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The Days That Follow

Zombie Apocalypse

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a part of The Days That Follow, by Selene Durlan.

None

Selene Durlan holds sovereignty over Zombie Apocalypse, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

576 readers have been here.

Copyright: The creator of this roleplay has attributed some or all of its content to the following sources:

[url=http://www.roleplaygateway.com/roleplay/live-together-or-die-alone#introduction] live together or die alone[/url]

Setting

The Days That Follow
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Minimap

Zombie Apocalypse is a part of The Days That Follow.

8 Characters Here

NPCs [3]
Michael Rowan [1] The Hooligan
Jamal Jones [1] Former struggling and up-and-coming comedian
Antonio Treveno [1] Former Business Man
Aisha Karimi [1] B-girl paintballer extraordinaire
Allison Hartford [1] Med Student
Gabrian Zaes [0] The Family Man
Tyresa Sampson [0] Government official watching the end of civilisation

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2 Characters Present

Character Portrait: NPCs Character Portrait: Antonio Treveno
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Chol Castle


June 26th 6:30am

Drafty.

Cliché, yes, but rather accurate in this instance. Three comforters and a wool blanket barely seemed to be enough to keep out the cold out some nights. Yet some shivering was a small price to pay for the security that the castle offered.

Antonio lay in bed staring at the stone ceiling listening to his wife’s even breathing for several more seconds before he carefully began to extricate himself from the tangled web of bedding. Eventually he freed himself without waking her; he dressed as soundlessly as possible and kneeled at the foot of the bed. Every morning Antonio uttered a small prayer before going about his day. Once completed he silently rose and stepped out into the hall, carefully closing the door behind him.

Striding confidently down the hall, Antonio headed for the stairs. He intended to check up on Cameron, who had likely been on watch all night long. An involuntary shiver passed through Antonio as he stepped out on the allure, a biting wind gust cutting straight through his thick sweater. Cameron sat halfway across the allure on a rickety stool, a scarf wrapped tightly around the man’s face and a pair of binoculars glued to his eyes. Antonio halted two meters away, not wanting to startle or break the man’s focus.

“You have something to say or what?” Cameron asked in a slightly annoyed tone as he continued to gaze through his binoculars.

“Well, I just came up to check on you.” Antonio crossed his arms in a futile attempt to ward off the blasting cold.

“That’s sweet of you.” Setting down the binoculars, Cameron turned to face Antonio. “What’s the real reason you came up here?” His eyes were surrounded by dark circles and narrowed in suspicion.

Antonio heaved a shivering sigh. “Listen, everyone knows you aren’t getting enough sleep at night. I just want to make sure you’re good and I’m always available to talk if you want to.” Tactfully, Antonio didn’t mention that whenever Cameron did try to sleep, he often ended up waking the other residents with his tortured screams.

“I don’t need a therapist. I appreciate the concern, but I’m fine and can take care of myself.” Cameron replied defensively.

“Alright, just know my door is always open.”

Cameron gave a grunt in reply. “Since you took the trouble to come all the way up here, I might as well tell you this now. That pack of dogs that’s been hanging around the castle came in closer to the walls last night than they ever have before. They’re either getting bolder or more desperate. I scared them off with some rocks, but I’m sure they’ll be back. I know you’re against thinning them out, but we might not have any choice soon.”

“Thanks for letting me know, I will keep that in mind.” Antonio replied with only a minimal amount of teeth chattering. “Would you like me to send up some breakfast?”

Cameron had resumed looking through his binoculars, but at the mention of food, he spared a quick glance towards Antonio. “I’d like a biscuit if we have any left. Have Alia bring it up if she isn’t busy.”

“Sure Cameron, I’ll see what I can do.” A small smile crept across Antonio’s face at the second request.

Antonio hurried back to the relative warmth of the indoors and rubbed his hands together as he descended the steps. By the time he reached the study, he had warmed up significantly and felt a great deal more alert. Opening the large doors, he crossed the room quickly and retrieved a small voice recorder sitting on the oak desk next to the radio. He used the little device as a babysitter for when he wasn’t able to listen to the static, which he typically only used at night. Holding the recorder up to his ear, Antonio listened to the playback as he exited the study and walked toward the kitchen.

The pleasing smell of warm oats curled through the air as Antonio was greeted by a cheerful Alia, who was perched on the counter next to the pot on the stove. The young woman had proven to be a fast learner in the kitchen and seemed to have a natural talent for cooking. He returned a warm smile to the young woman.

“Good morning Antonio, want a bowlful?” Alia asked, pointing to the steaming pot for emphasis.

“I would, thank you.” He replied, taking a seat at the table. “Oh, before I forget, Cameron asked me if we had any biscuits left.”

Alia’s brows crinkled, “I think we do. I’ll give him a bowl of porridge as well.”

“Good, he was hoping you would be the one to bring it.”

“I bet he does.” Alia giggled, as she placed a hearty bowl of porridge with raisins sprinkled on top in front of Antonio.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” She replied pleasantly.

Pulling out a small notebook, Antonio started reading over the day’s planned schedule while Alia searched the cupboards for a biscuit.

After several minutes passed, a triumphant Alia proudly held a biscuit. “Success, I found one!” She announced, waving the slightly stale biscuit in the air.

“Found one what?” A new voice asked from the doorway.

Both Antonio and Alia gave a small start, instantly recognizing the voice.

Lillian stepped into the kitchen, her belly leading the way. Head held high, she took the seat opposite her husband and stared him straight in the eye.

“Oh, I just found a biscuit for Cameron, speaking of which I better take it to him right now.” Alia’s eyes darted between the seated couple. Hurriedly, the young woman scooped out some porridge and quickly left the room.

Antonio pretended to be fascinated with his notes as he felt the heat of Lillian’s stare burn into his scalp. Eventually Lillian broke the silence.

“Who’s going out today?”

“Five.” Antonio said around a mouthful of porridge.

“I asked who.”

“Aisha, Allison, Tyresa, Michael, and Jamal.” He finally said after a lengthy pause. “There shouldn’t be any problems; they won’t be going anywhere dangerous. If everything goes well, we should have more gardening supplies, so we can expand the garden plots.”

Lillian pursed her lips before replying. “Mmm. That is good news, especially with how much we have been giving to the Inners lately.”

“Yes it is.” Antonio agreed, taking note of his wife’s expression. “I need to go post these for the Salvagers.” He announced quietly as he rose stiffly from his chair and placed the notebook under his arm.

Lillian didn’t acknowledge his statement or subsequent departure, her eyes only fixated on his empty bowl.


Missions


Dishing the Dirt

Suggested Number of Salvs - 2

Area – Small gardening shop on the outskirts of Low Row, just East of Chol.

Objective – Secure gardening supplies

Information – As you all know, we have the start of a garden planted in the front courtyard. However, the soil we currently have is less than ideal for growing food, which is why it is important that we secure as many bags of high quality soil as possible. Any tools, seeds, or other supplies you find would also be useful as well.

I’m authorizing the use of the little white hatchback, to make retrieving the supplies a bit easier. Only a few dead have been seen roaming in the area, but be on your guard and try not to get the car stuck in a pothole.

Lean on the Horn

Suggested Number of Salvs - 1

Area – Car junkyard to the north of Brampton.

Objective – Help Nikoli retrieve several car horns/alarms.

Information – Nikoli is Chol’s only scout and reformed juvenile delinquent. We need you to accompany him to the junkyard in order to retrieve several car horns so he can make more of his handy distraction devices. While he may be quick and resourceful, keep in mind he’s still a teenager and you will need to keep an eye on him. Last time he tried to go alone a car nearly fell on him; stay alert for a few wandering dead that seem to hang around the place.

Chol’s small collection of bicycles is available to use.

Gas required

Suggested Number of Salvs - 2

Area – Close to Brampton’s west border

Objective – Retrieve propane.

Information – We’ve put off getting more fuel for the generators as long as we can. Currently, we only know of one place to get more, which is an outdoor tank in a small warehouse yard, which is unofficially inside the Crusaders territory. We have had friendly relations with them so far, but let’s not test that. Try to get in and out quickly, preferably without being seen.

You will have two five gallon propane tanks and two bicycles.

3 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.

3 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jamal Jones Character Portrait: NPCs Character Portrait: Lillian Treveno
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Lean On The Horn

Chol Castle

7:00 AM


”No, no, no please!”

The rest faded like a morning dew.

Jamal found himself on the floor of the private library of Chol Castle, his bald head on a soft pillow that needed a wash. His head was not as bald as it was when he first touched down in England. Barbers were far and few nowadays. Was the afro really coming back? Shit, he muttered in his thoughts.

That was not the only thing that needed a wash. He laid there, wrapped in sheets that looked like the kind an airline passenger would get on a transoceanic flight.

The only transoceanic flight Jamal had ever been on was the one that took him to London about two months ago. He was amazed that he had managed this far.

He felt an instinct biting him, an urge to check the doors and gates. Paranoia crept into him, and he readily accepted it these past two months. There were no words, and he was a man of many words, to describe all that he had seen.

As he laid there among the other bodies snoring from long day’s work, his eyes landed on the hatchet that rested against the wall. It was among a myriad of other hardware turned into makeshift personal protection. Then of course there was a rifle, the only real weapons they had at the castle.

He blinked a bit as he stared at the ornate golden linings and trims of the ceiling that had long fallen into disrepair. He wasn’t staring at them, it was more of a conflict within himself to get up and do what needed to be done. A yawn found its way and he decided that there was no worth in loitering any longer on the ground among the other sleepers. There was always work to be done.

Jamal propped himself up, gyrated his waist, bent his neck in circular motions, and finished off with some stretches that all produced pops. It was probably the cold. Heating was limited to the fireplaces. He grabbed one of the tattered wool sweat shirts that was wrapped around a chair.

His original three week visit turned into an unintentional permanent residence for the foreseeable future. He was not used to the dreariness of the clouds in the Isles. Nor was he used to the idyllic country side of northwestern England, he was a city boy born and raised in north Philly. He was used to the projects and the urban world.

It was different, but two months’ time and a lot of tragedies in between had worn down his resistance and forced him to cope. Jamal passed down the halls, lined with an occasional dusty old knight or painting of a Caucasian man or woman whom he knew nothing of. He was guessing that the man or woman in the paintings were nobles long deceased.

The other day he thought he had seen the Queen of Britain, but Doc pointed out to him that it was Princess Diana.

“Wadn’t she the one that died?”

“Well, many members of British royalty have died before. But yes, she was the one that died.”

Doc was an affectionate label that Jamal had given to Trevor Zacharias, the resident physician and go to person for any medical issues.

“Do you think they might be coming back?”

“They? You mean…? God, I hope not.”




Jamal entered the kitchen to find the ‘Missus,’ also term of endearment, this one was for Mrs. Treveno, who was also known as the ‘Queen of the Castle.’ Not that he ever used them in her presence, she would gore him like the bulls of Pamplona. Jamal wondered whether Antonio married her out of choice.

Such thoughts were trivial, used to occupy and entertain himself in a world turned into the definition of grim.

“Mornin’.”

He saw that she was reserved when he had entered, and he knew he had to be tactful. He guessed that he might have walked in after a battle had just occurred. It was just a guess. He figured he could help himself to a glass of water, water from the nearby river. He had gotten used to the taste of ‘fresh’ water.

“You’re going out today,” Lillian said.

“Out?” Jamal took a sip.

“For supplies.”

Jamal nodded as he held the cold ceramic mug in his hand. He went out every so often, so it was nothing new. The day just felt different ever since he woke up. Even before she said that he was going to be heading out, Jamal just had this feeling. He knew that he would be venturing beyond the walls.

He stood up once he was finished and placed the mug back on the mug tree.

Before he could leave, “You’re not gonna have any of the porridge?”

“Uh, maybe when I get back.”

A full stomach was hard to run on.

“It’s gonna be cold by then.”

Jamal shrugged he wondered if cold porridge would taste any different from warm porridge, “Everythin’ cold nowadays.”

He could tell she agreed when she nodded, “Be safe.”

He nodded and left her.




With the backpack strapped over his shoulders Jamal wandered out to where the jobs were posted. He saw a white kid that looked as skinny as a twig. His hair was black and he was reading some paper. He dressed like he was headed to metal concert. He had a tattoo on his left arm that was partially covered by the sleeve of his jacket.

“Hello there!” Jamal was playing to his strength as the initiator of conversations.

Ever since he arrived at the castle, there was no shortage in supply of reserved types. They had all been through much and seen much. Jamal himself was guilty of turtling for a bit.

“Hello,” the kid extended his hand toward Jamal and they shook hands, “Nikoli.”

That was his name, Jamal replied his own “Jamal. Nice to meet you Nikoli. Can I call you Nik? Or do you just prefer Nikoli?”

“Nikoli, Nik is fine too,” he pulled out a map from his pocket, “So the junkyard is north of Brampton, and Brampton is to the west of us.”

“So…that way,” Jamal pointed west, “Let’s go.”

He’d known his cardinal directions for a while ever since he started getting up to watch the sun rise. The sun always rose from the east. It was funny how little things like that went a long way in helping one survive. Jamal wondered if he would learn where the North Star was. He fancied the idea of becoming a walking compass. Not that a real compass would be any less helpful.

Nikoli shrugged in agreement, “Bikes are by the gates.”




Jamal found himself grinding down a dirt path that was familiar to him. He had been down the road several times before to reach the town to the west called Brampton for supply runs. The woods were one of the dangerous parts of the island now. Zed had been known to leap out of them.

From what Antonio had told him, Nikoli was a runner, a fast one at that. It showed in his biking, the kid was pushing it.

All the while Jamal followed behind on his bike. He was hoping their tires did not hit anything sharp.

“Car horns?” Jamal called out from behind.

“Yes. Horns from cars,” Nikoli upped the tempo at which they were going.

“I know what car horns are. What do we need them for?”

“The horns will help scare the zombies. Distraction devices. Try to keep up.”

Try to keep up? This little punk. Jamal felt like he was riding the Tour de France. He wondered how those guys did it, he felt his breath was running out. He could feel the multitude of veins bulging from his legs.

If a zed jumped out of the woods at him at that moment, he thought he would not survive the encounter. He thought he could not run, or kick, or even stand anymore for that matter.





Cahill’s Junkyard

8:30 AM


Once they reached the eastern border of the town, the two of them agreed that Brampton was a no-go. The former population center had not been mapped and scouted out completely. There were still walkers wandering around, as to how many, they could guess. Danger was unnecessary in retrieving car horns, or cans of beans for that matter, Jamal thought.

They swung northward around Brampton’s eastern border riding for about twenty to thirty minutes time, at least it seemed liked thirty minutes to Jamal’s legs. They finally reached what appeared to be a junkyard full of old cars, rust, tires, and internal parts littered in piles. Heaps upon heaps of car parts.

They stared at the organized mess for several seconds before Jamal spoke.

“Shit. I need to do more cardio,” he set down his bike, “Do you know what they look like?”

“Yeah…” Nikoli’s response was dragged out, it seemed he was unsure of himself.

“Alright, um you can find the horns,” Jamal cleared his throat, rifle in hand.

“And what about you?” Nikoli dropped his bag on the ground.

“I’m standing guard,” Jamal motioned with his rifle.

He had no idea what car horns looked, he was no car expert. He liked cars for how they looked, not how they worked.

Nikoli shrugged and went about searching through the parts. Whenever he found a horn, he would drop it into the one of their two backpacks. The horns were somewhat heavy pieces and would probably weigh them down on their return trip, so they were aiming for maybe five or six horns before packing up to go.

They could not test the horns to see if they still worked because both knew that was a bad idea especially out in open and unfamiliar territory.

Minutes later, Nikoli’s bag was already full. He was rummaging through another pile, digging through the parts required some effort. Some pieces were heavier than others. To Nikoli it was like playing jenga, but there were no mugs of hot chocolate or friends in company. No, just a jumbled mass of parts that became obsolete in the old world and whether or not their usefulness would be revived in this new world was a question to be answered.

Jamal wandered about the mess, seeing if he could find anything handy. Nothing. Nothing but car parts.

Lord help me find a knife or somethin’, maybe like a comb, but please not one of them.




Nikoli continued searching, and just as he turned, crack, boom!

Blood splattered, he shied away and fell against the junk. The pile of meat fell down beside him, Nikoli kicked his feet against the thing as it tried to reach him with its mangled arms. Its flesh was the color of pneumonia, and had the yellow of a hepatitis patient’s eye.

The blood was long dried and coagulated. The solid mass of red was only disrupted by blunt force such as that of a bullet at a high velocity from a rifle.

Jamal had the gun aimed at the fallen flesh. His mouth was agape, but he was unsure if he could even say the words, ”Oh shit…did you see that mothafucka drop?”

He may have been born and bred in Philly, but he was no street thug. He only learned to use a gun recently when he was on the run.

Now is not the time man, Jamal could see Nikoli was visibly shaken. They had to go.

Jamal’s eyes skipped around the junkyard at possible points from which more could pour in. It was a metal forest from which they could be ambushed. The loud bang was surely going to alert more of them. He looked at the bag that Nikoli managed to fill, and he ran over with his. They transferred some of the load over so they both would be able to bike back.

Was there more of them? Jamal grabbed his bag, and the two immediately ran for the entrance from which they came. The bag was heavy. The comedian could hear more groans.

“Aw shit man…” he swore under his breath.

Jamal chose to say nothing more and save his breath for the bike ride back to the castle.




9:15 AM

On the bike back, their conversation was interspersed with glances, boasts, and breathing. The bags of metal were strapped over their shoulders. Jamal rode with one hand steering and the other hand on the rifle.

“You know, we don’t have many of you people back in Russia,” Nikoli’s eyes shifted to Jamal, who rode beside him.

Jamal glanced at him, and saw that he was watching the over-arching branches. As if zombies could climb trees and attack from the skies. If they did, Jamal guessed that humanity would have gone extinct a month ago.

You people?” Jamal looked at him with a screw eye.

“Blacks. Black people,” Nikoli exhaled.

The kid was blunt, Jamal laughed, “I’m sure they don’t have many people of any color anymore back in Russia.”

Nikoli glanced at him unsure what he meant.

Jamal did not hear a laugh, “The zombies.”

“Ah,” Nikoli chuckled, the joke dawned on him.

At least he could still laugh, usually when a joke is explained, it loses its potency.

“They tell me you’re a comedian?”

“Was a comedian.”

“I see a lot of black comedians.”

“Yeah? Like who?”

“Dave Chappelle?”

Jamal shook his head, “He ain’t that funny.”

He pushed ahead and turned back at Nikoli half-yelling an added response, “Plus he dead.”

That last part may not have been true, but Jamal could give a rat’s ass as to which celebrity was still alive now.

“Tell some of your jokes then,” Nikoli caught up.

Tell some jokes? Some of my jokes? Kid. A good joke requires proper planning and thought put into it. I can’t toss one up, it’s not like music or magic. My jokes are an acquired taste. You need an intellect to understand them.”

“So you don’t have jokes,” Nikoli laughed and rode ahead.

Jamal looked at him, smart ass cur, he paused, “Man keep your eyes forward, those things can jump from trees now.”

Damn these horns are heavy.

1 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Allison Hartford
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Dishing the Dirt

8:30 am
June 26th, 2014


Allison stood by the little car. The keys were in her hand and she kept looking from the keys to the car. Alone. Just going out to get some gardening supplies. No big deal. Not that far. Just a short drive there, load it up and drive back. Easy enough.

The use of the hatchback was a big deal but Allison wasn’t sure there was another way to get the things they wanted. Dirt, gardening tools and such tended to be heavy and awkward. It would take a whole team out there to bring that stuff back. It is a good use of the car. I just wish….

She wanted to be going over supplies and reading. She wanted to be in the quiet room, alone. She didn’t really want to be driving about and picking up dirt. The thing was, in order to stay, in order to be allowed a roof over her head, food and some protection, she had to pull her weight. Plus going out, finding things, was a way to prove herself and her usefulness. Allison needed to show them that she was worth having here. Medical knowledge was nice but she couldn’t be a one trick pony. Not in the world the way it was now.

Allison popped open the door of the car, climbed inside and shut it behind her. It felt for a moment like she had closed the whole world out. Her hands rested on the wheel and she took a few calming breaths. Easy. This will be easy. Just have to show them I am worth keeping around, I am useful.

She put the key in the ignition and turned it. The little car rumbled to life. Allison put it in gear and drove towards the gate. Others waited there to let her out. They removed the obstacles in her way as she pulled out and onto the road. Some were armed and checked the area, waving her on.

Allison pulled away from the castle. It grew distant behind her and she let out an exhale as the first short jaunt down the road proved uneventful.

“Well what did you think? They were going to be everywhere? Popping out like groundhogs?”

The image made her laugh. The laugh turned into a full belly laugh that she couldn’t stop. It wasn’t that funny but nerves have a way of heightening everything. She laughed till tears formed and clouded her vision. Ally let go with one hand long enough to wipe them away. It wouldn’t be good if she crashed the vehicle, especially if it was because she was laughing at a ludicrous thought in her own head.

Both hands were placed firmly back on the wheel. Allison glanced over to the passenger seat where her pack sat. Everyone who went out got one, it was standard practice. Hers had a few extra first aid items in case she came across other survivors that she could help. It was the first time she had gone anywhere without a medical book however and she somehow felt ‘naked’ without it.

Allison’s eyes were back on the road. She wished she had music, classical, something to calm her nerves. She felt hyper aware, like every shadow was going to develop into a thing bent on eating her.

The place was quiet and she was tempted to roll down the window. Allison opted not to, visions of undead coming for her, her scent wafting by as she drove.

The road was not in terrible shape. She had to move around abandoned cars and some debris but it was quite easy going.

Allison nodded, happy with the way things were going. “Like I said. Easy. In and out.”

With the car, even with the few obstacles getting to the gardening shop didn’t take long.

9:25 am

Allison wasn’t sure she would know the shop when she saw it but as she drew closer her worry proved to be unfounded. It had a small building, a greenhouse and was surrounded by a standard wire fence. She could see stacks of bags in the yard and stands.

Thankfully it had a parking lot.

Allison pulled in, in front of the gate. It seemed at one time it had been locked. Now it looked as if something had gotten in. Pots were strewn about, dirt on the ground and dead plants.

She opened the door, leaving the engine on and as she stood, Allison listened. She waited but heard very little. The wind, the car but nothing of note. Satisfied she moved to the gate and pushed it open so that she could pull the car in. She reasoned if it was in the gate it would be easier to load and the gate was at least one more thing between her and anything or anyone that might come snooping.

Allison got back into the car and pulled it in. She turned off the engine and closed the gate. She paused for a moment, looking around. The gate seemed minorly distorted in some areas but otherwise intact.

She got back into the car and moved its position so it held the gate close. The passenger side was pressed up to the gate and now nothing could open it and get in.

Satisfied Allison turned off the car once more, pocketed the keys and set to work seeing what she could find.

10:50 am

Allison wiped her cheek, leaving a small streak of dirt. The place actually had quite a bit of stuff. Surprising really but dirt and hoses weren’t in high demand when trying to survive in a land full of dead things.

She surveyed the back of the car. The little hatchback was weighted down but as long as she didn’t push it it would be fine. There were eight bags of earth. There were a few more in the yard still but Allison didn’t think the car could take more weight. They could always come back.

She had managed to find two bags of fertilizer. She wasn’t going to grab them then thought better of it. If they didn’t need it now they might later and judging from the pile of ripped open bags someone had been using it for something. Bomb of some kind maybe…

Allison had grabbed three hoses, still wrapped in packaging as well as nozzles because she really wasn’t sure what kind would fit or what they would like. She hadn’t lived anywhere that needed these things and at home this had been her parents domain. She had never wanted the house or lawn or kids. She was going to be a doctor, in a nice flat with no time for domestic things.

She had grabbed gardening gloves though she wasn’t sure they needed them. They were small and fit easily enough.

The biggest find was the stand of seeds. From the sign above it it had been the end of a season sale. Allison scooped up all the packages that hadn’t been damaged or ripped open. She wasn’t even what she grabbed but she knew that none were flowers, she was at least careful of that.

Sadly there wasn’t much in the way of tools. Those seemed picked over and she wasn’t entirely surprised. They were weapons, pure and simple. She found a few three pronged rakes which she took and six tiny shovels which she knew her mom had used for planting. Something at least.

Allison surveyed the place one last time satisfied that she could not carry anymore and still have the car go.

She climbed in, started it up and moved it from the gate so she could once more get to the road.

11:15 am [/i]

Her eyes were on the road and she was taking things cautiously given how loaded down the back of her car was.

She turned a corner and hit the brake. A frown appeared. I could have sworn the road was clear on the way in. Did I make a wrong turn? Allison looked over her shoulder. No this is definitely the way I came. Odd.

She put the car in park, turned it off and slipped out. Listening, she heard nothing and so went to check out what was in her way. Allison approached. It was a piece of a fence. “Okay that is weird.”

“Not that weird when you consider someone put it there to stop you.”

Allison froze. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up and she slowly turned around. A man stood there, shovel in hand.

A shovel! We could use that! It was strange to her that that was her first thought, not her own safety.

“What do you want?”

The man laughed, humourlessly. “What do you think? You have a car and I need to get out of here.”

Allison shook her head. “You can’t take it. It doesn’t belong to me.”

The man looked at her like Allison had grown another head. He stepped forward and she retreated slightly, her foot bumping the piece of fence.

“You think I care who it belongs to? That is all you have to say right now?”

“No, it is just...I have things to bring back and well we shouldn’t be standing out here like this.” Allison hoped the fear of more dangerous things might be enough to dissuade him.

She was wrong.

“You’re right. Get in.” He approached her, using the shovel to guide her back to the car.

“But the fence...it is in the way...we should-” Allison turned, pointing to the obstacle. She was met with a forceful push on her back.

“There are other ways around it. Let’s leave it.” The man was gruff. He pushed her to the passenger side. “Get in.”

“Are you planning to drive?” Allison frowned.

“I wouldn’t have you get in this side if I weren’t. You really don’t get what is happening do you?” The man inquired.

“Well I have the keys and you are holding the shovel. If you drive I can get the shovel right?”

He laughed and a gun appeared. “You’re right. You drive and I will point this instead.”

Allison paled. That hadn’t gone the way she had hoped but then again she wasn’t entirely sure what she had expected to happen.

He got opened the passenger door, watching her, gun pointed at her. Allison climbed into the driver’s seat.

“Where am I headed?”

“Back up and I will tell you where to go.”

The car reversed and Allison drove them off.


[b]11:45 am


They had ridden in silence. The man occasionally pointed where he wanted her to turn but other than that there was nothing.

Finally, Allison broke the silence. “Where are we going? Is it a group? I have to get back. There are people waiting on me and this stuff.”

“No. No group. I am getting out of here. I tried to fit in but..” He looked out the window.

“But what? If you went around pointing guns at well...them, whoever I can see why you didn’t fit in.”

“I didn’t go pointing guns. Got caught stealing supplies and they shoved me out. I was just looking out for myself.”

“If you are with a group of people you can’t be stealing from them.” Allison frowned.

“Yeah well when they all get attacked at least I would have had a stash of stuff I could have run with. And that is exactly what happened. I was sneaking back in for my stuff and they were attacked. Stupid too, as if tents would do any good. Oh sure they had plans to build walls but in the meantime…” He was still looking out the window.

“Attacked? Did you help them?” Allison looked at the man in shock.

“No I didn’t help them. It was too late. I barely escaped.”

Allison looked at him and that was when she noticed his other arm, the one not holding the gun.

“You were bit.” She whispered.

“So now I gotta get out of here and find a place that can help. I heard rumours of a cure.”

Allison shook her head. “There is no cure. There is no help. You are going to become one of them.”

“You don’t know that! Don’t say that!” The gun was pressed to Allison’s head. It was all she could do to keep her eyes open and on the road.

“Yes I do. I am a doctor. There is no way to stop it.”

“Doctor? You can help me, you can bandage it or something. Give me something to slow it down.” There was desperation in his voice.

“No, no I can’t. I don’t have anything like that. I have soil and stuff and there is nothing that can slow it down. I am sorry.” Her voice was calm, level.

The man spied the pack. “What’s in there?” He reached down and opened it. “You lied! You have medical supplies. Pull over! Now!”

Once more the gun pushed against her temple and Allison pulled the car over and turned it off.

“Get out. You are going to bandage me up and we are going to see what else you are hiding in there.”

Allison licked her lips and stepped out. She didn’t like this. They had driven into an area where it was harder to see around you. Too many buildings, too many abandoned cars.

She got out, closing her door. Allison moved to the passenger side. “Here give me the pack.” He handed it over and began looking around them, as if watching. Allison put the pack on the passenger seat, the door opened and began rummaging through it.

The first moan gave her goosebumps. It was clear which meant it was close. The rest slowly built in volume and as she took her head out to the car she saw them. At least six and who knew how many more after that. Worse, three were running.

“Fuck!’ The man began shooting and Allison did the only thing she could think of. She dove into the passengers seat and slammed the door. Locking it she climbed over to the driver’s seat.

“You-get out here! Help me fight!” He shot wildly as he backed up to the door.

Allison fumbled with the keys out of her pocket, shaking her head the whole time. They were closing in, he was pounding on the door down.

The click of the key as it turned, the sound of the engine as it came to life and Allison hit the gas.

She heard him hit the side of the car as she took off but thought nothing more about it as she took the first turn on her left.

One glance as car started the turn showed the man who would have taken the car and likely killed her pushed down to the ground, set upon by the things he was going to become.

She looked into the back, noticing the shovel he had put back there. We have a shovel now too.

1:30 pm

Allison pulled back up to the border of Chol Castle. She didn’t have to do anything as people had been watching and saw her approach. She was let in and she pulled the little car into place.

She pushed the things back into the open pack, grabbed it and the keys and headed inside. Her temple hurt from the gun.

Keys returned, pack back in its spot Allison headed to her room. She could still see the man’s face as he was being attacked.

"How was it?" Someone asked as she walked down the hall. Allison wasn't even sure who it was that asked, it was just a voice at that moment.

"Fine, easy. Lots of stuff in the car to unload." Allison sounded calm, fine.