell out when I was little. When they were both cokeheads." Laney saw they were nearing where she'd come across the stream, and directed them to the right, towards Tull Hollow.

"That's one of the things I miss most about the old world, my piano. I used to write all my songs on it. I wouldn't even mind if I just had a guitar again." She pointed out the tops of the trees to Tilo. "Over there. I mean, do you think we'll ever get things like that back again? Pianos, records, that kind of thing?"

"Honestly? I don't know. They seem like luxuries now. But um, I think everybody needs some music these days. And I'm hoping it comes back."

It was the most Laney had spoken to anyone since the outbreak. Come to think of it, she was struggling to remember the last time she'd spoken to anyone like this. Tears of loneliness pricked her eyes. "What about you, what do you miss?"

When posed with the question, he wasn't sure if he should answer it, or rather, could answer it. He wanted to give the most obvious answer. However, a part of him was afraid that, by doing so, he had already accepted that they were gone. They were people, not musical instruments. Once they were gone, they were gone, and he wasn't prepared to accept that.

"Um...well...," his head shifted away from her, trying to find some comfort in the trees. He perceived that they offered none, so he went out with it.

"I miss my wife, and my sons," he paused, continuing along behind her, "I don't know if they're still alive."

Laney opened her mouth to fill the silence. She'd resigned herself to her family being dead long ago. It wasn't her place to tell this man how to deal with his grief, so she kept quiet.

"That's the aspect I hate the most, the uncertainty," then he began to chuckle at himself, "In the end, it's just fear."

"Look at me, I'm a history professor," he paused and let out a low sigh, "The subject teaches you to realize the uncertainty of the future."

As he said this, he heard a slight crunch among crumpled branches on the ground.

"Speak of the devil," he whispered.

They crouched low, keeping their line of sight in the direction of which the noise came. Tilo's hatchet grip only tightened.

It was a loner, the thing moved at a snail's pace through the woodland. Its entire left jaw was gone, and the irises of its eyes were a milky white. It was male, Tilo knew that, but genders didn't really matter any more with those things. Blood, both wet and dry, was smeared across its face in random patterns almost like tribal markings. Its skin had turned a very sickly pale brown, some had turned into the literal definition of white, and various other colors that fell in between the two.

"Should we let him go?"

Laney recalled the sting of cowardice she'd left when she told Callie and Monroe she'd left a Zed wandering around the trees, and hefted her hatchet. "Come on, there's two of us. Besides, we don't want any of them waiting for us when we come out of the lake."

Tilo looked at Laney, then he eyed the zombie once more, and he agreed that she was right.

"You go left, I'll go right. Which ever one it turns its back to... Pow!" Laney didn't let on it was Barney's tactic. It had served them well.

---

They stood by the water's edge, looking out at the boat. "Looks like one my dad had in Jamaica," Laney said. "Could be 10 people out on it. Fuck, that water looks cold." She looked Tilo up and down, then flung her backpack, jacket and hatchet to the ground. "I used to swim every day nearly, I got this." Then she stripped off her jeans, hoodie and T-shirt. "Oh, come on," she said, looking the staring man levelly in the eyes. "I wore less than this in my videos." With that, she threw herself into the water.

"No, it's I just I was about to jump in myself. But I see I've been relegated to rearguard," he shrugged it off and kept watch on their rear for any more stragglers.

For all her bravado, for all that she'd braced herself, the shock of the cold took her breath away and momentarily she foundered, sinking below the surface. Then she found the bottom with her feet, breached the surface again and took a deep breath. 'Fuuuck,' she cried, looked back and winked at Tilo, still standing on the shore, and struck out with powerful strokes towards the boat. It was a good 100 yards out from the shore, so Laney was able to observe it at length as she closed on it. The truth was, it was a lot less sleek and stylish than her dad's Caribbean yacht, but it was about the same size, so there could be as many as 12 people squeezed onto it, the survivors of the camp. But there was no-one to be seen above board, no signs of life at all. No deck chairs, no casually discarded clothes, leisure items, nothing to indicate it was inhabited at all. Then, about 30 yards from the boat, Laney thought she glimpsed a face at one of the port-holes but, treading water and looking again, she couldn't make it out. She swam closer, and then, when she got within 10 yards of the boat, a head popped up from where she guessed there was a short stairs down into the cabin. It was a red-haired boy, somewhere between 10 and 14, she guessed, and he was struggling against something. Something was pulling him back.

"They're u-ugh," he choked out, craning his neck, then disappearing from view. Laney trod water, trying to catch another glimpse of the boy. A quick glance behind her failed to locate Tilo on the shore. Sudden fear, a sudden feeling of exposure, rattled her nerves. The boy shot up from below deck again and she heard him cry, loud and clear, "They're underwater, under the boat," just as bone-cold fingers closed on her toes.

---

Water closed over her head and rattled into her lungs as Laney was pulled under, then, with an instinctive kick she broke free from the tenuous grasp. She rose spluttering, and swam several strokes away from the boat. Unable to catch her breath, she found it hard to keep her head above water. On the deck of the boat, a red-haired man now stood behind the red-haired boy, their struggle evidently over. Laney tried to tread water, her throat retching against the swallowed lakewater, her lungs tight as a fist.

From afar, Tilo could not recognize the situation, was Laney drowning? He wasn't sure, but she looked as if she was being pulled under. Zombies under water? She was taking in water, and everytime she went up, her gasp for air was much larger than the last.

"Damn!" he swore, and paced about, with his eye on the girl and the two figures on the boat, whom he could not seem to make out.

She held out a hand beseechingly to the boat's occupants, black smoke and red dots beginning to float before her eyes. She felt a hand brush against her thrashing legs. She kicked away again, and coughed, water gouting from her lungs, and finally drew in sweet, life-giving air. The pair on the boat continued to look on, both mouths open, eyes gaping. The man held the boy's shoulders. The chilling terror at drowing gone, rage at their inaction surged through Laney.

"You fuckers!" she screamed impotently, her throat raw.

She looked around again; her struggles had taken her almost round to the other side of the boat. Certainly she couldn't see Tilo on the lakeshore any more. The lake was murky, and the sun reflecting off its surface made even harder to see what lurked beneath, so, hoping she had put enough distance between her and the submerged zombies, Laney dunked herself. In the grainy, dark silence, a solid wall of limping, crooked bodies shuffled towards her, a forest of reaching arms and grasping hands. There was no way of getting closer to the boat; the horde of zombies must spend every moment under it, mindlessly drawn by the sounds of its inhabitants. Laney came up for air and looked again at the man and boy on the boat, noticing the deep, dark hollows around their eyes.

"What the hell are you waitin-" Tilo stopped his cry as he tried to assemble the pieces of the puzzle. Why weren't they reaching out to help her?

His call would only attract more from beyond the woods, if there were any.

He searched about on the shore trying to find a sizable boat that would not tip over if more of the swimming ones came for him like they did for Laney. But he only managed to find a canoe with a passenger capacity for at least two people. He dropped the hatchet into the canoe and immediately grabbed the wooden oars and began rowing to her. He struggled furiously, paddling toward the yacht, and from the corner of his eye he spotted more zed coming above the waterline.

Oh bloody hell. Where did they come from? It didn't matter, he had to focus, she was struggling to maintain her breath, while avoiding the teeth of those things that were once human. He had to get to her before she was bitten. Meanwhile, the man and the boy on the boat just stayed there, not moving an inch, indifferent to her cries.

"For God's sake help her!" Tilo growled, still no movement, what was the matter with them?

"Delaney, swim toward me!" He motioned with one hand, paddling with the other.

She kicked and kicked, while her arms stretched to their limit with each stroke as if she tried to pull the boat toward herself. Tilo paddled even more, trying to close the gap between the two of them, with the swimmers, or gurglers floating behind her. She grabbed onto the side, and he hauled her over, letting her lay across the canoe, as he rowed them back. She was still breathing hard, her voice almost gone. The scream in the water that she gave was taxing on her singer's vocal chords, not to mention lungs.

"On the boat," she gasped. "There's something.. wrong with them."

"We can't go back there, those things will swarm us," Tilo was just focused on getting out of there.

"Keep your hand on my hatchet, and watch out for any that might try to board," Tilo rowed, and breathed. Rowed, and breathed, trying to calm himself. Laney let herself be dragged through the water. She didn't think she'd have the energy to strike out at anything that approached them.

"Don't say anything, just check if you were bitten anywhere," he looked back after every other stroke he made to keep track of the distance he was putting between them and the yacht. Just a little bit more, just a little bit more. They were going to make it, they needed to make it.

He lifted Laney up from the boat, while the zeds were still on their approach. They had landed far from where Laney had ditched her backpack and clothes for her swim, and the closing zombies made it too dangerous to return for them. Tilo gave one last look at their dreadful faces, of the zeds, and of the two survivors on the small yacht. They kept a pace that was just shy of sprinting, his equipment slowing him down, and Laney's exhaustion slowing her down.

----

Back at Haven, Tilo panted, and took very long breaths, his hands on his knees, as he tried to recirculate what little saliva he had in his dried mouth. He sweated, he squinted, and he realized he was old.

He may have been old, but he still had enough breath to ask Laney, "Are you alright?"

She nodded, still a bit shaken by the encounter. "Tilo?" she asked.

"Yes?"

"Lend me your shirt?"

----

Tilo stood there for a second, in front of the two leaders of Haven. Should he tell them that there were two survivors still trapped on the yacht? Or should he keep that to himself, and leave the two to whatever fate they chose?

"Everybody was turned, as far as Laney and I could tell. From the boat to the lake, the place is swamped with them," Tilo turned to leave, but he stopped himself and added, "But...if you do come back there, remember to pack some firepower."

Then he left the 'command post,' leaving Callie and Monroe to their devices.

"Yeah, forget Tull Hollow, forget Tull Lake," Laney added. "The place is swamped. Okay, I've got to get dressed." She hurried out of the room after Tilo.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Tilo King Character Portrait: Callie Winters Character Portrait: Jonathan Monroe Character Portrait: October "Toby" Harrison Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

0.00 INK

The Tour de Lakes


(Co-written with VindicatedPurpose)


Toby could hardly believe the lack of luck, teaming up. On her second mission, but no less. Honestly she still felt drained by her last mission that had left a heavy weight on her. Now with the threat of another group on their shoulders she has to team up - with a stranger no less. Not that she could judge who was or wasn't a stranger here, considering her lack of socialization. She hopes her partner isnt someone all too bad. Toby throws on her mismatched clothes and heads for the mission Board.
------

He stood there eyeing the bulletin board, giving some thought to his job. Scavengers now had to move in teams of two because apparently, there was an armed band on the loose. It presented trouble, Tilo thought, he chalked up another to the growing list of dangers. He sighed.

"Alright let's see what we have today."

A mission to go grab some chickens had already been taken by another pair, the other two jobs left were a tour of a spa retreat for some fireworks, bikes, and possibly some hunting equipment that could be put to good use. The other job was to escort a technology expert to a solar power plant, and serve as his body guard. Both had medium threat levels, medium was a subjective term though. Tilo scratched his chin, before he heard the approach of a stout framed woman, with an all too apparent scar running from below her nose to the corner of her lip. Tilo gave a single glance, and he managed to acquire all of that, which meant that she indeed stood out of the crowd. He just hoped that she wouldn't be his partner, he was still kind of bonding with Morris Byron's daughter.

Toby stops a few feet from the board, mouth set in a thin frown. Her social graces are telling her to run away before things get awkward but she forces her feet a few steps foreward. She wearily eyes the man at the board - he's older with fading white hair, his appearance contrasting Toby's own, somehow he also reminds her of someone who could be stern- then looks at the missions themselves. Only two were available and out of the two only one caught her eye - Tour De Lakes. It seems the best route considering if she were to take on The Bodyguard job there would be too many people. As far as she's concerned two is a crowd and three is a death sentence.

Toby smiles a little bit. She catches sight of the man once more and drops her smile. She coughs awkwardly and shuffles her feet. What does one say when normally faced with strangers? Toby briefly thinks back to before the Stiffs and remembera brief moments of her life where she had this same problem with people.

"Uh, hey." Is what she finally blurts out, immediately berating herself for acting so dopey, then again for putting herself down.

"Hello," Tilo said with a brief facade of a smile, trying to be friendly, before he returned his attention to the bulletin. It was hopeless, really, to continue prevaricating.

By this point, Delaney had not shown up, which meant one thing, she was already off with another. So much for waiting, Tilo thought, then his mind shifted to the lady beside him. There was a slight dreadfulness creeping up his spine, so he shook it off.

"I suppose I'll be taking Tour de Lakes," Tilo announced, awkwardly.

Toby stills, raising a large brow. Of course she hadnt really expected to be paired up with this guy. She nods and grapples for the words to tell him that she would also be taking Tour de Lakes.

"Me too," she replies somewhat awkwardly. "My names Toby, I suppose we'll be working together on this mission."

A jolt ran through Tilo's ear as she said this, damn. Well it was inevitable, he supposed, maybe he could have taken the Bodyguard job instead. Perhaps he could have held his tongue and wait for another person, there were plenty of other scavengers out there to partner up with. It was a little too late, he realized in hindsight. He gave a mental sigh. Just get back in one piece.

"You have your equipment ready?" Tilo gestured to his knapsack.

"Yeah," Toby says. She turns ever so slightly to show her own empty bag. theres never anything but stale beef jerky in it and a change of clothes. Both of which she left back in her sleepng quarters to have more space. She tries not to act awkwardly as she eyes him wearily. Toby hadn't really thought much on how working together could be.

Usually she strays from being around others, still self-conscious to a near crippling point where day by day she still has to chastise herself for self depreciation. She runs a hand through her short unwashed brown hair and sighs. Could she do this? Probably. But not without stepping out of her comfort zone just a little bit.

"Suppose we best get going?" She asks keeping her tone mildly calm.

------

As the two of them strode down the imagined path upon the map, Tilo held the rifle in one hand, and the couple of rounds in the other, both issued by Monroe. Tilo's eyebrows creased as he stared at the items. As a history professor, Tilo had some knowledge in firearms. In fact, this was one rifle that he knew a bit about. It was a type of rifle called a bolt-action rifle, which meant the user had to put the ammo into a tube and bolt it into place. Sometimes, the user had to bolt every single bullet into place and it was indeed time consuming, despite the fact that the weapon was recognized as the standard equipment from the late 19th century and a little bit beyond both World Wars. There was a reason why a weapon was eventually replaced, as with all things.

Only ten rounds divided into two metal strips of five, he concluded that either he was lucky or Monroe must have been conserving. Then he thought, what if it wasn't enough? There was only one answer to that, run. He pocketed one strip, and inserted the other into the slot, then he bolted it into place. He realized that if they ever found themselves in a group of zeds, he would need to be quicker with the cartridges. Should the case be otherwise, he did not want to imagine the outcome.

He aimed the rifle, squinting at some imagined target in the distance, before he strapped it onto his shoulder. They were on a real scavenging mission, he thought. This was some hotel, it was bound to have large stocks of supplies, but that was only countered by the expanse of halls and floors filled with walking corpses.

The darkened clouds in the distance were easing into the region, rain would soon fall upon them.

Its silent as they walk, but Toby isnt exactly complaining. Rather she is glad for it. Theres time now to recompose herself and contribute working thoughts towards the mission. Hesitantly she faces Tilo, nervously eyeing the rifle. Her trust doesnt run deep in its use. Guns attract attention wich attracts the stiffs.Its easy to shake off the worry gnawing at her gut and to steele her mind.

"Damn," she too notices the darkening sky. A promise of rain. She checks her psck to see if maybe she might have forgotten to take her petrol stained shirt out. Of course she has and she finds herself longing for another layer of clothes if only to stave off the cold seeping into her thick bones.

If theres one thing she has never enjoyed its being out in the cold. They are not really moving fast enough to get warm blood pumping through her veins so she lets the shivers over take her. Nothing like a good dose of Homeostasis to keep the body going. She stoops suddenly to pick a stick up off the ground. Feeling suddenly like a kid as she swipes at withering plants.

"So...this should be fun." Wow, if she were anymore awkard it would hurt. She laughs, aloud. "Sorry, im not good at this partner thing. I have a rather hard time socializing." Toby snaps the stick In two by Accident then drops the two halves to the ground. "We do need some sort of trust level however. All I ask is If I Get bit dont kill me, ill take care of myself."

Tilo raised a brow at that statement. He nodded his head, "Fair enough."

As he said this, the thoughts of the other day crept into his mind. The faces of those bloated corpses mangled and torn in multiple places flashed into his mind's eye. Their arms thrashing about. Their skin no longer a recognizable pigment, but one that was diseased, deceased even. He wondered what it must have been like in those early days, when people tried to escape the stiffs by running into the water, only to find more of them in the lake. The fear, the panic. Some drowned, trying to swim away. Others tried to find boats to escape on. Then he remembered the man and the boy, their plain faces, emotionless, as if their eyes were open, but their minds were closed. Were they like that before? Were they like that at the very beginning?

Tilo just kept walking.

At least they seemed to be on similar grounds. Though Toby suddenly felt a little like everything happening is simply a surreal conjuration of her mind. She watches the sky darken and frowns as the first streak of lightening strikes overhead. It looks like the storm will be a fairly bad one but she knows they will get there soon. There isnt much time to spare as the first pattering of rain starts to stain the dry ground. Shes thankful atleast a little bit of noise to shatter the silence between them. Toby doesnt mind that people dont often get along nor talk to her that much. Shes used to be on her own, has been since a the day her Papa walked out with a pretty blonde hanging off his arm. Even if Mama had shut her weeping mouth to take care of Toby it would only serve to distance them further. As it is TOby still wants to get in contact with her mother, even if they werent very close. She slows her descent as noises from ahead catch her attention, a sound that could belong to a Stiff or perhaps a wounded animal. She holds out her hand, even as she realizes Tilo is ahead of her still.

------

Tilo was almost at a point where he forgot that Toby wasn't beside him. He looked back down the path, the short woman held her hand to him, her face attention elsewhere into the woods. Perhaps it was a zed.

"What is it?"

"Not sure yet," she whispers so low she isn't sure he can hear her. Her face is grim in expression. She remembers the last time she heard a strange noise and followed up on it. However her gut instinct took over, they are close now to the resort and despite the storm rolling in she decides to head for where the noise is coming from.

He saw her mouth a couple of words, and noticed her face seemed disturbed, the cause of which might have been zed.

"Hey wait," Tilo whispered, but she was already going to the source of the disturbance. Tilo readied his rifle with both hands, but kept his eyes on the surrounding to make sure they weren't caught off guard.

Toby looks back at Tilo, mouth set in a grim line as she continues on. "Dont be a baby, if its a Stiff we can just off it." She doesn't let the panic show in her voice but doubts shes masking the steady beating of adrenaline through her veins. Everything sounds sharper and much more clear now. "How close are we to the resort?" She whispers not so lowly this time. "I don't think it was a Stiff," well, atleast she hoped it wasn't a Stiff. Though she would rather face one of them more than a stray Rand or Caravaner.

Tilo fumbled for the map that was folded in his pocket buried beneath the strip of rounds. The small laminated sheet was a geographical one, detailed with woods, and the ascending and descending topographical features of the land. Tilo was used to working with maps as a history professor, often pointing to them and studying them during and outside of lectures. That was his old world profession, now he was actually putting it to practical use by determining where they were, relative to the location of the resort. Luckily, Callie had been kind enough to mark off the location of the resort, Haven, the Rands, and the Caravaners using semi-permanent marker.

Tilo deduced from the map that they were about seven kilometers away, which wasn't far, but wasn't near either.

"We should probably pick up the pace."

------

They had finally reached the secluded resort. It was nestled within the many trees guarding the landscape, sentries covered in branches and leaves. The structure reminisced of the profound influence of Neo-Georgian and Neoclassical architecture, leaning more towards the former in general. However, the columns dominated the Greco-Roman appearance of the resort's entrance. Tilo had a fascination with the culture of antiquity, in particular, Classical Greco-Roman civilization.

Hamilton's Retreat laid on the other side of a long abandoned road that was four lanes wide, stretching on toward towns perhaps hundreds of kilometers away. The parking lot had a few cars left astray in various positions, definitely not parked. Most had their doors open, people tried to escape on foot, Tilo thought. The collective flaying of humanity...how was that possible? This was a secluded resort in the country, they would have had ample time to prepare. The professor discovered a realization about himself, and it was that he had an imagination. He wasn't like other professors who lived in their heads, and slightly to one side. As a student of history, he lived in alternate timelines, and realities, he wondered about multi-verses and hypothetical situations. It was that curiosity, that made him interested in history. He liked to imagine how, or what could have been possible. Sometimes, though, he just didn't want to think about the people here at the beginning of the outbreak.

Tilo was most surprised by its similarities to Stanley Hotel, the one from The Shining. Bloody hell. If Monroe had never mentioned that place, Tilo would never have identified the resemblance. He had seen the movie in the early eighties, around the time of its debut, and around the time his adolescence. To say the movie scared him was an understatement. Tilo had a hatchet. He just hoped for two things, that there wasn't a hedge maze, and that the lights still worked in the building.

Toby certainly didnt care for the sight of the Resort. Not only did it clearly resemble the hotel from The Shining but its entire vibe radiated with creepy, even with the addition of the Outdoor Pursuits bulding. She takes a deep breath of the stale air that seemed to have suddenly sucked the air from her lungs. She wondered if she was the only one suddenly feeling like this just from the sight of the creepy place. She sighs, readies her weapon and shifts her bag to make sure it wont easily get caught on anything. She looks to Tilo wearily, still nervous about the whole team thing. She figures he wont be too hard to work with. Thus far hes been quiet, so much so she actually kind of feels at peace. Even though at that moment her nerves felt all bundled up and could make her spring at any moment - in other words she felt like an impending freak nout could possibly be on the horizon.

Geeze. When had she become so melodramatic? She figures its time spent in Haven thats made her this way. She never had to be subjected to strangers before and now that she is she has to deal with all the anxiety that comes with being around others. Hopefully once inside the resort if anything goes wrong that they would have each others backs. Or at least Toby knew SHE wouldnt just be leaving Tilo to become Stiff Food, she certainly has a little more compassion than that.

"Ive been through a lot so far but this is probably the creepiest place ive ever had to be at through this entire apocalypse." She speaks aloud though not directly to Tilo. If he chose to answer or speak to her than that was his own choice and she didnt want to bother with small talk now that they had reached the resort and the real mission was beggining.

Tilo swallowed some saliva, "I'd...have to say that I agree with you on that one."

"Well, shall we?" Tilo led the way, crossing the four lane road to the other side.

Once they reached the other side, Tilo acquired a better view of the resort. The fountains in the front were dried of water, save a couple of puddles. The trees enclosed the resort like a haunted mansion. There at the center of the fountain, stood a giant white Greek sculpture of a nude woman or goddess perhaps. With her arms cut at the shoulders, her pose acquired a subtle, and ancient melancholy poise. She stared at them with motionless eyes, stalking them as they went. She smiled and laughed in devilish delight.

As they walked past the succubus in white, and neared the giant columns, they noticed that the three revolving glass doors were all shattered. The glass frames of said doors laid in disparate shards upon the ground in a random pattern. Poetically, the resort's logo on the window wall was fractured into a thousand spider webs. Blood was painted in many forms, with hands, or little veins. Pieces of flesh clung to the webs.

Tilo gritted his teeth as he noticed this, which meant that the possibility of zed inside the resort...was very much a reality.

Tilo sighed, "I think this means we'll need to move slowly through the hallways."

"I suppose," Toby answers, though as they move around to view the other side of the Resort. Its decomposed state causes more shivers to run up and down her spine, she raises her arms to rub the goosebumps away.

Toby doesnt want to enter the resort at all but she knows they cant dilly dally outside forever. She takes the lead and steps into the decaying Resort, crinkling her nose at the lingering scent of death that hangs in the air. Blood spatters and streaks the walls and there are obvious signs of the chaos that ensued when everything first started. Glass from windows litters the floor and suggests that someone broke them inward. She takes light steps, in full caution mode now. "Okay, im assuming the storage room will be towards the back of the Resort." Toby says, avoiding contact entirely with anything that screamed creepy at her. The nude statue seemed to have watched her as they walked by and the complete state of disarray that the Resort seemed to have fallen under seems dangerous enough that Toby feels like avoiding it all. She sighs, staying away from walls or open doorways in case anything were to be lurking just inside, waiting for them to pass by to make a grab for them. She half turns back to look at Tilo, as she has gotten slightly ahead of him at this point.

Though something else catches her eye, a tiny stuffed bear laying abandoned against a wall. Its body stained with blood and probably the remains of whatever child had owned it. Toby balks and looks away from it, trying to cover the sadness that lit up in her eyes. "Deeper through we go." she doesnt really want to go deeper into the Resort. Its creepy enough here in the front walkway where the glass from the front doors and various scattered peices of furniture and other such items that littered the place.

"We need to find bikes first, that and the fireworks above anything else, and then we can go look for supplies," it was a perfectly good reason, it was their primary objective after all. In truth, Tilo just wanted to get out and take a breath of fresh air to clean his lungs of the rot.

"Oh yeah," Toby had forgotten all about the bikes. Half due to her brain trying to keep her from jumping at every sound she hears. "I suppose there may be a shack somewhere that rents out bikes, probably close by an exit." She suggests, trying to make up for her earlier mistake of forgetting about the bikes in the first place. She continues foreward, peering closely at any dark spots that may hide any form of danger.

Despite the decay of the manor-like resort, the ornamental gardens remained relatively untouched by man, as the many shrubberies, bushes, and other flora grew to almost envelope whatever humans had designed. The birds and other flora were nowhere to be found. Only the trees and plants were unafraid of the dead. Then of course there wasthe Outdoor Pursuits center that Monroe mentioned, it was there that they would find the bikes and whatever usable equipment. The archery range was an extended field next to the building, with target stands located at various distances from the fence. Behind the stands was a large net that stretched from one side to the other, completely preventing any stray arrow from flying outside of the range. As for the pool, the water was covered in a layer of leaves, save a couple of patches of murky water staring back at them.

They reached the building's entrance, which seemed to have been ransacked, as evidenced by the doors jarred off their hinges. Sunlight bled through the trashed building. They were lucky to have found a pair of bikes buried beneath all the fallen equipment. They propped the bicycles up, and left them leaning against the wall to return to later. Tilo set aside the rifle as soon as he spotted a pair of compound bows, the kind that had the fancy axles at the ends of the limbs. They were relatively unscathed, along with a pack of bolts. The arrows looked durable enough, but he'd have to check with someone who knew things. Tilo stood there waiting for a zombie horde to fall upon their good fortune.

When nothing came, he held his sigh of relief, trying not to tempt fate. They proceeded to enter the fireworks storeroom, and as fate would have it, the room was stocked to the brim with a various assortment of the pyrotechnic devices that would have made any pyromaniac cry with joy. Immediately, the pair set about shoving into their packs what they thought they could bring home, leaving behind the larger canisters of category four fireworks behind. Only licensed professionals could use those. Tilo erred on the side of caution because he didn't want to be responsible for a fire that started at Haven as a result reckless usage of fireworks.

"Look," Tilo found a football lying in some corner. It was the only ball that remained inflated, the others had long been deflated, along with all of the spare tires.

His smile was shortlived though. The instant he took his eyes off of Toby and onto the ball, it reminded him of his sons. He placed the ball inside his pack in a gawky manner, trying to dispel the feeling overcame him.
------

Minutes later they were inside the hotel, and luckily for them, no zed thus far. They passed by the lobby the wrecked cushioned seats and blood everywhere. The stench was copiously wretched, and it climbed through Tilo's nose, almost rotting the insides of his lungs. The odor culminated in restaurant dining rooms, with rotten food and rotten flesh, the definition of disgusting.

They made it inside the kitchen, and were scrounging about inside for any canned foods. Mostly any cans were broken open or horribly dented. Toby examines one that seems okay enough, although the metal of the can itself was dented inwards on the top as if someone had tried to get into it previously but didnt have the tools to do so. She places it in her bag, which now rests on the handle of the bike she is wheeling along with her. This way if they pick anything up she can simply let the bike carry its weight. She checks the kitchen thoroughly to make sure nothing is left behind. Thus far she only found that one can of carrots, and a half eaten box of saltines that were pretty much stale - atleast she knew crackers wouldn't exactly go bad anytime soon.

She looks around also for anything good to use as a melee weapon. Though so far anything good was in bad shape or too broken to serve a purpose. She toyed with the idea of using a skillet from the Kitchen as a weapon but decided that the handles on them would be too hard to keep a grip on. After what seems and feels like forever she stops searching the kitchens and moves over to where Tilo is.

"Ive gotten all I can find from here, find anything good?" She finds its a little easier now to talk to him. She keeps her mind occupied with keeping her eyes out for any wandering Stiffs while waiting patiently for a reply. They have been gone for quite a while from Haven and she wonders if the storm has subsided by this point. Though they hadnt been outside when it started she could faintly hear the sounds of the storm as they went through the Resort in search of the bikes. "We can check some of the rooms as well, see if any guests left anything good behind." She checks her wrist, knowing fully well her broken watch would not be there as she had gotten rid of it some time ago - by now however its a habit she hasnt been able to kick.

"Hmm," Tilo paused in thought, "No that's about it," placing the last of the non-perishables into his pack. The lights in the building were still working, as were the walk-in freezers. This meant that the electricity was coming from somewhere. Haven, didn't have any electricity, so if they could tap into the grid at Hamilton's or at least figure out where the resort drew its power, it would mean not freezing during the winter.

Check the other rooms, Tilo wasn't exactly sure. They had already found what they came to get.

"I mean, we don't really need to," he paused, "But it's been odd that we haven't seen any zed." Once more, curiosity had found its way.
------

West wing, and twenty rooms later. They skipped past the rooms with doors closed, occassionally they knocked on one or another. If they heard snarls, they simply moved away from that room. The rooms with open doors however, were easy traps for those who were careless. So they simply kept their eyes peeled, with the rifle aimed as they approached open rooms carefully. For rooms on either side that were open, they made some noise in attempt to lure any zed out. This method worked well in the West Wing as they managed to scrap some shampoo and conditioner bottles. Interestingly, the open rooms were the only ones that did not have stiffs. It seemed as though the walkers had locked themselves, and fortune smiled upon the pair. They checked to see if the place still had running water, most ran dry once the faucet was turned. There wasn't anything else left to do, until they heard a muffled shattering sound that came from the East wing.

"Shit," Toby curses under her breath as she looks to Tilo. There isnt any time for chatter though, that sound definitley didn't mean anything good was going on here. She heads in the direction of the sound, despite the adrenaline trying to push her back. If she werent scared before she was now, as her heart felt as if it were about to burst from the excitement. "Hurry up!" Toby half shouts as she tracks down the sound that actually wasnt as close as she thought it would be. She stops to catch her barings as they come into clear view of the Laundry room.

"Alright, alright, just keep an eye out for any more of them from those rooms," Tilo dropped his bag in the lobby area beside the bikes, bringing only the rifle with him as they darted through the lobby in the main building and entered the East wing.

Toby nods, having forgotten all about the rooms. She keeps her pace slow now, keeping her eyes on the rooms as she passes by. None of them seem to have been the room that the noise had came from, wich left one last option at the very end of the wing. She hadnt really figured they would need to check out the Laundry room, since it didnt hold food or possible weapons in it. However there must be something in there to have created such a noise. She stops, allowing Tilo to catch up. "It came from there I think," She says, pointing to the room in question. "Lets check it out," Though shes sure thats what they were already doing she doesn't think it hurts to voice her thoughts aloud. She moves slowly and quietly towards the Laundry room, unsure of what they will find.

Tilo nods in reply. As they were merely feet away from the laundry room at the end of the East wing, a fatal sound like a clap of thunder was heard. Blood spurted to the opposite wall of the laundry room entrance, a stiff fell backwards, its head blown apart into bits of flesh.

The professor stopped in his tracks, he held the rifle aimed at the laundry room, waiting for someone to come out. He had never fired the thing before, now would be a test to see if those class lectures on the history of warfare paid off for him.

"Who's there?" Tilo asked aloud, followed by "We're human!"

There was no response.

After moments of waiting for anything more to happen Toby makes the last few steps into full out view of the doorway. Her heart thudding heavily as she tries to ignore the dead Stiff at her feet. She peers in, trying to get her eyes used to the sudden darkness of the room. The only light inside came from two small windows that seemed more like slots in the wall than anything. Inside is how anybody would imagine a Laundry room to look like, with hampers and various machines to get the clothes clean. However anything that still lingered within is either horribly ripped up or bloody, there even seemed to be several piled of sheets stacked up in one corner, as if the sheets were some sort of nest. What really made Toby reel back though was the man within.

"Oh god," There is no doubt that the man is bitten. Not with the copious amounts of blood.

Tilo's expression mirroed that of his partner. The image before him, was no image, but reality. How it happened, Tilo did not care, because it did not matter anymore. The man was still conscious. He gasped for breath, the thing had taken a bite out of his arm and shoulder. The pistol that he had used to blow the zack's cortex into bits, laid in the limp hand of his wounded arm. He recognized that they were human, and his lips began to quiver as he saw the bite marks and the blood at his wounds.

And he cried. With his other hand he tried to cover his eyes as he cried. The sob turned into a wail as he pounded his head in frustration against the wall that he leaned on, trying to bash his head apart to find a quicker death than this. He knew like they knew, it was over for him. In minutes, hours, days even, he would become one of them, a mindless, soulless creature. Perhaps this was not how he wanted to go.

Tilo stood there, unsure of what to do, he looked to Toby. Tilo lowered his weapon, he no longer needed to use it.

She wouldn't fool herself into believing she wasn't compassionate. Sure, Toby felt very little need to keep friends but she still cared about the well being of others. And right at that moment, watching that poor man in his struggles she felt worse than she had during her last mission. She slowly walks towards the man but pauses as her turns to regard her with a less than sane look. She realizes that he is barely alive, hanging on by a single thread. Going insane because he knows that he will be a Stiff. Toby gives a miniscule smile, that could easily be mistaken for a grimace. She always talks about Stiffism as if it were something that would neer affect her, and if it did then she wouldnt care about walking around and tearing things to bits. But when it really came down to it she knew that was no way to go.

This man probably had family, friends, people he was leaving behind all because of a slip up - or however he managed to get bitten. Toby kneels, not too close to the man that he can lash out but close enough she can clearly hear him as he babbles words to himself. "Come here," She says to Tilo, not ordering really but simply suggesting. He should be there too, to listen to the final words of a dying man. "Please," The man chokes out, words wet with the blood that hes been choking up. Toby does grimace then, because its not something she ever wanted to see.

Tilo nodded, silently mouthing 'okay,' as he knelt down beside them. The man continued to sob, his eyes were red by now. His body writhed in pain, in fear, in loneliness, and in regret.

"Hey, its ok." Toby almost laughs aloud at herself, because its not ok. "Whats your name?" Wow, what a question to ask a dying man. But she has a method to her madness and shes sure this man has a few last words.

He gasped, and choked, and coughed, until he could clear some air to speak.

"Wil..William...Rand," he coughed again, his cheeks were still wet. He wasn't ready to go yet, as he closed his eyes shut tightly for several seconds, before he let his head fall back in a surrendering manner.

"In my pocket..." he swallowed. Tilo reached into his pants pocket.

"There's...my wallet," the Rand closed his eyes again. Tilo found the wallet.

"The picture of the boy..." he swallowed some more of his blood and saliva. Tilo unfolded the wallet to reveal the boy.

"He's my son..." the man gasped again.

Tilo stared at the picture for a couple of minutes, he lost the heart to look at the man any further.

"Please," the man continued, "Make...make sure that my family knows...how I went," and he no longer struggled against his fate.

Tilo nodded solemnly and quietly.

"And there's one...one more favor I need to ask of you," William stared at them, and he placed his hand on Tilo's rifle.
------

They wheeled the bikes back to camp in silence.

There wasn't anything else to be said.

As they passed through the gate, they set aside the bikes against the wall, and proceeded to drop their packs outside of the farm.
------

"The zed are all in locked rooms," Tilo reported.

"The place still has running..um...electricity," Tilo couldn't concentrate on his words. Toby was there beside him, she was silent. Over and over, that scene played in his head. William Rand. William Rand. William Rand.

Monroe eyed the older man as he spoke, he sipped his odorous black coffee. Callie noted their expressions, or lack of, perhaps she sensed something troubling them.

"Uh...there's some running water over there...and um..." the professor paused, "There's still a bit of food stores in the freezers. Send some more to that place...I don't think anybody else has thought of it."

"And um, thanks for the laminated map," Tilo nodded toward the school teacher. Toby left, that was all to be said.

"Is..is there anything else?" Callie asked. Tilo paused for a moment, there was. He breathed a sigh.

"We found a Rand there, he was bitten by the time we got there," Tilo paused, "And he knew...that he was about to go."

Tilo showed the leaders the wallet and the boy and explained.

"I um...want to go on that one, and tell them personally."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Tilo King Character Portrait: Callie Winters Character Portrait: Benjamin Kinney Character Portrait: Mark Lawson Character Portrait: Jonathan Monroe Character Portrait: Delaney Byron
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

0.00 INK

#, as written by Bosch
Friday, November 1st, 2013.

Haven

0830.


The three chickens pecked around the Coop Monroe and Mark had built and for a change Callie was happy with their work. She had a hard time christening the birds, Monroe had wanted to call them Pellegrini, Hart and Nasri, he figured it would piss off Herrera too much though so it was Callie who chose the names in the end. So it came to be the three chickens were known as Liz, Natasha and Katona after British pop group “Atomic Kitten.” Although everybody had taken to calling them “Atomic Chicken”.

“It’s my era.” Callie explained with a slightly embarrassed smile when Toby raised a questioning eyebrow.

Atomic Chicken seemed to enjoy their new home in Haven and Callie was already incredibly pleased with how the mission had gone. Monroe however was more concerned with the chance meeting Laney and Ben had with Jake. He was speaking to Callie while she fed the new arrivals.

“I don’t know, at least he didn’t kill them. Last thing we need is the whole thing turning into a bloody shootout. We need to clear this up with the Caravaners. From their perspective we look guilty as sin.”

“They did well though, their runner knows the truth and they survived together.”

“We still need to speak with their leadership, get this thing cleared up.”

#

1230


“Aww fuck.” Monroe moaned when he heard the report of Chip’s death and the trip to the solar plant. He had known Chip to be one of the more capable members of the Haven community and his loss would be felt. “We didn’t need that. Chip was a good one.”

Callie noticed Monroe was now calling Chip by his name, before he had called him “The Rescue Ranger”. Apparently dying meant you got your name back. Callie and Monroe were in the kitchen going over the new information gathered by the scavengers and listening intently to Gary Fowler’s report.

“What did you find Gary? Is the Solar plant worth anything?” Callie asked.

“Yeah can we tap into their system?”

Gary smirked, Monroe was one of the many people who viewed computers as a magical box that could achieve anything. In Gary’s experience it was usually due to a combination of ignorance and Hollywood.

“No we can’t tap into their system.” Gary explained enjoying his chance to display a bit of technical knowledge to the shaved Ape and Callie. “We’d need to lay a lot of cable and... it’s just not feasible. However we could install some of the Panels here.”

“How could that work?” Callie asked. “Those things are massive.”

“That’s logistics which makes it a problem for the Scavs. They’re not too heavy, just awkward and long.” Gary said with a shrug.

“Yeah.” Monroe said absentmindedly, he was already trying to come up with ways to get around the problem. “Can we take the panels apart? Move them in chunks?”

“I wouldn’t. Putting them back together would be a nightmare. You’ll need to dig them out and bring the whole structure back here in one piece.”

Monroe nodded the job would be a tricky one but with planning anything could be achieved.

“What about Hoppy?” Callie asked.

“What about her?” Gary asked.

“She was pretty close to Chip, how’s she taking the death?”

“Seemed uh... a little shell shocked but I guess that’s normal considering. It was pretty bad in there. Didn’t really think we’d make it out... but we did.”

Monroe nodded. Gary wasn’t big on feelings and in a way that was a good thing.

“I’ll keep an eye on her just the same.” Callie said.

#

Eden Valley Camp Site.

17:30.


The sun had already begun to dip below the skyline which meant and communal fire had been lit. It was covered over with a tarp to block the majority of the light and there was a strict no green leaves policy to avoid too much smoke. It was a risk but Jane Meadows, the leader of the Caravaners, knew the importance of warmth and light especially now. Before the outbreak Jane had worked a lot of odd jobs, just enough to pay for her next holiday. In no particular order she’d been a taxi driver, masseuse, weed dealer, fast food employee, cleaner, Pet Smart employee, Tesco shelf stacker, dry cleaner, Waitress and holistic therapist.

By far her worst job had been in a call centre. The hours were long and she remembered some days your shift would mean the only time you’d see the sun was through the window and 15 minutes at lunch. There had been one guy who brought a special lamp to work that was supposed to mimic sunlight. He claimed he had a condition call SAD, which stood for something but Jane couldn’t remember what it was. She just thought it was utterly tragic that someone had to spend their days looking at a fake sun while working in a shitty call centre.

It was true though people did tend to go a little funny when they don’t feel the warmth of the sun. That’s why she ensured the communal camp fire was always lit at night. Kept the place and community warm.

At least that was the idea, on this evening the community wasn’t feeling too warm towards Jane Meadows. She was trying to lead a group discussion with a group of incredibly pissed off runners when Jake returned from his mission. The rabble was lead by Samantha Low and they were demanding some action be taken against Haven.

“Tim was executed, Jane. Executed. These Haven people are bad news. We all knew the outbreak would have caused some people to go a little crazy, that’s what’s happening at that farm.” Sam said reiterating the point she’d been making for the past half hour.

A roar of support came from the assembled runners while Jane held up her hands in an attempt for calm.

“Sam you’re drawing conclusions here based on incomplete information. I agree it looks bad for Haven but they have never done anything like this before.”

Samantha was about to respond when Jake stepped forward and cleared his throat. He'd had to take a much longer route back to Eden Valley due to a horde of Zombies. He'd only just entered the conversation and figured it would be best to explain what he knew.

“I met some Haven runners while I was out. They saved my life, well we saved each other’s lives. They were just a couple of kids, said their guys had nothing to do with Tim getting killed. In fact they said there’s a gang roaming around the place and they shot Tim.”

“Lies!” Samantha cried, although her outburst didn’t get the same roar of approval this time. Jake was offering new information and he was a trusted member of the Caravaners as well as a respected runner. His word carried weight and went a long way to strengthening Jane’s appeal for calm.

“It’s not Sam. I liked Tim too but if they wanted to take me out they had more than enough opportunities.” Jake explained.

Jane felt the need to press the advantage.

“Sam is right, we need to be sure about what is going on, however I don’t think Haven have anything to do with Tim’s death. They are in as much danger as we are so maybe we should just go talk them.”

“All right but I’m going.” Sam said in a tone that made it clear she stating a fact not asking permission. Her argument had taken a hit but Haven wasn’t off the hook yet as far as Samantha Low was concerned.

#

Saturday, November 2nd 2013.

Haven

0700


Callie woke and took a few a seconds to shake off the drowsiness of her night’s sleep. It also took her a few seconds to notice her breath in the air but when she did she moaned. She pulled herself out of the sleeping bag and wandered to the window. She raised the blackout blinds and saw the rolling hills of the Lake District were covered in Snow.

“Bugger.” She muttered.

She got washed and dressed then went to Kitchen where she saw Monroe sitting at the table wrapped in a couple of Layers with one of the white lab coats Hoppy had scavenged on top.

“Didn’t take you for the scientist type.”

“You seen outside? It’s camo.”

“Where were you?”

“The roof, it was my Stag.”

Callie knew he meant he had been on guard duty the previous night. She had quickly picked up the odd vocabulary a mixture of a Northern Irish childhood and career in the army had given Monroe.

“You want a coffee?”

“Naw I’ll crash out now, be up by noon.”

Callie nodded and was about to speak when the radio crackled to life.

“Haven. This is Eden Valley Caravan Site. We need to talk.”

“Aw bollocks. I’ll get a coffee after all.”

Callie dropped into her seat by the radio while Monroe poured two cups of Coffee.

“This is Haven did you say Eden Valley?”

“Rodger. My name is Jane Meadows I’m the leader here. Who am I speaking to?”

“I’m Callie Winters and I’m with Jonathan Monroe.”

“Are you in charge?”

Callie looked at Monroe who shrugged.

“I guess... I mean we’ve been here the longest.”

“Well I understand we might have had a bit of a misunderstanding...”

#

0955

Monroe was in awe, somehow Callie had had tuned Jane Meadows from a mysterious voice on the radio into a what any passerby would assume as a life-long friend. It was a power Callie had that Monroe just didn’t possess. He called it witchcraft, Callie called it basic social skills.

“So the problem seems to be this wandering band of psychos, you say your runn... sorry, Scav said they asked Tim about Haven before shooting him?” Jane concluded.

“Yeah our Scav saw the whole thing.” Callie was being careful not use any real names as, while she was getting on with Jane Meadows, the fact remained she was just a voice on the radio. For all she knew she could be talking to the very person that had killed the Caravaner runner.

“What do you say to a joint investigation? Maybe we can track these people down?”

“Your runners and our Scavs?” Callie repeated to buy time so she could look at Monroe who nodded and shrugged at the same time a gesture Callie took to mean “I’m ok, if you’re ok.”

“Alright we’re game.”

“We’ll send two runners to you. One of them will be the same one your runners met earlier so you’ll know it’s us. I’ll send them on Monday.”

“Alright Jane it’s been real nice talking.” Callie said as she hunched over the table and let her tone drop. “I gotta warn you though don’t try to fuck us Jane, don’t you ever try to fuck us. So long as we both keep that in mind, everybody will stay happy.”

“Sure thing Callie, we just want to get these assholes out of our area. I’ll send our runners with another freq so you guys can have a more secure line to us.”

“Great can’t wait to work together.” Callie said, her tone bright and cheery again.

She ended the conversation and turned to Monroe.

“So whadda you think?”

“ ‘Don’t ever try to fuck us?’ I didn’t have you pegged as a Scarface fan.”

“A Uni boyfriend loved it, I must have seen ten times. I couldn’t think of anything intimidating to say!”

“Clearly. We should get a notice up.”


#

1600

Monroe took a swing from his coffee and eyed the battered pair standing in front of him. He’d seen it before, the thousand yard stare. Tilo and Toby had clearly been through the wringer. They delivered their report and Callie made no attempt to interrupt.

Once they concluded their harrowing tale silence fell on the room.

“I’m sure he was glad of the company in his final moments. At least you were able to give the dignity of not turning.” Callie said finally.

“Aye and good work securing those supplies. They’ll come in handy.”

Tilo handed over the wallet "I um...want to go on that one, and tell them personally."

“Of course Tilo, you’ll get first refusal. It might be a good idea to explain what happened and the family will probably appreciate this.” Callie said as she accepted the wallet from the sad eyed man. She’d heard his story and couldn’t begin to imagine the pain over his missing family.

#

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013.

1103


'Fuck you Monroe, I had to get tampons,' Laney snapped. The soldier's jaw dropped, his eyes bulged. The vein throbbed double-time. In the end, he muttered 'You deal with this'.

“You owe me a fucking Radio, X-factor.” Monroe growled before turning on his heel and leaving.

Callie sighed before turning to Laney. “He’s right you know that was pretty reckless. You should have told me. I’d have sorted it. What if the walkie thing hadn’t worked? We would have had to send someone out to get you, endangering them. That’s why Monroe’s pissed, don’t take it personal. He wants us to be a bit more Girls Aloud and a bit less Mariah Carey...” Callie said with a smile hoping the joke would help break the tension.

Delaney looked at the floor and reminded Callie of one of her students. Some responded to yelling while others responded to the “I’m not angry just disappointed” routine. Callie patted her on the back and took the mooncup.

“Thanks and chin up. I’ll handle Monroe, his bark is worse than his bite.”

#

1115

Monroe was seething and walked outside to get some fresh air. Discipline was sorely lacking in Haven but he was working with Civilians, what did he expect? It’s not like he could beast them, He supposed that’s why he had Callie. It was her job to do the people stuff, it was his job to do the zombie stuff.

He took a deep breath and tried to regain a sense of calm.

“You ok?” It was Gary.

“Yeah sure.” Monroe said although he wasn’t ok. He turned to look at Gary. “Piece of advice though, Never work with children, animals or people you have been on top of the pops.”

“I’m pretty sure Top of Pops got cancelled, like a couple of decades ago.” Gary offered.

Monroe shook his head and trudged off through the snow. For some reason he found himself looking at the wall he and Mark had built together that kept the farm secure. It was obvious to him the bits he’d built at the start compared to the bits he’d built later. His ability was getting better with practice. A few weeks ago he couldn’t mend a chair but now he was building Chicken Coops. This resulted in one of the few epiphanies Jonathan Monroe would experience in his life. The last one had occurred in 2004 in a bar in a the Philippines when he realised few women have Adam’s apples and fewer still have a five O’clock shadow to rival his own.

Unlike the epiphany of ’04 this was a happy one.

He left the wall to go see Mark who was asleep in one of the converted outer buildings. The Farmhouse was starting to get a little cramped.

“Wakey, wakey hands off snakey!” Monroe cried as he stuck his head round the door.

“Aw Christ Monroe, what is it now? I was on guard last night. I’m knackered.”

“I know you were. Problem is X-Factor got out past you and near got her face chewed off by some Zeke down in Cromwell.”

“Oh shit is she alright?”

“She’s fine. My radio is another story...” He mumbled but quickly moved on. “Point is I want you to know this situation has led me to a conclusion. Youse uns don’t know the first goddamn thing about Soldiering. How would you? It’s my fault and I’m gonna fix it. 1500 hours today in front of farmhouse, I’m going to be taking a little class. Pass it on.”

Then Monroe was gone leaving Mark huddled in his sleeping bag. “When the hell is 1500 hrs?” He wondered.

#

1500

Monroe looked at the assorted faces assembled in front of him. Gary, Mark, The Doc and some of the Scavs had come to listen to his little presentation.

“Right ladies and gentlemen I know its cold but this important. Today I’m gonna teach you all a little bit about what I know. What I know is soldiering. Today everyone is going to become competent in three things, weapons handling, fire and movement and orientating. We don’t have a lot of ammo to spare so all the drills are gonna be dry.”

After this Monroe went into his spiel about the various weapons available in the armoury, even weapons the Scavs didn’t usually get to use. They covered the use of the Webley revolver (Monroe’s prized possession), the Harrys, how to work a hunting rifle scope as well as reload and maintenance drills for all weapons. He then explained the basics of fire and movement which for their purposes basically amounted to covering retreats. He explained these in the context of a gun battle but explained the same principals could be used to create distance between a small team and a horde of the undead.

“It’s pretty much like leap frog, while someone is moving someone else is firing. You just keep leap frogging until you extricate yourself from a situation. The trick is you need to trust your team, it all falls apart if you break rank. Nobody never won nothing on their own.” He glanced at Laney and smiled. It was as close as Monroe could get to extending an olive branch.

“What about Olympic sprinters?” Callie called from the rear of the group. “Far as I can tell they do that all alone.” She had enjoyed learning more about the weapons and the skills Monroe had taught. It had been a fun day and a way for the group to let their hair down while taking part in exercises.

“You know what I mean.” Monroe moaned with a smile on his face.

Finally he moved on to basic orienteering skills like how to work a compass, how to read a map, what a contour line is and how to orienteer one’s self using the sun and stars.

“Right so that’s enough for one day. If any of you have any questions I can help with I’d be happy to. I’ll be holding these little classes every week and they’ll get more advanced as we go. I know Doc Short wants to give you all a brief about basic first aid tomorrow, it’s always good to know what bit goes where. If anyone else would like to step up and teach us a little something about what you know that would probably be worthwhile too. Now though I think it’s time for dinner.”

“Yep, it’s Omelettes tonight.” Callie said with smile but the news was met with a groan, the egg based cuisine was getting old.

“Poached eggs then...” She said hopefully.

#

2100

The farmhouse was quiet as everyone had taken themselves off to whatever nook or cranny they’d claimed as their own. Callie and Monroe were in the kitchen going over the jobs they’d post the following day.

“So Monroe was the school thing today your attempt to make peace?”

“No, idea what you’re talking about. I’m just helping out the only way I know how, and my way is educating feckers.” Monroe said deflecting her question. “It was a bit of Craic though.”

A silence passed between them and Callie sighed. She had gossip and had to tell someone, it was bad habit she’d picked up in the staff room. Monroe wasn’t perfect but would have to do, it was too good not to.

“Soooo have you heard the gossip?” She said in the least nonchalant way possible.

“I don’t really do gossip.” He said without looking up from his map.

“Everyone does gossip Monroe, it’s what separates us from the animals. The gossip is, right, you know Laney and Ben...” Callie raised her eyebrows what cocked her head to the side. “You know.”

“What X-factor and the Kid who looks like Scooby-Doo’s stoner mate.”

“Ben doesn’t look like Shaggy.”

“Shaggy! Thank you that’s been on the tip of my tongue since I met the guy.” Monroe cried with satisfaction. “Anyway what about them?”

“They’re... Boom chicka wow wow.” Callie sang with a smile on her face.

“What even is that... are you saying they’re bumping uglies?”

“Well no I think they’ve just kissed but you know... it’s adorable.”

“Shaggy took his time, that’s for sure, he was following her around like a wee love sick puppy. Scrappy doo.” Monroe said with a glint in his eye.

“Oh be nice. It’s cute.”

“Yeah, well just look at Mark and Kim. These days it’s best to keep feelings like that at arm’s length.”
Callie was silent for a moment. “Jesus, Monroe I can see why you don’t do gossip, you depress the hell outta everyone. What’s on the to do this week?”

“Well we got the date the Caravaners so we’ll need to send three on that and I’ve got an idea for the Solar panels but we’ll need supplies.”

“Ok Rishi said he needed some help with things, so he’ll be taking two as well. He’ll write his own briefs though.”

“Bloody right he will. Looks like our dance card is all full up so lets get these things written up.”

They sat down and began writing their briefing packs, abruptly Monroe stopped writing.

“Aww no...” “

“What?” Callie asked suddenly concerned.

“I was just thinking about X-factor and Shaggy.”

“And?”

“Tilo’s gonna be crushed.” Monroe said while shaking his head.

Cassie face palmed and let out a long moan. “Never in my life have I met someone so rubbish at gossip. You don’t even try to pay attention do you?”

Monroe tutted and returned to his briefing.

#

Monday November 4th, 2013.

Jobs.

Getting to Know You.

Suggested Number of Scavs- 3 (plus 2 Caravaner runners.)

Area- Netherland Wood, around Eden Camp Site and Haven Farm.

Objective- Work with the Caravaner runners to learn more about the Gang of Five currently in the area.

Special Equipment- Scoped bolt action Hunting rifle with twenty rounds.

Information- We’ve made some friends, which is nice. They’re from Eden Valley Camp Site which is where the Caravaners call home. It looks like there was a lot of confusion on their end about our involvement in the death of one of their runners called Tim (The call their Scavs, Runners weird right?) It’s all been cleared up now though and we’ve been in touch with their leadership via radio.

Anyway we’ve decided the best course of action is to go on a joint mission to see if we can’t learn more about the Gang of Five. The two Runners you’ll be going out with are called Samantha and Jake. Jake is the guy who helped out Laney and Ben while they were picking up ‘Atomic Chicken’. From what they said he seems pretty cool, we have no information on Sam.

Their leader has suggested they have some information relating to the location of the gang but we’ll see how that goes. Monroe has issued the use of scoped rifles for this mission, hopefully you were paying attention during his class.

Callie.

GTA


Suggested Number of Scavs- 2

Area- Cromwell, Gill Mechanics.

Objective- Retrieve a flatbed truck and stash it.

Special Equipment- Bicycles.

Information- Right our resident Tech Geek Gary seems to think he can jury rig up a couple of solar panels to give Haven some electricity. This is vital as the nights get longer. We need to start using rechargeable batteries and quite depending on the generator anytime we need some juice, petrol is scarce enough.

Gary, Hoppy and Chip went on a mission out to Silent Valley and scoped out the solar panels problem is they are a pain in the arse to carry especially when you got a couple of Zombs on your back. Not to mention we’d need to make several return trips even if everyone in Haven was helping.

So we need a vehicle and a big one at that to accommodate the panels.

As luck would have it there should be a flatbed truck in Gill Mechanics in Cromwell at least there was when Kim was last out that way. They mainly do agricultural machinery so even if the Flatbed is gone you might be able to find something capable of carrying the panels. All you gotta do is get to the mechanics, get an appropriate vehicle and stash it somewhere that’s not at the front door but close enough we can get to it easily. Beauty part is the mechanics should have the keys so you don’t even need to hotwire it or anything.

Once you get the Truck stashed we’ll work on a plan to retrieve the panels. You may as well take the recovered bikes and throw them in the back of the flatbed once you get it.

Monroe.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Tilo King Character Portrait: Callie Winters Character Portrait: Jonathan Monroe Character Portrait: Kiera Trennan Character Portrait: Rishi Sharma Character Portrait:
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

0.00 INK

(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: Tilo King Character Portrait: Callie Winters Character Portrait: Mark Lawson Character Portrait: Jonathan Monroe Character Portrait: Richard Brand Character Portrait: Ken Rand
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

0.00 INK

#, as written by Bosch
Epilogues.

November 4th.

Upton Abbey.


Kenneth Rand watched his Grandson Eric playing with two Tonka trucks in front of a smouldering fire place and sighed. Eric’s father William had been missing for about a week and attempts to find him had not been successful.

Ken knew this was bad. His son had been a rarity in a life, a strong character with a gentle soul. He would gladly get punched in the mouth if it spared someone else the same fate. Kenneth had no idea where he got it from, most likely his mother. Ken had made his money the old fashioned way, by screwing over anyone who got in his way. It was the kind of attitude that made Britain Great.

Now Ken was an old man and he knew in this new situation the disappearance of his son was very bad indeed. He was an old man who had been waiting for a massive heart attack or just plain old age to kill him before the dead rose. Now his life expectancy was around the same as his grandson’s. That made him impossibly sad.

He had bought Upton Abbey with the money he had earned through his numerous lucrative business dealings. Upton Abbey had been the standard stately home until Ken got his hands on it. The aristocracy had been dying since World War 2 and the slow collapse of the class system. In the 21st century being successful wasn’t as much an accident of fate as it had been in the past. Now it didn’t matter how many titles you had C.B.E., M.B.E., Lord or Sir. None of it mattered. The only thing that mattered in the modern UK was bank balance.

At least it had until the outbreak now they were back to a time before the class system, now power rested with the strong.

He was dragged out of his thoughts when the door swung open and his daughter in law, Elizabeth, walked into the room. Ken couldn’t lie his son had chosen a beautiful woman as his wife, she was an upper class, head girl, boarding school type. If Ken hadn’t been such a successful business man odds were his son would have never met his wife or if they did through some twist of fate she would have just seen him as a working class bum. Ken’s money had opened a lot of doors for his son but it was William who had to walk though them. Ken had hoped to do the same for his grandson but the world was a different place.

“Hi Ken how are you? Thanks for watching him, we’ve just finished dinner.” Elizabeth said with a smile as she ruffled Eric’s hair. The boy looked up and beamed but continued playing with his toys.

“Felling good Lizzie. I think this one might be a little builder in the making.”

“Oh an architect!” Lizzie said with a smile.

Ken smiled and nodded but he’d been thinking more of brickie than architect. It always entertained him how Lizzie’s mind always went to a middle class career while his was still operating on working class mode.

“Dinner’s going out now. I’ll bring him back when he’s fed.”

“Ok I’ll get something later.” Ken said as Lizzie led the young boy out of the room.

“Is Dad home yet?” Eric asked as they made their way down the staircase and toward the dining area.

“Not yet sweetie. He’ll be home soon though.”

Eric nodded, he was still young enough to take his mother’s word as Gospel.

She led him down into the dining room where the Rand’s were getting fed. The only actual Rands in the room were Eric and Lizzie, the rest were just locals that William and Ken had taken in. Upton Abbey though had slowly became known as the Rand’s over the years Ken had lived there.

Lizzie got Eric settled with his dinner and a spoon then went to help serve the in the kitchen. She entered the kitchen to a scene of anger between Mrs Wilson and a Hunter called Richard Brand. The Hunters had been pushing their luck since the disappearance of William who had been able to keep them in line. Lizzie understood them in a way they were young men risking their lives but a lot of them had started to view themselves as the most important people in Upton Abbey, the ringleader was Richard brand.

Mrs Wilson, a matronly woman in her middle sixties, was holding firm to a bowl of soup that Richard Brand was tugging at.

“What is going on?” Lizzie asked.

Brand turned and immediately let go of the bowl.

“I was just explaining to Mrs Wilson here that Hunters get more food.”

“Richard, that’s not how things work, everyone gets the same.”

“Not anymore. The hunters take more risk so we deserve more food.”

“That’s not what William said. Everyone gets the same here.”

Brand sighed and looked at his cronies who were watching the spectacle. Brand was aware he was in danger of losing face.

“Yeah well William isn’t here. When he comes back send him to talk to me about it.” Richard said before snatching the bowl from Mrs Wilson. “Seconds for the Hunters from now on.” He then walked over to his group who whooped and high fived.

Lizzie was going to say something but all of a sudden felt very vulnerable. Richard was looking at her like he wanted her to make a thing of it. He looked at her like he ached for the confrontation. Lizzie instead decided to go and help Mrs Wilson with the dishes and avoid the confrontation.

“He’s a right wee toerag.” Mrs Wilson whispered under her breath. “Where’s William?”

“I don’t know...” Lizzie said.

#

November 5th

0900

Haven


Callie called Tilo into the Kitchen and handed him the wallet he had recovered from William Rand.

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

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

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

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

Job

I think this is yours.

Suggested Number of Scavs- 1

Area- Upton Abbey.

Objective- Make Contact with the Rands. Return wallet. If possible forge beginnings of an alliance.

Special Equipment- N/A (The wallet I guess)

Information- Hi guys on a previous mission Tilo and Toby found the mortally wounded William Rand who requested we return his wallet to his family and explain how he died. Tilo has requested this mission personally so he gets first refusal.

Upton Abbey is an old fashioned Stately home, the kind of place you see in BBC Emily Bronte dramas. Apparently it’s quite nice. Its owned by the Rand family Ken the Grandfather, William the Son and a Grandson. There are other families living there but who knows how many. What we do know is a sizeable contingent of local Towns people took shelter in Upton Manor during the outbreak. Their version of Scavs are called Hunters and they know this place like the back of their hand. They would be a useful ally.

The path to Upton Manor shouldn’t be too infested with the undead and I hear the walk around the grounds is quite nice. They have a hedge maze! Isn’t that ace?
Anyway accept their hospitality whatever form it takes and report back. Remember to stay in radio contact so if you get in trouble we’ll know. Have Fun! You know after you tell the guy his son is dead, don’t be smiling when you do that.

Callie.

#

November 5th.

1200


Monroe sat silently in one of the upstairs bedrooms and stared at a spot in the middle of the room. He’d made a decision that resulted in the death of his own people. He thought long and hard about what he could have done differently that would have resulted in Toby still being alive.

Callie was doing her people person thing on the Radio and trying to smooth the whole thing over with the Caravaners. Laney had also been on the radio giving her version of events but it was up in the air how the whole thing would pan out.

Monroe stood and started pacing. He was pissed and punched a wardrobe, he then let out a long sigh. Pointless impotent aggression wouldn’t solve anything, made him fell better though. Don’t get mad get even he told himself repeating it like a mantra.

“Monroe?” He knew it was Callie.

“Yeah?”

“People are getting worried about you. You’re not acting yourself.”

“Maybe this is myself Callie maybe I’ve just been acting.”

“Monroe you’re not making sense.”

Monroe turned and slumped his shoulders. “I just... fuck I’m so sick of losing people. I could have gone out, done something...”

“Then we’d be mourning two instead of one.” She said as she moved from the doorway and into the room.

She pulled Monroe into a hug and the gruff man complied. “I’m just so fucking pissed. I really need to end these bastards.”

“And we will but there’s no sense going off half cocked. Come on lets go get a cuppa.”

Monroe nodded and smiled. That’s why Callie was the people person.

#

November 5th

1730


“Dolphin five- eight reporting critical engine failure. We are going in hard over... Fuck where even is this...” Michael Hailsham cried into his radio.

RAF Pilot Alison Carter was doing her best the keep the Sea King in the air but it was a losing battle, Her Co pilot Michael Hailsham was doing his best to communicate his location to whoever was listening. They had been defending RAF Valley with a tiny force made up of Search and Rescue Crews, Fire-fighters and RAF regiment members. They had defended RAF Valley Airfield to the best of their ability but soon they found themselves completely abandoned.

Waves of the undead crashed into their lines and each encounter whittled down their remaining supplies and men. Eventually it became clear the only course of action was evacuation. Alison being a Search and Rescue Force Pilot was tasked with taking evacuating her crew as well as two RAF Regiment airmen and three civilians in addition to as much gear as they could fit in the helicopter. It meant the Sea King was packed to the gills and she wondered if that had anything to do with the current catastrophic failure.

Suddenly the Chopper levelled out and Alison felt in control. She smiled briefly but that turned to horror when she realised the pedals were unresponsive.

The chopper started to spin and she cried out.

“We’re going down! BRACE BRACE BRACE!”

She tried to pull up but the Helicopter was spinning so violently she had no idea if it made any difference. All she could see was intermittent flashes of Green grass and grey sky.

#

Haven


Callie listened intently to the radio but she couldn’t make out the garbled message she increased the volume in time to hear.

“Brace Brace.” Followed by a loud hiss of static that made her grab her ear.

“What the hell...” She muttered but she wasn’t confused for long as Monroe burst through the door followed by Mark. They made a line straight for the pantry armoury. Where Monroe grabbed a Rifle and his Webley.

“What’s going on?” Callie asked suddenly confused.

“Didn’t you see it?” Mark asked dumbfounded.

“Sea king just went down to the west. Passed right over our heads.”

“What the hell is a Sea King?”

“RAF search and rescue helicopter. Mark and I are heading out see if we can’t get some survivors or supplies.”

Just as the words crossed Monroe’s lips the radio crackled to life. Monroe dove for the set hoping it would be from the downed chopper. Instead Hoppy’s voice filled the airways. She explained that she had gotten separated from Ben but that she had succeeded in stashing the vehicle.

“Fucking Shaggy’s got lost.” Monroe said dropping the headset. “Hoppy is on her way back here but someone is going to have to try find him. Hell some people are going to have go find him.”

“What about the chopper?” Callie asked.

“I know I’m thinking.” He said abruptly.

Monroe looked at Callie whose face was blank, he knew she was overwhelmed. This was the deal, she did people stuff and Monroe did zombie stuff. This definitely fell into his domain.

“Right here’s the deal. I’ll go to the crash site secure it and gather up any survivors. Mark you are gonna take two Scavs and have Hoppy here lead you to where she last saw Shaggy. You good with that?”

“Yeah sure Monroe but...”

“Are you good?”

“Yes I’m good. I just don't see why we have to go now. He's only lost, we'll go looking tomorrow.”

"Yeah tell it to Toby." Monroe said frown while Callie shuffled her feet. “Remember to use your radios and move as team. Be methodical in your search and look for trails. Callie get on the blower to The Caravanners see if they have anyone in the area that can help out.”He sighed Mark was looking like Monroe had just asked him to do brain surgery. “Well fuck off then, get it done.”

Monroe collected his own gear and was walking out to the bike shed when he saw Callie running from the Farmhouse.

“Monroe where are you going?”

“I’m doing the crash site while The Scavs are gonna rescue the damsel in distress.”

“Who is going with you?”

“Harry and Mister Webley.” He said lifting the sawn off shotgun and revolver.

Callie shook her head she wasn’t in the mood for jokes. “No way Monroe it’s your own bloody rule nobody goes out alone, you wanted to crucify Laney for doing the same thing.”

“She’s a fucking popstar, I’m a professional solider. It’s apples and oranges.”

“I’m going with you then.”

“Don’t talk shite, we need you here to run comms, what if Shaggy calls us or we pick up something from the crash site? Who else am I supposed to take? The Scavs are all tied up, Rishi would fill his under crackers before we got out the gate and I’ve seen corpses more athletic than Gary... literally.”

Callie stood in silence unable to think of a point to argue.

“Just be careful.” She said finally.

“Never knew you cared.” He said as he grabbed a bike and wheeled it across the Farmyard to the gate. He noticed Gary was manning the gate and he had the same wide eyed look Callie had earlier. He wanted say something encouraging but couldn’t come with anything that wouldn’t sound too Hollywood or sappy.

Gary swung the Gate open and Monroe wheeled the bike out onto the snow covered road. He tested the tire pressure by giving them a quick squeeze and decided they were too firm so he released a little bit of air that should make it easier to pedal although he didn’t plan on doing much pedalling.

Haven Farm was at the top of small hill which meant so long as Monroe stuck to the road he should have a pretty clear run down. From there the bike would be less useless but he’d re evaluate the situation once he got there.

He was about to get on the bike when he saw Hoppy make her way up the hill. She looked totally shattered from her ordeal and now Monroe was going to have to ask her to head out again. He stopped her and briefly explained the situation.

“Hoppy, Mark is getting a team together to find Shagg... Ben. They’ll need you to lead them out to where you last saw him. Just hold it together kid. Just one more run. All you gotta do is point the way and then hang back.”

Hoppy was gasping from her trek but Monroe could tell from the look or her face she had a lot more questions.

“I got this other thing to do. Mark will brief you up. Good luck.”

With that he was off quickly descending the hill and aiming for Jones Farm.

#

Job

GTA 2: Team GB to the Rescue.


Mark looked at the assembled Scavs and cleared his throat.

“Hi everyone so Monroe has to go this chopper crash and Ben has gone missing so that means we gotta head back to Cromwell to get him. Hoppy is gonna lead the way and point out where this Mechanics garage is. He’s probably holed up in there pissing himself.” He swallowed hard. He was nervous. Sure he was good with a rifle but going to Cromwell was a totally different thing from Guard duty.

“So it’ll just be the two of us to begin with but the Caravaners are sending out some of their people to meet us and help with the search. Callie seems to think it’ll only be two but that’s better than none. Hoppy is also coming along to point out where we’re going.”

He handed out the Harry’s and grabbed a scoped rifle for himself.

“I’m pretty good with the rifle from doing guard duty so often but you guys are the Scav experts so if one of you would rather take it that’s ok.”

He let the Scavs organise their own equipment and then they were off, only a couple of minutes behind Monroe who was heading South to the crash while the search team would be going west to Cromwell.

#

November 5th

1745


Carter shook herself awake and everything was sideways. She shifted her weight and her left leg cried out in agony. Definitely broken.

The helicopter had landed on its side with her side in the dirt. She looked up at Hailsham but she immediately knew he was dead. His neck was twisted and his head was resting unnaturally low on his chest.

“Anyone still with me back there?” She croaked.

A grunt from behind her told her at least someone was still alive.

“Wake up! Come on!”

She looked out of the window of the Sea king and could see a zombie shuffling toward the crash.

“Any fucking time now would be just super!” She cried keeping her eyes on the zombie.

“Ugh. Hell of a landing Captain.” Muttered one of the RAF regiment guys from behind her.

“Who’s that?”

“Gupta Ma’am.”

“What kind of shape are you in?”

“Left arms broke. Reloads might be a problem.”

“Can you shoot?”

“Yes Ma’am.”

“We have incoming on my twelve o’clock. Pass me the weapons and ammo. I’ll work reloads.”

“Rodger.” Gupta said as he passed all his magazines into the cockpit and climbed on top of the downed Chopper. He smashed the co-pilot’s window so he could pass the rifle down to Carter who would then reload. He raised the SA-80 selected single shot and took aim at the nearest undead.

Carter for her part had the second SA-80 loaded and ready to go. She then turned her attention to trying to raise anyone on the radio.

“This is downed RAF helicopter Dolphin Five-Eight requesting support from anyone. We have wounded and are in danger of being overrun we need an evacuation immediately.”

The radio crackled and Carter strained to hear faint voice.

“Hold ti... on the way... ven... old tight.”

“Repeat last?” Carter said trying to control the stress in her voice.

“Reload!” Gupta called and Carter passed the fresh SA-80 up to him and took the empty one. She slammed in a fresh magazine and tried the radio again.

#

November 5th

1820


Monroe ditched the bike at the entrance to Jones farm and jogged toward the farmhouse. In the drive he noted the many vehicles including a snow covered Rav 4. He kicked open the front door of the house and glanced to his left. Sure enough there was a little key holder on the wall. Monroe quickly glanced at the keys and grabbed the Toyota keys.

He then bounded out of the house and climbed into the vehicle. It took a second for the engine to kick over but eventually it did.

Monroe lifted the radio and called Callie.

“Callie it’s Monroe. Anything from the crash site?”

“Yeah we just got a burst but it was real garbled. Sound like there’s at least one person alive.”

“Right I’m just leaving Jones farm now and I got a car. Where are the Scavs?”

“They left right after you. They’re probably half way to Cromwell by now.”

“Good. There are more Zombies the closer I get to the crash. It must be drawing them in from all over. Their path should be pretty clear.”

“Ok at least the Scavs are heading in the opposite direction. What about you though? You can fall back or maybe the Scavs could use your car.”

“No if we start deviating it will result in confusion and then a clusterfuck. They have their area of operation and I have mine. Depending on the shape of this crash zone I might need help shifting casualties though.”

The engine finally roared to life and Monroe dropped his boot. “I’ll call back, once I get there.”

#

November 5th

1855


Gupta was doing well keeping the zombies at bay but he kept having the drop his firing line closer to the downed aircraft as more and more zombies stumbled near. Carter pulled the SA-80 down and noticed it was slick with blood.

“What’s happening up there Gupta? This thing is covered in blood!”

“I think I might have got nicked in the crash.” He said. Carter handed up the weapon and looked at Gupta who was very pale.

“Jesus, are you bleeding? Have you dressed it?”

“Haven’t really had the time, Ma’am.” Then he resumed firing.

Carter tried to protect her face from the falling hot casings. She could hear something in the distance, it sounded like a car horn.

“Reload!” Gupta said as he lowered the rifle and handed it Carter.

“Last mag.” She shouted up.

Gupta remained still for a moment. “Is that a...”

Carter looked out of the window and a small silver jeep mowing down zombies on it’s way to the crash site.

It slid to a halt beside the chopper and a short balding man jumped out.

“Fucking run you daft bastards!”

“We have wounded.” Gupta cried, he then pointed to the back of the helicopter.

“Cover me then!” The balding man cried as he clambered into the chopper and started feeling for pulses.

“They’re dead, it’s just the Pilot.” Gupta shouted.

“Right.” The man said gruffly. “Alright what we got here.” He stuck his head in the cockpit and looked at Carter.

“Can you move?”

“Broken leg.” Carter said.

The man frowned. “This is going to hurt.” He grabbed her under her arm pits and told her to release the harness holding her in place. His strong arms lifted her clear of the cockpit but her leg hit every surface on the way out. She tried to muffle her screams which came out like roar.

He hefted her out and into the backseat of the Rav4. Of course hitting her leg on the lip of the door. That was enough to send her over the edge and make her pass out.

Gupta was still firing when the bald man shouted up to him.

“Right, Rock Ape let’s get fucking moving.”

Gupta turned and half slid half fell off the helicopter. The bald man was helping him up when a shot rang out which found Gupta. The Bald man looked down and half of Gupta’s head was missing. He threw his head up and caught a glace of a fleeing man wearing a red coat. He could sense movement out in the woods as well.

“Fucking cunts!” He screamed as he climbed into the car. He gunned the engine and tore down the snow covered road.

#

November 5th

1930


Carter’ s sleep was disrupted by Monroe’s screams. She opened her eyes in time to see the RAV4 crash into a very large tree. At least her leg didn’t hurt anymore, now it was her nose that was the source of agony. Broken in the crash.

“Hold on I’ll get you out.” Monroe said as he struggled past the air bag and opened the door. He climbed out of the car and immediately slipped in the snow. He was concussed from the car crash and shook his head in an attempt to clear the cobwebs. He’d been driving too fast, hit a patch of ice which had sent the RAV4 off the road and into a tree. At least there was some distance between them and the horde of Zombies on their ass.

Carter looked for Gupta but found herself alone. She knew what that meant. Outside she heard a scream followed but the unmistakable sound of a shotgun blast. Then Monroe was at her door.

“What’s your name sweetheart?”

“Captain Alison Carter.” Normally if someone had called her Sweetheart she’d have decked them but now wasn’t the time for outrage. “What was that?” She asked.

“Nothing, a Zomb, it’s dead now. I’m Monroe. I’m gonna have to lift you again but I need you stay quiet.”

Monroe lifted her out of the vehicle and dragged her some distance from the vehicle before returning. He tore the bottom off his lab coat and then opened the petrol cap. He stuffed the rag into the cap and with his last match lit the end.

He then hurried over to Carter helped her to her good foot. He then turned round and knelt allowing her to jump on his back.

“We’re gonna be moving fast there’s more than Zombs on us, hold tight and if it gets too much tell me so I can stop. You can’t pass out again becuase I can’t carry dead weight.”

“I can do it. Just move.”

Monroe started moving toward Haven again, this time with a heavy burden.

They kept staggering forward even when the RAV4 exploded. Monroe hoped the noise and fire would lure the Zombies off them at least for a while.

#

November 5th

2010


Monroe and Carter struggled up the hill and Monroe could feel himself starting to weaken. In his head all he could hear was Staff Andrews who had conducted his selection for the Paras. Jones had hated Monroe which made sense because nobody likes a lippy Belfast Boy. The hate Jones had piled on him acted as fuel for Monroe who used it again to help him get Carter up the hill towards Haven.

“I’m approaching Haven from the South. I have one wounded and Zeke right up my hole. Those gang of five fuckers are here too.”

“Ok Gary will be there to meet you.” Callie said on the radio.

“The Scavs aren’t all back yet?”

“Not yet they should be on their way though.”

Monroe’s stomach dropped.

“Alright. Fine have Gary be ready to take wounded, I’ll lead the horde away.”

“What?”

“I’ll need some matches or a lighter or something and a ton of distraction bombs, Callie.”

“What is happening Monroe?”

“Get the lighter and bombs, Callie. Confirm that you understand me.”

“Yes.”

“Good now go.”

A ten minutes later he finally reached Gary and saw he wasn’t alone. Callie was standing beside him.
Monroe handed the wounded pilot over to Gary.

“Monroe what the hell is happening?”

“There’s a ton of those things on my arse. Someone has to lead them away or else the Scavs won’t be able to get back in and Haven will be swarmed.”

He handed her his radio and medical pack.

“Don’t you need this?” then she noticed the blood running freely down Monroe’s arm and landing on the snow.

Monroe shrugged before pulling up his sleeve exposing the large bite mark on his arm. He’d received it during the car crash from the Zomb with the Harry. The skin around the bite was already turning grey.

“Reckon I got an hour or two left. Fucker isn’t clotting neither.”

“No Monroe you can’t... we’ll get the doctor maybe we can cut it off or something... stop the infection. Rishi’s smart, he’ll come up with something.”

“My heart’s beating faster than priest on a school bus. This shite has been pumped into every organ, vein and artery I got.”

He grabbed the satchel full of distraction devices off Callie. He was about to run off when she grabbed him and started dressing the wound. Monroe shrugged but figured it was a good idea. He was already feeling light headed from blood loss.

“Look get her into Haven, then lock down, keep the place quiet and don’t attract the Zeds. The crash has pulled them all out of the wood work. I’ll lead them down to the Jones farm, you remember where Toby got the petrol that time. I’ll draw ‘em all down there and clear the way for the Scavs to get home.” He explained.

“Monroe I don’t know what to...”

“Time’s ticking here Callie. That Pilot was in a RAF chopper she knows something about what is going on. It’s up to you to get it out of her. She was going somewhere, and I’d bet anything it’s safe.”

Callie dumbly nodded as finished dressing the wound and Gary just looked on slack jawed.

“Right then, I’ll be going.” He said finally and for the first time since she’d met him Callie saw fear behind his eyes. She threw her arms around him and pulled him into a tight hug.

“You don’t need to do this. If we just sit down and think I’m sure we can come up something. The Doc can at least make you comfortable.”

For a second Monroe was tempted but he could already hear a low pitched moan from the ghouls behind him.

“I’m sorry Callie.” He said as he pulled away. He grabbed the bag and quickly started to jog back down the hill. He didn’t want anyone to see the tears in his eyes.

#

November 5th

2030


Gary brought Carter straight to the Doctors while Callie went about securing Haven and telling everyone they had to lie low.

She went back to the kitchen and tried to raise the Scavs still in the field.

“Haven is in danger of being swarmed. We’re trying to draw them away but at the moment there is a lot of Z activity near the base. Stay away from Haven until we give you the all clear.”

She hoped the Scavs had heard the message. At least Zombie activity in the area around Cromwell should be slightly down making their search a little easier.

#

November 5th

2130


Monroe was dying and wondered if turning hurt everyone as much as it was hurting him. He’d seen people turn before and they always seemed to be a mild pain Monroe was in agony but he kept dumbly staggering forward. The Jones farm house was in sight and all he had to do was push it out for another hundred yards. He’d already been running for over an hour which he figured wasn’t helping. Any other time he’d seen people turn they had been made comfortable not taken part in a foot race with undead.

He tried to think about what he would do when he got in there but his mind was drifting to Callie, Tilo, Ben, Hoppy, Mark, Laney, Rishi, Gary and Jesus. They were the goal now, he’d done his best to keep them alive and maybe they’d be able to keep the place going without him. In fact he knew they would. His type of person was a dying breed, a necessary one now, but an evil one none the less. He stuck has hand into the satchel, lit two more distraction bombs and dropped them behind him as he ran. He’d been dropping them every so often to draw as many Zombs to his position as possible. He felt like the pied piper, except with improvised explosives instead of a flute and rotting corpses instead of kids.

Finally he made it to the front door of the Jones’ farm but stopped when he heard voices from inside. They were muffled but he could hear stress in the tone. He grabbed the Harry and slowly let himself in.

He found them in the living room.

One was on couch moaning from a wound his side. The other three were gathered around looking at their wounded friend. The first thing Monroe saw was the red coat. He was going to announce his presence but figured that was foolish, he had the drop on them. He could kill two birds with one stone. He lifted the Webley and shot the first one in the head.

They all had their backs to him and by the time they knew what was happening Monroe had killed three.

He turned the gun on the man on the couch.

“Why the fuck...” He mumbled.

“I’m from Haven.” Monroe said with a shrug.

The fear in the man’s eyes was replaced momentarily by recognition. It was enough for Monroe who fired his last bullet into the man’s face.

Then he heard another shot.


Monroe had been shot once before in Sierra Leone. That time his nation had given medal this time this time getting shot meant he’d just failed to save Haven. He collapsed to his knees and another shot rang out hitting him in the back.

It was his own fault really, they were called the gang of five for a reason. He’d failed to identify all the targets and now he was going to die and the Zombies would lose intrest leaving Haven firmly in the shit. He fell onto his back and looked at his killer.

It was a man he’d never seen before but he wasn’t looking at Monroe. He was standing in the hallway looking towards the door. He then turned aimed the rifle at Monroe and fired.

It went wide though but the man didn’t check his kill instead he was fleeing.

The moan from outside told Monroe all he needed know. The horde was nearly upon him.

Monroe tried to stand but that wasn’t happening he was too weak and the wood floor of the house was slick from the blood of four men. Instead he dragged himself toward the door way and out into the hall. He glanced towards the front door and could see running Zombies at the far end of the drive way he figured he had thirty seconds before they reached him.

He crawled into the kitchen which was opposite the front door of the house and kicked the door closed behind him, immediately bodies crashed against it. With a bit of luck he bought himself and extra few moments, maybe the bodies in the living room would also distract them.

He made his way to the cooker and ripped the gas line out. He listened for the hiss as gas slowly filled the kitchen. The door creaked and strained against the weight of the zombies that were pushing against it. Now he had to wait until as many zombies as possible had gathered around the farm house. The explosions would take a few and the fire would drawn a few in for miles around. Fire would kill a zombie eventually and make them so feeble they presented little threat it was the best he could do.

He sighed, and tried to catch his breath which was coming in ragged gasps. He wasn’t long for the world.

“Come on Lads I’m in here! Lets go! The train is about to leave the station, please mind the Gap! I wanna see your heres Johnny faces!”

He was just rambling nonsense, singing half remembered songs just to keep the noise level up the door began to buckle and snatching hands were reaching through a section they’d already broken through.

“Georgie Georige, they call you the Belfast Boy, Georgie Georgie keep your feet on the ground... I’ll... Uh... When you're left and think I'm long gone, I'm going to drop the Ex Bomb...”

He shook his head when he realised what he was singing.

“Christ I am not dying singing that... Green on, we’re airborne, we know we are the best, When you put that beret on you know you passed the test...”

Then the door gave way and wave of the undead collapsed into the kitchen. They fell over eachother in their desperation to get to him. Monroe produced the lighter Callie had given him and flicked the thumbwheel.
His thumb slipped because it was wet from gore and sweat. He tried again but it slipped.

The Zombies were getting to their feet.

“Aw fuck me.” He moaned as the first one sunk it’s teeth into his shin.

He grabbed the Harry and aimed at the zombies head. He pulled trigger firing the round and igniting the gas.

#

November 5th

2140


Richard Brand looked back in time to see the Jones’ farm go up. He had no idea what had just happened but his entire team had just been taken out and now the place was crawling with Zombies. They were being drawn to the inferno he could see zombies stagger into the fire and wander around like horrible twisted beacons. From where he was standing he could smell the burning flesh. The inferno was drawing zombies out of the dark woods and would give Brand the time he needed to escape.

He understood the importance of being strong and it was something he’d drilled into all the Hunters. He was the leader because he’d dealt with all the problems that had come his way when William Rand had questioned his methods he’d seen to it that William had an accident. It was only a matter of time until the food started to run out and the other groups got desperation. Brand simply understood the importance of the pre-emptive strike.

He kept running an eventually made his way back the Crash site which was empty now. He passed the body of Gupta without a second glance. Instead he went straight to the Helicopter and grabbed some of weapons and supplies from the back. Just enough to show when he got back to Upton Abbey.

Once he had grabbed enough he made his way back home.

#

November 5th

2140


All was silent at Haven, no lights were on and every window was covered. They had been lucky and the horde had seemed to follow Monroe’s trail of destruction but there were still a lot of zombies very close to the farm. It would only take one to notice signs of life and the farm would be swarmed. If that happened they didn’t have the resources to fend them off. In fact Monroe and Mark’s carpentry would be unlikely to withstand the onslaught for long. Callie though that wouldn’t be too bad at least it meant they wouldn’t have to starve to death. While she’d been out on the road with Monroe they’d heard stories about the siege of Chester. Apparently the ancient walls of the city had found use again but they quickly turned into a tomb of all who lived there. Last she had heard the city was under siege by thousands of zombies. With no way in or out it was only a matter of time before the city was over run or starved to death.

She looked over at Gary who had a Harry pointing directly at the kitchen doorway. Callie respected that in a way. He’d decided he was going to at least try to take a few with him rather than use the Harry as most Scavs did.

Then they heard it. A dull distant thud that was unmistakably an explosion. Callie felt an emotional swell, she knew Monroe was dead no way would he let himself turn and no way would he leave a body. No she knew he’d have been as close to the explosion as possible calling in zombies from as far as possible, away from Haven and the crash site.

They sat in silence for another few hours before deciding to check outside. When they emerged from the farmhouse the coast was clear and where Jones farm once stood there was the smouldering embers of a blazing inferno.

“I’m going to bed.” Callie said with finality as she turned and trudged back into the farmhouse.

Doctor Short had spent the evening working on her new patient, the RAF helicopter pilot whose only identification was the name on her flight suit. Carter. Gary had dropped her off and the first thing Short did was check her for signs of bites or infection. Finding none she set about dealing with Carter’s broken left leg. Short preformed a closed reduction to ensure the bones of the leg were correctly aligned which thankfully hadn’t been too much of a problem because Carter was unconscious when she arrived. If she hadn’t been Short would have had to use some anaesthesia or Carter’s screams would have woke the dead. She then set about cleaning and stitching the numerous contusions and lacerations the pilot had suffered as well as dealing with the broken nose. She was wrapping up around the same time Monroe was redecorating the kitchen.

Despite the numerous medical procedures she had been subjected to Carter didn’t wake up until late the next morning when she had a lot of questions to answer.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Tilo King Character Portrait: Callie Winters Character Portrait: Jonathan Monroe Character Portrait: Dominic Fields Character Portrait: Richard Brand Character Portrait: Ken Rand
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

0.00 INK

I Think This Is Yours

Wednesday - November 5th, 2013


0900 Hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I'll keep that in mind."

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

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

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

1500

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

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

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

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

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

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

------

1540

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

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

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

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

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

"Keep your wits about you."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

------

1645

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

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

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

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

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

"Yes, Tilo is that you? Over."

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

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

Come back with whatever you can.

It was so little, yet so much.

------

1700

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Is something the matter Rory?"

------

1710

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Yes and who might you be?"

------

1730

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"So why are you here?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Is he okay?" she asked.

Tilo paused a bit, unsure which route to take.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A part of him had died.

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

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

------

1840

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

"She's just dealing with grief normally."

Tilo nodded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Indeed."

------

1940

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kenneth's eyes looked out the window.

------

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

"Oh?" Kenneth was curious.

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

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

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

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

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

"What do you mean?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

------

2140

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

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

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

------

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Yes," he answered bravely.

Tilo sighed.

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

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

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

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

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

"Where are the other four?" Kenneth asked.

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

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

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

"He's from Haven," Kenneth said.

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

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

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

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

------

November 6th, 2013

0900

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

------

1100

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

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

"Where's Monroe?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Tilo King Character Portrait: Callie Winters Character Portrait: Benjamin Kinney Character Portrait: Mark Lawson Character Portrait: Erin Hooper Character Portrait: Alison Carter
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

0.00 INK

#, as written by Bosch
6th November

0430


Ronnie and Benson were hiking their way home in silence when Benson finally spoke. “So what the fuck was that all about?”

“I know.”

“We risk our necks to save their guy and they freak out?”

“I know.”

“What was with that guy, he looked like he weighed about as much as a friggin spaniel dripping wet and he’s going all Billy Badass.”

“I know.”

“And the girl... actually I don’t know about her. Was she all there?”

“All there?”

“You know all that Eye-ah, Yew stuff. Was she like, retarded?”

“She’s Welsh. My Mother was Welsh so watch your mouth.”

“That’s unlucky.” Benson said with a frown. “Doesn’t excuse them pulling a fucking blade on me. Haven is fucked up.”

“I know.”

#

6th November

0520


Jane listened as Ronnie and Benson gave their report and felt hopelessness wash over her. She had worked so hard with Callie to improve relations between the Caravaners and Haven and this latest escapade would just fan the flames.

She had no doubt Ronnie and Benson would waste no time telling all the Runners how terrible Haven was and that all the Scavs were psychotic. She decided to wait until later though to speak to Callie. She was tired and annoyed. There was no sense in speaking now.

#

6th November

0940


Callie was still in bed when Gary rapped on her door.

“Callie, it’s Gary. Someone called Jane is on the radio she wants to talk to you or Monroe.”

Callie rolled over and sighed. She’d been crying but now she just felt empty. Monroe for all his faults had been her closest friend and now he was dead. Now Haven needed her but she wasn’t sure if she wanted to help.

She thought about the old adage “If you save a life you then become responsible for it.” She and Monroe had saved everyone in Haven that made her responsible for them.

It was that thought that made her get out of bed.

#


6th November

0950


Jane Meadows was extremely pissed off and it took everything Callie had to calm her down, eventually she did.

“Look Callie I like you, but your people are not doing you any favours at the moment. My Runners are annoyed and sceptical, the last thing they need is your people running around pulling blades on them when they are trying to help.”

“Jane I know they were under a lot of stress. Our guy was missing.”

“And my guys helped find him.”

“I know, I’ll deal with it.”

“Ok I think it would be best if you keep you keep your people out of our area for the time being.”

“Agreed. Cuts both ways though.”

“Yeah I have them briefed, they can follow direction.”

With that the call ended and Callie felt the implication of her last comment.

#

6th November

1100


"Where's Monroe?"

Callie looked up from the spot on the table she had been staring at and looked up to see Tilo standing in the doorway.

“Dead.” Callie said quietly. “How was your sleepover?” She remembered Tilo’s radio call from the previous night with a chuckle. Tilo relayed the efforts of the mission and gave Callie the contact information he had received from the Rands. She was intrigued by the mention of Richard Brand. She had never heard of the man but Tilo’s description gave her the Heebie- Jeebies as one of her old students might have said.

“Good work I’ll get in touch with them and see if we can’t work something out.”

Tilo got up from the kitchen table and said his goodbyes. Before he could leave though Callie stopped him.

“Oh and Tilo.”

He turned with a questioning look in his eyes.

“There’s no need to call me Ma’am on the radio. I’m not the Queen.”

Tilo gave his agreement with a smile and left. Callie sighed and felt a little better, at least something had gone right. Her next meeting was going to be more difficult.

#

6th November

1230


Ben looked like shit but Callie found it hard to find sympathy for him. He’d been though a terribly traumatic experience but at this point it was harder to find someone who hadn’t. Jesus was shuffling uncomfortably at the back of the group and Hoppy looked a little nervous.

“Good to have you back Ben and well done taking out those freaks. Hoppy and Jesus good job getting him home safe.”

She then sighed.

“Bad job pissing off the Caravaners though. Do you have any idea how hard it was to get on good terms with them? Then you three muck it up because you can’t keep your emotions under control.”

The dam had broken and she was shaking with anger now but doing her best to keep her voice measured. “What do you think, this a game? They were there to save your life Ben. Your life that needed saving because you messed up, a screw up that cost people their lives. You got off light losing a finger. Hell you should have been happy to see them, but you got prissy because someone made a joke? Your actions may have lost us an ally and put even more Scavs at risk. Then Hoppy you pulled a fucking blade on our allies. Jesus Christ, what were you thinking? Were you thinking?”

She shook her head and tried to let the anger fade. “It’s not a fucking action movie and none of you are Bruce Willis. We have to work as a team the actions you took will have an impact on somebody down the line. Just, just... grow up.”

Callie sighed and pointed to the door. “Get out of my sight.”

They shuffled out and Callie dropped her head into her hands. She had hated being so brutal but it was true their actions had knocked Haven back.

Then Mark cleared his throat and walked in.

“Would you like a cup of tea. Kettle’s on.” Callie said trying to appear perky.

“I heard about Monroe. What happened?” Mark said unable to keep the concern from his face.

“He led a horde Zombies away from Haven and rescued the helicopter pilot. Got bit in the process.” She was speaking matter-of-factly as if Monroe was someone she had never met.

“So what, did he turn?”

“I told you he led the zombies way. Blew up the Jones Farm and drew them in for miles. Cleared the way for you guys.”

“Woah...” Mark said as he sat down at the table opposite Callie. “Are you ok?”

“Yeah fine... it’s just...”

“What?”

“It just doesn’t make sense.”

“What doesn’t?”

“Who lives and who dies. I mean Monroe was worth something, he could have helped. Yet he dies and we get Ben back. Monroe dies and we get Hoppy back who can’t tell friend from foe. What do we get for his sacrifice? We get a fucking cripple pilot who crashed the first helicopter I’ve seen in months. How is that a fair trade? A useless boy, a stupid girl and a cripple in exchange for the only actual person around here worth something?”

Mark sat in stunned silence. “Callie you don’t mean that... Ben was tortured.”

“Was he? That sounds terrible.” She deadpanned. “He was the idiot who got caught. He felt his life was more important than the people who would have to go save him. That’s the reason the Scav’s have Harry’s. Nobody says it but that’s why. So the Scav won’t put anyone else at risk saving you.”

“Callie, he was drugged, he lost a finger.”

“Monroe lost his life because Ben fucked up. We lost the only person worth a damn around here because a pilot couldn’t keep her Helicopter in the air. We might have lost an Ally because Hoppy couldn’t keep her emotions under control. You think anyone here is able to do half the things Monroe could? So what you want me to feel bad because he’s got to hear high four jokes for the rest of his life? You want me to feel bad because the pilot is going to have a limp? Please.”

“That’s life Callie. We don’t get to choose who lives and who dies.”

Callie wiped a tear from her eye and shook her head gently.

“Besides Monroe was crap at carpentry.” Mark said with a hopeful smile.

Callie took a deep but didn’t smile. Instead she stood and pushed her chair in.

“It’s time to go see our guest.”

#

6th November

1300


Carter woke slowly and shook the grogginess from her head. She felt like tenderised steak but at least she was alive. She was wearing an oversized tee-shirt that said “Med in Cumbria” that had a small cartoon of a mountain above it and a pair of lose shorts. In addition she had a few blankets thrown over her but her feet were cold and she when she took a look she saw a large cast on her left leg.

“Great.” She muttered. At least she had been taken care of which was a good sign. The downside was that her right wrist was tied to the metal headboard of the bed. Carter groaned again.

The room appeared to be some kind of medical centre, in the corner of the room she could see her flight suit in a waste paper bin. It looked like it had been cut to ribbons.

She then heard approaching footsteps and quickly feigned sleep.

“She’s still asleep?” A man’s voice asked

“She should be awake by now...” responded a woman.

“That’s fine it’ll mean less screams when we cut her up...”

Carter was filled with panic but remained still.

“We saw you flinch, you’re fooling nobody.”

Carter cursed inwardly and opened her eyes. She saw two women and a man standing in front of her. She recognised one of the women vaguely but the other two were a mystery.

“Captain Carter, My name is Callie Winters, this is Doctor Short and this Mark. Welcome to Haven, we have a few questions.”

Carter remained silent and just stared at Callie.

“Captain, We fixed your leg, the ropes were necessary because we didn’t know if you’d turn violent, still don’t. One of our people died saving you and you have taken up our time and supplies. I’d start talking if I were you because I’m at about the limit of my generosity.”

Carter thought quickly back to her escape and evasion training but found it lacking. It had been based on the idea that if caught a pilot would only have to hold out for a day so operational security wouldn’t be impacted. There was no operation to secure though.

“I’m not a Captain, I’m a Flight lieutenant. No such thing as a Captain in the RAF.”

“Riveting. Where were you going?”

“North.”

“I don’t have time for this Lieutenant, can you be more expansive?”

“Scotland, BUTEC.”

Callie raised an eyebrow.

“BUTEC. The British Underwater Test and Evaluation Centre. It’s where the sailors test out their new toys. Submarines and that kind of thing.”

“Why there?”

“It’s the last location we received a transmission from. Sounded like they were holding out better than we were.”

“Where was that?”

“RAF Valley in Wales. We were being overrun so we pulled the plug.”

“Are there other helicopters in the area?”

“They’ll be long gone by now. There wasn’t a lot of fuel so it was rationed. Nobody had full tanks and everybody knew it was a one way trip. BUTEC or bust.”

“So do you still believe BUTEC is the best place to be?”

“I heard it was, good luck getting there though. Last we heard the place was pretty much under siege. We were only going there because we had choppers.”

“Callie I need to check her for infection.” The mousy doctor said.

“What she hasn’t been checked!” Callie said in shock as the man aimed his sawn off shotgun at Carter.

“Oh no I meant her wound.” The doctor said.

Callie and calmed down and the Doctor set about her work.

“We’ll be back later... Thank you for cooperating.”

Carter shrugged and lifted her tied hand. “I’m not going anywhere.”

Callie smiled faintly and walked toward Carter. She cut the ropes with what appeared to be kitchen knife.

Carter nodded and let the doctor go about her work.

#


November 8th 2013

2130


They had been afloat for months and Shinji Yamada was starting go out of his mind with boredom. There was nobody to speak to on board and his smattering of English wasn’t enough to have a conversation with anyone. So far he had please, thank you, yes and no. It made conversation difficult to say the least, this was compounded by the fact his bride spoke excellent English.

His Honeymoon trip had been the doing of his new father in law Okamoto-san whose hatred for his new son in law was only out weighted by his love of his daughter. Shinji had to admit it was something of a Cinderella story. He had been working as an intern at Okamoto communications alongside Kaiko Okamoto, at first he didn’t make the connection between the pretty girl and corporation she was interning with. Apparently Okamoto-san believed his daughter should learn the company from the bottom up even though she was the heir apparent.

Shinji’s easy going personality and fondness for practical jokes at the expense of their stuffy manager piqued Kaiko’s interest. Shinji’s friend Jou convinced him to ask the girl out knowing full well who the beautiful girl was in the hope that he could prank the pranker. To Jou’s surprise Kaiko agreed. It wasn’t exactly a world wind romance and Shinji nearly passed out when he learned he was dating the bosses daughter. The first meeting didn’t go well due to a combination of Shinji’s fear and Okamoto-san’s intense dislike. Nevertheless the older man could see Shinji made his girl happy and he accepted him only for this fact.

It was a long relationship but the engagement was short and the wedding lavish perfectly befitting a daughter of a powerful businessman, Jou of course drew attention to how much of a fish out of water Shinji was in such decadence.

With that the pair where packed off of their travels. They had visited New York, Las Vegas, Paris, Berlin, Lake Como, London and Edinburgh on a detour. Shinji had become slightly obsessed with finding the perfect bottle of Whiskey to present to his father in law on his return knowing the man was something of a connoisseur he hoped this would make him happy.

Thus far his efforts had been in vain. It was then that he had the idea to visit Ireland in the hopes that he could find an Irish Whiskey to present the old man with. Scotch whisky was so cliché these days and a good Irish whiskey would be an interesting talking point for his father in law. Kaiko was happy to go but only if they travelled by Ferry as she was sick of flying. Shinji was happy to accept and they set sail on P & O European Highlander Ferry for what they were assured was the shortest fastest crossing from Cairnryan to Larne.

That had been four months ago when the outbreak was in its infancy. They had been refused entry at Larne due to the quarantine and when they tried to return to Cairnryan the same thing had happened leaving them adrift in the middle of the Irish Sea. In the early days some of the passengers had stolen life boats in an attempt to get to land but that happened less often now. They had heard stories of how bad things were on land and most people knew they were safer on board the Ferry.

Shinji passed the time reading books on his Nexus Seven Tablet. He’d been smart and stocked up on as many books as he could before he left, he also spent some time trying to pick up English so he would know what was going on around him. His English was still remedial though and he knew that Kaiko got frustrated trying to teach him all the time. For the time being she had to act as their voice onboard the Highlander.

Also on board and having difficulties was Alice Oakes. Alice had been travelling on the Highlander with her two young children Ben and Katie. She had booked a cabin on board was only seen on the decks to get food and never with the children. While some may have thought this strange most put it down to Alice’s fear of the other passengers. They’d seen the Walking Dead and everyone knew things could get a little strange in close quarters under such strange circumstances.

Alice however was hiding a much darker secret.

Ben and Katie were infected.

Katie had been running a fever when they boarded but back then nobody was checking for signs of illness. She’d died on the first night and attacked her brother. Alice was able to restrain the child using belts but she knew her son was infected as well. She had considered getting help but she knew what would happen to her children and she couldn’t bring her self to do it. Instead she simply tried to nurse them back to health even as they snapped at her.

In the cabin mounds of uneaten food lay in piles beside the tied children, they were hungry but not for what she offering. She had to gag the children to prevent the moaning but there was little she could do for the thrashing.

It had been four months and questions were starting to circulate that eventually came to the attention of Stephen McFadden. McFadden was a deckhand at least that’s what it said of his pay check in actuality he was a waiter. It wasn’t a bad job though kind of like being an air steward except on a boat, going to less glamorous locales, for less pay. He had wanted to be an air steward but got Airsick, for some reason though his sea legs were strong though.

McFadden had heard the rumours of the strange woman who nobody saw very much and decided it was time to do a courtesy call. Stephen knew what it was like to be different but he’d learned it was better to be honest with people as with a lack of information people often came up with their own erroneous ideas.

He informed the Captain who agreed that Stephen should check it out. He told Emma Riley, another water waiter, to help him. Stephen was pleased as he’d been trying to ensure everyone on board was kept entertained and calm. His mother had always said the devil made work for idle hands. It was about the only piece of his mother’s ideology he could agree with, the rest had driven a wedge between them the size of the Irish sea.

Emma and Stephen approached the door and gave it a quick rap. The response was a knock on the door and a muffled voice.

“That sounded like come in right?” Stephen asked.

“I think so.” Emma replied. She was only seventeen but that was same age Stephen had been when he’d started four years ago. Emma was still saying all the things he’d said back then.

“I’ll only be here of a year or two then I’m travelling...” Was a popular one.

Stephen saw a lot of himself in the young girl but the truth was they were stuck on the boat, not because of zombies. If the outbreak had never happened both of them would still be on the boat. They were victims of circumstance and apathy. The Highlander was their home.

Stephen produced a key card and slid it into the lock. “House keeping! We’re just here to make sure everything is...”

He stopped as he took in the nightmarish scene in front of him.

A woman was lying in the middle of the room with her entrails strewn liberally around the floor of the cabin. Hunched over her was a small blonde girl and boy. The girl was wearing a set of Beauty and the Beast pyjamas which were covered in blood and gore while the boy was wearing an oversized Manchester United jersey with Herrera on the back.

The little girl lifted her head and with a burst of speed neither was expecting sprinted towards Stephen and sunk her teeth into his thigh. Stephen screamed and kicked the girl away before following Emma who was screaming down the corridor. This of course led to more confusion as people exited their own cabins to see what the problem was. The children raced around the corridor causing chaos wherever they went.

Shinji was in his Cabin with Kaiko when they heard the screams.


“何?” Kaiko asked as she went to the door but Shinji stopped her.

“それは危険に聞こえる. 外出しない”

“なぜ?”

“悲鳴は通常悪いです ”

Kaiko nodded and sat beside him on the bed. They listened to the screams and held hands while Kaiko sobbed quietly.

#

0045

It had been almost four hours since the outbreak and the Highlander was now firmly in control of the undead. While the crew and passengers had tried their best to contain the outbreak they had failed and now the undead were in every part of the ship.

Including the bridge.

Of course there was simply no way for Kaiko and Shinji to know this which why it came as such a surprise when the ship finally ran aground. It sounded like an explosion had gone off below them and the impact threw Kaiko clear across the room. She smacked her head with a sickening thud on the dresser and Shinji screamed as he raced to help her. She was breathing but out cold.

Shinji lifted her and placed her in the bed before spending a few moments considering what to do. Finally he decided he would need help.

He lifted a pen and some P&O trademarked stationary and scribbled a hurried note. That explained he was going for help and that she should remain in the cabin. The words were in Japanese which he hoped would prove to her he was the one who had left the note.

He was about to leave when he got an idea. He pulled on a thick Barbour coat he bought for travelling through the rainy UK. Now he wore it in the hopes the tough material might prevent anything from sinking it’s teeth into him.

He then slowly approached the door and placed his ear to it. He could hear nothing so he slowly unlocked and opened it.

The hall way was clear but he could hear faint moaning coming from every nook and cranny of the ship. The ferry was beached on its side so the hall way wasn’t exactly level as the Bow was lower than the stern but the angle wasn’t so pronounced that walking was impossible. The boat did shift on the loose sand however as waves crashed against the side.

He locked the door behind himself and pocketed the key before slowly creeping along the halls. Kaiko had her own cabin key he had set on top of the note.

Shinji didn’t like being on the cabin deck. There was nowhere to run except back the way he came and the narrow hallway meant if he did encounter something he’d be unable to get past. He hadn’t seen a real live zombie yet but knew enough from movies and what Kaiko had told him the others were saying.

He made it to the staircase when he heard a roar from behind him. He turned and saw two bloody zombies behind him.

“くそ” He exclaimed before racing up the staircase and slamming the door shut behind himself. He let out a sigh of relief and turned to see he was standing in the middle of the shopping area of the ship. There was a small shop that sold Irish and Scottish themed tat, a coffee shop and about twenty zombies.

Shinji didn’t say anything he just ran for the nearest door which led outside to the deck. There was no time to close the door behind himself and soon he found himself running for his life across the deck that was slick from seawater and heavy rain. He threw himself up a set of stairs but the undead were still on him eventually he came across a ladder that he quickly mounted and rapidly climbed. Below him at least twenty zombies were clawing after him. It appeared they had no idea how to use the ladder.

“少なくとも彼らは愚かであ” He sighed before he kept climbing.

He was about to peak over top of the ladder and take look at the upper deck when a body suddenly flew over the top of him and plummeted below. Shinji nearly let go of the ladder through fright but held firm. The falling zombie was followed by two more that landed with a sickening thud beneath him. Even on the way down Shinji could see them grasping for him.

“本当に愚か”He climbed to the top of the ladder and pulled himself up onto the deck and looked around. The upper deck seemed clearer but it was difficult to tell in the night.


He crept along the deck straining to hear of signs of movement over the lashing rain. He was making his way towards the stern when he noticed the rainwater running along the deck was getting darker. A few seconds later he found two mutilated bodies huddled together on a bench. He avoided looking at them and kept walking but one of the bodies lunged forward in an attempt to grab him. Shinji threw himself against the railing and nearly fell over while the zombie slipped and smashed it’s face off the deck with a sickening crack. Shinji screamed but the zombie was unfazed and struggled to its feet.


Shinji ran as fast as he could toward the stern but quickly ran out of boat. He was overlooking the lower deck which was bathed in darkness apparently electricity wasn’t working on all parts of the boat.

The zombie was advancing on Shinji when its head popped open in a flash of brilliant red light. And it collapsed to the ground. It landed beside the flare round that had killed it.

“Are you normal?” Emma Riley asked over the howling wind while still pointing the empty flare gun at Shinji. Her P&O uniform was soaked through and the Flare gun was shaking in her hands.

“私は英語が話せない”Shinji answered.

“I can’t hear you!” Emma called.

“ありがとう. 私が死んだと思った” Shinji replied.

“You don’t speak English do you?” Emma said as she approached the strange man.

“No English.” Shinji said. “Kaiko. 妻. キャビン内の無意識.” He then mimed hitting himself on the head and falling unconscious.

“Yes you need to hit them in the head to kill them.” Emma nodded.

Shinji, not understanding what she had said, was pleased though as it appeared the young woman was less stressed now and she had lowered the weapon.

“It’s ok. I’m going fire another flare and we’re going to get rescued “Ok?”

Shinji knew Ok but that was about it. “はい!” Then realising he had spoken in Japanese repeated “Yes.” In English.

Emma then reloaded the Flare gun and aimed at the sky. She fired the round and let out a little squeal at the recoil. She watched as the little flare hung in the air for around thirty Seconds before it fell back down to earth and the beach below. Shinji mean while had used the brief flash of light to look at the lower deck. It was swarming with zombies and all of them were straining to reach the upper deck. It was surreal because Shinji couldn’t hear them moan over the wind just see them stretching soundlessly upward in the dim red light. They would be unable to reach him but if he wanted to get off the boat he’d need to find a way down from the upper decks to the lower ones and a way to safely get to Kaiko.

“Come on I know somewhere safe and dry.”Emma said and Shinji turned. He started at her blankly and she gestured for him to follow her.

#

Emma had been able to survive through sheer luck, the zombie children had attacked Stephen first and soon his screams drew more people and targets for the tiny shin chompers giving her time to escape. Well escape was a relative term, she had escaped from the lower decks which were by now swarming with undead. She was still trapped on the upper deck though.

She led Shinji into the Security room where she had been able to hold up. The CCTV gave her a pretty good view of the area. She was soaking wet but the man seemed to be quite dry in his coat. She removed her polyester navy blazer that was a part of her uniform and set it on the back of the chair beside the CCTV terminal.

Shinji immediately felt chivalrous looking at the drenched young woman who had saved his life so he removed his Barbour jacket and gave it to Emma.

“Oh Thank you.” Emma said she wasn’t going to take it but she was freezing.

“Emma? Are you there? Our Scavenger saw the Flare. Help will be there soon.”

Emma ran to the survival radio she had gotten from the small wall mounted pack she got the flare gun.

“Callie, it’s Emma. Good there’s a lot of zombies here I mean a lot.”

“You’re doing great Emma just stay calm have you found the person you saw on the camera?”

“Yes he’s here with me. I don’t think he speaks English. He seems cool though.”

Shinji watched as the girl spoke on the radio but it was all just noise to him. He considered English to be such an ugly language but he would have given his right arm to be able to speak it at that moment.

Suddenly the room was bathed in darkness and the CCTV terminal went dead.

“Callie we just lost power.” Emma said she felt her heart rate start to beat faster.

“That’s fine, the Scavs won’t miss a beached Ferry. Check the emergency pack there might be candles or glow sticks.

Emma found both but only cracked one glow stick. She figured starting a fire was far too likely with the candles.

“Ok, Ok. When will you be here?”

“I’m not coming, its a few friends of mine. When they arrive give them the radio and make them confirm their identities with me ok?”

“Yes sure.”

“They’ll be there in a few hours until then you should conserve the battery. Do you have a watch?”

“Yes.”

“Ok every half hour turn your radio on for five minutes and give me a call.”

“Ok Callie, hurry.”

“They’re on the way. I’ll speak to you in half an hour.”

Emma sighed and flicked the radio off. Immediately Shinji started talking.

“私たちは、私の妻を救うために必要” He cried. But even in the dim green light of the glow stick he could tell the woman had no idea what he was talking about.

He showed her his hand and pointed to the wedding ring.

“I know it’s pretty romantic in here buddy what with the mood lighting and all but I’m not about to come on to you.”

Shinji pointed at the ring. “Kaiko.” He said.

Emma nearly slapped her head over how dense she had been.

“Your wife? Is she alive?”

“Wife!” He nodded vigorously.

“Is she alive?” Emma said while making a happy smiling face “Or Zombie?” and she switched to a stiff armed zombie impression.

Shinji replied with a big smile on his face. “Kaiko.”

Emma then lifted the glowstick and walked across the room to a laminated copy of the ship floor plan.

“Where is Kaiko?”

Shinji didn’t know what the words meant but was able to put enough together from Kaiko’s name and the floor plan. He studied the map for a few minutes. Obviously he was having trouble reading it. Finally he produced his key card and showed it to Emma.

She looked at the card and saw the room Cabin number was 24 #1 or room 24 on first deck below the main deck. Emma sucked her teeth and made a face Shinji knew was bad in any language.

“Ok I’ll let the rescuers know.”

Shinji nodded responding to her tone rather than the actual words.

“Emma.” The girl said while gesturing to herself.

Shinji bowed slightly and then pointed to himself. “Shinji.”

#

Jobs

The Love Boat.


November 9th 2013

0020



Suggested Number of Scavs – 2

Area –Seascale beach

Objective- Investigate ship wrecked P&O ferry.

Information- Sorry to wake you. We just received a distress call from a ferry that has run aground near the Town of Seascale. From the flare they sent up it looks like they are somewhere near the Seascale Golf Links course which overlooks the sea. It’ll take a couple of hours to get their as their flare was pretty far out.

We’re in contact with a survivor of the crash called Emma Riley she’s apparently with another survivor who doesn’t speak any English. The Ship is firmly under the control of the dead but hopefully you’ll be able to get them out.

It’s been lobbing it down all night so you’d do well to wrap up warm at least it seems to be melting the ice but these days the snow is never too far away. I recommend you bring some blankets or something as Emma was complaining of being very cold. We need to look out for hypothermia.

There might also be some cargo worth taking like food or other supplies so keep your eyes open.

Callie

Bonus Missions.

Relight my Fire.

Suggested Number of Scavs – 1

Area – Woods around Haven

Objective- Collect Firewood

Special Equipment- Empty rucksacks.

Information- It’s cold. Real cold.

We need to get some kind of wood collection set up so we don’t end up looking like Arnie in that Batman movie. The mission is simple enough head out and grab some wood. Avoid green leaves as apparently when they burn they make white smoke. If everybody does a little soon we’ll have a stock pile going. Just makes sure you don’t carry so much you can’t run anymore.

Callie


Gone Huntin’

Suggested Number of Scavs – 1

Area –Woods around Haven

Objective- Go Hunting.

Special Equipment- Scoped rifle.

Information- Food is getting pretty scarce lately and with the cold weather it’s vital to keep our strength up. There’s a lot of animals still roaming around the place. Sadly I’m sure you noticed the farming livestock has taken a hit from the cold and the fact there is nobody there to look after them.
Wild Animals and Game are loving the new found freedom though.

I’m sending two of you out to go hunting in the woods around Haven it’s up to you whether you stick together or not. If you choose not to please ensure you wear the high visibility jackets. It’ll make you more noticeable sure but at least you can out run a Zombie, Usain Bolt can’t out run a bullet. God could you imagine what he’d be like as a Zombie?

Scary.

Anyway remember whatever you kill you gotta be able to carry home so don’t shoot deer or something you can’t back.

Actually now that I think about it, there’s a strong possibility one of the local farms is a dairy. If you find a Cow maybe you could bring it back. Alive. It would be nice to have milk in the coffee. Chances are slim though given how long it’s been since the outbreak.

Callie.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Tilo King Character Portrait: Callie Winters Character Portrait: Benjamin Kinney Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

0.00 INK

(Co-written with Messiah)

November 9th, 2013, 0900

Recording

Part 1: A Quack And A Zed Walk Into A Bar

Ben woke up to an empty bed. He sat up and shook his head, getting rid of the cobwebs.

After getting dressed, he made his way downstairs, he was intercepted by Doctor Short.

"I need to change your bandages," she said.

In response, Ben grunted, reluctant, but he went along with it. He didn't want to risk infection.

"I don't think you should be going out in your condition," the doctor told him as she wrapped him up again like he was a Christmas gift.

"I don't have that luxury," Ben answered, "Haven needs me."

Her face had contorted into an disapproving frown, but she really couldn't argue with it. With Monroe and Toby dead and others unable to go out, they were dangerously low on manpower. As much as Ben would like to stay in Haven and rest, he (and the rest of the settlement) couldn't afford it.

After being bandaged again by Doc Short, Ben was out the farmhouse door and up to the job board.

He approached the job board and took down the notice with his right hand, his left arm hanging loosely at his side. The more he read the notice over, the deeper his scowl became.

"What the hell is this?" he muttered. Rishi really was certifiable. This read like it was going to be a relatively simple run-and-grab job. Cameras, laptops, cell phones. But, it was in Cromwell. Cromwell is where he got fucked over last time. It was never going to be simple.

Better than Edinburgh, he thought.

That wasn't what concerned him the most, though. It wasn't a secret that Rishi had been keeping one of those things in one of the houses. Laney had almost killed it and the doctor. That was bad enough, but the fact that he'd named it and called it a man? That's what got him. This thing was no longer a person, and it sure as hell wasn't a pet.

------

Tilo was up for the day's job. He bent and turned his head in several motions trying to prevent the onset of vertigo while increasing his declining flexibility. He made some arm circles, trying to warm up his shoulders. Damn he was getting old. He had just finished breakfast, eggs, as usual. He walked along until he reached the job board where he saw another fellow. This other fellow had brown, unkempt shaggy hair. If it wasn't for the outbreak, he probably would have had a haircut. Tilo wasn't one to judge, seeing as how he was starting to look almost like Gandalf, without extensions of course. He needed a shave, a haircut, and much much more. Referring back to the younger man, Tilo had no idea who he was, probably another scavenger.

He approached the lad, gave him a quick nod before he checked the board. There was only one brief there, and beside it was a notebook that had been pinned to the board. The title page was listed as "The Zombie Guidebook." It piqued Tilo's interest, it was a new kind of volume. The first one produced in this world, or at least in Haven.

Normally, Ben might have been a little more friendly, but he just wanted to get this over and done with. He turned slightly at the sound of the approach of another; it was the old man. Ben hadn't had a chance to talk to the guy, well, at all. Though, he had heard that this was the guy that had went to the Rands a few days ago.

They weren't trustworthy either, as far as Ben was concerned.

"We've got a bit of shopping to do," Ben said, tapping the job on the board, "Cameras, batteries, phones maybe." He didn't waste much time getting to the point. "I don't want to hang around here longer than I have to. You can bring the book with you if you want."

Tilo sensed that he was a terse fellow. He was going to be a tough nut to crack, but the professor did not expect everyone to be an easy socializer. Especially anyone around Haven, they had all seen their share of the apocalypse.

"Uhm, I don't think that would be necessary," Tilo stated, unsure what use the guide would have. He would have preferred time to read the guide and decide whether it was worth bringing along.

"We should probably pack our things," the old man pointed with his thumb back to the farm.

The place was Cromwell. Tilo had been halfway to the town before so he knew the direction somewhat. All they needed were shotguns, and a pack to carry things.

Ben had forgotten his own backpack - or maybe forgotten wasn't the right word. He wanted to see what the job had been first, and now he was glad that he did. The gun that he'd taken from the brothers at their farmhouse was still in it. Now that they'd be packing things in and out of bags, he wasn't fond of explaining why he had a gun, nor was he fond of explaining why he had hidden the weapon. That probably wouldn't go over well, but refusing would be suspicious. Maybe he could hide it and the ammunition.

"Yeah. Probably. I'll take care of it. Wait here. Unless you need to get your own backpack."

Whether or not the old man decided that he wanted to get his own pack, it didn't matter to Ben. He would go get his own and then the shotguns.

First, he went to his room to get his backpack. It was a round-about way to do it, but he wanted to hide what he had in his backpack first. Some of his clothes littered the floor and, he decided, that would be enough until he got back. Quickly, he pulled out the gun and the ammunition for it, gathered up his clothes and hid everything within them.

Shortly after, he made his way back downstairs. Things were still tense between Callie and himself. He had made no effort to talk to her since their heated exchange upon his return a few days ago, and once he got to the command center, he only uttered a single word: "Shotguns." which she returned with shortly, not uttering a word in response. Once he had the weapons in hand, he returned to the job board.

Tilo had his pack ready with him as the younger man came back with a pair of sawn-offs. He did not have anything inside, since this was strictly a grab and go sort of deal. No maps, no binoculars, no fireworks, and no torches. However, he did have his walkie-takie with him; if there was one thing that was important, it would probably be the walkie-talkie. Without it, scavengers were pretty much blind in the wilderness.

He took one of the firearms and gestured to Ben, "After you?"

With a nod, Ben stepped towards the gate, pulled it open and, after the other man had passed through, pulled it closed again. He was glad to be off. Even though it was nice to get some rest, he had been going a little stir-crazy over the past couple of days, and really wanted to get going. Now that they were out of Haven, he felt a sense of relief, as if a large animal had gotten up off of his chest.

Off to Cromwell again. He didn't like the idea, naturally. They needed to stop sending Scavs there. There had been too many close calls in the otherwise innocuous town. Laney had nearly been killed. Ben and Hoppy had been separated by a horde and both had nearly become victims of the cannibal brothers. And it wasn't like the town had a lot to offer anymore. It had nearly been picked clean of most things useful. Except Rishi now, he wanted them to find cameras for some scientific documentation, or something.

He was wasting his time.

But, maybe with the explosion at the other farm, they would have time to look around town without being hassled by the undead.

"Waste of time," Ben muttered indignantly.

Tilo caught the tail end of that statement, "What was that?"

The fellow had muttered something about the mission, but Tilo didn't hear him. He spoke with an American accent, and as far as Tilo knew he was perhaps one of only two Americans in camp, the other being Kiera. He stood a bit taller than Tilo, and his hair fit the description of 'Ben.' However, he didn't want to jump to conclusions regarding this younger man's name.

"I'm sorry, uh I didn't catch your name earlier? My name's Tilo," the old man said as they continued on the gravel path toward Cromwell.

"Ben," he answered, glancing to the man, "I said it's a waste of time. What's he trying to accomplish? A cure? It's a waste of time. We should be trying to survive, not trying to find a cure."

So this was Ben. That explained his bleak outlook of the future. Tilo couldn't blame him, if the rumors were true, then he'd been through a lot. He didn't want to interject with a comment, but the young man seemed very cynical, more so than Tilo. And the professor thought he was the old man.

The sun was rising along the east, but the orange rays eventually caught them in the eyes through the forest.

The old man squinted as they continued, "Well...I never thought I'd meet an American who was so...out of hope, if you will," Tilo tried to tailor his words, careful not to offend the younger man.

"As far as I can tell, we're...surviving. At some point though...we have to look to the future," Tilo paused, "I don't think I could fault him for trying. The past few weeks, or months for some, have been hell. I don't know how much longer we'll need to survive."

What was that supposed to mean? 'An American who was so out of hope'? Did all Americans have to be twits with their blinders on? Ben shook his head a bit.

"It's naive to think there's a cure. He's got us going out on these things, and they're just pipe dreams. We spend too much time thinking about the future, we forget about what's going on, right here, right now."

He sighed, "Truth be told I might have been like him, but then I realized that's not how the world works anymore. You're not guaranteed anything. You're not even guaranteed to be alive tomorrow."

"And now he's got one of those... things in our camp, and he's named it, like it's some pet. It's idiotic, and it's dangerous."

He didn't say it, but he was under the impression that Rishi probably wouldn't be of much use if he weren't doing whatever it is he was doing. Ben also got the feeling that Rishi himself felt that way too.

Maybe he wouldn't feel that way if he'd get out of that room every once in a while and do something useful. It might not be a bad idea to have mandatory weapon training, in case of attack. That way, there wouldn't be any liability when it came to defending Haven.

Tilo tried to comprehend the process of thought that Ben was going through. He felt the urge to interrupt him at several points, but he decided to hold off until he was done. Politeness and listening used to be British past times, they weren't any longer.

"I...I don't care what he does with it. As long as he doesn't let it loose. But tell me then, if we're not even guaranteed to be alive tomorrow...why does it matter that it's dangerous?"

Ben scoffed and smirked, though it was not out of humor, but rather because of how ridiculous that had sounded to him.

"Because survival is the name of the game, and that thing puts us in danger of not surviving. Haven's the only thing that matters to me anymore, and I don't want some nutjob who thinks that there might be a cure screwing it up."

Ben's scoff, followed by game, made Tilo raise his eyebrows. He didn't really know what to say.

"Okay, so we go back there and we put two shotgun shells into its head. And then what? Continue on like this? Go out and find food and stuff and try to pass the winter and hope that we don't freeze to death. And if it's not winter, then here's to hoping that we don't get our heads blown off by some rogues. And then after that we can hopefully repeat this each day, each week, each month, each year. And then we die of old age right? Is that what life is now? I don't know about you mate, but four or five months ago, my oldest son just got accepted into university," Tilo paused, his lips quivered.

His breath faltered, maybe it was the cold of winter setting on.

"That was eighteen years of work between my wife and I, raising him. Dreams, hopes, ambitions...and in a matter of days, gone like the flickering of a candle," Tilo swallowed, "You know growing up in Colchester, I never," Tilo had an anguished smile, "I never thought that by the time I turned forty, I'd have to be fighting for my life. But to call this, life...this?" he gestured to the woods, to the both of them.

"Is this life? Is this worth...surviving? This existence?"

"I think it would do the world, and myself, a lot of good if I just offed myself right now with this," he shoved the shotgun forward.

"I'm sure you have family and friends back in the States, and I'm sure you missed them like I miss my family. Giving up on them, would be like this," his eyes went to the shotgun again.

Then he fell silent, he said what he wanted to say. Whether or not it would catch on, he didn't know, and maybe he didn't care. He was old, and he was tired, and he knew he was tired of living like this.

"Nobody ever said it was fair. The world now, it takes and it takes, but it never gives anything back," Ben said flatly. Maybe he could have been more understanding; he had certainly been at the point Tilo had just described.

"But, offing yourself right here is not the same thing. We would be weaker without you. Could you just kill yourself knowing that your death might result in the death of someone else because you weren't around to help?" His brows had furrowed, but he was staring straight ahead, "That's why I came back. I could have given up and let those assholes kill me, but I didn't. Haven is weak enough as it is."

It was a little bit callous, maybe, seeing the people of Haven just as numbers to make it stronger, but if you weren't strong, you didn't get to survive. And then you could be out on your own again, if you had even managed to survive at all.

"As for my family and friends..." he paused, swallowing, "It's not giving up, it's moving on. I should have moved on a long time ago. They're thousands of miles away, and even if they're still alive, I'm not going to get to see them again. I've decided to accept that and move on. Focus on the present instead. And right now, in the present? Haven is all I've got."

"Yeah," Tilo replied solemnly.

Everyone had their stories and their reasons.

------

Part 2: A Finger and A Revelation

They had spent about an hour or so walking in pure silence, silence of voice that is. Nature was always restless, there would always be a bird chirping, or some leaves falling. And then of course there was the wind that murmured, and the snow that fell.

Tilo decided to break the proverbial ice this time. He was curious about the stories of Ben being tortured as the tale went. And if it was true, he didn't want to pry deeply into the wound. Ben did make a mention of "assholes" before, which seemed to confirm his thoughts. He must have been through a lot. Tilo did not really have the vocabulary to describe people going through traumatic experiences anymore. Everyday, somebody at Haven would have experienced one. In his mind, the thought went about in circles to the point where it had lost its meaning, almost like if one were to say 'peanut butter' over and over again. In time it just becomes an unintelligible pile of deformed mush. He wanted to empathize, but how could he? Death was part of him and part of everyone at Haven wherever he, or they went.

In the old world, death was just a word, or a world that seemed far off in the distance. It was something that people didn't think about until they were Tilo's age. It was something that made people think of how they were going to "leave" the world. For people younger than him, it was all about invincibility and carpe diem and living fast and being young. Or that was how life told the story. All of those things dissipated like the vapor of breath that Tilo exhaled in the cold weather.

"So, I heard you were captured," Tilo said.

There it was. Ben knew that it was only a matter of time before he brought it up. He goes away, gets captured, beaten up, and loses a finger, then, when he comes back, everyone suddenly wanted to play counselor. Mark. Laney. All he wanted to do was to move on - to forget about what had happened as best as he could, but with everyone reminding him of it made that mighty difficult to accomplish.

Ben was a little resentful of how people treated him since then, like he was on the verge of a breakdown, or that he was dangerous. There wasn't anything that was going to make him hurt another person from Haven, no matter how crazy he thought they were. At least not until they became a danger to the settlement - if it ever came to that.

And he wasn't special either. Plenty of people had gone through more than he had. What about the people that the brothers had actually killed? He had been lucky. He had been stupid. He had been weak. All he wanted was to move on and learn from the experience, but everyone else wouldn't let him move on.

"I don't want to talk about it," Ben said simply, hiding the resentment that still lingered.

Ben seemed hesitant to talk about his experience in Tilo's eyes, and when he finally opened his mouth, those were his words. So was it traumatic? Tilo wanted to know, but he stopped himself. Maybe that was the reason why he said those things earlier, or maybe it wasn't. Maybe he was still reeling from the fact that he had been captured and tortured. And Tilo would have guessed that the people around Haven were just as eager as he was to know. They might have been pestering him for days. That deflated a man's ego faster than a needle popping a balloon. Ben reminded him a bit of his son, Edmond. Prior to the outbreak, Edmond was in the phase of secrecy, as if every question was like a bullet that needed to be dodged. Tilo was just doing his job as a parent. The old man respected Ben's wishes and chose not to pursue the subject any further, despite his curiosity. So he simply replied with a curt nod.

He was glad for Tilo's reaction. It had seemed that nobody really cared what he wanted in regards to the situation. When he told them he didn't want to talk about it, it didn't stop them from coming back sometime later and asking if he was sure. Ben knew they cared about him and what happened to him. They wouldn't ask if they didn't. But, there again, they weren't willing to let it go. If Ben wanted to talk about it, he would do it on his own terms, not on theirs.

In response, Ben nodded as well, "Thanks," he said, flexing the fingers on his left hand. He could still feel his missing finger. It was moving in unison with the others as he clenched and unclenched his empty hand.

If there was anything he could take from losing that finger, it was that he was thankful it wasn't a more useful one, like his thumb, or his index finger, or even... his middle finger.

Inwardly, he chuckled, thinking about flipping someone off. It wasn't an obscene gesture over here, but he was sure they knew it was in the States.

Then, he glanced to Tilo briefly, and he remembered one of his first conversations with Laney, about her trip out with the man he was out with now. At the time, he had been angry about what she had told him, that Tilo had "said some inappropriate things". He had forgotten all about that until now but, now that he had talked with him, he didn't seem like the kind of person that would say some inappropriate things as she said he did.

It was old news, but he was curious about it.

"That time that you and Laney went out, what happened?" he asked bluntly. He purposely neglected to mention what she had told him had gone down.

That was quite a long time ago in Tilo's mind. He wasn't even sure if he remembered the general details about it. They...went out to investigate something. It was a boat, if Tilo remembered correctly. He also remembered about the conversation they had about music. And about how she was Morris Byron's daughter, looking back, at the time she seemed big. Big as a celebrity, she wasn't a 'muggle,' if that was the appropriate popular term for it. She was related to a rocker, that was definitely something. Now she was...Laney, just a normal human being who had been through a lot.

They talked about the things they missed, she missed music, and perhaps deep down maybe she missed her father. Tilo missed his family, and he missed music, or the pleasure of music. It was a facet of civilization, something that used to exist. It was beautiful and melodious, and it was one of the things that made life worth living. Tilo knew that Laney would have been able to put it into better words, music was her domain. People could all agree that music was a sort of universal language as it was known then, before the outbreak. It was something that brought people together, and it was powerful indeed. Then Tilo drifted back to the mission that he and Laney went on. They were in the forest, and they reached the lake. The boat rested in the middle of the calm waters, and Laney decided to be the one to try and swim to it.

"Well...um," Tilo wasn't sure if he wanted to talk about it. Perhaps it couldn't hurt to tell someone about it, what was there to hide? Was there something to hide? If there was, Tilo had forgotten it.

"We were sent to investigate a boat," Tilo paused, trying to recount the event, "No, yacht, yacht. It was a yacht."

He cleared his throat, "We came to the shore. Laney tried to swim to the boat. And then...out of water there was mass of zed. They were swimmers, that's what I call them. Their heads were bobbing to the surface trying to get a bite of her. She had been pulled down into the water."

He saw the faces of the undead again. They were bloated, their eyes were milky white, and their skin discolored. Their blood was dried and wet all the same because of the water. The outer layer of their skin peeled or hung unnaturally. Their fingers had chipped or broken nails. They clawed at him with their mutilated faces and their straining screams echoed in his ears. Tilo closed his eyes, trying to shut out the blood curdling images.

"So I got on a little boat and paddled out to get her and then..." he was reminded of the two people on the boat, the man and the boy. They had on their worn, apathetic faces, and blood-shot eyes. Tilo would have mistaken them for death and his child.

Tilo's eyes went to the side, unsure if he should add that little detail, "I pulled her out of the water when I got to her and we just got back to Haven."

So he decided to keep that secret to himself. That little demon was still inside him, and he realized that he had forgotten about it a long time ago.

"That was it."

Ben nodded slowly in response. Something seemed a little fishy about it. Their stories about what had gone down seemed to match in some respects, but both of their stories seemed a little scant on details.

Perhaps against his better judgment, he asked a follow-up question.

"What was your discussion about afterwards?" Again, he neglected to say what Laney had told him.

After all, he had witnessed it, but he hadn't caught what it was about.

Tilo shook his head, his eyebrows creased confusedly, "I don't...recall Laney and I having a discussion afterward."

"Mhmm." It was evident that Ben didn't believe him, but he also didn't particularly feel like pressing the issue. Something had definitely gone on, but he had possibly forgotten it just like Ben had forgotten about what Laney had said until just a little while ago, so he went quiet again.

At least for a few minutes.

"Heard you went to the Rands' place. That seemed to go okay. I mean, you didn't come back missing a finger or anything."

Maybe the finger joke was just a lighthearted comment. Unbeknownst to Tilo, Ben had lost a finger. Nobody told him, they just said he was tortured.

Tilo chuckled, "Right, um. I don't know about them. They're living like none of this happened. I mean, they're not surviving. Their leader, Ken Rand is a pretty, pretty shrewd fellow. Hopefully he'll come around."

Tilo paused, "But there was this one fellow, Richard...he had black hair underneath a dark grey beanie. He barely shaved. And while I was there, I can honestly say...he gave me the creeps."

Ben stopped dead in his tracks, "Kind of skinny? A bit shorter than me?" He hadn't gotten a great look at the guy he was thinking of, but based on what he could tell, the man had been shorter than himself by a few inches.

"He was short, but not skinny. He definitely had a couple of kilos on him. He had this strange look in his eye, like he had not slept for days. An insomniac or something."

Maybe he had misremembered the guy's body type, but the rest of it sounded right.

"Did you ever find out about Tim?"

"Tim?" who was Tim, Tilo had never heard of him. He was never mentioned at all by either Monroe or Callie, "Who's Tim?"

"Tim's the guy who got chased up a tree by a bunch of geeks. I was sent to try and help him, but another group got there before I did. They killed the zombies." Ben paused. He hadn't forgotten about one of his first forays out into the wilderness, "Tim got down. He mentioned Haven to them, think that's where they were from. The leader of this group asked where Haven was. Tim didn't really seem sure. He said something about it being a few m--" Then he corrected himself, "--meters away."

"And then the leader executed him. I saw it all. This guy sounds a lot like the guy who killed Tim. Is he with the Rands?"

"The fellow I saw is with them, yes. He's part of their scavengers, hunters actually...because they actually have outdoorsmen, unlike us," Tilo chuckled, "Are you sure it was him?"

"Sounds about right." He scowled as he began walking again, "No. Not until I see him. I have to go to the Rands' place. If it's the guy I'm thinking of, then they're harboring a murderer who's responsible for this whole thing between us and the Caravanners." Then, he added, "Not that we can trust them, either."

"You said there was a group?"

"Five of them, yeah. Including the guy in charge."

"Now that I think about it. When I was there, he came back alone. In fact, if I remember correctly, the man had said that four others were at Cromwell, but that was on the fifth. They're probably all back at the Rands."

"Son of a bitch," he muttered, "That has to be him. Fuckers are keeping murderers there." He was angry now, but he was much more subdued on the outside than he was on the inside. This guy, the one Tilo had described, something had to be done about him.

"I have to go to the Rands'," he repeated.

"Alright mate, calm down. We need a good reason to show up there. I mean, if we come barging into the place, it's going to make them suspicious," Tilo paused before adding, "Funny thing I remember, when he came back, he started interrogating me. I think he asked me about Haven, 'how many people died,' or 'are the leaders still alive' and some other stuff. I thought it was very odd of him to ask such questions."

He still didn't trust the Rands. Honestly, the only people he did trust these days were the people who were in Haven, maybe except that military woman that he saw in the infirmary when he first went to get patched up; he didn't know her. And, although he wasn't distrustful of the man, he was wary of Rishi.

"Yeah, yeah. I'm sure somebody will think of something."

That sealed it. Without even seeing the man's face, Ben was now convinced that this was the man he saw execute Tim in cold blood.

"That's got to be him," he muttered, then spoke up a little louder, "Let's hurry up and get this thing finished so we can get back to Haven. This is important."

Certainly more important than cameras, he thought as he increased his pace towards Cromwell.

Tilo matched him, his pack not slowing him down especially with this recent turn of events.

------

Part 3: Holiday Shopping

It was near noon when the two men reached Cromwell. The cold was a bit more bearable up in the north of England. Unlike London, when it was grey almost all day and into the night, Cumbria did not suffer from lack of sunlight. The winter was decent, the sun at least was able to make it through the clouds in November. It was just November though, winter would not be official until December.

The town of Cromwell had devolved into a village with the lack of a human presence. Before the outbreak, the town was fairly lively, now it was just an aggregate of various buildings with their comely rooftops nestled within the green hills. Automotive vehicles were abandoned in the streets, newspapers and other trash littered the ground.

The wind moved through the empty town calling out to the long abandoned homes and businesses, which replied with echoes of silence.

It only took him one visit, but Ben hated Cromwell. He hated everything about Cromwell. The eerie quiet. The hidden dangers that normally lurked there. It seemed like it might have been a nice place before the outbreak, but he didn't really care anymore. Any trip to Cromwell couldn't go fast enough, in his mind.

He drew out his hatchet once they were well inside the confines of the town.

"Just in case," he muttered to himself. Chances were that the fire and explosion had drawn most of them off. But, there was no telling if they were going to return or not. Ben didn't want to take any chances.

"Want to check out the electronics store first? I think it's pretty close to the grocery store and the pharmacists. There might be stuff we can use there." There were a couple things that he wanted to look for.

Tilo nodded. He had never actually been to Cromwell before, but he heard the reports. He wasn't one to ignore the warnings. His grip on the sawn-off tightened. The town seemed empty, but every house probably held a horde of zed ready to pour out like ants from a nest.

Their steps were marked by the cracking of shards of glass and other debris strewn on the ground. They soon happened on the electronics store. It was a small, locally owned shop as evidenced by the name, Torrhen's Electronics. It seemed as if every store in town was named after someone, Gill Mechanics, Torrhen's Electronics, Johnson's Pharmacy, and of course Rand Grocers. The store itself was smaller than the average RadioShack. The windows had been shattered completely with the pieces of glass gathered in disparate arrangements on the sidewalk by the street lamp.

Slowly, Ben crept into Torrhen's Electronics, glass crunching underneath his winter boots as he went. Aside from the natural light that filtered in through the windows, it was fairly dark.

"Keep a lookout. I don't want anything sneaking up on us."

When they had entered, a walker had begun to get up with a groan. Admittedly, Ben had missed it when it had groaned, due to the crunching of glass underfoot. But, as soon as it rose, he caught a glimpse of it.

It was a large one. Large in the sense that it was very... rotund, anyway. The man that it had used to be clearly worked here, as it was wearing a shirt with the company's logo on it.

"I've got this," Ben announced as he glanced back to Tilo.

He approached the zombie and gave a heavy overhand swing of his hatchet, burying it into the top of its skull and making short work of the opponent.

Ben glanced down at the thing, sighing a little, and shaking his head.

"See what we can get," Ben said as he looked around. Most of the store's inventory seemed relatively intact. Cameras, camcorders, some of those pay-as-you-go phones, and some batteries - though there were less batteries than there were anything else. That made sense. Batteries weren't just for cameras anymore. A lot of things used batteries. Flashlights, walkie-talkies, radios.

"There might be more in the back."

Ben stepped to the door that led to the storage and tried the knob. It didn't budge. Locked.

"Damn it," he cursed, under his breath. But, then he remembered the geek (probably an adequate description, in more than one way) he'd just killed. The guy had worked here and there might be a key on him.

He retreated back to where the walker had fallen and began searching it. It didn't take long. The keys were hooked onto one of its belt loops. First, he slid his hatchet away and took out his knife; he wasn't going to bother trying to unhook it. Instead, he was just going to cut it free.

Once he had it, he marched back to the locked door. Before unlocking it, he turned and motioned to the old man.

"Over here."

If the zed did not have the keys, they probably would have tried hacking apart the knob perhaps until the door opened and allowed for entry. Tilo followed him closely, stepping over the portly corpse of the employee with its head now smashed.

They entered the storage room which was filled with racks as high as the ceiling and many cages with small boxes, no doubt packaged with devices inside. They were labeled with images of phones and other devices. Other boxes were plain nondescript cardboard lined together behind a label on the shelf. Some had brand names on them, others had model names. The larger boxes were inside cages, denoting their value, or former value. The world now had no need for currency. The cages themselves were protected with padlocks. They could try rummaging through the cabinets near the door for the keys to the cages if necessary.

That could have taken too long.

Ben had proceeded through the locked door with caution, in case there was a nasty surprise waiting for them. The back was void of the undead, which made sense. The door had been locked, but better to be safe than sorry, as the saying goes.

"This place is clear. You want to see what you can find? I want to go check out the grocery store and the pharmacist, just across the street. Maybe see if you can get a camera working?"

"Uh sure," Tilo shrugged.

"I'll be back. Shout if you need help."

"Shout?" Tilo questioned.

"Whatever. It's across the street. I'm not going to hear you otherwise. Unless you actually want to walk over to come get me."

Of course, if he was attacked, he might not be able to come across the street to get him.

The old man went toward one of the many storage shelves and decided to open one of the boxes with the image of a camera on the side.

As Ben left, in hindsight Tilo realized that it would have been best to let someone younger handle technology. He was decent as far as professors went, but he was not as savvy. The camera was buried beneath the styrofoam casing, which Tilo stripped. He searched for the power button and pressed it. No reply. He had forgotten to put the battery pack in. He opened the slot, popped the battery in, and pressed power. It turned on, fortunately, and he turned it off and unpopped the battery to preserve the power. Then he looked back at all the boxes lined throughout the large dull storage room. To go through each box and test the batteries would be like an algorithm, which wasn't very time-friendly at the moment. He would have preferred sweeping all of them into his pack, but that wouldn't leave space for many.

Ben trekked across the street to the grocery store which connected with the pharmacy. This store was even darker than the electronics store that he had just come from. As soon as he stepped into the building, he could hear the tell-tale noise of the undead. But, it didn't sound like they were alert yet. The noise reminded him of... snoring, and it sounded like there was more than one.

Quietly, he crept through the store. He had to deal with these before he could really go searching through the store. Otherwise, they could sneak up on him while he wasn't as alert.

As he progressed through, he kept constantly turning and keeping on the lookout.

Finally, he spotted the source of the noise - or at least some of it. Down the aisle that was labeled 'soda' were three walkers. His presence at the end of the aisle alerted them and they turned their heads toward him suddenly.

They advanced - two of them slowly and the other much more quickly. Ben stepped back, holding his hatchet, and allowing the quicker one to get near him before he swung his weapon. It ended up in the thing's head, just as it had the one at Torrhen's. However, unlike then, he lost his grip on the weapon as the corpse fell to the floor.

"Shit," Ben whispered, eyeing the two advancing walkers. He didn't have time to pull the weapon out and strike at these two, so he had to think quickly.

He rushed to the stand that was now empty and put both hands on it and used the strength he had to pull it down. With a loud crash, it fell on top of them, trapping them.

Ben sighed and turned back to the first corpse, intending to extract his weapon from its skull. Instead, he came face-to-face with a fourth walking corpse, startling him.

Without thinking, he swung his left arm, striking it in the side of the head and sending it toppling to the floor. And, before it could get up, he raised his leg up and brought his boot down heavily onto its skull, sending blood and brain out like he had just squeezed out a glob of toothpaste.

First, he checked himself for bites or scratches and sighed in relief once he realized that he had none of either.

"No bites," he said quietly, going back to get his hatchet back from the first body. He still had to finish off the two that were still trapped by the shelf he had pulled down.

Once he had it in hand, all it took was two quick strikes to end their existence for good.

"Assholes," he muttered as he finished them off.

As he expected, the store didn't have much of anything and what it did have wasn't much use to them.

On to the pharmacist.

Johnson's was empty of walkers, allowing Ben to look around freely.

He was surprised to find some painkillers left. These might help with his hand. He had been having trouble getting to sleep some nights because of his hand. It had gotten better, but only slightly.

The pain pills were a nice surprise, but that's not what he was really looking for. And when he finally found what he was looking for, he looked around furtively before stuffing them into one of the side pockets of his backpack.

Condoms.

Ben then turned and was about to make his way out of the pharmacy when the thought came to him...

He might need a few other things, so he grabbed them and put them into the same side pocket.

Morning-after pills and a pregnancy test.

The last thing he wanted at this point was to have to deal with anything like that. He was pretty sure Laney didn't, either. It wasn't like she could afford it, what with her going out the same as him.

Hoppy had joked about 'Little Baby Bens', but realistically, that wouldn't be good. Not right now, and probably not for a long time.

He zipped up the side pocket and made to return to the electronics store.

Now he could leave.

Back in the electronics storage room, Tilo decided to simply unbox the phones, cameras, and batteries into his bag. The manuals did not matter, at some point people could figure out that a three pronged plug would not go into a two holed outlet. Batteries and the respective devices they went in worked the same way. After that was done, Tilo looked up to the cages at the top shelves. Those were probably the laptops.

He looked around for a step ladder or something to elevate him up there. Eventually he found one set aside in the back of the room, hidden behind the many rows of storage shelves.

As he got up to the higher levels, he pulled out the hatchet and proceeded to smash apart the latch that was held together by the padlock. He proceeded to open the door and he set aside the hatchet. He looked for the smaller boxes, which signified more compact devices. Compact devices meant an easier return trip to Haven.

Once he had found two or three suitable boxes, he proceeded to open them. Then he tried to make room inside his pack for the notebooks. He looked to the power cords, unsure if they would be of use. It couldn't possibly hurt, if in the near future the outlets at Haven were powered directly from the Silent Valley plant. At that point, they wouldn't need to make a return trip just for cords. Tilo smiled smugly, foresight, he supposed. It wasn't really much to be proud of, but then again there wasn't anything left in the world to lay a claim of pride on anymore.

Once all of that was done, he zipped up his pack, reholstered the hatchet, and grabbed the sawn-off and proceeded to leave the store.

Outside, Tilo met Ben, who had returned from the grocers and the pharmacist.

"Find anything?" Tilo shifted his pack, which had gained considerable weight.

"Some painkillers," he said as he shrugged, "That's about it. It's been picked clean for the most part." Obviously, that wasn't entirely true, but he didn't really feel like discussing his sex life with someone who wasn't much younger than his father had been.

"Mmm," Tilo eyed the streets around them. The place was a wasteland of a village. There wasn't much else left to be done. Tilo noticed a pillow in the middle of the street, strange.

"Well," Tilo sighed, "I guess..." then he remembered the truck.

"You want to try the petrol station?"

Ben glanced around, spotting the strange place for a pillow, that seemed to have something tied around it. He took a few steps towards it.

"Did you want to check out the pawn shop? I've still got plenty of room in my pack."

"I'm out of room, filled to the brim. Couldn't hurt could it?" he saw Ben walk toward the pillow, evidently the awkwardness of the object attracted them somehow.

A few more steps and he was standing over the object, "Might be worth checking out."

He knelt down and untied the cloth around the pillowed object, revealing a walkie-talkie, much like an oyster might open up to reveal a pearl within.

"I don't believe it," Ben said as he picked up the walkie-talkie. He tested it a few times, "Dead as that guy in there, though." Idly, he motioned to the electronics store.

Was that a hint of humor in his voice? It was difficult to tell.

"Hmm?" Tilo saw the walkie-talkie.

"This has to be the one that Laney tossed to save herself, right?"

Tilo was unaware of the event that Ben referred to.

Ben shrugged and clipped it to his belt, "Let's go to the pawn shop."

------

Part 4: What Tastes Worse Than Gasoline?

The pawn shop was just like the electronics store. Windows blasted. The place was wrecked. The neon signs out front just pieces of bulbs on the street. Jewelry was taken, no doubt by bandits and looters. As if gold mattered anymore in this world, and most of the time it wasn't even real gold if it came from a pawn shop. Those poor pathetic fools. Most of the items were junk anyway, but a scavenger's job was a scavenger's job. The items were stacked in an irregular manner, lacking order, or rather separation. They weren't divided into categories, they were just assorted throughout the store. Most of the shelves were bare with the exception of large television sets and radios. Those did not work anymore.

Most of the rifles on the shelves behind the counter had been taken, leaving behind one or two. It was actually pretty hard to find something useful among a mess of items. Whether or not they would find something useful, remained to be seen.

Tilo walked around a shelf of magazines and records. He passed by several taxidermic animal heads. What in the world did people need those for back then? Tilo did not know, even though 'back then' was a mere couple of months ago.

Near the back section was a rack lined with guitars. Some had been smashed apart, their strings and wooden bodies on the ground. The ones that were untouched gave Tilo an idea. He was reminded by what Laney had told him during their trip to Tull Hollow. It would be a nice gift, he thought, especially since Christmas was rolling around. He wondered if anybody still celebrated that anymore. Still, if there was anything to raise morale, this would be one of them. He grabbed the one that looked the most pristine. He was not a guitar expert, so he simply picked the one that looked decent in his eye.

Ben had taken to looking around the shop for anything that Rishi had asked for, or anything else that might have been useful. He passed by a shelf that had a bunch of video games on it. Before walking by it completely, he stopped and looked at what they had.

Nothing but crap and old games. But, crap and old games were the only things that could ever be found at a pawn shop. Stores that sold new games usually wouldn't pay much for them if they took them at all; if a game was old, they wouldn't even take it for trade. If they can't sell it for good money then they don't buy it.

Out of the corner of his eye, he caught Tilo holding something big, and it wasn't until he turned that he saw it was a guitar.

"What are you doing?" he asked, raising a brow. The old man didn't really seem like the type to play guitar.

Tilo looked over to Ben, "Oh, this. I was reminded by what Laney told me. She used to be a musician, I thought this would be nice for her. What do you think?"

Of course.

Part of him wanted to protest and say that they really didn't need it, but the other part of him thought of Laney. How she was really the only person he really felt comfortable with right now.

The old man looked back to Ben, "Don't worry, I'll tell her it was from you," Tilo reassured him.

He was aware of their blossoming relationship, if one could call it that. Anybody who didn't know about it was definitely out of the loop.

"She'll like it," Ben answered quietly, cursing himself silently for not thinking of it first. He resumed his search for anything useful, while remaining mum on the topic of who it was from.

The pawn shop didn't have much in the way of what they had been asked to pick up. A few cameras, a laptop, and some rechargeable batteries.

"I think that about does it," Ben said finally, a hint of exasperation in his voice. He wanted to hurry up and get back to Haven. The news of this Richard was too important to leave for long.

"Ready to go to the gas station?"

It was a good idea. The truck would need gas. Who knows when else they would need the truck, aside from taking the solar panel back to Haven, of course.

Tilo nodded, "Let's go,"

He strapped the guitar to himself and the pair left the pawn shop.

The gas station was at the edge of town, as many were. Ben was glad to be nearly done, but he remained wary. Maybe Cromwell was mostly empty, but there was no telling if there would be anything to come at them from the wilderness.

They had a couple problems, though. They had no gas cans, and they didn't have any way to siphon the gas.

"We should have planned this better," Ben said with a frown.

"We could check inside, see if there are any jugs left."

Ben nodded, "There might be a way to siphon the gas around here, too. Let's check inside first."

The glass on the station's doors weren't smashed, but they were smeared with blood, marked with hands. The shelves were bare, most of the stocked items were probably expired, such as the candy and sweets that lined the entrance. The freezers were offline, which meant the milk and other liquids that needed refrigeration were beyond the point of consuming.

They looked around the isle that usually had petroleum-based products such as motor oil, and other liquids such as anti-freeze, and coolant. There was maybe one gas jug laying around for them to find. The question remained as to how they would get the gas from the pump into the jug, if there was any petrol left in the station.

Crouching slightly, Ben reached for the jug. Before standing, he shook it.

"Empty. Figures. Never can catch a break, can we?" He took the jug outside and set it down next to a car that had been parked at the station. "Now we need a siphon. There's a better chance we find something in the cars. I don't even know if we can get anything from the pumps."

"I'll check the counter, see if I can turn one of them on," in reality the chances were slim that the pumps were still operable, but it never hurt to try.

Most of the buttons on the keyboard didn't help their cause. The power was out. Tilo decided to just bash the keyboard with the hatchet. That didn't solve anything, he sighed.

He returned outside, "Pumps are out of the question. You sure you want to try...you know..." Tilo was referring to the crude siphoning method that involved tasting gasoline.

"Unless you want to leave without getting gas," Ben suggested, shrugging, "Tasting gasoline wouldn't be the worst thing that's happened to me this week."

He made a good point about the gasoline, "We just came to get cameras and stuff. What do you think?"

"I think that we don't know how much gas is in the truck right now. We don't know how much we'll need, and we don't know if we'll be able to have another opportunity to get any."

"Mm, I'll look for a tube or something."

Minutes later Tilo returned from the adjacent car wash with a thin plastic hose, which he handed to Ben.

As he took it, he knelt down beside the car, pulling the flap open and taking off the gas cap. He snaked the tube down into the tank, putting his mouth around the other end and inhaling deeply.

After a few tries with no results, he pulled his mouth away, allowing himself to catch his breath and expel the presence of gasoline before he passed out. There was definitely something down in the tank.

And then he was at it again.

Finally, after another try or two, the golden-brown liquid came up through the tube. Ben coughed and spat some of it out as he put the other end of the tube into empty jug.

"Okay. Maybe I was wrong. That just might have been the worst thing to happen to me this week."

Tilo stood there trying to imagine the taste. It made him self-conscious of the taste of his saliva, which in an instant turned gross. He decided to lean against the car as a lookout against a possible ambush.

And then, the ever inconvenient, annoying, and inappropriate car alarm went off.

"Oh...shit." Tilo said with a Londoner's accent.

The blares scratched the silence of the quaint village, and perhaps began to attract zed from all over. There was perhaps no way that they were going to turn it off, and to try would have wasted their time.

"Let's get out of here."

Ben jumped at the alarm and turned towards it. He scowled briefly, but then extracted the tube from the car and picked up the nearly half full jug.

He didn't know a lot about cars, but he did know that they could shut it off by disconnecting the battery, but he didn't know if they had the time. Some cars had a hood that wouldn't open unless you pressed a button while the car was on, and the alarm that was going off was part of a fairly new vehicle, so that was very much a possibility.

Ben glanced towards the main part of town and saw a few bobbing heads rising up the hill slowly. They definitely didn't have time to turn it off before who knows how many were on top of them.

"Right. The truck's this way. Follow me."

He intended to leave the jug somewhere near the truck and take the siphon back to Haven. They might have another opportunity to get gas - though probably not from Cromwell.

They made a stop in the outskirts of the town. He pulled open the garage door that they'd left the truck. His heart leaped up in his chest when he saw that the garage was empty.

"Shit. Where the hell did it go?" He took a step back to look at the house. This was definitely the right place; this was where they'd left it.

Tilo came in behind him, the garage was bare aside from old tools and cobwebs, "Are you sure this is the right house?"

"It's got to be. Look," he pointed to the ground, where he could see tire tracks in the ground, "There aren't many people who know where we hid this. Mark, Laney, the--" He stopped himself, frowning deeply.

"Who else?" Tilo noticed the pause.

"I think those Caravanners who went with Hoppy knew where it was, too."

Tilo left Ben to himself in the garage, he stepped out to keep an eye for stiffs being attracted by the car alarm. The heads were in the distance, and they were moving at a slow pace. They weren't much of a threat where they were, but carelessness could lead to death.

"We can get this sorted when we get back. You have any space in your pack? I think I'm carrying too much in mine to slow me down," plus the guitar, Tilo would have added.

"Yeah," he said, nodding, pulling open the main pocket on his backpack, after setting down the jug. All that was in there right now were the painkillers he'd gotten from the pharmacist and the few things that he'd gotten from the pawn shop.

Tilo opened his pack and transferred some cameras, batteries, and phones to Ben's pack. He didn't peer inside to see the condoms buried beneath the drugs.

"Alright, I think that's good," Tilo re-zipped the pack.

From there they made their way out of town. The car alarm still ringing in the distance. They made sure to avoid the car entirely and went around the area where the dead were congregating.

After zipping back up his own backpack, Ben tossed it back over his shoulders and trotted a ways until he was sure that they weren't going to be followed by the small horde. As much as he wanted to get back and inform Callie of what they'd discovered, there was no sense in keeping like this all the way back to Haven. It was still going to be a couple hours or so before they passed through the gates again.

He made sure to keep the jug. Truck or no truck, gas was one of the most valuable things these days.

About halfway back to Haven they decided to lay in wait at the crest of a hill and watch for any zed that had followed them. It wasn't really necessary since they had not seen any of the faster ones, indicating that the slow stiffs most likely would have lost their trail by that point.

A minute or two like this passed in silence before Ben decided to stand up slowly. As far as he could see, in all directions, there was no sign of them.

"I think we're good. The alarm was too much for them to resist, I guess."

"I suppose." Tilo relaxed his hold on the shotgun.

------

Epilogue

November 9th, 2013, 1500

Now that they were out of town and out of harm's way for the moment, Ben allowed himself to relax slightly. He wasn't particularly happy with how their trip to Cromwell had ended, but they had gotten away from it without harm, so he kept quiet. In fact, he kept quiet most of the way back to Haven. There wasn't a lot to talk about, he thought, and there wasn't a lot he wanted to talk about. At least nothing that they hadn't already.

The return trip was silent, and uneventful. Before long they finally reached the gates of the farm, where the truck sat, waiting for them.

Ben dropped his shoulders, relieved to see the truck and relieved to know that he wouldn't have to explain the missing truck to Callie.

Without a word, he shook his head and set the jug down on the bed of the truck and entered Haven.

They dropped their sacks outside of Rishi's room, the door was locked. He was probably in there writing equations, as Gary had told them. The furniture was probably stacked in the middle of the room to allow the genius space to work. And if he wasn't, he was probably locked in the southern outbuilding, experimenting. Tilo hadn't given a second thought to the man being experimented on, or what used to be the man. He was zed now, and to an extent, a guinea pig.

"Go on ahead. I'll catch up."

As soon as Tilo was out of sight, Ben opened his backpack once more and took out what he had gotten from the pharmacists and stuffed it all into his pockets.

Moments later they were both inside the kitchen of the farmhouse, Callie was beside her war map.

"The uh...truck's outside?" Tilo asked.

"Hoppy and Laney," Callie replied, "What do you guys want?"

Ben didn't waste any time.

"I need to go to the Rands."

"What?" she responded dryly, her look, one of impatience.

"The guy that killed Tim is with them," he said bluntly, "He and his gang are the ones causing all of these problems. I need to see his face. I need to make sure." He was staring at Callie grimly. "He's a threat."

"I'll go with him, they know me," Tilo added, Callie glanced over to Tilo before Ben continued.

"And we have to end it."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Tilo King Character Portrait: Callie Winters Character Portrait: Benjamin Kinney Character Portrait: Richard Brand Character Portrait: Alison Carter Character Portrait: Jesus "Matador" Herrera
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

0.00 INK

#, as written by Bosch
November 9th 2013, 0430

Upton Abbey.


Ken Rand awoke with a gun being pointed in his face.

He didn’t need any light to know who was behind it.

“Richard. Come to kill an old man in his bed?”

“It’s the only way Ken, the strong keep the weak and that’s not happening at the moment.”

“And I suppose you are the strong?”

“In Upton I am.”

“Strength doesn’t come from the barrel of a gun boy.”

“It’s just a tool.”

“So what are you hoping people will believe I died from lead poisoning? You can’t shoot me.”

“I’m not going to. You’re going to take these.”

Brand tossed a bottle of pills onto the bed.

Ken lifted them to his face and tried to read the label. They were medication for his heart.

“You’ll have to shoot me, I’m not taking these.”

Richard produced a large knife with his left hand. “Or I could use this. Just know my next stop will down the hallway, Elizabeth and Eric’s room.”

“You bastard you wouldn’t get away with it.”

“Yeah I would. People want a strong leader. I tell them I saw someone running off in the direction of the Caravaners and I’m fine. People will believe what I tell them too because they’re scared. Everyone wants an older Brother.”

Ken looked at the mans gleaming eyes and knew he was serious. “You won’t harm Eric?”

“Scout’s honour.” Richard said. “Bottoms up Ken.”

Ken unscrewed the lid of pill bottle.

#


0900


Sandra was carrying a tray containing Ken’s breakfast she made her way up the stairs towards his bedroom. On the staircase she passed Elizabeth and Eric who were going the opposite direction for their own breakfast. After a cheery hello she was on her away again.

She reached the door to Ken’s room and with the grace that comes from practice opened the door with her elbow.

“Rise and shine!” She said in sing song as the door swung open and bounced off something behind it. She gave it nudge but it didn’t budge. When a grey arm reached around and grabbed her ankle she let out a loud scream and dropped the tray. She fell hard on her back as Ken Rand flung the door open. Sandra could see he had turned. His eyes were cloudy and his hand cold on her ankle. He was pulling himself towards Sandra with his teeth bared.

Instinct kicked in and Sandra drove the heel of her trainer swiftly into the Zombie’s face. After a few more kicks she was able get clear of the beast.

“Help! Ken’s.... HELP!”

She ran for the stairs while Ken crawled after her, his legs as useless in death as they had been in life.

As Sandra ran down the stairs she passed two hunters travelling the other way. Except this time there was no cheery hello.

The confirmation came in the form of a gunshot that echoed through Upton Abbey.

#

The entire of Upton Abbey was in an uproar. First there was the fact Ken Rand was dead, secondly there was the fact he’d turned despite not being bitten and lastly there was the issue of who would lead the Rands now. The impromptu meeting was being held in the dining area as the populace tried to deal with the confusion. It was perfect for Brand’s purposes.

He stepped forward and raised his arms in an attempt to calm the crowd.

“I’ll lead. It makes sense that the Hunters have more say over how Upton is run. We need to be strong now, it’s what Ken and William would have wanted.” He shot a wink at Eric who buried his face deeper in his mother’s leg. “As for why Ken turned that’s beyond me but there’s no point in dwelling. It happened and we have to move on.”

As he predicted fear was a great motivator and everyone agreed, only Elizabeth kept silent.

He had no idea why Ken had turned he thought the heart medicine would just kill him not turn him. It was of no matter now his plan was complete he had complete control of Upton. There maybe a few people that would oppose him like Elizabeth but a blue blood like her wouldn’t present much of a threat.


November 9th 2013, 1020

Callie stood in the doorway of Doctor Short’s Medical area watching the mousy woman work. It was a strange thing to see. From the second Callie had told her Hoppy had been wounded the Doctor had set about marshalling her resources. She was brimming with confidence and had no problem ordering those around her unlike her normal persona.

Carter was sitting on her bed watching the scene as well. She had offered her basic first aid training but Short had politely yet firmly declined. By the time Laney and Hoppy arrived the Doctor was ready to deal with the trauma. It took about an hour of work but eventually Short was able to stabilise her. Callie was concerned that the Doctor was having to bastardise a lot of the equipment she was using and could already see that the Scav’s would have a something of task on their hands if they were too save Hoppy’s life.

“Bollocks!” Short cried and a spurt of blood erupted from Hoppy. “Callie, get here now.”

Callie rushed to Short’s side and got her first good look at Hoppy. The girl had gone very pale and was naked from the waist up where Doctor Short was working on a small but very bloody wound. Bubbles of blood were erupting from it and Hoppy’s breathing was faint.

Short directed Callie to put pressure on the wound while she prepared some plastic sheeting and duct tape.

“It’s the pressure, it keeps blowing the dressing off. I don’t have the equipment to deal with this kind of Trauma.”

Callie kept the pressure on the wound until Doctor Short had applied her dressing.

“She needs blood.”

“What is she?” Callie asked.

“Not a clue. I’m AB negative, so I’m no good.” Short explained.

Callie shrugged. “I don’t know what I am.”

“I’m B positive.” Carter called from her bed.

“That’s no good either. We need someone who is O negative, universal donor.”

Callie nodded and raced out of the medical room in search of blood.

#

1050

She came up empty nobody had O Negative and Callie silently cursed herself for not thinking about getting a Blood Type chart up and running sooner. She was about to give up when she noticed him sitting silently on the living room couch with his head in his hands.

Callie wasted no time.

“Shinji. What Blood type are you?”

He looked up and Callie could see tears in his eyes. She remembered he’d lost his wife only hours before but now wasn’t the time for compassion.

“Hello Shinji.” He said morosely.

“Yes, Hello. What Blood Type?” Callie said.

He stared dumbly ahead.

Callie swore and ran to the kitchen where she picked up a pen, paper and kitchen knife. She returned to Shinji and showed him the palm of her hand and sliced it. She flinched at the bite of the knife and let the blood fall onto the page. She then did an equals sign and scribbled AB+.

“Oh Shinji.” Exclaimed suddenly comprehending.

He grabbed the pen and hurriedly wrote O-.

“Hoppy. Needs you.” Callie was wildly gesticulating trying to covey her meaning to the only man who could save Hoppy.

“Hoppy, yes.” Shinji said getting off the couch.

Callie took him by the hand and marched him to Doctor Short who wasted no time setting up a transfusion. Shinji was sitting a chair opposite Hoppy although he had positioned himself so he wasn’t looking at the girl given her some privacy.

“Ok Callie she’s stable but she won’t stay that way. My Blue Peter efforts won’t last long we need serious equipment to deal with this kind of trauma. I’ll prepare a list and you need to get the Scavs out. I reckon she’s got about a day. Shinji can only give so much blood.”

“Alright I’ll get people on it.”

“Good, but first let me patch that hand.”

#

Haven

1500


"And we have to end it."

Callie looked tiredly at the two men but couldn’t help the grin spread over her face which quickly turned into peals of laughter. She was giggling for a full minute before she got her breathing under control.

“We have to end it?” She said wiping a tear from her eye. “You guys sound like John Wayne or something. I’ll give you pair that you’re always good for a laugh.”

She sniffed. “Back in reality land you need to understand the Rand’s hunters are a larger group that know the area well, have weapons training and have killed in the past. You two are a History Professor and a Computing Student, so if you guys are done with the Rambo routine we have real problems. Hoppy is conscious but very sick and she’s going to get worse if she doesn’t get medical help.”

She produced a mission briefing and slid it across the table.

“Hoppy has been shot and the Doc says it’s pretty bad. She needs specialist materials if Hopster is to have a chance at survival. That takes precedent over a suicide mission to assault the Rands. Work it out amongst yourselves who goes. I’ve got Jesus ear marked for a special mission so it’s between you two, Laney and Kiera. We need those supplies within the next 24 hours.”

Job

Scrubs.


Suggested Number of Scavs – 1


Area – West Moreland Hospital

Objective- Recover Medical Supplies. Chest Tubes/ thoracic catheter, Asherman Chest Seals, as many of these as possible. Azithromycin, Clarithromycin, Clindamycin, Voriconazole, Cefdinir, Cefixime, Ciprofloxacin, Doxycycline, Fluconazole, Levofloxacin, Linezolid, Loracarbef, Sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim.

Information- Hoppy has been seriously wounded but thanks to Doctor Short and Shinji she is now stable. She’s lost a lot of blood and the Doctor is worried about her lung collapsing all together. Apparently that’s really bad.

She’s put together a list of items that she can use to save Hoppy’s life however they are not in her GP practice in Cromwell. A lot of his stuff is pretty specialised so it looks like you are going to West Moreland Hospital in Kendal. The meds are all types of Antibiotics that do not need to be kept cold. It’s unlikely the hospital will have them all just grab what you can some is better than none. Kendal is a pretty big town, at least it’s big for the Lake District so keep your head on a swivel.

The Doc reckons any immediate danger to Hoppy has passed but she is suggesting Hoppy will not survive with the supplies the Doc currently has. It’s your job to get out to Kendal and back before any harm befalls her.

I’m getting pretty sick of putting up those crosses so be careful and get the supplies. If it comes down to it though your life outweighs the supplies.

Callie.

#

Upton Abbey

1900



Sandra came to her in the evening when all was quiet. Eric was asleep but Elizabeth was just staring at the ceiling. She was wondering how best to escape Upton. She had a feeling though that Brand wouldn’t make it simple. Perhaps she could reach out to Haven, their Professor King seemed nice and more importantly smart.

A knock at the door broke her train of thought. Elizabeth got out of bed and answered .

“Sandra, come in.”

Sandra slunk in like a thief and Elizabeth could relate to her feeling of paranoia. Now Brand was calling the shots the atmosphere at Upton had already begun to change. They spoke in hushed voices on the far side of the room so as not to wake Eric.

“Lizzie, I found something and I don’t know who to tell.”

“You can tell me. What is it?”

“This morning when I was cleaning up Ken’s room I found this.”

Sandra produced a small pill.

“What’s this?”

“It’s heart medication. I found it in Ken’s bed.”

Lizzie stared blankly.

“Ken has different types of Meds for his heart. Some he takes daily and I look after them. Others he takes only when he’s having an attack.”

“Ok.” Elizabeth said still not understanding the importance of the heart meds.

“This is the type he takes daily so there is no reason for him to have them, I control the administration of Meds and I’m very precise about it. Even if he did have them he would have known these aren’t the right type of Meds to combat an attack. He may as well have eaten Tic Tacs.”

“So you think he died from a heart attack but took the wrong meds?”

“That’s what I thought at first but with Heart meds being so rare I can account for every pill, this one isn’t one of mine.” Sandra said. “If he was having a heart attack he was taking the wrong Medication that he shouldn’t have even had in the first place.”

“Right that dosen’t make sense Ken is meticulous.”

“Exactly but I checked my stores anyway and they are all present and accounted for.”

“So either Ken had a supply you didn’t know about...”

“Which is impossible.” Sandra interjected.

“... or someone gave him a few of these.”

“A lot of those. I think he was murdered. In a high enough dose that would trigger a heart attack. Ken knew it would be undetectable without a clue so that’s why he dropped a pill for me to find.”

“So you think it was murder?”

“In my opinion yes.”

“That doesn’t explain why Ken turned though.” Lizzie pondered.

“I know I can’t explain that. Maybe the pills were laced?”

“If the heart pills would have done the job why... why zombify him?” Lizzie said after trying and failing to find a better word.

Sandra shrugged. “Whatever is happening it stinks and the suspect list isn’t exactly long is it?”

“No.” Lizzie said.

“So what do we do? Brand is a psycho, he can’t run this place.”

“I know I was thinking of running to Haven with Eric but it’s too dangerous.”

“I could make it.” Sandra offered.

“It will make you look suspicious though.”

“Yeah well it’s better that then letting Brand remain unopposed, nobody here is going to do anything about it.”

“Alright. I’ll cause a distraction so you can escape tomorrow morning, at guard change would be a good time. Go to Haven and give this to Professor King.”

Lizzie quickly scribbled a note and folded it into William Rand’s wallet which she then handed to Sandra.

Sandra nodded.


#

November 10th 2013,
1100


Jesus was sweating under his multiple layers and was wondering how he got himself into this situation. He was standing in the middle of Silent Valley Solar Energy Plant with Mark the Haven Guard/ carpenter and Gary Flower who was so scared he was shaking like a shitting dog.

It was a peculiar saying he’d picked up from the English locker rooms and he found it apt. It made sense though last time Gary had been to silent valley he’d seen Chip die and nearly died himself. Figured that the guy would be nervous.

They were loading up the last of the solar panels, Mark and Jesus were there for the heavy lifting while Gary was there to make sure they weren’t damaging the panels when they cut them down. Mercifully they were light but as reported they were awkward to carry even with two people, Monroe had been wise to get the truck.

In a way they were putting all their eggs in the solar basket as they had used the fuel earmarked for the generator to make this run. The truck had been used frequently over the last few days and was in the red when Mark had gone to turn it over. Callie had agreed with the decision rationalising the fuel would run out anyway so they may as well use it trying to get the solar panels.

Mark slid the last Solar panel into the truck and dusted his hands.

“Job done let’s get back.”

“Wait do we not need a battery or something, you know so we can store the energy for use in the night?”

Mark and Gary glanced at each other, both surprised at the intelligent question from the footballer.

“Ideally yes but that’s a job beyond Haven. Besides I’ve been stockpiling rechargeable... well everything. The idea is we charge everything up during the day so it’s ready for use during the night.” Gary said quietly.

“I see well let’s get the show on the road then.” Jesus nodded. Mark climbed into the back of the truck with his rifle while Jesus and Gary climbed in front. Gary was driving and Jesus was keeping his eyes peeled.

They were leaving the plant when Mark curled his nose up in disgust. It smelt like rotten barbecue. He looked to his left and saw a naked and badly burnt zombie staggering after the truck.

“Jesus Christ.” Mark muttered as he tapped on the cab. “We got one following us. Shit make that two.”

In the cab Jesus could see more in the distance.

“Shit. We’re gonna get surrounded.” He said.

Gary’s hands were shaking badly now. “What do I do?”

“Chill. Nobody ever did anything by freaking out.” Jesus said with an easy smile.

Jesus rolled down his window and called to Mark.

“Take the long way home, I have distraction devices so I’ll lead them away. Once you get to a road you can pick up some speed and put some distance between you and them. I’ll loop round and come back home later.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah I need a run anyway.” Jesus smiled, wound up his window and prepared his gear. He then stepped out of the Cab and began his run calling to the zombies as he ran.

#

November 10th 2013,
1440


The Zombs had been pretty persistent but Jesus saw that as a good thing, it meant there were less on Mark and Gary. He’d run further south than he’d intended and he figured it was time to loop back first he had to shake the Zombs.

Every Scav had their own method but Jesus found the best way was to enter a building and close doors between him and the horde. They got snarled up in the building giving him time to escape via a back door. He found a large farmhouse that looked like it would do the trick and made a run for it. He ran inside and up the stairs. He left the front door open but closed every other door. It would ensure the zombs got well and truly entangled inside the structure.

He left via a bedroom window and soon found himself on the ground leaving the house in his dust.

He slowed to a jog as he wanted to avoid making too much noise and he’d been running for hours so he figured he deserved a break. His clothes were a mess of sweat and dirt. Jesus thought it might be time to retire his teeshirt.

It was a cool day but the snow had for the most part been melted by the recent heavy rain. There were multiple ice patches and according to Gary more Snow was on the way. Jesus shrugged. He liked the snow.

He’d been running for about an hour when he stopped to check in with Haven. He spoke to Callie and gave her his position. He figured he’d be home in a couple of hours at his current pace. He was in no rush, there was a lot of bad feeling in Haven at the moment due to the number of deaths. He’d been toying with the idea of leaving as at times it felt like tensions would boil over.

Jesus was thinking about this when he heard the moan. He dropped his hand to his hammer and stopped running.

It wasn’t a normal Zed moan, no this was more controlled. He then realised he was hearing sobbing, a child’s sobbing. He kept the hammer out and followed the sound. If it was a kid he couldn’t leave them but at the same time he wasn’t about to walk around unarmed.

He found a burnt out Nissan in a clearing and approached with caution. He peaked into the back seat and saw a girl in a school uniform hugging her knees and weeping.

“Are you ok there?”

The girl looked up and wiped the tears from her face. She had long red hair and her face was blotchy from crying.

“Hi my name is Jesus. Do you need help?”

“Hey-Zeus?” The girl repeated.

“Yeah. What’s your name?”

“Natalie. I’m lost. My dad went out for food and told me to stay here, he hasn’t been back for days.”

Jesus noticed Natalie glance over his shoulder. He turned his head and in his corner of his eye detected a flurry of motion. He didn’t have time to react as the axe swung down and into the top of his head. His attacker tried to pull the axe free but it was firmly wedged. Jesus collapsed and began convulsing.

Natalie leapt out of the car and over Jesus, who was no longer capable of comprehending much, and hugged the man who had swung the axe.

“We did good Daddy!”

“Sure did pumpkin. Lot of meat on this one and that looks like a nice watch!”

“Yay!” Natalie cried as she jumped up and down.

Daddy then pulled the axe free of Jesus’ head and swung it again.

#

November 10th 2013,
1650


Gary and Mark were tinkering with the Solar panels and Callie was monitoring radio traffic for the runners still out in the field. Jesus was still out there although he had checked in a few hours ago. A knock at the door pulled her from her post. She turned and saw Carter standing in the doorway.

“Hey want some company?” Carter asked.

“Yeah sure come in.” Callie nodded. She knew this moment had been coming and how she handled it would decide a lot. She had to size up Carter while she was doing the same to her. It was the kind of thing Callie excelled at.

Carter hobbled in on a pair of makeshift crutches and sat at the end of the table.

“So you’re the boss?”

“It’s not really like that, I was just first here.”

“That’s not the vibe I’m getting, you call the shots.”

“I guess but it’s more democratic than that.”

Carter nodded. “I see.”

They lapsed in to silence for a few seconds.

“I, uh, wanted to say thanks for saving me. I know you lost one of your people.”

“Yeah we did.” Callie let the words hang. “We couldn’t leave someone out there though. There’s survival and then there’s being an asshole.”

“I’m glad you did. Your man was very professional, Forces?”

“Yeah he was army or something.”

“It showed. Very controlled. I, uh, know you were close and set this place up with him. I just wanted to say, I appreciate it.”

“Don’t mention it. Time may come you have to do something similar.”

Carter nodded.

“I saw one of your people got captured and slapped around a little.”

“Yeah Ben. He’s dealing with some issues, but he’s not a bad a kid. We just don’t really have time for mental break downs right now. We’ve lost two people in the space of a week.”

“Losing people is hard. We took a lot of casualties defending Valley.”

“RAF Valley in Wales? You mentioned that before.”

“Yeah pain in the arse it was. We should have retreated much sooner but Command and Control had totally collapsed.” Carter shook her head at the memory.

“So the military isn’t functioning anymore?”

“What can I tell you? When the police and civilian services got overwhelmed they called in the Forces to try to control the outbreak. Course that didn’t work because we had no idea what we were dealing with. Lost a lot of people, people with the skills to survive this kind of thing. The brass is probably still out there, our guts their glory you know?”

“I think I can relate, except I’m the brass.” Callie frowned.

“Heavy rests the crown I guess.”

They lapsed into silence again and this time it was Callie who broke it.

“Monroe was the only person we had trained in any kind of combat, you got any training like that?”

Carter shook her head. “I’m a chopper pilot. I got escape and evasion training and I can operate some weapons systems but I was usually above the action.”

“Sorry, weapons systems?”

“Guns. I can work most weapons the RAF are issued with, combat theory isn’t my bag though. That’s army stuff.”

Callie nodded.

“What I can do is operate a radio and run ops. We had to work our own mission plans and that meant map studies. I can help you out with that kind of thing.”

“You want to help with the admin?” Callie said with a sceptical eyebrow raised.

“Yeah it’s not like I’m running anywhere any time soon.” Carter said pointing at her leg.

“Ok you can help. We have one Scav in the field at the moment. I guess you should get familiarised with the area. Monroe organised all the maps, they’re beside the bread bin behind you.”

Carter twisted awkwardly and grabbed the files. She smiled at the cover which was very precise and neat. It was organised in the fashion of an old school Map Book. Before the outbreak it was all digital, this was something of a throwback for Carter. She buried her head in the books and started studying.

#

November 10th 2013,

1700


Doctor Short had long since stopped taking blood from Shinji, in fact she’d taken more than she should have and now had the man under observation in the bed that had been occupied by Carter. Hoppy was stabilised and was even up and talking but Short was never far from her side. She had broken two ribs, Pneumothorax, a punctured lung and blood loss. Short was convinced the equipment on the list would allow her to treat the wounds but it was a matter of time, Short’s makeshift dressings would only last so long. She needed the correct equipment to deal with injuries or Hoppy would die.

This was frustrating to Short as Hoppy’s injuries where entirely treatable it was simply the lack of supplies. She needed the chest tube apparatus to stop to lung collapsing. Once she had that inserted the treatment plan became simple. Ensuring the wound was kept clean, allowing the ribs to heal and finally the removal of the tube. It would take weeks but Hoppy was lucky to be alive. The bullet had passed straight through her and avoided all major internal organs, save the lung. She had been particularly lucky as the bullet passed close to her spine. That would have spelt the end on her Scav career at least.

With nothing else to do Short checked the pulses of her two charges.


#

November 10th 2013,

1720


The panels were up but they hadn’t got the opportunity to get a full charge. Mark was sitting in his Crow’s nest with the scoped rifle when he heard a twig snap somewhere below outside the perimeter.


He lifted his large lamp and shone it in the direction of the noise. The Lamp had once been used in rabbit hunting now it served a different purpose. The beam found a bedraggled looking woman making her way up the hill towards Haven. She had her hands raised above her head.

Sandra called out. “My name is Sandra Hargrave! I am unarmed and need to speak to Doctor, I mean Professor King!”

“Tilo?” Mark muttered. “Where are you coming from?”

“Upton Abbey! King will know me I have a message!”

“Ok approach the gate then turn around and get on your knees then interlock your fingers behind your head!”

Sandra complied and Mark went outside, by now the entire of Haven was out and looking into the darkness with weapons drawn. Mark tied Sandra’s arms and marched her to Callie.

#

Carter, Tilo, Callie, Sandra and Mark were all in the kitchen. Sandra was starting to feel like a criminal but in a way she could understand the suspicion.

“Speak.” Callie said.

“Elizabeth Rand sent me. I have a message in my jacket pocket.”
Mark started rifling through her jacket which he removed when he was checking her for weapons. He produced a small black wallet and shrugged. Recognition flashed in Tilo’s and Callie’s eyes.

Mark tossed the Wallet to Callie and sheet of folded A4 tumbled out onto the kitchen table. It said Professor King on it and reminded Callie of the notes the kids in her class used to pass.

“Guess that’s for you Tilo.” Callie said. Tilo lifted the letter and quietly read it before handing it to Callie who read it 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.


“I’d give her high marks for penmanship.” Callie said after a beat.

“This Kenneth Rand what makes you think he was murdered?” Carter asked.

Sandra explained that Ken was taking heart medication he shouldn’t have had that would have been ineffective.

“What about suicide? I’ve seen it happen to the strongest.”

“No not Ken, besides there was no way he got those pills on his own.”

“That you know of.” Carter said.

“Let’s go back to this Zombie situation. You say he turned without being bitten?” Callie asked.

“Yes well I suppose he could have got bitten on the face. The Hunters used a shotgun to put him down, there wasn’t much left of his head. If he had been bitten though that Zombie must have been the dairy milk man of Zombies because he didn’t leave a trace.”

“Weird. I’ll ask Rishi about that.” Callie said.

“So you want us to send one of our guys over there? You know one of your people has been running around murdering other survivors? A Gang of Five of them actually.” Carter said. Callie had spent the afternoon filling Carter in on the history of Haven.

“No but I bet I know who was responsible. Brand?”

Tilo nodded at Callie. That was the man he and Ben had concluded to be responsible.

“Let me guess he’s the one you think killed Rand?”

“Yeah both of the Rands probably.”

“Ok we need to take a look at this guy. Make sure he’s not a threat.”

“So what do we do? We can’t attack them, they out number and outgun us.” Mark said.

“I know.” Callie muttered.

She thought for a long moment while staring into space. When her thoughts came back to the room she found herself staring at Tilo.

The History Professor.

“Greeks bearing gifts.”

Mark looked at Tilo who appeared to be as confused as he was.

“This Brand guy. Sounds like a narcissist or a psychopath or whatever, means he likes it when people play up to his sense of superiority. So we use that as a cover to get in there and see what the hell is happening.”

“Narca-what? I thought you were a school teacher not a head shrink.” Mark said.

“You never watch Criminal Minds?”

“What?”

“Nevermind look. If we go over there, say we want to start the trades that Ken Rand proposed and play up to his ego he might just let us inside the building. From there Tilo can work out what the hell is going on once he has a word with Elizabeth Rand. See what I mean?” Callie explained.

“What if it all goes wrong?” Carter asked.

“Well if Tilo doesn’t check in then we tell the Caravaners we know who killed their guys and see what happens.”

“You mean start a war?” Carter asked.

“Don’t be melodramatic. They are the two biggest groups around here, we side with the Caravaners and take the Rands out. It’s a win win. We get back in with the Caravaners and protect ourselves from the Rands.”

“Then why not tell them now?”

“Because they lost people to those assholes and they will want blood. It’s clear not everyone supports Brand but I don’t think the Caravaners would see it that way once the bloodlust descends. They’ll slaughter everyone or be slaughtered in the attempt.”

“Maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.” Carter offered. “I mean think about it. We let the Caravaners know what we know then let them go to war with the Rands. If the Caravaners win their numbers will have been thinned making them less of a threat and if the Rands win hopefully we could steamroll the survivors.”

Everyone in the room looked at Carter with wide eyes and Mark’s jaw actually dropped.

“I’m just saying.” Carter shrugged.

“That might be too far at the moment. The Caravaners can still be allies and we can’t assume Brand is evil. The evidence is pointing that way but it’s from conclusive. We need an investigation.” Callie offered although Carter’s callousness had shocked her.

“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 Tilo but 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 Browings , 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 our selves an honest to God Scav mission. I’ll prepare the briefs.”

Job


An Inspector Calls.

Suggested Number of Scavs – 1


Area – RAF crash site. Upton Abbey.

Objective- Recover items to trade with the Rands from Crash site. Investigate death of Kenneth Rand.

Information- Ok so this one is a little complicated.

A woman called Sandra Hargrave arrived at Haven carrying a letter from Elizabeth Rand for Tilo. Sandra and the letter tell us things may have gone a little bad in Upton and it would be in our interest to check it out.

Elizabeth and Sandra believe and Man called Richard Brand is responsible for the death of Ken Rand. This is part of his powerplay to take over Upton. Apparently Brand believes himself to be a strong leader and the only one who worthy of leading. We intend to use his narcissism as a method to get inside Upton.

You will visit the downed RAF chopper and try to retrieve whatever you can. Not weapons though. Use the items as a way to ingratiate yourself with Brand. Play to his ego. Once inside locate Elizabeth Rand and get to the bottom of this mystery. Find out if Brand killed Ken and try to work out what Brand’s plans are for Haven. This could get ugly and there is a very real possibility you might need to kill Brand. It would be far better if you make this look like an accident. Talk to Doc Short or Rishi about how to achieve this.

Lastly it would appear Ken Brand turned despite not being bitten we’re looking into this but be aware he may have been poisoned. Odds are they could try the same trick twice assuming that’s what they did to begin with.

If we don’t receive a radio transmission at every four hours we will assume you have been captured and tell the Caravaners what we know. We want to avoid this as it will lead to a massive loss of life.

Good Luck.

Callie.


Bonus Mission.

Sea King Down.

Suggested Number of Scavs – 1


Area – RAF crash site.

Objective- Recover weapons and Items from the Sea King.

Information- When my Sea King went down it was loaded with supplies weapons, MREs, Medical equipment and ammo. By now the Zombie activity should have returned to normal so you can pop in and pop out without too much bother. Also of note is a radio equipment that would help boost the signal of the Haven Comms allowing for less atmospheric and geological interference.

A. Carter

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Tilo King Character Portrait: Callie Winters Character Portrait: Mark Lawson Character Portrait: Dominic Fields Character Portrait: Richard Brand Character Portrait: Alison Carter
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

0.00 INK

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: Alison Carter Character Portrait: Rishi Sharma
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

0.00 INK

...

Did you not read the first three?