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Michael Rowan

The Hooligan

0 · 219 views · located in Zombie Apocalypse

a character in “The Days That Follow”, as played by Messiah

Description

Name:
Michael Rowan. It wasn't uncommon that he went by "Mike" and rarely "Mikey" - there were only a select few that he let call him that.

Age:
24.

Birthday:
October 5th, 1989.

Place of birth:
Boston, Massachusetts.

Parents:
Dominic and Kelly Rowan.

Siblings:
Shane and Abigail Rowan.

What was important to the people who raised him:
Growing up in a fairly large family that included blood relatives, non-blood relatives, and close family friends that were considered family, Michael and his siblings were taught the importance of family, friends, and loyalty to the people they care about.

Economic/social status growing up:
Throughout his life, the economic status of Michael and his siblings fluctuated. While in Boston, they were fairly well off, due to their father's position in the mob. When they moved to Dublin, they were slightly less well off, but still lived in a stable home. Finally, in London, without the overall support structure, he and his siblings fell into the lower middle class.

Ethnic background:
Both of his parents originated from the Emerald Isle, having met in Dublin. As such, he is of complete Irish descent.

Places lived:
Michael was born in Boston and, for the first thirteen years of his life, lived there as well. After an incident that led to the deaths of both of his parents, he and his siblings moved to Dublin to live with their grandparents. After his younger sister finished high school, he moved to London, living with both of his siblings.

Education:
Michael graduated high school, mostly at the insistence of his grandparents, since he had little interest in school at large.

Favorite subject in school:
In school, he always seemed to do well with geometry. It helped when he took up construction jobs after graduating. Physical education too, since it was easy and fun.

Special training:
While he was still in Boston, his parents decided to take him to boxing lessons, which were, in part, intended to help keep him away from the criminal life. Through observation as well as some more hands-on training, Michael also learned how to fight using weapons and his own body. It wasn't any kind of formal training, though, but instead a more pragmatic style (which some might call dirty fighting), considering that boxing wasn't all that useful in the real world.

Jobs:
After graduating high school in Dublin, he was a construction worker. When he and his siblings moved to London, he continued to work construction primarily, but he was also hired on the side to work at a bar that was owned by someone from the Irish mafia, which meant that those were many of the people he saw and interacted with, including his own brother. This was mainly so Shane could keep an eye on his younger brother.

Travel:
Moved from Boston to Dublin when he was an adolescent, and then from Dublin to London as a young adult, but never traveled anywhere beyond that until the outbreak.

Friends:
Most of Michael's friends growing up were children of people who worked for and worked with his father in Boston. Likewise in London, most of his friends were people who either worked at the bar or were frequent patrons, which usually meant they were connected to the Irish mafia in some manner. The only respite he got was in Dublin, where his friends primarily came from school and his job working construction.

How do people view this character:
Before everything that happened, other people usually saw Michael as sometimes too emotional and potentially volatile. Either that, or a devoted friend.

Lived with:
His parents, his grandparents, his siblings, and then himself.

Fights with:
He's fought with just about everybody he's come into contact with at some point or another, though it doesn't always come to a physical confrontation. But, sometimes it does. When they were first living in London, Michael got into a fight with his brother because he'd called him "Little Mikey". The confrontation ended up a full-blown fist fight that had to be broken up by Abigail.

Spends time with:
Not many people these days.

Wishes to spend time with:
His family, even if that's all but impossible now.

Who depends on him and why:
Nobody right now.

What people does he most admire:
In some ways, he admires his father and his brother the most for their dedication to their families. Moreso, he admires his sister the most, who he saw as a better person, even being in the middle of people associated with the mafia as she was.

Enemies:
Growing up in an Irish mafia family, he had many enemies just by association. This includes the people responsible for the deaths of his parents.

Dating, marriage:
None at the moment.

Children:
None.

Religious Beliefs:
Michael grew up in a heavily Catholic family, which was particularly exemplified by his grandparents. He finds it exceedingly hard to believe as time passes on, but he still keeps a crucifix necklace around his neck at most times, just as a reminder of his old life.

Overall outlook on life:
Not very good. He often struggles with finding purpose, but he keeps going despite it.

Does this character like himself:
Only sometimes.

What, if anything, would he like to change about his life:
Being in a family associated with the Irish mafia. He does love his family, but if they hadn't been that way, he would have been spared many deaths.

What personal demons haunt him:
Having not been able to do more to keep his sister alive. Part of him feels guilty over her death. Part of him also regrets what happened as a result of her death.

Is he lying to himself about something:
Probably.

Optimistic/pessimistic:
Pessimistic, for the most part.

Real/feigned:
His emotions are real, but he doesn't often share certain things about himself, usually regarding his past.

Morality level:
In general, pretty pragmatic. There are exceptions, such as if someone he cares about is in danger. But, he can be pretty ruthless, particularly to people who hurt those he cares for.

Confidence level:
Headstrong and sometimes reckless, he's pretty confident in his own abilities. From 1-10, he would probably rate around a 7, maybe an 8.

Typical day:
Pre-apocalypse: Get up. Shower. Breakfast. Go to work. Haul around heavy objects and get yelled at by his asshole boss. Lunch. More hauling around heavy objects. Get home late. Dinner. Bed. Rinse, repeat.
Post-apocalypse: Wake up. Contemplate going back to sleep. Get up. Go out and look for anything to salvage. Kill Zeds. Get back. Lie around, contemplating suicide. Go to sleep. Rinse, repeat.

Physical appearance:

Image

Height: 6' (approximately 183 cm)
Weight: 170 lbs. (approximately 77 kg)

Body type:
Working in manual labor and with heavy objects basically from the time he graduated until the time of the outbreak has left him with a fairly strong build. Running and fighting since then has only helped matters in that regard. Though strong, he's not going to be mistaken for someone who was an athlete before the outbreak.

Posture:
He positions himself mostly straight, but with a slight bend to his back.

Head shape, Eyes, Nose, Mouth, Hair, Skin:

Image

Tattoos/piercings/scars:
Nothing discernable except a Celtic knot with the words 'Familia Supra Omnia' encircling it tattooed on his left shoulder/upper arm area.

This is what the Celtic knot looks like:
Image

Voice:
Strong and forceful with a slight but noticeable Bostonian and Irish tinge to it.

What people notice first:
People have often commented that he has striking eyes, but failing that, they usually notice his accent when he speaks.

Clothing:
He's always believed in function over fashion, and that's no different now. It just happens that function is even more important. In general, he doesn't wear anything special, just the regular t-shirts, jeans, boots, jackets, sweatshirts, etc.

How would he describe himself:
"I'm a guy who might take a little while to trust you, and God help you if you betray that trust. But, if you don't, you're stuck with me. For better or worse."

Health/disabilities/handicaps:
Mike has suffered some injuries throughout his time boxing, and from getting into fights with people, though none of them have had particularly lingering effects, save for a slight limp that acts up occasionally. It's a result of getting a particularly bad sprain in his ankle that he received while doing some training. He smoked occasionally.

Personality type:
Choleric primarily.

Strongest/weakest character traits:
Michael is loyal, prideful, protective, stubborn, and headstrong.

How can the flip side of his strong point be a weakness:
If exploited, one can turn his loyalty and his honesty back on him, same goes for his protective nature. His pride and his stubbornness, and his headstrong nature can also easily lead to recklessness, putting him in situations he cannot get out of on his own.

How much self-control and self-discipline does he have:
Below average. On a scale of 1-10, probably a 3. Maybe a 4 max. He has a tendency to get emotional and to sometimes let his emotions get the better of him.

What makes him irrationally angry:
Insults to his pride, his family, his friends, whether stated outright or implied or by action. Saying (or implying) he's a liar when he's not lying.

What makes him cry:
Losing loved ones. When his sister died, he spent more than a day crying, drinking, and taking out his anger on the dead.

Fears:
Most of his fears have taken a back-seat to the fear of dying alone, and the fear of turning into one of the walking dead.

Talents/Skills:
Michael is particularly good at building and maintaining structures - quite a potentially useful skill in the world now. He has also demonstrated to himself a few times that he knows how to get in and out of somewhere without attracting the attention of everyone and everything around him. He first found this out when he was still in high school, and he snuck broke into a house of an acquaintance and stole some CDs. He was never caught.

What people like best about him:
For people he used to know, it was his determination and his loyalty to the people he cares for. If he cares enough for you, he'll go to the ends of the earth for you.

Interests and favorites:
Michael is particularly interested in knowing how things work and how they're built, which is how he became to work in construction, but to become an engineer or an architect, it normally required a more extensive education than he had and was willing to put forth. He's also a fan of movies, music, and football - particularly Shamrock Rovers F.C.

Political leaning:
Somewhere in the middle.

Collections:
Back where he lived, he had a pretty sizeable record collection that he would play from time to time on his record player, which he received as a gift from his parents when he was young.

Favorite Food, drink:
Bacon (he prefers the American variety) and most kinds of hard alcohol.

Music:
Punk and rock music were Michael's favorites. Similar to his interests in movies (see below), he really enjoyed some of the classic rock and punk music, in addition to some newer things.

Books:
He didn't often read. While living with his grandparents, he often read the Bible, mostly because he was forced to. More recently, he had some interest in sci-fi books.

Movies:
To him, movies were an escape from work and life. Most of the time, he preferred to watch action movies with plot as merely an obligatory addition and not necessarily good. He also had a particular fondness for older movies starring Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen. Dirty Harry and Bullitt were his favorites from each respective actor.

Sports, recreation:
He started boxing while living in Boston and continued to box throughout his life, up until the outbreak. It helped him get out some of his aggression.

Did he play in school:
Boxing wasn't offered in school, and he pursued boxing outside of it, but he enjoyed playing football (both the American variety and otherwise), and participated in both in school (the American variety not outside of America, obviously), but wasn't interested or good enough to continue afterwards.

Color:
Blue.

Best way to spend a weekend:
Wake up late. Watch TV. Get drunk. Maybe go out drinking or out fighting (

A great gift for this person:
New boxing gloves, or some new music.

Pets:
None.

Vehicles:
Working in construction, he often had to carry various tools and other large objects, so he had a pickup truck to haul things, which his brother had helped him buy.

What large possessions did he own and which did he like best:
He didn't have many large possessions, save for his truck, a vehicle he would really like to have access to now. Other than that, he definitely misses his record player, which he had to leave behind for the sake of convenience.

Typical expressions:
His most neutral expression is just that - neutral, though there is a definite downturn of his lips, hinting at slight, ever-present anger. One may describe it more as a serious look. But, he generally wears his emotions on his sleeves, so you'll know it if he's actually angry.

When happy:
Smiles. Grins. What else does anybody do when they're happy?

When angry:
It depends on how angry and what the context is. He may yell, throw something, hit something, or he may even get physically violent with someone. But, he also may have a more controlled reaction, such as a simple scolding, or maybe storm out to stew. The latter is more likely to happen with people he knows and cares about than with people he doesn't, unless under more extreme circumstances. He might also do some posturing, get right in someone's face, puff out his chest, maybe give them a little shove.

When frustrated:
Growls, grunts, mutters to himself. If there's someone around at the time, he may vocalize his frustrations to them.

When sad:
Goes off, maybe on his own, to pout. Unless it's a heavy loss, then he might cry, but he doesn't often cry.

Idiosyncrasies:
When he's angry about something, but is deciding whether or not to say anything, he usually puts the palm of one of his hands over his mouth and moves it downwards over his chin. The longer he takes deciding, the more he times he repeats the process.

Laughs or jeers at:
People who get what they deserve.

Ways to cheer up this person:
Share a drink with him, talk music, talk football - especially if those last two are combined with the first one. Sometimes the best way to let him cheer up is to let him do it on his own.

Ways to annoy this person:
Calling him Mikey, wallowing and acting like everything is hopeless, instead of actually doing something about it.

Hopes and dreams:
To find somewhere stable and safe where he can find structure and direction, maybe a family.

How does he see himself accomplishing these dreams:
Killing threats, living or dead.

What’s the worst thing he’s ever done to someone and why:
Pre-apocalypse: He once got suspended (and nearly expelled) for beating a kid unconscious for calling his sister a whore.
Post-apocalypse: He tortured and killed the man he saw as responsible for Abigail's death.

Greatest success:
Winning a boxing tournament while in high school, living with his grandparents in Ireland.

Biggest trauma:
Having to euthanize his sister after she'd been bitten.

Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to him:
While he was working a construction job in London, he lost his balance and nearly fell to the ground, but his pant leg caught on a screw that was protruding from the woodwork. Although the screw probably saved his life, it ripped a massive hole in his pants, which he had to use duct tape to mend, at least until the day was over. Needless to say, he didn't hear the end of it, not for more than two weeks after that.

What does he care about most in the world:
Family and friends. But, since he's scarce on both at the moment, he cares most about finding direction in a world that seems to offer no clear direction.

Does he have a secret:
Yes. More than one. He doesn't like to talk much about his life before he arrived.

If he could do one thing and succeed at it, what would it be:
Kill every last dead bastard that was roaming around out there (and some living bastards too)

He is the kind of person who:
You definitely want in your corner when push comes to shove. His fighting ability, strength, and raw tenacity (especially if you've gotten his trust and respect) make him an invaluable asset.

How is the character ordinary or extraordinary:
An Irishman who's good at fighting? Can you say cliche?

Core Need:
Love and respect.

Anecdote:
The chatter and the clatter of the bar that served as the location of Michael's side job was all too familiar. Except now, he wasn't working. He was just there for a few drinks. As he approached the bar, he gave a nod to the bartender, a man in his mid-forties, whose dark hair and goatee were just beginning to show signs of gray.

"Hey Tom."

"Hey Mike. What can I get'cha?"

"Gimme a pint, would you? Thanks. I don't care what, just as long as it ain't shit."

Tom nodded and got a pint glass and began to fill it up. "Jim says it's getting worse out there."

"What a load of shit," Michael scoffed, "Jim doesn't know what the hell he's talking about."

"I don't know..." Tom said, his voice lilting upwards slightly as he set the pint of beer in front of Michael.

"You watch. In a week or two, it'll be like none of this ever happened." Michael took a drink from it almost immediately.

"People are dying."

Michael scoffed again, and took another drink, "People die everyday."

Tom shook his head and went back to work silently, cleaning glasses and wiping off the counter-top. Michael turned around in his seat to look at the modest crowd that had gathered. Most of them were people he recognized; people who were either in with the owners of the place or they knew someone who was or they were just regulars. It was an open secret amongst the people who worked here that it was owned by someone who was in with the Adams Family. Even though Shane was no longer around, Mike still hung around the place. They paid him and protected him, and besides, he felt like he had some kind of attachment to them because of their past relationship with his brother.

It was then that Al, a light-haired man in his thirties with a beard - and another bartender, walked into the bar, holding his left arm. He looked around conspicuously before approaching the bar, giving Michael a nod and addressing Tom.

"Tom, you got some bandages or something? Some bastard attacked me a couple blocks back. He bit me." With a nod, Tom went to the back room to fetch some bandages.

"Bit you?" Michael asked, looking over to Al, an eyebrow raised incredulously.

"Yeah." Al moved his hand from his arm slightly, allowing Mike to get a look at the wound. It was swollen and bleeding.

"Jesus. He bit you hard."

"I know. But, it's not that bad. I just need to wrap it up and let it heal on its own." He put his hand back over the wound and nodded his thanks to Tom when the latter returned with some of those large bandages with sticky edges. Al took one and wrapped up the bite. "There's a cot in the back, right? Feels like it's been ages since I slept."

"Yeah. Go ahead." Tom motioned over his shoulder with his head.

"Thanks. If I'm not up in half an hour, come wake me up. I have to be back home soon."

"Will do." Tom replied, watching Al leave. Once Al was out of earshot, he turned towards Mike. "Looked like a pretty bad bite. What happened?"

"I got no fucking idea. All he said was some asshole attacked him."

"By biting him?"

Michael shrugged, "I hope he kicked the guy's ass."

"You don't think that's a little weird?"

"For fuck's sake, Tom. He was an asshole who doesn't know how to fight, so he bit Al."

"Something's up." Tom said, shaking his head, a frown crossing his features.

"Jesus. Shut the fuck up about it already!" Michael retorted, raising his voice.

It was clear that the whole thing was bothering Tom, a distant look in his eyes as he began to clean up around the bar without saying anything else. Once again, Michael turned around to see that a few of the bar patrons had turned their attention to the two at the bar when Mike raised his voice, but they were quick to avert their gaze once he'd turned around.

A little over half an hour later, Tom spoke up again, "I'm going to get Al up," he announced.

"Fine," Michael answered, waving a dismissive hand in the bartender's direction.

A minute or two, a commotion rose from the back room, and he heard Tom shout. The bar then went quiet. Reacting quickly, Michael jumped up from his seat and bolted to the back room. He shoved the door open just in time to see Al, who looked much worse than he did half an hour previous, leap onto Tom, take him down, and sink his teeth into the older bartender's neck. Blood sprayed everywhere as Tom gurgled out his last breath.

"Fucking Christ!" Mike shouted, causing the deathly-looking Al to raise his eyes to him. Al's pupils were clouded and the whites of his eyes were blood-shot. Distracted from Tom's body, Al stood up and began to make his way towards Mike, a snarl escaping his curled lips as he did.

Having seen what he'd just done to Tom, who had probably ben Al's best friend, Michael wasn't going to stick around. He bolted back out the door and pressed his weight against it to keep Al from coming through. By now, the attention of the entire bar was now on him and the door. Some of the had even stood up and had moved closer to the door to hear better. Behind him, Al began to pound on the door, earning a surprised yelp from some of the female patrons at the bar.

Michael looked to the man nearest the bar, a man he'd seen around several times before, though he figured the man was just a regular. His name was Nathan. "Hey!" he called to Nathan, "There's an axe under the bar. I need it!" Nathan nodded and moved towards the bar. "The rest of you!" Mike shouted, directing his attention to the rest of the patrons at the bar, "We're closed!" Everyone continued to stare, as the pounding on the door behind him continued, "You think I'm fucking joking? Get the fuck out!" The eyes of the patrons went wide as if they'd only just registered what he said and they stood up and, within another minute, they were all gone. Except for Nathan, who was holding out the fire axe to Mike, which he took.

"Stand back!" Mike ordered, stepping away from the door and turning around at the same time. The suddenness of his movement knocked Nathan off-balance for a moment. The door swung open and Al fell to the floor. "Son of a bitch!" Mike growled, raising the weapon up above his head. With a slight bit of hesitation, he finally brought the weapon down into the back of Al's skull. Afterwards, he turned towards Nathan.

Nathan watched, his eyes wide in horror, "What happened?"

"Jesus, I don't fucking know. He went back to take a nap, and then Tom went back to wake him up. I hear sounds of a fight or something coming from the room. The next thing I see, Al's jumping on top of Tom, tearing out his neck."

"He's dead?" Nathan asked, horror still etched on his features.

Michael had seen it happen a few times in his life. There was no way that Tom could have lost that much blood and still lived. He simply nodded.

Nathan sat down, shaking his head in disbelief. "God. It all happened so fast."

At that moment, a growl came from the room he'd just come out of. the back room. Michael turned back around in time to see Tom shambling out of the room, a grievous wound on his neck where Al had taken a chunk out of him. The surrounding area around the wound was still wet with blood.

"What the fuck is going on around here?" This time, it was Michael's job to be incredulous. He was sure that he'd seen Tom die. There was no way he could have survived. But, there he was, walking towards them, and snarling. Now, he noticed, there was a definite resemblance between Tom's current appearance and Al's, including clouded irises and blood-shot eyes.

Something was definitely going on here. Tom had been right.

Michael raised the weapon up again and prepared to swing...

History:
The rest of it, you'll just have to wait and find out.

So begins...

Michael Rowan's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Aisha Karimi Character Portrait: NPCs Character Portrait: Michael Rowan
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#, as written by Messiah
Gas Required

Collaboration with Black Hoodie


Part One: New Faces, New Places


June 26th, 2014

Around 6:00 AM


When the sun finally rose on Chol Castle, Michael was already awake. But soon, he would have no more reason to keep lying around. That was one of the problems with living with a big group like this; they expected you to do things and to be a responsible member of the group. He couldn't just go around doing his own thing, minding his own business. Not anymore. It wasn't for a lack of trying, though. A few people had come up to him and tried to ask about him since he arrived, but he had only told them to "piss off" and nothing else. What the hell did they expect? Even in the two or so months since everything had gone to shit, things were rough. Why would they expect people to want to talk about those things?

And then, of course, every time he saw them from then on, they looked at him like he was the one who was at fault. God damn idiots.

Regardless, the other night, he'd gotten wind that some people would be sent out on runs, and he figured he would be one of the ones included. It was just as well, since there was no way he was going to be able to sit around forever - that much was obvious. As much as he complained, he knew that it would take effort to keep things up around here. Besides, if he just sat around doing nothing, what reason was there to keep him around? He would just be another mouth to feed without contributing anything. In that case, kicking him out would be the only smart thing to do, he knew that, and he didn't particularly feel like being out on his own again. For now, he'd just have to grin and bear it.

Michael rolled out of bed and pressed his feet down against the cool floor and stood. With a yawn and a stretch, he picked out some clothes from a pile and got dressed. It was chilly, especially for the summer months, but it was nothing he couldn't handle. He'd grown up in New England, and the winters there could get pretty bad. They often did, in fact. Still, he grabbed a slightly wrinkled red zip-up hooded sweatshirt and pulled it on over his t-shirt. And then, as he turned towards his backpack, he grumbled, lamenting the loss of the tools he'd brought with him. It was for the good of the group, he'd been told, that they have the tools in case they needed them. He'd still be the one they'd ask to use them anyway.

He still had the fire axe from his first encounter at the bar he was working at when this all started, but if often proved itself to be slow and unwieldy, at least compared to the hatchet that he now had on his belt - a valuable weapon that he'd found on his way up here, which had proved to be able to do just about anything the larger two-handed axe could do but better. At least in most cases.

So, he picked up his backpack and turned towards the door. With all he needed in-hand for the day, he left his room and made his way to the kitchen where a cheery woman greeted him. She'd introduced herself a while back as Alia.

"Hi!"

Michael simply grunted in response, but she was still as cheery as before.

"I made breakfast. Want some?" She nodded towards one of the bowls of porridge she had nearby.

He looked between her and the bowl. Porridge. Not his favorite, but he wasn't going to turn down free food, so he uttered an affirmative and took the bowl. Quickly, he ate the contents of the bowl and set the remains in the sink before he finally headed outside.

After a few minutes of wandering around outside, Mike finally found what he was looking for, an indication of what they were being asked to do. One of the jobs caught his eye in particular; retrieve propane for the generators. Seemed that this was his best choice, and he took down the piece of paper with the details of the job written on it.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Aisha enjoyed staying up late, and as a result usually ended up sleeping in. At least, that’s how it was before the outbreak. Ever since then, ever since danger constantly loomed over her shoulder, Aisha couldn’t sleep in, let alone sleep well. She woke up slightly before the sun began to cast its light over the horizon, but didn’t get out of bed right away. Fatigue from lack of sleep was really starting to get to her. She couldn’t help it really, what with all the things that have happened since she left the farm. After tossing and turning a few times, she groaned and pushed herself out of bed.

“At least they actually have beds.” She whispered to nobody in particular. That, and private rooms. With doors. And big stone walls.
Aisha let out a long groan as she stretched, trying to get the restlessness out of her bones. The room was barely lit, with the sun trying to pry its way through the windows. She kept the curtains mostly closed, and kept the lights off most of the time. Candles wouldn't bring as much attention at night if somebody were looking for trouble. That, and she preferred her food to be cooked in the kitchen. Fuel could be put to better use in the kitchen than to light the rooms when it was dark.
With a quick crack of her neck, she commenced her daily routine: stretches, calisthenics, inspect her gear, get dressed. It became a ritual she had stuck to, which helped immensely in recent times. She hasn't come across too many obese people during the last two months, and with good reason. The oversized targets probably saved her from catching any unwanted attention from the recently deceased. Or raised. Whatever. Once she was finished inspecting her gear, the sun had risen enough to shine through her curtains, casting a dull glow against the opposite wall. With the new light, she made her way over to the large, antique looking mirror. A deep sigh escaped her as she shook her head. All the thoughts from the night before came rushing back to her, the whispers of people going outside of the walls to acquire supplies at the forefront of her mind. When she was on watch the night before, Antonio came to the fortifications to see how she was doing. He brought up a valid point about the finite amount of supplies they had at the castle, and that they would likely need to acquire more at some point. Aisha knew what he was doing, in his roundabout fashion, and had simply said that she'd go. Of course, staring into the mirror, she was feeling regret about her decision. Memories of fear and adrenaline were all coming back to her. She would have to go back out there...

She shook her head, snapping out of the daydream. It wouldn't help matters to dwell on things. With another heavy sigh, she turned away from the mirror. Ever since her incident, she has forced herself to look in the mirror every morning. She didn't like to see herself the way she was now, but it was just another hurdle she had to overcome.
"Vanity isn't going to help anything when people are trying to eat your face off" She muttered. When she first came to the castle, she was covered entirely, from head to toe in clothing. Not even her eyes could be seen through her mask. It was extremely suspicious with her keeping all covered up the way she was, and in order to gain Antonio's trust, she discarded the face she showed the world for the face she hid underneath. He was the first person she actually spoke to in two whole months, and her voice at the time was weak, and even cracked when she spoke. She didn't wear her mask inside the castle, and so she attempted to avoid contact with the others. Only Antonio and Cameron had really seen her face, and a few others have heard her speak, her preference for ducking out of view taking preference over any meaningful contact. Antonio mentioned to her, before they parted that night, that there was a possibility that she would have to work with another resident of the castle. Not only would she have to go back outside, she might even have to introduce herself to somebody else.
"Whatever. Let's get this over with."

Aisha turned away from the mirror and resumed her ritual. When all was said and done, she was dressed in the red camo pants, which were more for comfort than anything. Her black hoodie came with a built-in poncho and had a massive hood she could put up to block out glare from the sun. Her boots and her gloves were what really accented her tough-girl look; carbon-fibre reinforced Kevlar and leather gloves for riding motorcycles, and a pair of functional tie up combat boots she picked up at curio shop. Preferring to keep her face as covered as possible without actually covering up, she had wrapped her shemagh around her neck. Since she was leaving the protective walls of the castle, her mask hung at her left hip, tied to her belt. Content with her coverage, Aisha grabbed her backpack, her screwdrivers, and her makeshift wrench-chucks. With her pack and her weapons ready, she made her way down the hall and towards the kitchen. Normally, she'd have waited until the kitchen had cleared out before grabbing herself a quick bite to eat, but since she had a mission to complete, she couldn't get picky. She walked into the room and saw Alia cleaning some dishes in the sink. Without saying a word, Aisha moved to the stove and made herself a bowl of slop.

"Oh!" Alia exclaimed. "You snuck up on me!" she said with a smile.

"My bad" Aisha replied, her voice tense, her head turned away. "I'm just going to grab this and go." She continued quickly, before she turned completely away from Alia. She took a seat with her back to the woman and scarfed down the meal like it was her last.

"Worked up an appetite?" The woman seemed to be in an unnaturally good mood. She gave Aisha the creeps.

"Sure. Here you go." She said flatly before depositing the bowl in the sink, and shirking out of the room to avoid any further contact with the woman. Antonio never mentioned where to go to look for the missions, so Aisha wandered around for a bit. At first she looked around inside the halls, but failing to find anything of note, she decided to take a gander outside. Perhaps there was some sort of bulletin board by the gate or something? As she stepped outside, she unclipped her paintball mask from her belt and strapped it to her face. It was a sort of unintentional habit she developed post-zombie apocalypse, but it calmed her down for when she needed to focus. As she made her way down the steps, she tucked her hair back beneath her paintball shemagh, so that she was entirely covered up. It wasn't until she looked up that she saw a man staring at some paper. Ugh, do I really have to?" Aisha thought to herself. Although she was hoping that it wasn't what she thought it was, deep down she wanted to say hello. She had seen the man around the castle a few times, but never really spoke to him. She never spoke to anybody for that matter. It was time to dig deep, back to her roots.

"Hey!" She blurted out, with a slight wave of her hand. "Name's Aisha. Is this where we're supposed to go to for the missions? Antonio never told me where it was he'd be setting this up." She was a bit worried that she came off a bit too strong, sounding almost like that chef girl in the kitchen. Of course, she had forgotten that she was wearing her mask. "Damnit! Hopefully I didn't come off too strange. Ah, who am I kidding/? I'm a new-age Michael Myers as far as other people are concerned." She thought, eagerly anticipating his response.

Michael turned around at the sound of a voice. For a while, he didn't say anything, instead just taking in the sight of its owner, all covered up. Even her face. It was that that caught his attention to begin with. A mask with a skull painted on it. He folded his arms across his chest, holding out the piece of paper towards her that he had in his hand, "Seems that way. Take a look for yourself." He took a step to the side, giving her room to look at the board, in addition to the piece of paper he'd offered her.

He wasn't quite sure what to make of her yet, only that the way she was dressed, with her mask, meant that she was planning on going out. Since he hadn't noticed anybody else approaching, he figured that he might end up having to go out on this job with her. Whether he would get along with her, it was hard to say, but he wouldn't show too much of himself. Not yet. Not when you could be dead in a few hours time.

For now, he'd just have to wait and see.

Aisha acknowledged him with a quick nod, taking hold of the paper and bringing it up to read. It mentioned another group of people holding dominion over the area that was intended to be raided for resources. That was something that brought back some memories of a time long passed. She stood there for a moment, thinking about the mission details, before offering the paper back to the man. Curiously, he never mentioned his name. It was probably for the same reason that Aisha didn't like to show her face. One of them, anyways.

"Yup. Seems that way indeed." She took a quick glance in both directions. "Nobody else is around. Did you want a hand with this one? It mentions the ideal number is two."

Michael sighed and shrugged, stuffing the piece of paper into his pocket, "Why the fuck not. I'm not really interested in becoming someone's lunch. Not today, at least." He smirked in her direction, "Tomorrow? We'll see. Two heads are better than one, right?" He commented dryly as he hiked up his backpack and turned towards the gates of the castle, "Got anything else you need to take care of? I'm headed to the gates. The sooner we get to it, the sooner we're done."

Truth be told, it might end up being a long day. Going to town and back with bikes and carrying propane tanks with them would probably be time-consuming anyway, but now they had to worry about the dead, and maybe even the living - these guys who called themselves the Crusaders. Who the hell comes up with these names, anyway? What better to name a group after than a group of Christians who traveled thousands of miles, slaughtering everyone they came across along the way, right? That sure gives everyone a good first impression.

Aisha gave a half-smile inside her mask as the man jested.
"Unless they're attached to the same person, I would imagine so. I don't have anything else that needs tending to, so we can make like babies and head out." Aisha turned away from the man, and began to walk towards the gates. While she was walking, she turned her head and inquired about the other faction. "Have you ever met one of these 'Crusaders' before?" She hadn't dealt with many large groups before she came to the castle, mostly just zombies and thugs, both of which she tried to avoid. She didn't want to start any trouble with another group, and thought it was a bit ironic that they were about to go and 'unofficially' steal from them. The more information she had about them, the better.

"Nope. Never met them. Kept to myself since I got here." He approached the gates, "I'd rather keep it that way," he added.


Part Two: The Morning Commute

Around 6:45 AM


When she made it to the gates, Aisha noticed the two tanks sitting on the ground, each with a one inch ratchet strap sitting on each of them. Next to the tanks were a number of bicycles and several vehicles, making it look like Antonio, or somebody else with a head on their shoulders, had planned to disperse in the case of trouble. Without any pause, she grabbed one of the tanks and the accompanying strap, and began working on attaching it to the rack on the nearest bike. It was a bit annoying to have to heft one of those around, especially when murderous intent was lurking behind every tree.
"So, they mentioned the place was in a small warehouse yard. I don't know this part of Britain very well, if you can't tell by my accent. Do you know where this outdoor tank might be? Or even where this invisible line dividing the Crusader's territory is?"

He hefted up the other propane tank and copied Aisha, attaching it to the rack. "If I had to guess, it's probably like other places - around the back of the building," he remarked, a bit of. sarcasm leaking into his words. "No idea where the line is. At least that way, if we get caught, we can act like we didn't know we were in their territory." He'd rather they not get caught at all, but it was good to have some sort of back-up plan, at least. For all they knew, these Crusaders could be the kind of group that looks for any excuse to start something. Itchy trigger fingers. Mike had definitely come across his fair share of them since this all started, even if it hadn't been all that long.

"Right." Aisha whipped her map out of her backpack, double checking where they were going. She made a quick note of where it was, folded up her map, and stashed it.

Once they had everything ready, they headed out the gates of Chol Castle. For a while, it was silent as he wheeled his bicycle along the road with Aisha just a little ways behind. Occasionally, he would glance back, each time expecting himself to say something, but each time, nothing came out. He didn't quite know where to start. Anything he'd ask, he was unlikely to answer himself if he were asked. Maybe just start simple.

Finally, he spoke up, "Michael, by the way."

"Took you long enough" Aisha thought. She didn't put it in such harsh wording when she spoke aloud. "Nice to finally meet you, Michael." His accent was a bit strange. Aisha figured it was as good a time as any to start some sort of conversation. "Where you from?" She asked casually, as if the apocalypse wasn't a thing. They had a while before they came anywhere near the town, so maybe she could find out more about the people living in the castle with her. Never hurts.

Briefly, images of his old life flashed through his mind. Family. Friends. And then he gave his answer. "Grew up in Boston and I was living in London when all this shit went down. I also lived in Dublin at one point. Yourself?" He figured it wouldn't hurt to tell her, even if either of them ended up dead by the time the day was over. It's not like that told her much about him. Other than where he was from.

It was one thing to be the one asking the question, but it was a bit different to be on the receiving end. Her mind went blank, and she just started talking. Some habits were harder to break than others.
"I'm originally from Saudi, but I lived most of my life in Canada eh. Much colder than this place most of the time. Comes in handy." She paused for a half-second. "I was living up here on a farm most recently. Have to say, I could have picked worse places to be during times like these." She wasn't sure if he was catching most of what she was saying she was talking so fast, nearly mashing words together. Maybe it was just due to actually having somebody to talk with, instead of the half-hearted attempts she's had with Cameron and Antonio. "I heard London was pretty bad." She kept moving along at a decent pace, trying to stay close.

"Explains the accent then, don't it?" He smirked, "Ever seen a New England winter? Those can get pretty shit." It was a rhetorical question, just for the sake of making conversation. And then she mentioned London. He didn't respond to that for a few moments, and then finally, he nodded, "Yeah. It was pretty bad. Lots of people died. I was lucky to get out." He thought back to his time in London; part of his life that he would much rather forget and move on from - at least after the apocalypse started. "Would've liked to be at a farm when all this started, instead of the biggest god damn city on the island," he said bitterly, scowling at the ground in front of the tires of his bicycle.

When Michael's tone changed, Aisha began to regret asking about London. She was regretting saying anything more and more as he went on. She wanted to offer some sort of consolation, but stopped herself. What would be the point? Sure, she may have stepped on a sore point, but everybody had their moments. Everybody had experienced some sort of loss. What could she possibly offer him to make things better? Mentally she scolded herself. "Fuck. You just had to open your damn mouth..."
For the remainder of their bike ride, Aisha decided to hold her tongue, lest she say something to worsen the wounds she may have just re-opened for Michael.

Michael noticed her silence and his scowl deepened. He wasn't a child. She didn't need to tip-toe around him. But, still - what did she expect? He didn't say anything about her time at whatever farm she was at. He didn't have to. She wasn't there anymore. Obviously something happened that caused her to leave. If he'd asked about it, he wouldn't expect her to react any differently. At the very least, he wouldn't expect her to answer. With a scoff, he shook his head, but he held his tongue. It wasn't something he was accustomed to doing, but he found himself doing it more and more recently, especially in the last couple months. Nobody wanted to hear it, and everybody was armed. Too many times he had to keep quiet when he didn't want to, just because he might get fed to the dead if he didn't.

Up ahead, he spotted some movement and he stopped, and glanced back, "Hold up," he said to Aisha, waiting to see what the noise was. From out of the trees emerged a pair of zeds, groaning. They ambled from the trees and into the road. It took a moment or two but they finally turned and faced the living pair and immediately picked up their pace. Michael kicked out the bike's stand and stepped away from it, backing up to give himself enough time and room to act.

He drew his hatchet and raised it in preparation to swing as the closest zed moved towards him. As it neared, it held out his arms, bared its teeth, and lunged at him. But, he was prepared. He took another step back and it stumbled slightly, having over-stepped itself before he brought his hatchet down, burying it into the top of its skull. The limp weight of its body fell and dislodged itself from the hatchet and hit the ground heavily.

When the pair of figures emerged from the tree line, Aisha shook her head.
"[i[Already crawling out of the cracks?[/i]" She slowed down and imitated Michael, dropping her kickstand and stepping away from her bike. She took a quick look behind them, checking to see if anything was going to sneak up on them while they dealt with the shufflers. Content with their surroundings, she turned back and watched as Michael dispatched the first shuffler. "No hesitation hey? That'll come in handy." Her thoughts continued as she took out her nunchaku imitation. She wasn't really proficient with any sort of chained or linked weapon, and she wasn't flashy like all those martial arts chuckers, but she couldn't deny the sheer crushing power her weapon delivered. All she really needed was one clear shot. She stepped past Michael as his axe came dislodged, the fing fing fing of the wrench displacing air as she spun it up for extra momentum. With a wide arc over her head, she brought the business end down on the skull of her opponent, the wrench essentially cleaving its skull open on the first strike. The corpse fell forward, and Aisha stepped once to the side, letting gravity wrench her weapon out of its skull, just the way Michael had done with his axe. One, maybe two walkers she could handle herself, and with Michael's lack of hesitation, and his direct approach, she could tell it was the same way for him. They were lucky they weren't fresh though, it could've been a different story.

Aisha grabbed a rag out from her back pocked, and began wiping down the bloody wrench as she glanced around, making sure no more ghouls would pop out to attack them. Once her weapon was dry, she grabbed a wet nap from another pocket and gave it a quick second wipe down. One could not be too sure with those kinds of things. She stowed her wrench-chucks back into her belt, and proceeded to search the corpse. It looked like the corpse once belonged to a lumberjack or something, the plaid flannel coat lending itself to the image. Nothing but a wallet full of lost memories, a set of keys, a broken cell phone, and a handful of cash. She left the wallet, cell phone, and keys on the ground beside what once used to be a man, and stashed the cash in her left side pocket. Paper money wasn't good for trading anymore, but it was good for burning and starting fires.

"What about yours?" She said without much emotion.

Michael turned towards his partner just in time to see her drop the other zed. Briefly, he smirked to himself, inwardly grateful he hadn't found himself with some blithering idiot who didn't know what the hell she was doing. But, he wasn't particularly surprised. You had to have some way of dealing with the dead. You didn't survive if you didn't.

He held his hatchet idle in his hand as he looked around, waiting a minute or two until he was fairly confident that nothing else was going to sneak up on them from the trees. Finally, he tucked his weapon back on his belt and hooked the toe of his boot between the dead man's chest and the pavement. For a moment or two, he just stared down at the thing, a look of contempt on his face. They showed no remorse to the living, so why should he show any remorse to them? Then, with a swift movement of his leg, he roughly flipped the body over onto its back and began to check the pockets. In addition to the pockets in his pants, the man was also wearing a fake leather jacket. By the way he patted the man down, he gave the impression that he'd done this a few times before. One of his front pockets held a wallet, which Michael searched through. There was no cash, no credit cards, no pictures. It held nothing but an identification card.

James Myers.

"Fucking bum," Michael scoffed, tossing the wallet away and continued his search. His other front pocket had an object which, when he pulled it out, revealed itself to be a multi-tool. "Could be useful," he commented idly, putting it into his own pocket. And then, as he felt along the body's chest and reached into one of the jacket pockets, he laughed and grinned to Aisha.

"I don't fucking believe it," he said, still grinning, as he pulled out a shiny metal flask and looked it over. He held it up to his ear and shook it. There was still some left. But, instead of taking a drink, he uncapped it and poured the remaining contents out onto the pavement. "God only knows what shit's in there. I'll scrub it out when we get back." He stood back up, "God damn good find, though."

Aisha walked back to her bike, watching Michael as he searched the body.
"Crude." Aisha's thought. "It looks like he knows what he's doing though. Police? Whatever, it's not like it matters. Not unless we run into more trouble." She moved swiftly back onto her bike, and pedaled up beside him.
"If you say so. That's kinda..." She shuddered a little, involuntarily thinking about where the flask had been. "Gross"

As she waited for him to return to his bike, she re-checked her map. They weren't far from the town.
"We're pretty close now. Nice to see you can take care of yourself, there's probably more of them in town. You ready?"

"I wouldn't have survived this long if I didn't know how to take care of myself," he said as he stepped back over to the other bike, "Of course there's more. There's always more. Let's go." In the few short moments between discovering the flask and returning to the bicycle, his tone had turned from muted excitement and turned towards almost flat annoyance - maybe even outright anger. Though, it wasn't really directed at her, just at the thought of finding more of those dumb dead bastards.

Aisha didn't have anything else pertinent to say, slightly bothered by her partner's attitude, and just kept pedaling till they came to the edges of outskirts of town.
"Maybe he's just on edge?".


Part Three: Brampton

Around 7:30 AM


When they approached, it was eerily quiet. It was always like that in all the horror movies she'd seen, right before the monsters started crawling out of the woodworks. She just hoped it wasn't going to turn out that way in real life. When she was close enough, she broke off the path and went up into the hilly area to her right, and parked the bike. She wanted to get a good view of the place first, instead of blindly heading in. Without checking to see if Michael was following her, she stepped off her bike and took her binoculars out from her pack. She wouldn't be able to see the whole town from her position, but her spot wasn't bad. She'd be able to see within the immediate area. There wasn't much activity; shufflers seemed to be dormant.
"Maybe they moved on?" A thought which brimmed with baseless hope.

"It looks all clear from what I can see. We'll be sailing smoothly for the first bit at least." She said aloud. "There doesn't look to be any industrial looking area's on this side though. Did you want to circle around?" She asked, pretty much expecting Michael to be nearby.

"Smooth sailing?" He glanced at her, his thought unfinished, but it was apparent by the look on his face that he wasn't particularly convinced. Like there was no such thing as 'smooth sailing' anymore. Everything always seemed to go bad. If he were a more well-read man, he might have quoted To a Mouse, but he wasn't. But, he didn't have to be well-read to know that plans can and often do go to shit. Still, there wasn't much choice in the matter but to keep going, so he nodded. "Yeah. Let's circle around, see what we see." He rested the bike against his hip and took a look around for himself, "Do we want to be wheeling these things around in the middle of town? Might just slow us down if we get into a situation we need to fight out of."

"Hmm. Not a bad idea. We can take a look around, and once we have an idea of where we're going, we can stow the bikes. Let's go."

After stowing her binoculars, Aisha jumped on her bike and began moving parallel with the edges of the town. She continued up and around, always glancing into the town trying to pin down a good point of entry. After nearly 10 minutes, she was on the opposite end of the town, and sighed in relief when she spotted an area that looked like it could house their objective. Once again, she stopped her bike, and took out her binoculars. After a few seconds of scanning, she found what looked to be their objective. The area surrounding it looked much like the first area she scanned with her bino's. It would be stupid to assume the place was empty, but if there was an apparent opening, they had to take advantage of it.

"Looks like we have the right place. I don't see any stiffs around though." She put the binoculars away, and unstrapped the propane tank. "Bike's gonna get in the way if we need to move fast. I'm gonna leave this here for the time being." She explained, gently setting the bike on its side. The path that seemed the best to take, providing the most cover if anything went wrong, looked a little winding, but it'd work for her. She paused, checking to see if Michael had any objections.

By the time she looked over, he had also begun to set down his own bike and soon unstrapped the propane tank from it as well. Apparently he had no objections, as he headed down towards the warehouse, holding the tank on his shoulder, motioning to her with the other. "The sooner, the better, right? I don't want to be here any longer than I need to."

"Right."

Without further conversation, Aisha moved in unison with Michael as they approached the large tank that had what they needed. It was mostly uneventful, for once, as they came close to the re-fill station. The station itself was just a large fenced in housing tank on a cement block, just across the parking lot from one of the industrial shops. It was nearly four or five blocks away from where the pair left their bicycles, which was a bit unsettling, but they had a clear field of vision of their immediate surroundings. If something popped out, they would know about it long before it became a threat. Aisha set her propane tank down as quietly as she could, and began to go to work filling them up. It wouldn't take long.

"Maybe this'll be easy. No more zombies, no more assholes, no more running for my life. Who knows? Maybe this Michael guy'll calm down, and we can kick back with a pair of beers to celebrate when we get back?" Aisha's thoughts began to wander as she finished filling her tank. She turned and grabbed Michael's tank, checking to make sure he was keeping watch. It wasn't really like they specified their roles beforehand, but they seemed to work well together so far.

He was keeping watch, his hatchet drawn, but resting near his side. His gaze was directed outside, towards the street. He puffed out his cheeks and sighed, he looked to Aisha as she filled up the tanks. As he was opening his mouth to say something to her, a sound from outside interrupted him. Quickly, he jerked his head back around and looked outside. Several zeds had wandered out from their hidey-holes and had decided to lounge in the middle of the street.

"Great. Something must've brought them out," he muttered, taking a step back from the door, just to avoid detection. Again, he directed his attention to his partner, his voice low, "Might want to pick it up. We've got company."

"Living or dead? Whatever, I just barely started filling this one, can you take care of it? I can meet you back at the bikes once I'm finished." She said in a hushed tone.

"I got this. I'll keep them busy. Just give it a minute or two." He didn't need to tell her to stay low and keep quiet until then. She'd made it this long. And if she drew attention to herself and got killed, that's on her, not him.


Part Four: On the Run

Around 8:15 AM


He stepped away from the filling station and into the street, eyeing the wobbly walkers out of the corner of his eye. This is where he really shined; either when he was on his own, or when he was allowed to take charge of a situation. When he turned towards them, he didn't do anything, just grinning and raising his hatchet slightly.

"Hey!" he called towards them, his accent becoming more noticeable as his voice raised. A few of the zeds turned in his direction. There were still a few of them who hadn't quite turned, so he called again, a little louder this time, "I'm talking to you!" which caught the attention of the remainder.

Once he had their attention, he began to back away slowly, waving his arms a few times, just to be sure they kept their attention on him.

"Come on, you bastards," he muttered, glancing over his shoulder every once in a while; he didn't want to run into any of them sneaking up on him.

He continued on for a few minutes more, until he came to an intersection. It was there he stopped and turned to his left, heading down the intersecting street. Before he got too far, a scream tore through the air, coming from somewhere near the center of town.

He wheeled, looking in the direction the sound had come from, "Fuck!" he whispered to himself, his eyes searching the nearby buildings for the source. As he was debating his next move, another scream sounded, earning another curse from the Irishman.

The pair of sounds had started to draw the attention of the nearby dead, including some of the ones that had been after him before. The others remained focused on Michael, who was the closer and much more tantalizing target. It wasn't long before more and more of them came out of the woodwork from up the street, down the street, and in the direction he'd been heading before. Soon, what was once seven, had become fifteen or twenty or maybe even more

Thinking quickly, Michael headed straight for a nearby house and tried the door, but it was locked. He cursed again and turned around just in time to see a zed lunging for him. Michael stuck out his leg, causing the thing to catch on his foot and tumble to the ground. Without any other option, he skirted along the front of the building until he came to the corner and darted through the opening between that house and the next house over.

Pushing his way through some trees and bushes, he finally came across an open grassy field, and he immediately began sprinting across it, heading for a house on the other side. A couple minutes later, he came upon the house and stopped, affording himself a brief look backwards in the direction that he'd come. A runner or two had followed and were closing in on him, but they weren't anything he couldn't handle.

The first one, who had been a young woman with blonde hair, came at him, snarling and baring her teeth. Michael allowed it to get close, but took a step to the side at the last second and gave her a shove in the back as she passed. It sent her sprawling, and he casually stepped over to the zed, putting a boot into the middle of her back, which was enough to hold her down.

Meanwhile, the second runner had closed some of the distance between him and Michael, but it hadn't gone unnoticed by the Irishman. As it got nearer, he turned his body, keeping his one boot in the back of the first runner, and kicked out his other foot, striking at the second's knee. The blow sent the runner's knee in the opposite direction with a harsh crack, and caused it to fall heavily to the ground.

"I'll be with you in a second." He looked from the male runner to the female one, the latter still struggling against the weight and force that he was putting on it. He drew his hatchet and buried it into the back of her head, ceasing her struggling. The other runner snarled, crawling closer to Michael, still with its useless leg, "Oh, was that your friend?" Michael taunted, stepping away from the lifeless body and towards the snarling, grasping crawler, "Well, too fucking bad," he growled, raising his boot up and bringing it back down onto its head, and repeating the action until there wasn't much left but a red stain and some bits of brain and skull.

A quick scan of the area that he'd come from revealed that a few more runners were heading his way; more than he wanted to try and take on on his own, so he put his hatchet away and darted to the house behind him and he tried the back door. And luckily, it wasn't locked. It was there he would stay until the heat died down.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Footsteps could be heard shuffling about from all around. Once Aisha finished filling the second canister, she slowly put the hose on the ground, trying to not make a single sound. Any little thing could attract them to her position, and the less she did, the better. Time seemed to stand still, each moment passing by at a snail’s pace. Patience was not one of her strong suits.
"Shit, these are going to be annoying as hell to carry. I hope he can make it back to the bikes, or else this is going to be a long day." The sound of shuffling footsteps died down after what felt like hours. It probably wasn't more than five minutes, but Aisha didn't see it that way. After poking her head around the corner to see if there were any zeds left, she confirmed there weren't any more hanging around. She picked up each propane tank, one in each hand, and began to waddle awkwardly back to their bikes. At the edge of town, a sound nearly made her drop the tanks as she spun around to find the source. It sounded like a scream. Shrill, as if the owner of the voice were experiencing both pain and terror. It was distant, but still clearly audible.
"Michael..." Aisha considered following the source of the scream, but after a moment of contemplation, she decided against it. Although it bothered her, she couldn't really see herself being that much help when somebody already sounded like that. She's heard that sound many times, usually right before some poor soul turned into human steak. A pang of regret put a knot in her stomach as she turned back around, and continued on towards the pair of bicycles. Her first priority was to return to the castle with the propane. Time resumed its regular schedule once again. Once she was near her ride, she set the tanks down, and rubbed her hands. She looked back to where Michael took off.

"Thanks bud. I owe you one." Without daring to ponder the situation any longer, she picked up one of the bikes and opened the kickstand. She couldn't strap both propane tanks down, so she'd have to carry them in her hands while she hung onto the handlebars. The second bike had to be left behind; it didn't sound like it was going to be put to use anytime soon.

"This is going to be a long ride back. I'm definitely going to need a hand massage by the time this day's over."

She grabbed the tanks, stood on her pedals, and began her journey back to Chol Castle. It was long and uneventful, thankfully, but she eventually passed through the castle gates.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Around 10:30 AM

In that house, Michael waited. He waited for probably an hour, maybe two. It was hard to tell these days, not without a watch or a cell phone to tell him the time. Finally, he decided that he would brave the streets of Brampton again and peeked out the front door. The street was deserted, save for a few zeds standing idly in the street. Where they'd come from or where they were going, he didn't know, but he didn't particularly care to find out. All he wanted to do was get the hell out of Brampton and back to the castle where, hopefully, his partner-in-crime was already waiting.

The zeds in the street had their backs to him, giving him free rein to go out the door and down the street. When he felt he was a comfortable distance from them, he began to run, continuing along the road out of town.

The trip back was longer than the way over, but there were no interruptions from any zeds, which Michael was thankful for inwardly. Finally, more than an hour after leaving Brampton, he pushed through the gates of Chol Castle. He could only hope that Aisha had managed to get back as well, for the sake of not coming back empty-handed.