The Walking Dead: Online

Season 1

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a part of The Walking Dead: Online, by Captain Calamity.

"The End Begins"

Captain Calamity holds sovereignty over Season 1, giving them the ability to make limited changes.
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Copyright: The creator of this roleplay has attributed some or all of its content to the following sources:

walking dead (tv show): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/the_walking_dead_(tv_series) walking dead (comics): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/the_walking_dead_(comic_book)

Setting

Season One of the Walking Dead: Online.
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Season 1

"The End Begins"

Minimap

Season 1 is a part of The Walking Dead: Online.

2 Characters Here

Lucas Wright (NPC) [0] A man on his last gamble.
Eva Clarkson [0] A junior Naval Officer thrust into command of the worlds's most advanced submarine.

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke

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Image


.: CALVIN HAWKE :.


Calvin's cell vibrated, shaking him from his sleep with a muted buzz. It had somehow managed to become pinned under his back at some point during the night, and he was hungover enough that he thought it was his head ringing. Calvin rolled to one side, just enough to pull it out from under himself, and pressed it to his ear.

"Hello…?” he asked, groggily.

“Morning, beautiful. Have you looked outside today?” The voice on the other side belonged to his talent agent, Ross Summers, sounding as excited as a kid on Christmas eve. Calvin sat up, rubbing the last bit of sleep from his eyes. The previous night had been spent celebrating the red carpet premiere of his latest film, “Lockdown”. He got home at 5 a.m., and then the real party began. Oddly enough, all of it felt like it happened weeks ago. 

“I was actually sleeping. Believe it or not…” Calvin grabbed his remote and parted the wall of curtains. At the touch of a button, they began to scroll sideways revealing the beautiful Los Angeles skyline. He took a moment to stretch, taking it all in, and then collapsed back down on the edge of his bed, careful not to wake the girl on the other side. “What am I looking at, Ross?”

“Well it might just be me, but I think the Sun is shining a little brighter today. Don’t you?” Ross always spoke in theoreticals. Calvin could tell he was in one of his moods that only came with good news. “Have you read the reviews?”

“Screw reviews. You know I stay away from those things. I'm not in the habit of believing what some repressed basement rat has to say about me."

“Would you believe $73 million domestic?"

Calvin was glad he had already sat down. $73 million would have been an awesome opening day for any movie. The rest of the weekend would easily triple that, making his film one of the largest openings of all time. Unexpected and unbelievable.

“Holy shit.”

“Holy shit is right. This is huge. You’ve got a 98% on RottenTomatoes.com right now, bro. We are on track to topple The Avengers, The Dark Knight, all of ‘em. Not to mention Conan tomorrow night, and SNL at the end of the month…”

Calvin couldn’t help but smile. “I can’t believe it.”

“We’ll go out and celebrate tonight. How’s Koi? 8:30?” Calvin could hear him shuffling papers in the background.

“Sounds good. That should give me some time to get this alcohol out of my system.”

“Alright, beautiful. See ya then. And let me know how the meeting goes today, yeah?”

Calvin cursed to himself, silently. “Right… yeah, I will.” 

“You forgot didn’t you?” He had.

“No, no, no. 10 o’clock. I’ll be there.” He glanced over to the clock on his wall. It was already 9:13 a.m.

“Good. Give ‘em hell. And, hey… Calvin?”

“Yeah?”

“Welcome to the world, baby. I love you.”

“Love you too,” Calvin replied, shaking his head. He set the phone on his bedside table, and looked out the window. The sun was just beginning to break through the hanging smog over downtown Los Angeles. And now that he thought about it, Ross was right…

It did seem a little bit brighter.

The nameless girl next to him suddenly rolled over, clutching the sheets against her as she stretched. She was only nameless because he couldn’t remember it. It had been a long night.

“Was that your mom?” She asked through her yawn.

Calvin laughed. “Might as well be.”

She smiled, and kissed his elbow. “Come back to bed…”

“I can’t. I spaced a meeting. What do you think? Shower or Breakfast?"

The girl raised her eyebrows at him suggestively and he suddenly realized the stupidity of his question as the two of them raced to the bathroom.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dyomie Thornes Character Portrait: Marie Thornes (NPC)

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Dyomie Thornes
Marie Thornes

Dyomie got off the plane, she had had a nice nap as last night was sort of busy; and not in the stealing sort of way. After her group and she had split up the loot, she had met up with an easy rich guy. It wasn't hard to impress him, all she did was wear a small black dress and a valuable necklace. After they guy got what he wanted, Dyomie looked around his apartment while he slept. There wasn't much at his place, just your run of the mill over-expensive apartment, but she did get to snag a small jewelry box which she had yet to see what was actually inside.

As she walked with her luggage to the front doors she saw a familiar face holding a ridiculous sign, "Welcome back Dy...again", it read. The sign itself was on bright pink paper in the girly-bubble font that Dyomie's little sister knew she found too weird, not to mention glitter everywhere on the sign. Even if Dyomie was a little embarrassed by the sign she was excited to see her sister again. So she ran to her sister, dropping her bags next to them and picking her little sis up in a hug, which proved to be more difficult now that Marie was getting taller than her.

"Hey Tidbit," Dyomie said, setting her sister down and kissing her on the forehead.

"Hey Dy," Marie answered back, "Have a good trip? Any stories to bring back?"

"Of course I have stories silly duckling," Dyomie said, she grabbed her bags and put her arm over her sister's shoulders, who proceeded to lead them to her car. It wasn't a special car in any sense of the word, but it got from point A to point B well enough and stayed together ok.

While driving back to their apartment, Dyomie recalled the stories she had made up on the plane over of what she was going to tell her sister. The fake business meeting where Dyomie of course broke the other company down to agree with their deal, how afterwards they celebrated at a fancy bar where they stayed till closing hour. Marie listened well, nodding her head to let her sister know she was listening to every word that her sister was saying.

They got home safely, and inside the place was clean. Dyomie smiled at her little sister and ruffled her hair, she was very proud of how responsible her sister turned out, quite the opposite of how she turned out from her absent parents.

"Alright Tidbit, what do you want for breakfast?" Dyomie asked, plopping her stuff down, "Fresh new payment means a special feast."

"Oh no you don't," Marie said, hauling her sister to the kitchen and pushing her into a chair, "That's not how it works. You just got back from travelling so to show you how much I missed you I get to make you breakfast; and you're not taking that away from me." Dyomie smiled as she watched her sister work in the kitchen. She could smell the sugar being added to the battery mix and the aroma of baked goods steaming off the slowly forming pancakes.

Breakfast moved by slowly as the two sisters talked, getting to know one another once again. Marie was mostly the one who was talking as apparently just yesterday she tried out for the Olympic's gymnast team. Marie's eyes sparkled and her chatter was rushed, so much so you could barely register her taking an audible breath. Marie explained how she felt this time was it, this was the time she was going to get in, she could feel it. Dyomie knew her sister would get into the Olympics, it was only a matter of time. She had seen her sister perform many times, so she knew for a fact how good Tidbit was at gymnastics.

When breakfast was over, Dyomie put her stuff away in her room; taking out the smaller weapons she had brought and putting them under a floorboard in her room, placing the stuff next to a lone walkie-talkie. It was there in case of emergencies; if Dyomie needed to quickly contact Marie to get away from the apartment as fast as possible without having the LAPD zero in on their conversation. Marie knew the walkie-talkie was there and whenever she was alone in the house she would always keep an ear out for the crackly noise it made, just in case. Dyomie kept her newest prize in a backpack, along with her walkie-talkie, by her room door. Then the two girls headed out towards the beach, though neither were really wearing "beach wear" they still wanted to walk by the beach; it was a small tradition they had when Dyomie got back they would always head to the beach no matter what time it was and just sit looking at the waves, being comfortably in each others' company.

Today was a bit hotter, so Dyomie just held her typical leather jacket in one arm, the other being occupied by hooking her sister's arm in her's. It was a beautiful day, and Dyomie could feel that it was slightly brighter; her heist went well, she got a fancy new gold trinket, the apartment was clean and she got a Marie cooked meal; oh yes, today was a great day, even with the heat.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Natasha Dean

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Natasha Dean

Natasha stepped out from her car and looked up at the Precinct building, she sighed as she prepared to walk into the building, returning to work after being shot, no doubt someone would say something, let alone what Phillip was going to say to her when he finds out she went to work.

Natasha smiled as one of the other cops left the double doors and held them open for her, "Thanks, Barry." She said as she stepped through the doors and into the reception.
"Natasha!" The receptionist shrieked with excitement. "Oh my god, it's so good to see you're okay. But shouldn't you be at one resting?" Natasha shook her head, whilst looking at the receptionist.
"I'll rest when I die." Natasha joked before walking through to the female lockers, before the door closed she could hear the receptionist yelling in.
"It won't be long if you keep up like this! Natasha merely rolled her eyes and started to change into her uniform, tying her hair up into a ponytail and then leaving the lockers.

Natasha waited outside for her partner, leaning on the patrol car, she sipped some of the hot chocolate she had in her hands, she couldn't stand tea or coffee and so made do with hot chocolate. She watched as one of the double doors opened and her partner came out, his face happy as always, the good cop, John. Natasha smiled as he spotted her, in uniform, waiting by his car.
"Natasha?" He seemed to be questioning his sanity.
"Yep, come on, we got work to do." She smiled before throwing the keys to him.
"Shouldn't you be resting?" Natasha just shook her head.
"When do I ever rest?" Natasha looked at him, her face passing on the 'really?' vibe.

The patrol car went about its round, arresting criminals and abusers. Natasha was being particularly rough with those that they were rounding up.
'We have a 10-103m on Atlantic Boulevard, please respond.' The radio announced and Natasha looked to John, her eyebrows narrowed.
"10-4, we're on our way to the scene." John replied and the sirens began to wail as the car made it's way to the scene.
"An insane person? On Atlantic Boulevard?" Natasha asked, wondering if the code had been received right.
"Maybe their wife just drove them insane." John replied not giving it another thought before arriving at them scene.

Arriving at the scene, there was a man crouched over a body, eating the remnants of the body and Natasha sighed.
"Not another bath salts. John sighed, before grabbing his radio. "10-97, Atlantic Boulevard, 10-24, suspected bath salts." Natasha looked to John, who was now approaching the body, her heart beat raced in her ears as she watched John approach the mental patient. "Sir, please step away from body." He shouted, Natasha had watched as a crowd appeared to see the commotion, a girl began screaming and that's when the attacker twisted its head viciously in her direction. Seeming to forget about the body before it, the attacker made his way towards the girl, biting at the air and limping on it's right leg. Natasha took her gun out and aimed at the attacker, as did John.
"Stop where you are!" Natasha yelled but the attacker then turned his attentions on her and made his way towards the officers. "John, what do we do?" Natasha asked, but John just seemed frozen, paralysed. So Natasha took it upon herself to take control of the situation and fired one round into his good leg, but he just kept coming for her, shocked she put another bullet into his leg and all it did was make him fall to the ground, he didn't seem phased or at all in pain. Natasha fired her entire round into his body but he still didn't stop and then John shot him in the head and he stopped.

The pair rushed to the half eaten victim, there was no pulse and there would have been no way they'd even survive that.
"10-45d, 10-55d." John said into his radio, before he stood up and placed his hand over his mouth, slowly letting it slide away. He then shooed everyone off as the rest of the officers showed up to cordon off the scene from the public eyes. John and Natasha were told to return to the precinct, which they did yet on their way back they got another broadcast.
10-74, possible lead on theft.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Edmund Remington

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Edmund Remington


Appearance, money, and dance. That's all Edmund truly ever cared about.

He breezed into a top-notch clothing store, adjusting his glasses every few seconds. God help Edmund if his precious eyewear were to ever fall off. His vision would abruptly switch from perfect high definition to unfocused and horribly blurry. Thank goodness this tragedy has not yet happened to Edmund, as he would most definitely flop and clunk around all over the place, struggling to see with his poor eyes. Also, the glasses he's owned for so many years actually boosted his already high self-esteem and made Edmund feel as if he was the most handsomest man in the whole world, or at least the city of Los Angeles.

After almost an hour, Edmund had spent a large amount of money and sauntered out of the store with his shopping bags at his hand. He was awfully cheerful that day, which was rather unusual; showing emotions wasn't exactly something seen from Edmund, and he himself was taken aback by how joyful he felt. Most of the time, he experienced a mellow, calm sort of feeling and it almost always stayed like that. Something just seemed so special about that day that Edmund's heart decided to burst out in bliss.

Too caught up in his little world of jubilation, the phone call from his student Edmund received on his cell phone didn't seem important at all.

"Hello, Edmund speaking," he answered, positioning his phone between his cheek and shoulder.

"Edmund, where are you? It's almost noon and your students are waiting for you!" cried the voice on the other line.

"Oh my. I'm sorry Therese, I'm on my way. You know me, once I start shopping, I can't stop."

Speeding up his pace and gently making his way through a crowd of bustling people, Edmund slipped his phone into his shopping bag and sighed with relief. He had completely forgotten that he had a class with his students that day and was relieved that he would be able to once again do the thing he loved most: dance.

The citizens of Los Angeles seemed to be on the same bright wavelength of emotion as Edmund and the sidewalks were crowded with loud, perky people. This made it almost impossible for poor, lazy Edmund to be able to make it back to his dance studio in time. Physical activity was never an option for him unless it had anything to do with the art of dance. Dashing through the front door of his studio and noticing all of his students sitting on the floor anxiously, Edmund sighed and dropped his shopping bags down to the floor.

"I sincerely apologize for my late arrival. As we all know, Mr. Remington loves to shop. If it weren't for Therese," pointing at his first student ever, Theresa, Edmund smiled, "I probably would still be spending my money and would have left all of you poor dears just sitting here waiting for me all day."

His students chuckled as they stood, all dressed in their appropriate dance attire. There were about ten of them. They had all began instruction under Edmund just a week ago, except for Therese, who had been around ever since Edmund started teaching. All of them began their usual warm ups in the awfully large dancing space in the studio. The wooden floors were shiny, just how Edmund liked it.

"Enough warming up for today. Now, I have to touch base on some of you about your postures."

Now completely focused, Edmund at last finally lost the unusual feeling of happiness and became calm. He could tell that that whole day was going to be the best he had ever had. A shopping spree and an extra day of teaching aspiring dancers was pretty much what could make Edmund's day.

"Energy, girl, energy," indicated the dance instructor as he positioned one of his student's chin up, "You're moving like a zombie."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Nathan McDonald (NPC)

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Harper Hopkins

Harper didn't have a life. At least, she didn't feel like she did. She didn't really like socializing at work; too many snakes, not enough grass. All right, a few people were pretty cool; she got along with all the other reporters who'd shown up in Los Angeles at about the same time that she had, and the videographers had all been superb with her on shoots. When she couldn't swing editing her own news packages, the editors she'd work with were pretty great. She even got along with her assignment editor and her producer. All right, maybe there were more good people at WEND-TV than she'd really accounted for...

... except for the evening anchors, two older, Botox'ed clams who had been on the desk for way too long. George Geranos and Maxine Millner. Good God. Sour personalities. The entire sports department seemed to be made up of fine citizens from Douchebag City, from Chuck Cherry on the evening desk (even a douchebag name, for Christ's sake!) to the nameless intern chick who insisted on wearing low-cut dresses every day. Mostly those folks kept to themselves, like an inbred stable. Good riddance.

But the weirdest people were the folks competing to be on the desk, the reporters who had "been around for so long" and thought that Harper was a usurper encroaching on their birthright. The News Director, Steve Hilpin, saw fit to stick the Emmy-winning newcomer with plush assignments; after getting shot at in Iraq, taking a U.S. Senator to task for lying about having an illegitimate child, exposing a child sex ring in Atlanta, and a number of other intense stories she'd covered, he felt she'd earned the right to not have to prove herself in a top-market newsroom. Of course, that put her in an awkward position with other reporters who were prone to feelings of entitlement and jealousy.

She sipped her coffee while standing at her desk, looking at the most recent copy of the evening show's rundown. She always arrived at work close to 1, since she was working the nightside these days. Her stories would appear on the evening newscasts, both at 6 and at 11 pre-empting the late-night shows. It was a coveted schedule to have: show up at work by 1, lunch and dinner breaks as you could fit them in, and out by midnight, with the option to have a drink before hitting the hay and starting the cycle all over again.

Nathan, the videographer assigned to her for that day, sauntered over to the desk and held up two small bags of In-N-Out with one hand and a cup in the other. "Miss Hopkins, I owe you lunch today," he said with a goofy grin. "And we're going to need it. Today's a doozy."

Harper let out a little excited squeak as she opened her bag. Cheeseburgers were awesome. "Thanks for bringing lunch, remind me that I'm supposed to marry you someday," she quipped happily. She reached into the bag and took a satisfied bite out of her sandwich. "Good Lord, you know me so well." She took a sip of her soda and smiled. "Yeah, we've got quite a day ahead of us. I can't wait. I've been dying to do this story."

Several months prior, Harper had pitched the idea of talking to a leading anti-vaccination advocate, who also happened to be a porn-star-turned-B-movie-actress, about the veracity of her claims that vaccines caused her son to become autistic. After some digging, her producer found a doctor at UCLA Medical Center who could refute that claim. They still had yet to get the advocate herself to agree to an interview that wasn't constrained by a restrictive contract. What better way to force her to talk than by forcing her to defend herself?

A risky move, but considering recent outbreaks of infectious diseases that were supposed to be long-eradicated, the issue was becoming a growing concern in the public eye.

Harper flicked a lint roller over her sweater and plucked her bag and notepad from her desk. She crinkled up her food wrapper, tossed it in the wastebin, and looked to her videographer. "Ready when you are!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Sarah Hawke (NPC)

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.: CALVIN HAWKE :.


It was past lunch already, and Calvin still hadn't eaten. The simple meeting quickly turned into a meeting, a video conference, and an impromptu screen test. All of the buzz surrounding his new movie had suddenly made Calvin a hot commodity, and Paramount wanted to grab him for their next vessel before anyone else did. He never thought that this would be the movie to turn him into the prettiest girl at the ball, not that he could complain.

His Lamborghini pulled up a few feet in front of him. The valet tossed Calvin his keys and pocketed the generous tip handed to him with a smile. With the rest of the day off, Calvin was looking forward to finally getting some food and relaxation. He had rushed out of the house without a proper shower or breakfast and still felt hungover from last night’s party. Food never sounded so good. Something greasy, preferably.

‘If this god damn traffic would move…’ Calvin thought to himself, as he adjusted his rear-view mirror. His eyes caught the flashing reds and blues of an incoming batch of cop cars, ambulances, and fire trucks. Nothing out of the ordinary for Los Angeles, and certainly a good explanation as to what was holding up the freeway. He took the next opportunity to duck off the nearest exit in pursuit of some grub. He swung into an open parking spot across the street from one of his favorite 24-hour diners, locking his car with the remote as he hustled over to the restaurant.

The place was moderately empty, which was surprising. The spot was a neighborhood favorite, serving a mostly traditionally diner-styled menu. Only one waitress seemed to be working and was currently tied up at another table, so Calvin grabbed a menu from near the host kiosk and plopped down in the nearest open booth. He had turned his cell phone off going into the meeting and having just remembered, turned it back on. Five missed calls flashed across his screen after the opening logo played out.

“What the…” Calvin said, trailing off. His ex-girlfriend, Hannah, had called three times. It was a bit odd, considering they hadn’t spoken since the incident at her birthday earlier that year. That call would have to wait. The next name to pop up was that of his little sister, Sarah. Calvin cursed to himself under his breath. They had made plans to get lunch that day. The second thing he totally forgot about. He quickly dialed her number.

She answered almost immediately. “Hey, Hollywood. What’s up?” Calvin hated that nickname.

“I’m so sorry I missed lunch. There was a meeting I forgot about, and the after-party went a little late last night.”

“Eh, I figured it was something like that. No bigs.” It wasn’t the first time he was forced to bail on plans. Unfortunately, his career didn’t allow for a lot of flexibility or free time. He knew Sarah was tough enough to roll with the punches, but it wasn’t a reputation he was fond of. Since his split with the ex-girlfriend, his sister was the only good relationship he had left in this city. A little girl in the booth across the restaurant was peeking at Calvin from behind her menu. She nudged her brother, whose eyes nearly bulged out of his head when he saw who it was. Calvin gave them a small wave, and they both retreated back into their seats, giggling.

“Well, hey, I’m at that diner I took you to after your volleyball game last weekend. Wanna meet me here?”

“Can’t. AP Chem starts in five minutes," she replied hastily.

Another missed lunch. It was hard to keep score anymore. “Shit. I’m sorry, Sarah. Look, I’ll make it up to you tomorrow.”

“Don’t worry about it. It's not like you don't have a lot on your plate. Congrats, by the way.

“Oh... thanks," Calvin said, feigning excitement. "Yeah. Things are good." It all kind of seemed pointless when you didn't have anyone to share it with.

“Hey, I gotta go. Tomorrow, OK? Bye, bro-bro.” Click. Calvin pocketed his phone with a sigh. He stared blankly at his menu, not really reading anything in particular. There was too much running around his head. Added to that list was what Hannah wanted. If it was important, she would have left a message. They hadn't talked for over 5 months, after all.

“Excuse me,” a voice suddenly said from beside him, breaking his train of thought, “are you ready to order?”

“Oh, uhhh…” He looked up at the girl. She was cute, in an odd sort of way. Riddled with freckles and sporting big green eyes… eyes that got even bigger when she realized who she was talking to. “Your nametag is upside down,” he said. It was. She hastily adjusted it to face the right direction.

“Thank you,” she said nervously. “Um. Did you have questions about the menu… or anything?”

“I’ll, uh… I’ll have a club sandwich and a rum and coke.”

She tucked her hair behind her ear, blushing slightly. “This is a family restaurant...”

Calvin suddenly realized. “Oh, shit. Right. I mean, fuck-- Sorry." He was the one blushing now. A closed bar... great. "Just a coffee then.” She nodded, taking his menu. “Kind’ve dead in here, huh?”

The waitress opened her mouth to answer, but stopped when she felt something brush by her. At her waist, the little girl from the other booth stood with her crayons and a piece of paper in hand.

"Can I have your auto-graft?" She asked, looking pleadingly into Calvin's eyes.

"How about I do you one better?" He said, taking the crayon from her. Calvin quickly sketched out a picture of the little girl with a cape and princess tiara riding a unicorn. It wasn't his best work, admittedly, but it wasn't half bad for a crayon drawing. He slid the paper towards her and handed her her crayon back. The girl held the picture up to the light and took it in with big, starry eyes.

"Whooooaaaaa...." She said, softly. "Thank you."

Calvin smiled. "Anytime, kid."

The girl attacked him with a surprise hug and practically skipped back to her table. He sheepishly looked around the restaurant, hoping that he hadn't created to much of a scene. "I think she's in love with you," the waitress teased as she grabbed his menu.

"Not really my type..." Calvin replied.

Another wave of sirens tore through the street outside, as she walked back to the kitchen.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Park

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Anna Park




Silence had for once settled over the on-call room, allowing Anna a few moments of shut eye as she waited for the inevitable buzz of her pager. Spending the night at the hospital wasn't so unusual. In fact she had been there for the past two nights and had only been back to her apartment once in the past 24 hours. It has been exceptionally busy in the hospital with strange cases coming in left and right.

Just as she had begun to drift into restful sleep the cursed buzzing noise started up. She looks at her pager with eyes full of hatred, though she knows its not the devices fault. Quickly and without dallying she climbs down off the top bunk, careful not to disturb the nurse laying down on the bottom bed, and heads out into the hustle and bustle of the hospital.

"Hey, got a kid in room 302 complaining her stomach hurts," Sharon snaps from her place at the front desk. Usually she isn't so grumpy, but being here so long probably has her on edge. She hands a stack of papers to Anna to fill out while checking up on the kid.

"Great, and here I thought I would get a few minutes of shut eye." Anna sighs.

"Yeah well apparently only the dead get to sleep around here," Sharon sympathizes, though Anna feels a prickling of anger at the fact that Sharon gets to sit on her butt all day while mostly everyone else runs around. Desk work has never looked so appealing to Anna before, but after the past few days she thinks it would be far better than what she's doing now.

"-op spacing out and get going." Sharon chastises her, though Anna barely catches the latter half of her sentence. She hadn't even noticed she was spacing out. She rubs her eyes and nods, quickly heading off to room 302. She knocked before entering.

What Anna see's makes her almost drop the papers she's holding in her hands. The girl in question is laying incredibly still, holding her stomach and making strange rasping noises when she breathes. She's only five years old , and looks to be in a serious amount of pain. Anna glances at the chart to get the girls name; which is Amber. The girls mother looks instantly relieved to have someone else in the room. "She's been like this for hours," the girls mother quickly starts speaking, "She vomited earlier, and has been getting worse ever since."

"How long has the pain been going on and has she been running a fever?" Anna asks while grabbing a thermometer from the rack of tools on the wall. She quickly gets the young girl to stick it under her tongue and waits for the mothers input. "The pain has been since yesterday, or at least that's when she started complaining about it. She's been running a low fever since then as well."

"Okay," Anna nods to speaks to herself more than to the mother. She checks Amber's temperature and notices its way higher than it should be. After trashing the used thermometer cover she takes the girls blood pressure and checks her eyes, mouth, and nose as procedure dictates. Once finished taking Amber's vitals she writes a few things down, working as quickly as possible. "I'm going to apply a little bit of pressure and I need you to tell me if it hurts," Anna tells to girl, lightly pressing her hands against the left side of the girls stomach.

"A little," Amber squeaks out.

Anna nods an presses on the middle, getting more of a reaction then finally presses down over her right side. Amber jolts as if she's been shocked, groaning. "It hurts the most there," Amber says through clenched teeth. Anna sighs, it could be any number of things concerning the girls gastrointestinal system but she's suspecting at the point that its Appendicitis.

"Since the pain is low on the right side its a little concerning, she may be suffering from appendicitis in which case she will have to go to the OR immediately. So we'll have to get a blood sample to check for that," Anna tells Amber's mother.

"But first I would like to get a urine sample to rule out anything else." She moves to one of the locked cabinets and produces from it a small cup, which she hands to Amber's mother. "I'll be back in a few minutes to take the blood sample." Anna tells them, writing down a few more things on Amber's chart before heading back out into the hallways of the hospital. She has always hated taking blood, but gets over it once she gets all the materials she needs from the lab room and starts wheeling the cart back towards the room.

When she gets there neither Amber nor her mother are back yet. Which Anna doesn't think is so odd since most kids can't just pee on command. She waits a few minutes for them. Ten minutes later Anna is drawn out into the hospital by the sound of loud voices.

"What the hell is going on."

The only thing Anna can do is watch in horrified fascination as the hospital begins to swarm with extra bodies. EMT's, Nurses, and Doctors rushing here and there. the red and blue flicker of lights coming in through the windows, and patients on gurneys being wheeled in at an unbelievable pace. There are only a few actually injured patients but Anna notices quite a few of them are in shock or are unconscious.

"Don't just stand there!" One of her fellow nurses snaps at her as he rushed by wheeling one of the patients in shock. "What happened, was there an accident?" She asks another passerby, but is shrugged off and given no answer.

"Park, there you are. We had to move the girl and her mother up a floor to make room for...this mess." Sharon speaks in quick, clipped tones. Making sure to wave her arms about wildly, then motions to the EMT's at the door. "There was some sort of incident, they won't say anything other than it was some kind of small riot. Not a lot of people involved, but the ones that are here need to get evaluated and put into rooms ASAP." Sharon looks to her meaningfully.

"Alright, ill get right on it." Anna sighs in frustration, heading off the check over a few of the unconscious patients. It isn't uncommon here to have incidents like this, but its the first time Anna has been directly involved and it makes her all the more nervous as she goes to work checking over and taking patients to different rooms.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Nathan McDonald (NPC)

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Just as Harper and Nathan were heading out the door, Charlie, the nightside assignment editor, flagged them down. "Whoa there, pardners, quick word before you head out!" he said, rushing from his desk and dramatically waving his arms. "Just got off the phone with Calvin Hawke's agent."

Nathan seemed unimpressed. "Okay, and?" he said dully.

Charlie rolled his eyes. "Okay, and you better be at his office in the next half-hour to interview Calvin Hawke."

Nathan laughed. "Any reason why we need to interview him?"

Harper loved the fact that Nathan was often willing to ask the meaner questions that she didn't want to ask for the sake of keeping the peace. He was so much more excited about handling conflict than she was, and she wasn't about to get in his way.

"Because his new flick is raking in record-breaking dollars for someone like him," Charlie sharply responded. "I texted you guys the address, the latest box office amounts, a background refresher on him, and other shit you just might like to read. Head on out now. You've got an hour with him, then you can go to the hospital. And, you're welcome, I re-booked your appointment. Doc's scheduler said that that worked a lot better, since he ended up getting busy today."

Harper nodded. "Thanks, Charlie, we're on it." She and Nathan continued out the door and hopped into one of the company vehicles. "Have you ever seen a Calvin Hawke movie?" she asked Nathan as she buckled up. "I haven't watched a movie in years."

Nathan laughed. "Yeah, Calvin Hawke is the shit," he said back.

"So why were you such an asshole to Charlie about it?" Harper asked, confused.

Nathan laughed again. "Because I don't want to let on that I'm ever excited about meeting anyone and looking like the lamest kid in the room!" he explained. "We'll be there in ten minutes, not thirty. I'm pretty jazzed, man."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dyomie Thornes Character Portrait: Marie Thornes (NPC)

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Dyomie Thornes
Marie Thornes


As Dyomie and Marie walked along the beach they could hear in the distance ACDC's Shake a Leg song playing. Neither spoke as they rarely did on these walks, just quietly being together like a real family as that happened to rarely. The sun beat down on their skin feeling more like the sun was kissing them even though Dyomie knew she probably looked like the sun was boiling her; Marie stifled a laugh when she saw Dyomie's beat red face and the older sister could confirm that she was probably going to be feeling a slight burn tomorrow.

They tell me what they think but they stink and I really don't care
Got a mind of my own move on get outta my hair
Shake a leg shake your head
Shake a leg wake the dead
Shake a leg get stuck in
Shake a leg shake a leg
, the song played in the background.

"Hey Tidbit let's head back before I get too burned okay," Dyomie said, steering her sister back up the beach and back to their apartment. Marie didn't fight with that notion at all, mostly because she was too busy laughing at how red her big sister turned, but Dyomie liked to think it was just because her little sister was worried about her getting a nasty sunburn.

When they arrived home the answering machine flashed a small red light, a voice message. Marie ran from her sister's arms and too the machine, though Dyomie didn't know why her sister was suddenly so excited, she smiled. Dyomie was very proud of the woman her sister turned into; excited, happy, and loving, not the loner she turned out after being left alone so often. Marie pressed play and a man's voice started speaking:

" Hello, Marie? This is Brad Law from the Olympic's gymnast team. We just reviewed your tape again and are happy to tell you that you made it. We really hope to hear from you soon just to confirm you're still interested and able to, a formality mostly. If you can I'd like to meet up for coffee after your practice on this coming Monday if that'd be alright, I'd like to congratulate you in person. Again, good job, we really hope that you'll do well."

Marie turned to look at her sister, her mouth hanging open and her eyes widening with every second. Dyomie's smile couldn't have been bigger. They both ran to each other at the same time, knocking over some piles of papers, and hugged each other, jumping up and down, and twirling.

"I can't believe it!" Marie yelled, "I actually did it! I actually got in!"

"This is amazing!" Dyomie yelled back, "I knew it was only a matter of time! I'm so proud of you Tidbit!" After they started to settle down, which meant they had stopped yelling the two sisters let go of each other.

"Okay, I'm going to get your favorite food and movie and tonight we're going to celebrate," Dyomie said, grabbing her bag that she had left by her bedroom door earlier and heading towards the door, "Which movie do you want to watch?"

"I don't know," Marie said dancing while she was sitting on the extremely worn couch, "My brain isn't really working right now."

Dyomie just laughed, "Alright I'll choose," she walked to the door, but before she left she turned around, "I really am proud of you Marie, this is the greatest news ever. I love you," she said.

"I love you too, Dy," Marie said, and with that Dyomie left the apartment.

She didn't have to go far to get the food and movie for the night and the entire way there she was quietly singing the song from earlier, though not because it seemed relevant to what was going on, but more because it was stuck in her head and the melody was at least happy, "Idle juvenile on the street on the street
Kickin' everything with his feet with his feet
Fightin' on the wrong side of the law of the law
Don't kick don't fight don't sleep at night,"
she sang, swinging the plastic bag with the movie in it. Today was great, the best day ever she could argue; she just pulled off her greatest heist yet, she got to spend the day with her sister which rarely happened, and her sister actually achieved one of her dreams. The sirens that were filling the city weren't any bother to her right now, nothing could.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Nathan McDonald (NPC)

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.: CALVIN HAWKE :.


"Remind me why I'm doing this again?" Calvin asked as Ross fiddled with his collar. He had been quite persistent on Calvin wearing something a little nicer than his typical wardrobe for his meeting. The news network WEND-TV had called to set-up a pre-interview for a story on Calvin and his budding career. It would be great publicity and would likely inspire other magazines and news networks to approach him.

Ross grabbed Calvin and shook him by the cheeks, playfully. "Because the fish are starting to bite, and this is part of what we have to do to make sure they stay hungry." Calvin swatted Ross' hands away and moved towards the window where he saw a news van turn onto the street from a ways down. He reached into his pocket to silence his phone, and though he'd never admit it, he was also checking to see if there were any other unexpected calls from ex-girlfriends he hadn't talked to in months. But there were no calls. And no bars either, oddly enough.

"I just spent two months doing press junkets. Do I really need to do another interview for this movie?"

Ross laughed to himself, as if Calvin was the most naive person on the planet. "Calvin. Baby. You don't get it, do you?" He grabbed a magazine from a pile on his desk and threw it down on the coffee table beside Calvin. Underneath the title lettering was a photo of Calvin atop the hood of an old Camaro. The caption read: "Hollywood's Golden Boy". "They don't just want some story about what you ate at the craft services table on set... they want your story."

Calvin let that sink in a moment as he continued gazing out the window. The van had pulled to a stop in front of Ross' office. A man unloaded some equipment from the back, while I woman led her way up the steps towards the front door. It wasn't long before Ross' intercom buzzed.

His secretary chimed in from the other side, "There's a Ms. Hopkins here for your 4 o'clock."

Ross sent a thumbs up Calvin's way and keyed the door. "Send her in."

The door opened and a thin woman entered, followed by a stockier gentleman carrying a large cargo box. The woman headed directly for Calvin and held out her hand, making firm eye contact. "Harper Hopkins. WEND-TV."

Calvin shook her hand. "Calvin Hawke."

"Of course," she replied as she broke off to help her colleague unpack. "This should only take an hour or so," she began, "we're just going to chat for a bit so I can collect some talking points for the real interview."

Ross sidled in from behind his desk. "And will you be needing me for this, or--"

Harper gave the man a scan from head-to-toe. "I think Calvin will be able to help us with everything."

The agent cleared his throat and grabbed his cell phone off the table. "Right. Well, let me know when you're finished. I'll be next door." He gathered his things and left the room hastily. Nathan, in the meantime, had just finished attaching Calvin's mic.

"Alright," he began, "you're good to go, dude. Err-- Mr. Hawke."

Calvin smiled. "Dude's fine."

Harper had taken the liberty of attaching her own mic and had taken her set with a pen and a pad. Calvin sat in the lounge chair across from her and fiddled with his mic a bit so it wasn't poking into his chest. She looked over to Nathan and signaled for him to start recording.

"So. Calvin Hawke. Tell me... why should I be doing a piece on you?"

The question was insanely blunt, but extremely valid. And Calvin had no good answer.

"Uhhhhh... I don't really know how to answer that."

He wasn't sure if she was a really good interviewer or if she was just toying with him. Either way, he felt like he was floundering. She followed-up quickly. "You've been interviewed dozens of times already about your new film. Do you even have anything left to say?" Her queries lingered quite loudly in the deadly silent room. Nathan looked back and forth between the two, awkwardly.

Calvin adjusted in his seat and leaned forward. "You want a story? I'll give you a story."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Nathan McDonald (NPC)

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Harper Hopkins


"... and, you wouldn't believe it, but now every time I see a mouse on TV, I think of that ONE guy," Calvin finished, cracking up with the silly memory he'd gone into details about. He was now obviously feeling far more comfortable in front of the rolling camera than when the interview had started out.

Harper doubled over in laughter. This was one of the most fun interviews she'd conducted in weeks. "Great, now that's exactly what I'm going to think of, too," she said, jotting down the approximate timecode at which he'd wrapped up, for the purpose of easier work in the editing bay back at the station. "I'm going to tell you I've never seen any of your movies. Is that bad?"

Calvin shrugged his shoulders and raised his palms, contorting his face into a comically quizzical expression. "Ahhh, I don't know, you seem to be surviving somehow," he shot back. "I don't know how, but here you are. Loser."

Harper laughed again. "All right, all right, so why don't you tell me which should be the FIRST movie starring the great, acclaimed Calvin Hawke that I should watch?" she asked, playfully hunching her head down between her shoulders, dramatically sticking her head out as though expecting the answer of a lifetime.

Calvin jokingly chewed the side of his lip and tilted his head. "Gosh, there are just so many good ones, you know?" His words spilled out in a sticky-thoughtful manner. He set his face ahead to look back at Harper. "How about you just start with the one that just came out that you just asked me all these questions about? Start at the end, work backwards! You won't be disappointed."

Harper's stomach hurt from all that laughter. "Goooooood God," she howled. "Ehh, man, sucks that we have to get back." She looked back at Nathan. "What do you think? Are we good?"

Nathan had been working to hold back his amusement. "This is gold," he replied, shutting off the red "Record" button and clicking the "off" switch. He then reached down to another device that had been rolling, positioned not far from Calvin's feet: a small cassette recorder that looked like it had seen better days.

Harper blinked for a moment as she looked at it. "Dude, were you skipping class and trying to figure out what the professor said later?" she quipped quickly.

Nathan shook his head and laughed. "No, no, no," he rolled happily, "and, I hope you don't mind, man, but I carry this in my pocket for interviews I get super-psyched about. These days everything is digital. Ever had a camera or an SD card or an external hard drive crash on you? Man, it's a motherfucker." He caught himself and turned red. "Uhh, sorry... totally let that slip... okay, I'll say, it's a big huge expensive problem to fix that you just feel like you can have a nervous breakdown over. Man, it sucks. I wanted an audio backup of this interview in case anything went bad. This was just so cool, man."

Calvin shrugged as he unclipped his lapel mic and handed it back to Nathan. "No sweat, it's all right," he said. "Analog, man. That can't get screwed up. I'm glad you were excited."

Harper stood and pulled off her own mic as Nathan packed up. "Well, Mr. Hawke, I gotta tell you, I'm a lot more informed than I was when I got in the door," she said. It really had been a good interview. It was very rare to find people who were good in front of the camera who also had interesting things to say. Bummer that she was unlikely to run into him anytime soon, since, after all, funny people are hard to come by. "Thanks for a good interview. That was a lot of fun."

Calvin held out a hand to Harper and shook her hand. "Miss Hopkins, don't tear me up too badly," he joked. He then extended a hand to Nathan. "Dude, a real pleasure."

Nathan smiled and slid his sunglasses up the bridge of his nose and on his eyes. "Man, been an honor," he replied. He pulled out his cell phone and smiled again. "Uh... would it be all right if we snapped a photo? My brother won't believe me if I tell him."

Harper took a peek out of the window as Calvin cheerfully agreed to a picture. As the two goofed off she peered downward onto the street. There were a couple of cars on sidewalks with flashing lights that stayed remarkably still, as though they'd been abandoned. The driver doors were open. There seemed to be more people on the street than usual, hustling quickly and nervously; this wasn't the part of town where pedestrians liked to stroll close to 5 p.m., as most people were getting into their cars at this time. Los Angeles wasn't really a walker's city, anyway... that was a tag for New York to wear.

"I'll walk you guys out," Calvin offered, breaking Harper's concentration.

She blinked and looked toward the two men. "Oh, yes, that would be great," she sputtered. "I was just looking outside. It's, uh, pretty hairy out there. Calvin, is this normal for this time of day?"

Before he could respond, a shriek broke out, muffled by the shut door. "HOLY SHIT!" was the also-muffled shout that accompanied it.

Calvin opened the door and raced out, Nathan and Harper not far behind. Ross' secretary stood there in shock, blood spurtling down the front of her shirt and dripping onto the ground. She held her arms in in the air, her hands shaking like leaves in the wind. Her face was ashy, her mouth hung open in disbelief. "I thought it was the mailman! H-h-h-he was supposed to pick up a package this afternoon, and-and-and Ross and-and-and-"

Calvin waved his hands. "Stop, stop, lie down, we're going to call 9-1-1, don't say a word!" he instructed quickly. "Nathan, the bathroom's over there, go grab a towel so we can stop the bleeding! Harper, get out your phone and call 9-1-1! Right now!" He helped the secretary down, so that the blood wouldn't gush as quickly from her throat due to gravity's natural pull toward the ground.

Nathan took off, opening the glass-paneled door that led down a hallway, where the office's two bathrooms were located.

"N... n-n-n.... Nooo!" the secretary insisted between wet, uneven breaths as Calvin brought her down to the ground. "D-d-don'-"

"No, don't talk, don't talk right now, we need to help you!" Calvin's voice was smooth but tense. "Stay down, just stay right here and we'll get help."

Harper was dumbfounded as she watched, and even more dumbfounded when she heard that repetitive, infuriating "out of service" message crop into her ear. "I can't get through," she said creakily, trying her best to keep calm despite the poor woman bleedin on the ground. "I'll try again, I'll try again right now."

She eyed the wound from the place she stood, confused. Was she stabbed? That had to be the explanation. There was no gunshot that she'd heard. If the woman had been stabbed, then that sure was one deep dig; usually these kinds of stab wounds didn't bleed so profusely unless there were many of them in the same place. How could someone have perpetrated such an attack, and so quickly? Who would be so bold? No doubt there were enough security cameras here to cause a reasonable amount of concern for anyone who was considering such a crime.

But then she noticed the jagged flesh around the area that the blood kept pumping from, turning a startling green and black at the ends. That sure didn't look like a stab wound to her.

Calvin must have noticed it, too. He looked back to Harper with large, saucer-like eyes. The only sound in the room was the woman's labored, squishy breathing. They likely had the same questions on their minds.

"WHOA!"

Nathan was running at breakneck speed down the hallway he'd disappeared down, clutching a couple of sage green hand towels. A nanosecond's glance at the hallway showed two dark figures tearing after him, not fast, but something scared Nathan to this point. Harper dropped her phone and raced to the door, instinctively slamming it behind Nathan after he barreled through and bracing her body against it, locking her wrists to secure the handle.

She let out a scream when she turned her head to look through the glass.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Edmund Remington Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Nathan McDonald (NPC)

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Edmund Remington


"Wonderful, Therese. I'm very proud of you."

Edmund elegantly clapped for all of his students as they completed the routine they were currently working on. Therese, obviously the most experienced of all her classmates, had managed to impress everyone with her graceful moves and gestures. It had been a few hours since class started and Edmund had managed to teach them the rest of the routine before the end of class.

After the students changed back to their everyday wear, they gathered their belongings and prepared to leave. Edmund gave them all a warm goodbye and adjusted his glasses before taking a look at the bags of clothes he purchased earlier that day. Now that he was alone, changing into the outfits and using the mirror to his advantage would be perfect. Grabbing a random bag, Edmund headed to the changing rooms and put on the clothes. He then turned all of the studio's lights on and adored himself in the large mirror placed in front of the dancing space.

"Handsome, as always."

Therese appeared out of nowhere, a small grin on her face. She was basically mocking her teacher's vanity with no shame or humility at all. Edmund let out a soft laugh.

"This black sweater fits perfect over my shirt. Black and white: the perfect combination," jokingly spinning around to show Therese all of the outfit, Edmund looked up and down at his own reflection, "I know I'm fashionable. No need to remind me, Therese."

"Of course, I never have to remind you. You remind yourself all the time."

Therese slowly glided towards Edmund, her hands behind her back. She was acting very unusual; the majority of the time, Therese was bubbly and talkative. However, at that moment, she seemed shy and secretive.

"Is everything all right, Therese? Why didn't you leave with the others? Class is over."

Now feeling a bit awkward as Therese continued to make her way closer to him, Edmund crossed his arms and began to step back. The lights began to flicker, making the situation have a creepy feeling.

"Edmund, I've always adored you very much," whispered Therese, now almost face-to-face with Edmund. She brought her arms in front of her and in her hands was a rose with a note, "ever since you began teaching me, I admit, I began to obsess over you.

Edmund swallowed, sweat beginning to form at his forehead. This girl was almost ten years younger than him and was now pronouncing her long-time love for him; things could not get worse. Grabbing the rose and taking another step back, Edmund nodded at Therese and motioned to the door. "Look, I'm flattered, but you're just too young for me. I think you should leave."

The room was silent. Therese looked down at the shiny floor with a look of major disappointment; the man she had loved for so long rejected her. Edmund looked above as the lights began to flicker. One completely went out. "I completely forgot to pay the light bill," muttered Edmund, trying to fill in the awkward silence between him and Therese. The light that went out was joined by another and soon enough, all the lights just died all together.

"You're right, I should leave," uttered Therese, still looking at the ground.

Click!

Edmund's attention was turned to the front door. It was too dark to notice, but there was now someone else in the room. The person left the door open and were making their way towards the two.

"Sorry, I left my bag here. Did you guys notice how crazy it is outside? Everyone's panicking over something."

It was just one of Edmund's students. He turned on his phone's flash to aid him find his bag in the darkness. Therese sighed and began her way out of the studio. Edmund sighed with relief, glad that the situation was over. He looked over to the student who left his bag and was about to say something when a shriek rang out by the open front door.

Edmund and his student immediately looked at the door. On the ground was Therese, her eyes wide open in horror and her body shaking. There was a pool of blood forming around her head and there seemed to be a bloody bite mark on her neck.

"Holy fuck!" cried out Edmund's student, and he immediately dashed to the hallway that led to the emergency exit. Edmund just stood there in shock, his hands shaking. Mumbling Therese's name, Edmund raced to her. As soon as he reached her, he spotted a horrifying, human-like figure feeding away on Therese's lower body.

"Oh my God."

Whatever was eating away at Therese looked up and took notice of Edmund. It stared at him and was about to pounce when a noise out in the streets stole it's attention. Whoever or whatever made the sound was probably delicious to the human-like creature as it hurdled towards it, completely forgetting about Therese or Edmund.

"Ed-Edmund. P-Ple-Please, help," her body was shaking and some of the blood began to turn into disgusting shades of green and black. Edmund desperately wanted to assist her but knew that there was probably nothing he could do; Therese was a goner for sure and he was lucky that the thing that was eating her was distracted by something. There were screams outside and Edmund didn't take the chance to see who was the creature's next victim; he quickly sped his way out of the emergency exit in the back and looked for a place he could take shelter in.

A few minutes away from the dance studio was the news station and there was an awfully large amount of people running around near it. Not wanting to stay in the same spot too long in fear of the creature finding him again, Edmund had no care in the world and just dashed as fast as he could towards the news station; in his mind, being around a large group of people when there's flesh-eating things running around was way better than being alone. After a few minutes of running in the open, he finally reached a point where he joined in with the crowd of bustling people. Edmund checked his pockets and realized that he left his phone back in his old pants at the studio.

"My luck," he mumbled. Turning his head towards the news station, which he found himself in front of, Edmund felt the need to barge in. He could definitely learn more about the chaos going on in there, with all the large amounts of televisions and radios in there. Plus, his uncle, Charlie, was the assignment editor there and he would most surely know lots about the situation with the human-eaters.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Thomas Blackthorne

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Thomas Blackthorne

"Dive! Dive! Dive!" The boat coxswain roared at the top of his voice as the assault boat slowed to twenty miles an hour. Thomas, seated third in the row on the starboard side of the vessel gripped his regulator tightly with one hand and allowed himself to fall backwards into the water as the man in front of him vanished into the white wake.

The water hit him like a prize fighter, momentarily spinning him around like a rag doll. It took him several seconds to orient himself, clap the regulator between his teeth and do a quick check to make sure his gear was still attached. He was sinking slowly and a quick burst of air into his floatation vest stabilized him, allowing him to hang virtually motionless in the water.

"Charlie Team, confirm." The words crackled loudly in his ear and he winced slightly, his tongue flickering out to adjust the volume control inside his helmet. He waited as Charlie One and Charlie Two checked in before speaking.

"Charlie Three, confirmed." His words sounded hollow in the strange helmet he wore. It was the first time he had had access to such gear. The Canadian Combat Engineers, while being arguably the best in the world, did not have the same budget as their US counterparts and he had admit, he was damn jealous.

The remainder of the team sounded off. Their mission at this moment was to advance on a small island on the edge of the harbour and take it from the enemy force that was holding it. For all purposes it was a terrorist base with heavy security. Due to the nature of live fire however, there weren't actually any enemy troops on the island. Rather they would have to approach and infiltrate undetected by a whole range of electronic warfare systems.

"Charlie Team, close on me." The order came through and a quick glance at a wrist mounted map showed him the bright little dots indicating his five team mates. He began to slowly kick towards the dot indicating Charlie One.

"Charlie Four is that you?" Charlie One suddenly came in over the radio again. "Why the hell are you on the bottom?"

"Negative Charlie One, I am not on the bottom. "

"Then who the fuck is that?"

"Is it a person?"

"I don't know, looks like, I'm going to investigate. Close on me."

There was something about the situation that suddenly didn't feel right to the seasoned combat veteran inside Thomas Blackthorne. Of the team he was on, he was the oldest and the only one who had actually seen combat. The majority of the two teams out today were new bucks, only he and the engineer sergeant on Delta team were actual combat veterans.

"Charlie One, Charlie Three, do no approach alone, wait for the team to assemble."

"It's a..." Whatever else Charlie One had meant to say was cut off by a horrible scream that nearly burst Thomas's ear drum. He didn't wait as he ordered the team to close on Charlie Ones position and make contact.

It's got to a be shark. Please Thor, let it be a shark. Thomas could feel the blood pounding in his temples as he swam as quickly as could through the murk. He was on top of Charlie One almost before he saw him and only his height off the ocean floor saved him from what had befallen his brother in arms.

Four of them had him, they had ripped his helmet off and one was chewing off his lower chin and lip. It looked ridiculously comical, the slow movements of the attackers and the quickly weakening struggles of the dying soldier made even more slow motion by the water. Thomas could see that they were human, or had been once upon a time. Their features were distorted, their skin grey, their eyes like strange white orbs as they turned their attention from Charlie One and tried to reach up towards him.

"Holy shit..." He said aloud into his mic.

"Charlie Three, say again." The voice in his ear almost scared him to death and forced himself to focus on the situation at hand.

"Charlie One is down. I repeat, Charlie One is down. Do not approach, hostiles appear to be humanoid and..." His words faltered as he watched in horror as Charlie One began to move again, small jerks at first, then more violent until suddenly the head rotated towards him despite the yards of small intestine that floated freely in the murky brown cloud of blood. The eyes had gone white and arms began to reach towards him.

"Jesus christ!" Charlie Four had arrived, barely avoiding the now five creatures that were clawing up at them. "Charlie One is, what, jesus, fucking holy christ."

"Calm soldier." Thomas snapped into his mic as the stunned youngster joined him.

The five creatures, one of them now still in it's black military issue dive gear, were trying to reach up, white eyes fixed on the two floating men. It took Thomas a moment to realize that Charlies Two, Five, and Six had not checked in. He tried to raise them on the mic but got no response.

"Mother fucking Christ..." Charlie Four suddenly spoke again. "Sergeant, what the fuck."

He was pointing and Thomas became aware for the first time of a mass of dark shapes moving towards them along the sea bed. There must have been at least a hundred of them, all of them wearing bathing suits, beach wear, or nothing at all. One had a military issue dive mask wrapped around its head, it could explain why nothing had been heard from the other team members.

"We're bugging out." Thomas ordered, filling his vest with air and rising towards the surface. They had been down for no more than 30 minutes and he wanted out. A cold fear he had not felt since his first night patrol was taking hold. "But first."

He raised his weapon, the standard issue M-16, and fired two rounds into Charlie Ones torso. It wasn't rational thinking, he couldn't even imagine what that would be like right now. Cold had training had taken over and he could hear his own heavy breathing loud in his mask. It took a moment for him to realize that the bullets had done nothing and that the dead eyes were still reaching up towards him.

A swift kick and he had changed position, steadied his aim as best he could and put a bullet right between the milky white eyes. In an instant Charlie One was gone, his place taken by other creatures as they reached towards him. Nothing made sense and it was all he could to keep from vomiting into his mask as he kicked towards the surface. As it got closer he prayed it was just a dream, that he would break the surface and wake up in his own bed.

Instead he found himself on the edge of a city engulfed in hell.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Natasha Dean Character Portrait: Dyomie Thornes Character Portrait: Marie Thornes (NPC)

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Natasha Dean
Natasha looked up to John, the only thing he had said since the incident was '10-4' as they drove to the apartment address they were told was the address on record for the culprit. Natasha watched him, he had witnessed so much, yet this was the tipping point. He looked so drained, his skin had paled and his pupils dilated, this would definitely leave a scar. Natasha looked outside at the building,
"Is this is?" she asked out loud and John merely nodded. Natasha put her hand on his arm and he looked at her. "Just stay in the car, I'll handle this." she offered him a smile as she got out from the car and made her way to the entrance.

Dyomie Thornes
Things started to get a bit darker, and not just the sky, as Dyomie headed back to her apartment. She could hear distant screaming that seemed to come from the whole city; it was enough to make anyone a little edgy. So she picked up her pace a little and kept her eyes sweeping the areas around her, just as if she were on a another job.

When she turned the corner to get inside her apartment, she was thinking of barricading the doors and windows; more so when she saw the flashing red and blue lights parked in front. A blond woman was getting out and heading towards the door. Dyomie's mind raced to think of what to do; on one hand there was always running, but on the other there was her sister and for any reason her sister did not need to know what she did to get most of their money.

She stood completely still, just barely in the dark and out of sight of the car. Her brain worked over time and the cop's motions seemed almost too slow to be real as she calculated her plan. There was a loud clatter to her right which caught the criminal's attention. It was just some drunk, staggering around, nothing to bat an eye at. This drunk, however, seemed to be rather off. Something about him didn't register to her mind like a normal drunk and he looked mutilated, for lack of a better word.

"You okay there love?" Dyomie asked, sort of regretting drawing his attention to her even before she said anything. The guy looked at her and started to stagger towards her more frantically, making growling and gurgling noises. Dyomie began to walk towards the apartment, forgetting completely about the cops because she had a feeling this guy was one to run away from rather than fight. She didn't realize what she was doing until she backed into the cop.

Now she was in trouble.

Dyomie smiled politely at the cop, "Sorry officer, wasn't really looking where I was going. This guy is just kind of freaking me out," she said pointing to the staggering, mutilated drunk that was coming towards them.

Natasha Dean
Heard some talking from the alley, but she ignored the voices as she stepped towards the apartment entrance, yet before she could pull the door open a young woman bumped into her, warning Natasha to the presence of another man. His movements were similar to that of the man from earlier.

Natasha placed her hand on the holster, she could hear screaming from all directions and the sun was certainly beginning to set as she watched the drunk stumble towards the two.
"Sir, stay where you are." Natasha ordered, yet he took no notice of her and continued to stumble towards the girl. "Sir." She yelled, his face then turned crookedly to look at her, his eyes glassy. "Sir, can you understand me?" She asked, the entire situation reminded her of a zombie movie, the police force and the ambulance service were running around like headless chickens and there was more violence, riots and disturbances all across the city, not only in this jurisdiction.

As her thoughts returned to her, Natasha looked back to the man who was approaching at his sluggish pace, if zombie movies taught her anything, it was shoot them in the head, so she did. Expecting John to get out of the car and curse her, yet hearing nothing, sje spun round to look at him, unconscious in the front seat. "Oh god, no." She cried before running to the car door and yanking it open, John falling out. "John? John!" She cried, shaking him violently to no response. She looked up to the girl. "Hey go in and get any loved ones and come back here, immediately. We have to get outta here." She told her. "I promise, I'll protect you."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Nathan McDonald (NPC)

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.: CALVIN HAWKE :.


Nathan jumped through the doorway, spilling the towels all over the floor. Harper slammed the door shut behind him and braced herself for the inevitable impact of Nathan's pursuers. She screamed as the first walker threw its body against the door. The creature began pawing and thrashing on the other side as Calvin began trying to drag the secretary back into Ross' office where they could try to barricade themselves.

“Nathan! Give me a hand,” Calvin shouted to the cameraman. He was on his hands and knees trying to scrounge up the fallen towels, but abandoned his task when he saw what Calvin was up to. He came over and grabbed the girl's arms. Calvin already had her legs. “On three,” he said, looking Nathan in the eyes. “One... two... th--”

“AAAAAAAAH!” Nathan yelled out, as he fell forwards onto the girl. The secretary had grabbed onto his forearms and was pulling him in towards her. He managed to pin her head against the ground with his knee, and the girl suddenly started violently clawing and twisting on the floor. Harper stared at the poor girl's clammy face. Her eyes had become cloudy, like an animal at the end of its life. Blood poured from inside her mouth as she gnashed her teeth ferociously. It was like she had lost all sense of her old self and become a rabid husk of a human being. “Get her off of me!” Nathan shouted, struggling with the girl. Harper saw that Calvin was occupied with her legs and began to run over.

“No,” Calvin began, “hold the door! We can't let them-- SHIT! Harper, look out!” She was able to see it in his eyes before she heard it. The sound of thousands of shards of glass shattering apart behind her as the second walker hurled itself through the window next to the door. It was Calvin's agent, Ross. Or what was left of him, at least. The side of his face had been mostly torn away, and his suit was streaked with blood. Calvin reached out for Harper, grabbing her hand and pulling her out of Ross' claws.

“I'm losing my grip!” Nathan shouted out from beside them. The girl hadn't seemed to lose any energy as she thrashed about, and to be honest, for a girl her size she was giving Nathan quite a run for his money. There seemed to be a limited number of options at this particular point.

“Back into the office, GO!” Calvin ordered. Harper scrambled to her feet, kicking Ross away from her as she went. Calvin ran over to the secretary's desk and grabbed her office chair, as Nathan tried to untangle himself from the enraged girl. Ross clamored to his feet, fixated on Nathan. As he began to lumber over, Calvin grabbed the back of the chair and ran it against him like a lion-tamer, piercing the agent's torso with the two top legs. He yelled at the top of his lungs as he ran Ross back against the door. His body dropped to the floor, impaled by the chair, but otherwise undeterred. Calvin looked into the eyes of the man who had once made his career, and didn't know who he was looking at anymore. Ross' eyes were grey and cloudy, like his secretary's, but there was no hint of recognition in them... no life. He was suddenly snapped back to reality by Nathan.

“CALVIN! Come on!” He shouted from the doorway to the office. Calvin spun around and ran by as Nathan delivered a hard kick to the secretary's chest, sending her reeling backwards. He slammed the door behind Calvin and the two of them cleared Ross' desk and began dragging it over to block the door. Harper was at the window, peering through the blinds.

“What the hell is happening out there? What is this?” She asked, sullenly. A car was on fire in front of the building, and the red and orange light reflected across her eyes. The sun had mostly set now, and the street lights were waking up all along the sidewalks. Occasional silhouettes were scuttling around. Likely more of these walkers or others trying to find sanctuary. The two men had fixed the desk against the door, and were sitting on the floor catching their breath.

“I have no idea...” Calvin said between breaths, “but I think we're safe in here for now.”

Harper looked back at the two of them and crossed her arms. “We can't stay here for long. Disasters of this scale always warrant looting. Trust me, I'm a reporter. I've seen it. Now that the Sun's down there's going to be more to worry about than monsters going bump in the night.”

Calvin shook his head. “You really think there's going to be looting going on with something like this going on outside? You saw those things out there...”

“I don't know what I saw,” Harper said, indignantly.

The silence hung over the room like a dark cloud with nothing but the distant wails of sirens and desperate clawing of the secretary's nails on the outside of the wooden oak door.

And suddenly the day didn't seem so bright anymore...

[ Cue Soundtrack In Seperate Window: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWxQVLQmp3I ]

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Nathan McDonald (NPC)

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Harper Hopkins

(NOTE: Edits made, ~11am PST 3/26, because writing after two glasses of wine is not a great idea!)

The metal desk was heavy; heavy enough to keep the clawing, corpulent-looking secretary from burrowing her way through if she did happen to even scratch through the massive oak door.

At least they had that going for them.

Harper pursed her lip, and turned to peer again out the window. They had to be four or five stories up off of the ground, so they were a fairly safe distance up from the street and possible looters, or worse. On the downside, there was no way to climb or drop down safely.

Slow-moving figures dotted her line of sight occasionally. A few people darted quickly through the streets. Office windows across the street were lit on a fashion similar to theirs, even with similar faces that could be made out from their distance away. They weren't the only ones watching the events slowly unfolding below.

"Look," she said as she opened the window and gestured Calvin and Nathan to check out the window, "we can't get down from here, and it's getting darker. It's either we go back through the door, work our way through and get to our van, or we stay up here until we can see on the street."

Nathan looked over his shoulder at the door, the sound of the woman's guttural throat gurgles making him shudder, and looked back to Harper. "You can't be serious."

Harper furrowed her brow and pointed out the window. "Nathan, there's just no way," she fired back, trying to restrain herself from panicking. "Remember that long elevator ride? I don't remember us bringing parachutes, so the only option for us that doesn't involve breaking legs is out that door, right there." She pointed toward the growling noises.

Nathan shook his head. Calvin stared out the window, eyes bulging at the sight of the unseemly quiet mayhem down below. One of those slower-moving figures dragged itself below a lit streetlight. The newly-illuminated figure looked a lot like the secretary--limp neck, lips bared back to reveal gnashy teeth. Overall, almost unhuman. It toddled out of the circular field of light and wandered back off into the dark. "She's right," he said, "and if we don't make a break for it now, we'll have to stay up here probably for a long while."

Nathan looked around Ross' office, desperate to find some way to manage the threat outside of the door and make it to safety. It wasn't guaranteed safety, but it might be better than what they'd have up here. Clearly, they'd need backup methods of reasoning with the three people out there... if they could even reason at all.

Finally, his eyes landed on a set of golf clubs. He briefly reflected on their inherent pretentiousness, and then dashed over and reached for three of them. "I have no clue what any of these do," he reported almost sheepishly. "If this idea sucks, then be my guest and find another one. I really think we should stay up here and wait for the sun to come back out."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Natasha Dean Character Portrait: Dyomie Thornes Character Portrait: Marie Thornes (NPC)

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Dyomie Thornes
Marie Thornes


After seeing the scene unfold in front of her Dyomie was utterly confused. One, she had just thought that guy was a mutilated drunk; two, when he got closer the more she could see that something was more wrong with him than just being a drunk; and three, a cop just shot him. She sort of guessed that the last one could be four as well as a cop just saved her by shooting another person.

After the gunshot went off, the cop made a promise to protect her, again weird, but the gunshot seemed to be attracting a few straggling others who were like that guy. There was a scream down the street and people running around, Dyomie had to squint, but she could see, or she thought she saw, one of those mutilated drunks eating another person.

"That may be, but you can't do that out here can you?" Dyomie said. She dropped what she had gotten at the store and unlocked the door, dragging the cop to her apartment. Inside she found Marie sitting and watching TV, yet looking too excited and happy to even be paying attention to what she was watching.

Marie immediately noticed the grave look on her sister's face and the fact that she had a cop with her, "What is going on?" she asked.
"I'm not entirely sure Tidbit, but it looks like we'll be moving to a different place," Dyomie said. She locked the door behind her and put one of their heaviest chairs in front, turning the lights and TV off and pulling the curtains on the windows, "Just so we don't attract any of their attention," she said as a way to explain what she was doing.

"What are you talking about? And why are you acting so weird? We can't move I've got to start training as early as I can and I need to contact that guy again!" Marie said, the more she talked the shriller her voice became. Dyomie was at her side in an instant, a hand over her sister's mouth.

"No yelling. There are some things out there, I'm not sure what they are, but they do seem dangerous. This cop here just killed one and I have a feeling that that trainer guy is dead or will be soon. Something is happening Marie and it isn't going to end well," she then stood up and looked to the cop, "I propose we stay here for the night, don't draw too much attention to ourselves and maybe get some supplies together before we leave in the morning. It's getting to be too dark out there and we can't move if there are more of those things walking around. Marie help-"

"But Dy what is going on?" Marie asked in a loud whisper.

Dyomie sighed, brushing a hand through her hair and she looked at the cop, "I don't know, but I need you to co-operate with me. You two stay in here and raid the kitchen and everywhere else for clothes, water, food, weapons, anything you can find useful; and I'll check in my room." At that last part she gave Marie a meaningful look before heading off to her room to search her stash of thieving tools.

Marie looked uncomfortably to the cop, "I promise she isn't always like this," she said standing up, "I'm Marie Thornes by the way and she's my sister Dyomie. What's your name?" then as an after thought Marie changed her question, "I don't suppose you can tell me what's going on?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Stephanie "Stevie" Darden

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Stevie Darden


Stevie crouched low inside the lifeguard shack, still trying to make sense of what she had seen. She clutched her shoulder bag close. She knew that the car wasn't far away at all; in fact, if she looked around the corner of the building, she could have even spotted it at about three hundred feet away.

Dean had flown down with her to Los Angeles, opting to visit college friends during the day while she studied away for five days straight at seminar after seminar about the ethics and expected behavior of campaign staff, particularly media liaisons. She'd always loved almost every subject under the sun, and the unique opportunity to break away from music writing and branch into politics was irresistible. The gig would last less than a year, decent pay plus a victory bonus, and getting this trip approved was a pretty good deal. A fun way to try her hand at this career without a long-term commitment.

Before she'd taken the job, things were getting pretty serious with Dean. The handsome Berkeley graduate turned record producer was very different from her, but still a lot of fun. For several months, he'd been the perfect companion to go to shows with almost any night of the week, even waiting patiently for her to fix her hair before heading out. He listened to her when she became frustrated, and cheered her on when she enjoyed victories, no matter how small. She felt comfortable around him, comfortable enough to share long-held thoughts or even silly secrets that still needed to be guarded. They'd moved in together. He met and exceeded the standards of her hard-to-please family, while she impressed his. They started to talk about a life together.

Things were going really, really well.

Until, that is, he got dragged away by some awful... person, thing? She hadn't gotten a very good look at it.

The night before had been the first in many nights that didn't require her to be up at dawn the following morning. Instead, they slept in until 11 and decided to go for brunch on the beach after checking out of the hotel.

But brunch didn't happen. Instead, they decided to take a detour out on the beach to stick their feet in the water. Some cute thing to do while waiting for a nearby restaurant to empty out a little.

She watched a few surfers hulk up behind him. At first she thought they were messing around and being funny. "Hey, Dean," she said teasingly as they ambled closer, "you've got a couple of jerks behind you trying to—"

One grabbed him around his head, digging fingers into his eyes. Another sunk its teeth into his forearm, the other took a hold of his opposite shoulder. Dean let out a scream. "St—GO!" he spat out loudly as the three large figures pulled him away, momentarily focusing on him.

Stevie stood there for a nanosecond, trying to size up what she could do to help him. Her gut told her that there wasn't anything she could do. So she obeyed—and ran.

The beach was clear at the moment. She ran along as best as the sand would allow, hoping for dear life that maybe Dean had wrestled himself free and was right behind her.

She spotted the lifeguard shack in the distance, working her way toward it. She still didn't see anyone around, not even a lifeguard. This was not normal. Not one single bit.

Hours later, she was still crouched there, occasionally peering through the crack of the door to check on the activity outside, which had picked up considerably. She heard screams in the distance, but not up close. She saw figures similar to the surfers who had attacked Dean walking in and out of the ocean, dragging their feet by the shack. Walking right by it.

No sign of Dean. Not for hours.

Her adrenaline had been rushing for a while, preventing her from wrapping her head around what had happened to Dean. She frowned, noticing that no bars were on her phone, as she continued to crouch out of sight.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Thomas Blackthorne Character Portrait: Stephanie "Stevie" Darden

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Thomas Blackthorne

"This is the Los Angeles Police Department. Do not attempt to engage the enemy in hand to hand combat. Seek shelter. Barricade your doors. Wait for help to arrive."

The message was playing like an endless loop on every single civilian radio station that Thomas could get a fix on. He was trying everything he could to get some news of what might be going on elsewhere in the country but nothing was working. The emergency broadcast network had been activated. He supposed it was probably for the best, people might take some unnecessary risks otherwise.

Around him the half dozen survivors of Charlie and Delta Companies were sitting in a half daze as they gazed towards the city. Most of them were new to the teams but had seen combat at some point in their short military careers, such was the job of Americas elite warriors. What they had seen beneath the surface was another thing altogether however.

"Command is ordering us to assist local civilian authorities where we can." Their reverie was broken by the young voice of Lieutenant Donald Summers. He was probably a year or two younger than Thomas but he had earned his position like the rest of them and all turned to listen to him without complaint. "It sounds like the harbour has gone straight to hell so we won't be entering it. I am recommending we simply beach the boats, leave a guard, and find as many as we can and pull them off with us. Any thoughts Sergeant?"

He turned to look at Thomas who, in the last twenty minutes, had become the ranking NCO of the outfit. The men looked at him intently as well, all of them knew who really ran the platoon even if the orders came from someone else. He nodded in assent, they had to do something, anything was better than sitting out here.

"Agreed sir. I recommend that the boats hold off shore until we signal them in, those things are under the water as well. They could easily overwhelm the boats if we're rammed up on the beach. I volunteer to lead the beach landing party sir. I recommend you stay here to maintain contact with command."

The Lieutenant tried to argue but Thomas insisted firmly. The officer has a family of his own, Thomas had none. It was agreed, they would leave the two boats at sea with two men each, and one wounded man who said he had torn his suit on coral when he rolled over the side. Perhaps if Thomas had not been in a state of shock he might have thought to look more closely at the wound the man was pressing a bandage to.

The boats moved swiftly into the shore, nudging their bows up onto a stretch of sand deserted save for the dead. Thomas leapt into the surf, counting off his half dozen men before they gave the boats a push and watched them move out into deeper water. A quick weapons check and the team moved off, seven men moving swiftly up the sands, weapons ready.

At first Thomas thought they were going to be alone for the first while until he noticed that some of the "bodies" were still very much alive and thrashing in the sand, unable to move because of damage to their legs. They halted by one, she would have been a very good looking blonde girl not long ago. Her bathing suit had been torn from her body to reveal $10,000 worth of plastic surgery that jerked and bounced in odd contrast to her maniacal struggles to reach out towards them. She had bite marks all over her and dried blood pooled all around. One arm was hanging by threads and both legs had been torn off. He shot her between the eyes.

That one shot was a mistake. Within moments more of the creatures began to appear along the formerly deserted boardwalk and start slouching towards them.

"Fuck..." Muttered one man. "That might not have been such a great idea Sarge."

Thomas didn't reply but only nodded as he took a quick count of the oncoming creatures. He glanced up and down the beach and saw an elevated lifeguard shack some distance away. It wasn't much but it had sturdy steel pilings beneath it and was at least twenty feet above the sand, it would make for a decent back up if they couldn't return to the boats.

The thought had no sooner entered his mind then screams sounded from the water and he spun. Something was happening on the boats, he could see figures struggling on one of them as the other moved in closer, the men with their weapons raised. He hauled out his binoculars and aimed them at the scene and his heart sank into his gut.

Their wounded man seemed to be biting at the throat of the young Lieutenant, blood splashing across the side of the boat as he tore his fellow soldiers helmet free. The second boat, moving in close, opened fired and the reports of gunfire came swiftly over the water to them. The attacking soldier collapsed into the boat and the Lieutenant staggered back as the soldiers, remembering what Thomas had told them of the under water attack, shot him as well. Their gunfire served to attract even more of the shuffling undead towards them.

While this drama had been playing out, the boats, pushed by incoming tides and waves, had drifted closer to shore and as Thomas watched with helpless horror, arms reached up from beneath the waves, grasping at the sides of the boat. For a moment they could find nothing to hang onto but then one of them found the lifelines that hung along the sides. Normally used for divers to hang onto as the boat pulled them through the water it now allowed the under water creatures to find a purchase and in a moment more hands and then a head appeared as they hauled themselves over each other, trying to climb into the boat. The boats crew noticed within seconds and began firing into the water. Bullet after bullet spat into the waves but there were to many and slowly the boat began to list and then finally flipped over, the screams of the boats crews muffled by the water. They never resurfaced.

"Jesus fucking christ..." Thomas could think of nothing else to say as he stared at what was supposed to have been their salvation. His attention was broken only by the first of the heads that now appeared out of the surf as the creatures began to appear, shuffling slowly up the slippery sand. The men around him muttered similar comments.

"We have a serious fucking problem gentlemen." Thomas said as he glanced around. He estimated at least three hundred of the creatures were coming from the boardwalk and half that from the ocean now. "Make for the lifeguard shack, go."

They began to run along the sand, avoiding those bodies that still moved. The moans of the enemy were loud all around them as they ran. Being in excellent shape they did not have any difficulty out pacing their pursuers. He made a mental note to himself, Rule Number One: Cardio. If they could just stay ahead of their enemy they had a good chance. The main concern was going to be how would all seven of them fit into the lifeguard tower.

Thomas made a quick decision. "Stand your ground here. Try to hold of firing at all. Let them get real close if you have too. Use bayonets when possible, destroy the brain. I'm going to see if we can find a way out of this from up there."

No one questioned his orders and he thanked the gods for such highly trained soldiers as he began to climb the ladder into the lifeguard shack. He had barely got a foot in the door when he noticed a human figure crouched in the shadows, in one fluid motion he drew his weapon and began to bring it up, finger already on the trigger.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Thomas Blackthorne Character Portrait: Stephanie "Stevie" Darden

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Stevie heard the piercing gunshots blast outside, a commotion of voices occasionally ringing through, as well. Something was happening out there. She peeked through the crack of the door and spotted what looked like several divers carrying weapons as they worked to trek across the sand. Stevie's stomach twisted. What the hell was going on?

From the other side of the shack she heard other gunshots and noises. What she had thought must have been the sound of crashing waves distorted through the shack's building material was, in fact, a loud series of scraping and grunting noises on the boardwalk she'd seen about a hundred yards or so beyond the shack. What was causing that?

Stevie retreated from the door and sank back against the wall. She felt stupid for staying up in the shack for what had been several hours by then. But something told her to stay inside, and not come out, despite the fact that their rental vehicle wasn't far away at all. She had no idea what had happened to Dean... if those surfers had aimed to rob him, or hurt him somehow, then it made sense for her to run, right? She was starting to feel immensely guilty about it. But what was she supposed to do? She'd tried the "Emergency Call" feature several times by then, with nothing but a tone at the other end of the connection.

Then there was the sound of footsteps clanking up the ladder. She backed up further against the wall, dragging her back back with her. Who was coming up? Was it one of those divers? Was it one of the people who attacked Dean? Or maybe was it Dean?... She looked panickedly around the dark interior of the shack, not sure if she really was hoping for any of those outcomes; the surfers would surely attack her, Dean probably wouldn't be in great shape... and she had no clue what to expect from the divers.

The door burst open. A diver. He raised his weapon quickly. She looked down and raised her hands just above her head.

"Don't shoot! Don't shoot!" she repeated quickly. "I've been up here for hours. I don't have a gun. I have no idea what's happening out there!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Natasha Dean Character Portrait: Dyomie Thornes Character Portrait: Marie Thornes (NPC) Character Portrait: Phillip Wilson (NPC)

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Natasha Dean & Phillip Wilson

Natasha didn't hesitate long, she followed Dyomie willingly into the apartment building, even though the world was going crazy, she couldn't help but check out the apartment she was sent to search, scanning each number as she and Dyomie ran up the staircase.

When they finally reached Dyomie's apartment, a slight gasp escaped her lips, not only had she killed 2 people, she was now aiding a criminal. Natasha shook her head, there was no law, not anymore so she bit her tongue and made sure to check all her possessions whilst in her presence.

Once in the apartment, Natasha let the two sisters chat away, using this time to collect herself. The best bet for survival would be to flee the city, to cut all ties and just leave everyone and everything behind, but she couldn't, she promised to help Dyomie and her sister, she also had to make sure Phillip was alright.

"I promise she isn't always like this, I'm Marie Thornes by the way and she's my sister Dyomie. What's your name?" Natasha heard the other girl say and she nodded with a slight smile, until the girl added on a second question. "I don't suppose you can tell me what's going on?"

"Nice to meet you, I'm Natasha, Natasha Dean." Natasha managed to croak, she hadn't noticed how dry her throat was, her adrenaline and her surge of emotions just seemed to stop her feeling anything. After clearing her throat, she attempted an answer. "Honestly? It's like Dawn of the Dead out there. As ridiculous as that is, it's the only answer I have for you."

Natasha could feel her worry beginning to set in and she took out her phone. "Sorry, I just have to make a call. Gimme two seconds." She whispered to Marie. Natasha opened her contacts and scrolled down to P, opening Phillip's contact details she hit dial and waited nervously, her feet tapping impatiently as she waited for an answer.
"Hello?" She heard a groggy, tired voice answer.
"Shh, Phillip, be quiet and listen. Whatever you do, don't turn anything on, no lights, no TV, no radio, nothing. Barricade the door and close all the windows, curtains and blinds. Something big is happening and you just gotta trust me, honey." There was a silence on the other end, Natasha nervously tapping her teeth.

"Baby, what's wrong?" She could hear the genuine worry in his voice.
"Just do it and prepare an emergency bag, fill it with food and water, clothes, medicine and a gun or two. I'll ring you in the morning, if I can't get through I'll try and get to the house, if you don't hear from me, by 1pm just flee the city."
Not even questioning her judgement, all she heard was, "I love you, goodbye babe." Knowing he had listened a smile tugged on her lips, but hearing those words caused a tear or two to roll down her cheek.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sarah Hawke (NPC)

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.: SARAH HAWKE :.


Sarah watched speechlessly as the news reporter continued his report over a frenzy of frightening visuals and documented carnage. The entire classroom sat completely transfixed on what was unfolding on the television in front of them. They watched as a helicopter spiraled out of control, its tail colliding with the side of a tall skyscraper as people plummeted from its insides. Some of the more squeamish students covered their eyes or turned away. Many simply cried, unwilling to believe what they were witnessing.

“If you’ve just joined us, what you are seeing is real,” the reporter continued. He took a moment to collect himself as he straightened his papers and cleared his throat. “Similar reports have surfaced all over the east coast as this… infection… sweeps the nation.” The camera cut to the streets now, where a field reporter jogged between a sea of stalled cars, some on fire, others abandoned. His camera shook as he ran along, as if they were watching Cloverfield instead of live news. “The footage you are seeing is being recorded live by our field reporter, Kyle Reeves. In a short moment, we will be—“ he took another pause, continuing to fidget with his tie as if he could barely breath. “It looks like we’ll be going off the air now while we begin our own lockdown procedures. We advise that you all do the same. Find a safe place off the ground and away from windows. Do not make any attempt to reach loved ones. Stay safe… and may God have mercy on—“

'…Kshhshsshshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…’

The television feed cut out with a sudden intensity as the channel scrambled into empty airtime. Mr. Geoffries, the biology teacher, turned it off and wheeled it back towards the corner of the room. Dull whispers and murmurs blanketed the room as students huddled in small groups, terrified for what was happening to their city. Sarah watched as her teacher slouched back in his desk, his face drained of all color. He pulled open the bottom drawer of his desk and took a long swig from his flask. She wondered if he had a day like this in mind when he stashed it there in the first place.

Sarah tried again to reach her brother, once more dialing his number and holding the phone to her ear. She chewed effortlessly on her thumb, praying that he would just pick up for once. She needed him more than ever... but the line went to voicemail like it had the last several tries. Her friend Katie came from across the room and slid into the desk next to her.

“Sarah, how long are they going to keep us in here?” She asked, looking around anxiously. The school’s lockdown policy had already been fully enforced. It was announced over the intercom the second that the military started quarantining portions of Sunset boulevard. Even if the school released them, the military would never let them pass. She figured with two layers of quarantines, they would be safe where they were.

‘Right?’ She thought to herself, in a moment of doubt.

“I bet this is like, the start of World War III or something,” Katie continued. The girl was oblivious to the facts. This infection, or whatever it was, wasn’t an act of war. It was something worse. An enemy that couldn’t be fought. All of these thoughts raced through Sarah's mind in an instant. She had never felt more helpless in her life. She’d never felt more alone, either. She only wished she knew where Calvin was, and if he was alright. With her mind elsewhere, she barely noticed the commotion starting on the other side of the room. A surge of bodies moved towards the front of the room, and although she couldn’t see what was happening, she could clearly hear Mr. Geoffries’ voice shouting above the others.

“Please, stand back! Make room,” he yelled. Sarah followed the others, standing on one of the desks to get a better advantage point. Sprawled on the ground was one of the junior transfer students who shared a few of her other classes with her. His name was Brian or Ben or something generic, and he was extremely diabetic. The stress combined with his low blood sugar had obviously thrown him into some sort of seizure, and he now laid on the ground convulsing before the entire class. The room they were in was simply a lecture hall, unequipped to deal with any kind of medical situation of this magnitude.

“Do something!” One of the students shrieked, grabbing Mr. Geoffries by the arm.

“W-We have to treat him here… we c-can’t leave the room,” he replied, dropping to his knees beside the transfer student.

“Are you kidding me?” Another student interjected, “the medical lab is just down the hall! We can get him something there!”

Mr. Geoffries rounded on him, pulling a pistol from his waistband. “We are in a lockdown, damnit! We can’t just go waltzing around the building!” He struggled to keep the kid still as the seizures took hold of him even harder. Several of the girls were crying now, as if it wasn’t loud enough already.

“He’s going to die!” One of them cried out, shaking the professor by his sleeve. Some of the other students had already rushed toward the door, intent on breaking out of the classroom, but it was locked. Widespread panic had taken ahold of the entire room as students and teacher alike shouted and pushed and cried. Sarah sank back from the crowd towards her desk, reluctant to get involved. But she was already a part of it…

The transfer student gasped his last few breaths of air and fell into unconsciousness. His chest showed no signs of movement, even as Mr. Geoffries attempted to resuscitate him. The room was quieter now, as the students watched their professor try to breathe the life back into a kid who had been alive only seconds earlier. As it became more obvious that it was a lost cause, Mr. Geoffries shied away from the body, unable to look at any of the students around him. For once, the room was completely silent, save for the hum of passing helicopters and sirens from outside.

“You killed him,” a sobbing girl muttered between sobs.

Mr. Geoffries’ face burned red as he jumped to his feet. “I told you to shutup you stupid bi—AAAAAAGHH!!!!”

The final word barely left his mouth as the Brian (or Ben) the transfer student sank his teeth into the professor’s calf. Suddenly, the room went ballistic again as the students screamed and backed away from the spectacle. Mr. Geoffries shouted out in agonizing pain as he fell forward, pulling his leg from the reanimated kid on the floor. A healthy chunk was pulled clean from his leg as he fell onto his hands and knees. The kid continued crawling towards the professor, pulling him further into his grasp. None of the students moved to help, despite the professor’s cries for help, instead running up the flight of steps towards the doors at the top, praying for a way out. Sarah, having been near the desk already, began rooting through the doors of the desk for the keys that would get them the hell out of that classroom. She tried her hardest not to pay attention to the man being devoured a few feet to her left as she rummaged through all the crap in the drawer... and then it dawned on her.

The keys were likely in Mr. Geoffries' pocket.

Sarah cursed to herself as she looked over the desk at her teacher wrestling for his dear life on the floor.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Natasha Dean Character Portrait: Dyomie Thornes Character Portrait: Marie Thornes (NPC)

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Dyomie Thornes
Marie Thornes


Marie watched as the cop woman made a call. She was left unsure of what to do, on one hand her sister had given her orders, but then again she wasn't sure if she should follow those orders as she didn't know what was going on, even the cop's description didn't help her understand. Dawn of the Dead? Marie thought, wandering over to the fridge and starting to pull out some food, placing them on the counter. Her brain wasn't really functioning, first she got accepted into the gymnastics division of the Olympics, then her sister left to get celebratory things, and now they were in some kind of lock down and readying themselves to leave the city, all because her sister apparently got spooked by something that resembled a zombie from the movies. Her hands moved by themselves right now, placing everything from the fridge onto the counter regardless of it being cheese, fruits, milk, or butter. When that was down she moved to the cupboards and started the same thing, all without saying a word.

Meanwhile Dyomie was in her room, frantically searching for anything to help. All her weapons, which wasn't very much just a rifle that had it's attachable scope and a pistol, were on her bed along with a small lock-picking kit, and her spare walky-talky. There honestly wasn't much stuff in her room that would prepare for anything like this, just her job of stealing and even then it was mostly others' stuff that they used or she left the stuff there to be more conspicuous while travelling back home. She through all that stuff into her backpack, grabbing a couple duffle-bags she had, and throwing only about three pairs of clothing to change; though there was a ticker jacket, gloves, and a hat in there.

As she came out she saw the "progress" the other two had completed, which wasn't very much. Marie was busy, if you could call it that, with food and the cop was just finishing up a call. Dyomie thought this would be as good a time as any. She let the bags drop on the floor and walked over to the cop.

"I hope everyone is accounted for goldie?" she asked, an odd way of asking if her people were fine. Then in a lower voice she leaned towards the cop's ear to make sure that Marie didn't hear, "Listen, since it seems we maybe working together to survive and since you've probably already figured out who I am I need to ask you a favor. Tidbit over there doesn't know what I do for a living, she just thinks I'm a business woman and I would kind of prefer to keep it that way. So if you can, please don't tell her." This was neither a question nor a command, but rather a plea leaning on the side of an unsaid warning. At this point Dyomie completely dropped her pride, her sister must never know what she did to pay there rent and for fun, pride be damned at this point. This wasn't something that had happened often that Dyomie was forced to let go of her pride for a greater situation at hand, but they did happen occasionally. Sure Dyomie didn't love the idea that this woman was coming to arrest her, her diabolical schemes having left some trail to her, or the fact that their wonderful world where Marie's life was coming together perfectly was now a Hell, but still Dyomie's biggest worry was her sister finding out. Why? Was it pride? Was it just a secret to protect Marie? No it was the undoubted fear that Marie was going to stop loving her older sister out of embarrassment or disgust of what the truth was. Of losing the only person that ever seemed to love her no matter what, but like all love, this love was conditional and Dyomie didn't want to find out what those conditions were because then it would be too late.

There were groans coming from outside as more of those mutilated drunks wandered outside, some screams even started from nearby apartments, setting Dyomie's nerves on edge that it was only a matter of time that they would come to their door. Marie had dropped her some food at the sound of the screaming and ducked behind the counter, grabbing her knees for safety. Dyomie still held the cop's gaze, however, and wasn't going to let it go until this woman had given an answer. Waiting to see what she would do if the woman were to say "no".

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Nathan McDonald (NPC)

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.: CALVIN HAWKE :.


Nathan grabbed a 5-iron from the set and tossed it to Calvin. Harper too. They all looked at one another, awkwardly.

“It's not the worst idea...” Nathan said, sheepishly.

“There were two of them out there before,” Harper began, gesturing with her club. “Who knows how many there are now. Are we really going to fight our way through five stories of those things?”

Calvin shook his head. “There's still power. The elevators should still work.”

He set his club down on Ross' desk and shook the mouse on its pad to wake the computer out of its screensaver. A cheesy picture of Ross in front of a huge private jet disappeared in an instant, revealing a screen gridded with security camera feeds. The top ones showed the entrance to the building, lobby, and elevator room. Below were feeds of various intersecting corridors, each one melting into the next.

Nathan touched the screen with one finger. “Look...”

It was a live feed of Ross' lobby. His huge disfigured frame slammed against the door, while the secretary helped. Splinters of the wooden chair stuck out at odd angles from his torso. They still showed no signs of tiring. Four other walkers lingered about in the background, pacing aimlessly.

Harper slowly backed away from the monitor. “Six...”

Calvin sighed. “Six.”

Nathan looked at the two of them. “Guys, c'mon. We can do this. They're slower than we are.”

Calvin pointed back at the screen. “The 23 year old girl out there practically had you pinned to the ground, Nathan. We know what these things are capable of. Ross, alone, has like a hundred pounds on me.”

Nathan tossed his club on the floor, angrily. “So what, then? We just hide here? Wait for the cavalry to ride in and save us?”

"We have no idea what's going on out there! This could be the start of something bad, man. I mean, maybe we're being attacked? This could be some kind of pre-invasion. Chemical warfare. In which case, we need to get the hell out of Dodge. The real disaster may not even be here yet."

Nathan's face whitened a bit as he stared at Calvin. If this was, in fact, a large-scale disaster, it was unlikely that any help was going to come soon. Calvin realized he couldn't possibly fathom the scope of what was happening. He turned back to the window again, feeling the gravity of the whole situation weight in on him.

And then something caught his eye...

A Jeep appeared as if from thin air at one of the far intersections down the street. It's jet black frame flew effortlessly by abandoned cars and debris on the road. A couple blocks closer and Calvin could see that a number of walkers were hanging onto the vehicle from all sides. The driver wheeled the car back and forth trying to shake them off, all while trying to maintain control of the vehicle.

Harper watched him, intently. “What the hell is he doing?”

The driver slammed the side of his car against a passing Subaru, clipping two of the walkers in passing, but his rear tire caught on the front of the other vehicle, fishtailing him into a deadly spin. He yanked the wheel in the other direction as he tried to compensate, but totally lost control as soon as his tires hit the sidewalk. The steps acted like a ramp, propelling him straight into the second floor of the building. All three of them fell over as if rocked by some kind of earthquake. Picture frames and hanging fixtures shattered all around them as they fell to the ground.

Nathan ran back over to the computer. Several of the security feeds showed nothing but smoke and debris now. A couple were nothing but a black screen. “Jesus Christ... The building's on fucking fire!” Calvin struggled to his feet and held out his hand to help Harper up. She limped over to the monitor to see the damage. Calvin watched her eyes widen in horror. “We gotta get out of here. Give me a hand with this desk,” Nathan shouted at Calvin.

“I think I've got a better idea,” Calvin replied, gazing back out the window. He immediately began to tear down the green curtains lining the edges of the windows, and dragged them over to Ross' desk where he began clearing a space. Below him, he reached into one of the desk drawers for a pair of scissors. Inside he also found a half-empty flask, some Ibuprofen, and a small revolver. “Harper, start tying these curtains into a long rope. Use the scissors to strip them if you have to.” He tossed her the pair of scissors and checked the revolver for ammo. Three bullets. He holstered it in his waistband. “That'll come in handy...”

“What about me?” Nathan asked.

Calvin looked behind him and gestured at the window. “I need you to knock out both those panes of glass."

Nathan grinned, mischievously. “On it.” He picked up his golf club and started smashing out the corners of the tall windows, clearing any and all shards from the frame. Harper had already begun tying some of the strips of curtain together, and Calvin grabbed the end and carried it with him to the window.

“Mind filling us in on... um... whatever this is?” Harper asked. It was only a fair question after all.

Calvin looped the curtain around the post between the two windows and started tying it into a thick knot. He leaned his head outside the window and looked far down below. “I'm gonna drop down to the next level and see if we can't go in through the window there. Might be our best bet to get to the stairs or an elevator unseen,” he replied, cinching the knot tightly. “And since it's my idea, I figured I'd be the one to go sight-seeing.”

Harper closed another knot and brought her end over to Calvin. “Whatever happens, you've already given me a great story,” she said, handing him the curtain.

Calvin smiled and started tying the two ends together. “Just pick a good picture for the cover.”

Harper raised her eyebrow. "I think the coming of the apocalypse might take cover over you, Golden Boy."

Nathan grabbed the last loose end and started to make a harness around Calvin. “You know, you don't have to do this...”

“Yeah, but we already tied the curtains together...” Calvin said, adjusting the curtain around his waist so that it would give him all the vertical support he would need to be lowered down. It kind've reminded him of the harnesses he worse when he used to go rock climbing up in Oregon. “Alright, let's do this before I change my mind.” Nathan and Harper kneeled down at the edge of the window. Calvin lowered himself down onto his chest and pushed his legs out first, careful not to catch any stray pieces of g lass. Once he was fully out the window, he pressed his shoes against the side of the building and held onto the curtain with bow hands so that it was nice and taut. “OK... slow now... slow...” he said as they began lowering the curtain. The next floor started to come into view after the first few steps. Whoever's office it was, the lights were off, and the reflections from outside made it hard to see through. Beads of sweat poured down Nathan's head as he held on tightly to the curtain. Calvin signalled back up to him. “A little further...”

Nathan leaned in. “What did you say?”

“A little bit furth--”

SQUEEEEEEEP!!

Calvin's foot slipped off the glass, causing him to slam against the window. Nathan braced his shoulder against the post and re-adjusted his grip as all of Calvin's weight bore down on him from below. From the other side of the glass, something began to stir. But the glass was still too tinted to make out anything. Calvin cycled his feet against the glass before finally finding traction again. His whole body was vibrating from his heart pounding in his chest. He looked up at Nathan. “My bad...”

He could faintly hear Harper laughing from somewhere up above. Once he had found his footing again, Calvin prepared to push off from the window. He bent his knees, took a deep breath, and launched backwards. He kept his feet forward and braced his knees for the impact, colliding with the glass with no more grace than a bird. “Ow, shit!” He exclaimed loudly. Now he knew where all the money went in the building. Shitty chairs. Slow computers. Damn good windows. Calvin reached behind him and fumbled for the revolver. He spun a bullet into place and cocked the hammer back. Shielding his face with one hand, he silently counted to three before kicking off from the window once more and firing one round through the glass. The bullet pierced a clean hole, leaving a brilliant cobweb of splinters across the window pane. Calvin curled into a ball like a little wrecking ball and bowled through, sending thousands of little shards everywhere. He slowly swung to a stop, catching his breath. “I guess I can scratch that off my bucket list...” he said.

Harper rolled her eyes at Nathan before starting to funnel more slack for him to lower to Calvin. The cameraman laughed to himself. “Whatever you say, Miley Cyrus. Tie us in down there and we'll grab everything else and come down.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Nathan McDonald (NPC)

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Harper Hopkins

Nathan and Harper looked at one another as they pulled the end of the long length of the tied-together curtain. "All right," Harper said, staring Nathan straight in the eyes and helping pull the end into the room, and held it up for him to take. "You've got to go first. Help Calvin out, and I'll follow down right after."

Before Nathan could argue back, a loud crunch splashed out from the other side of the room. They snapped their eyes over just in time to see a gray-skinned version of the secretary pop through shoulder-first, caught in a spiderweb of the wooden door's splinters.

The door wasn't as strong as it looked, after all.

Harper turned, panicking just slightly, to Nathan and shoved the tail end of the curtain into his hands. She took the other end, scrambled to one side of the office, and looped the length around a strange, cemented-in sculpture of Buddha (what kind of person had this office, and why on earth did he choose to spend money on this?) about ten feet behind her. She stepped forward purposefully after she fastened it for safety. "If the curtain slips, Buddha here will be your last resort," she said as she took a hold of part of the curtain. "I'll rub his belly for good luck, okay?"

Nathan opened his mouth. "I'm way too heavy for you to--" His eyes caught a glimpse of the secretary, snapping her jaw and snarling as she kept lunging forward to make more progress through the door. He turned back to Harper. "Okay, okay, okay," he said quickly, as he sprinted toward the open window pane, "but you're not getting away with this next time. Next time, I'm going to tell you to go first."

She waved him on. "Hurry!" she snapped. "Get down, now, I'll hang onto you."

Nathan shook his head as he quickly tied the end around his waist, tucked the golf clubs under his arm, and then started to climb down. Harper dug her feet into the ground and tightened her grip on the curtain. Within seconds, the curtain jerked her forward as Nathan hit the length of the curtain. Harper sucked in her breath and locked her knees, immediately regretting offering Nathan an opportunity to go down first. She might not have thought this through, as Nathan was definitely way bigger than she was. As he had attempted to astutely point out. However, there she was, partly aided by the fact that the curtain caught itself roughly over the windowpane, helping slow the descent of the fabric.

Within seconds, Nathan found himself on the same level as Calvin, and tossed the end of the green curtain outside of the window for an easy ascent back up to Harper. "Harper, let's go!" he shouted upward as he did so, peering upward to check on her progress.

Harper's arms felt like jelly. She let her body fly on autopilot as she perched at the window, winding her arms to pull the length upward. The sections of the fabric that had rubbed against the windowpane had taken a serious beating; the ends and the middle were lightly cut and fraying off in long strands. Harper grimaced as she inspected part of the damage. There clearly wasn't much life left in this thing.

A loud metallic bang crashed from the end of the room. Still clutching the curtain, Harper spun around. Her mouth dropped open when she saw a second body come through the wooden door--Ross, the agent, pieces of the chair still sticking sorely out from parts of his chest and face. The desk rumbled and budged just an inch or two in protest of the immense power of their attempt to get through the door.

Harper looked at the Buddha statue, and cringed. *Dear God, Buddha, Vishnu, whatever your name is, please just let this curtain stay around this thing until I'm done,* she mentally pleaded in vain. She was feeling a little desperate.

She stuck one leg over the windowpane, and heard the desk bang again. It had now jumped almost an entire foot away from the door, giving the secretary enough room to consider sliding through the new gap of space and ambling toward the window. Harper let a long section of the curtain go down before her. She'd have to let herself down slowly. She let the length down, tugging it against Buddha when she reached the end. She gripped the slightly-frayed section she'd landed on, and started to step her way outside the window to rappel against the building's outer surface similar to how Nathan and Calvin had done.

Slowly. Slowly. One, two. Holding herself onto the curtain with one hand gripping, the other hand carefully lowering to grasp a new spot. Holding that hand onto the curtain and moving the other one down until it found a new spot to grab. Repeat. Repeat. Slowly. Harper mentally talked herself through the process of lowering down into the window below.

Harper heard a loud crash shot straight out of the window when she was ten feet away from her destination, Nathan standing at the gaping entrance ready to help. The door had given in, and the desk flew forward. She felt a brief bounce on the curtain as the desk was hurled to one corner of the room, colliding itself with the taut green fabric anchored to the statue. Harper froze in place and widened her eyes, briefly trying to work out what to do. Three sets of pallid, splintered, red-spattered hands forced themselves over the windowpane, and three heads took turns peeking down over the edge. Harper couldn't believe it. Their faces were sullen and contused, their eyes were blank and lifeless. At least, that's what she could glean from the brief time she spent staring up in shock.

"Harper, come on! You've got to get down now!" Nathan insisted. He reached out cautiously to work to grip the end of the curtain. "I'll stabilize you. But you've got to get down!" he repeated.

She snapped out of her fascination with the figures above and focused on one-two'ing her way down to safety. Seconds later, Nathan helped pull her onto the stable floor and grabbed her hand as the three rushed through the door to the hallway connected to this office. The fire alarms were screaming, and the elevator lights flashed red. No way they could use them.

"Over here!" Calvin called out, spotting the heavy doors leading to the stairwell. Those figures on the camera had been moving so sluggishly that it seemed unlikely that they would be able to enter through the huge metal doors.

The stairwell was, as he'd predicted, empty, with flashing white lights and a muffled, buzzing version of the shrieking fire alarm. Calvin led the way down and onto the ground level. "So, uh, Ross gave me a ride today, so, uhh," Calvin said as he peered through the small window of the door, "a little help? I remember seeing you guys take a van here."

Nathan reached into his pocket and pulled out a jangly set of keys. "We'll give you a ride," he said as he handed a golf club to Harper. "But first, we've got to get through this hallway."

Harper looked through. She could see the van through the glass-faced lobby. She remembered being so excited that the two-hour spot was open right in front of the building--good parking wasn't easy to find. She shifted her eyes toward the inside of the lobby. Two slow men were hovering toward the elevators. Nobody was outside, at least that she could see. "See them?"

She moved aside so that Calvin and Nathan could peek through. Nathan turned to him. "Okay, so... you're fast," he said, "I'll give you the keys. Open up the back door. I'm following you guys."

Harper shook her head. Nathan shook his head back. "No, no, you're going second," he said quickly, "not first, and not last. You follow behind Calvin, and I won't be far behind you."

One-by-one, the three quietly moved from the door to the lobby entrance. Calvin dashed ahead, thrusting the keys into the lock, pulling the doors open, and jumping in. He waited for Harper, perching at the edge of the van floor. Harper fleeted her way through the lobby, holding her golf club ahead of her, also eluding the two lurching men. She made her way out to the van door, and accepted Calvin's hand, pulling her up and inside.

Nathan's entrance into the lobby yielded different results; the two caught noticed of him, and started to stumble toward him. He whipped his golf club in front of him, hoping to scare them off. Nope. They just kept coming, with no fear whatsoever of the slashing stick. Nathan whipped it ahead again as he stepped backwards, this time connecting with one of the figure's left shoulder. A clean chunk careened through the air. No scream of pain, no wincing--the figure kept coming forward. Unexpected.

Nathan dropped his club and made a run for it. He threw himself in the back of the van and jumped inside, pulling the huge doors shut behind him. Calvin slapped the keys into his hand. Nathan rushed up to the front seat, started the ignition, and tore off.

Calvin stuck around in the back while Harper buckled herself in in the front passenger seat. He watched nervously as Nathan shifted gears and the vehicle spun into a higher speed, weaving around cars that lay still in the street. Traffic began to pick up once they hit the freeway as they ventured further into the city—but it was nothing like the outbound lanes.

Harper tried her cell phone again. "This is absurd," she said with flat frustration. "I can't get a signal. I have no clue what's going on."

Nathan reached out a hand and slapped the radio function on the dashboard. Harper tuned the dial until she found a station that wasn't overcome by static.

"... if you're hearing this, we advise you to stay in your homes and lock the doors. Let no one inside, not even if they say they know you..."

Harper looked to Calvin, who looked back with the same puzzled expression that she had. Nathan's eyes got bigger, but he kept his head turned forward to keep an eye on the street.

After ten minutes' worth of dire, scary radio, they arrived at WEND. It was by lucky chance that Ross' office had not been far away.

"Nathan, did you record with the dash cam?" Harper asked as Nathan put the van in "park."

"You bet," he answered squarely, "I'll snag the SD card and bring it in."

Harper turned back to Calvin. "This is where I work. I think we should be safe here."