1/27/2012

Gener@tion Z - Day 1 - Evening



"Man, I could have sex with this weather," Jay said casually, leaning out of the open window adjacent to where Woodrow and his rifle were set up.

"It does feel pretty nice," Woodrow said, looking up towards the cloudy sky as it began to grow darker from the setting sun behind them.  "If it hadn't rained earlier, the sun would be out and it would have been scorching all afternoon.  The sun kept the temperature warm but the clouds gave us a nice breeze.  It's almost hard to believe none of it is real.  It seems so much like it is."

"Yeah," Jay nodded, rubbing the back of his head as he leaned against the window's border.  Suddenly, he stiffened and squinted his eyes, zeroing in on something outside.  "Are you seeing that, Woody?"

"Got it in my sights," Woodrow said.  He swung his rifle around and aimed it at a passing figure on the ground below, crossing the street in front of the park.

"No, wait," Jay protested.  He surveyed the figure closey.  "That's a human.  A student, I recognize her.  It's Francine Griffin, that freshman."

Woodrow looked up from the scope of his rifle and examined her.  It was indeed Francine.  She walked across the street in somewhat of a daze, as if she had no purpose or destination in her step.  In the shrubbery of the forest, a zombified figure began to creep in her direction.  Woodrow pulled back the round on the rifle, leaned back into his scope, and fired at the zombie, causing Francine to jump in shock.

Phillip, who had been watching closely from across the room, jumped up at the sound.  "Did he just shoot her?" he asked frantically.

"No, there was a zombie creeping up from behind," Jay answered.  Phillip, accompanied by Dylan, walked over to Jay's side of the window.  There were more infected headed in her direction and for some strange reason, Francine wasn't making an effort to run away from the scene.  She just continued to walk, jumping in surprise with each shot that Woodrow used to dispose of the zombies chasing after her.

"What the hell is she doing?" Dylan asked with confusion.  Without notifying the others, Phillip turned around and headed straight for the door.  "Whoa dude, where are you going?"

Phillip didn't answer.  He moved the equipment out of the way and burst through the door, sprinting down the stairs a step at a time until he emerged into the Receptionist's area and rushed outside.  Sniper rounds were still going off around them, blowing apart the heads of the zombies that emerged from the park.  In a swift move, Phillip grabbed hold of Francine and pulled her away from the scene, yanking her along as the two headed back into the Parks and Rec.  Woodrow was still providing cover fire from the floor above but now the horde was growing and following right behind the two.  They numbered in a group of six or more.

"No, no no no NO!" Woodrow exclaimed in frustration.  "He's leading those fuckers right into the building!"

As soon as the two entered, Phillip motioned for Francine to take the door to their right, which held the staircase leading to the second floor.  When she was out of view, he turned his attention back to the horde that was bursting through the entrance.  They were moving much faster than the quick staggerers they had encountered before, almost they're staggering leading into more of a run than usual.  He needed them to all get a glimpse of him before he fled so they would all be drawn to follow him instead of chasing Francine upstairs.  When they were all inside, Phillip took off in the opposite direction, allowing them to tail behind him by a few feet.

He was headed down an empty hallway with no plan in mind whatsoever.  He had to improvise.  Dipping into another hallway, he spotted an indoor pool from the outside of a long window that ran along the wall.  At the end of the hallway was the entrance, where Phillip burst in and headed to the edge of the water.

He turned around and watched the first zombie charge after him, tackling him back into the pool.  The water shot into the air as they sunk.  Several more splashes erupted around them and the bubbles of oxygen scattered from the figures that were diving in.  Phillip held the zombie's head at bay and grabbed it by the throat, closing it off.  The dumb creature refused to hold its breath and inhaled forcefully as it growled its way to the bottom of the pool with Phillip.  When it finally stopped moving and its orange eyes grew dark, Phillip swam away from that side of the pool.  The zombies that had jumped in did not know how to swim and could not get any closer to Phillip than he was to them.

When he reached the end of the pool, he shot out the surface, taking a large gulp of air and wiping his face exasperately.  He quickly picked himself up from out of the water and turned around, surveying it from its edge.  There were several inanimate figures floating on the surface.  The room was dead quiet with the exception of Phillip's heavy breathing and the swaying of the waters.  That was too close.

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"Get out of here," Woodrow declared in a near whisper.  "Now..."

"What?" Phillip said with confusion, walking into the exercise room where Francine was being comforted by Dylan and Jay.  He was still dripping wet and he had grabbed a towel from a rack in the corner of the room to dry himself off with when Woodrow confronted him.

"You're not welcome here anymore, okay?  You nearly got us killed just now and for no fucking reason!  Not to mention you're probably infected from being in the same pool water as the zombies.  Get the hell out of here, now."

"Who died and made you anything important, huh?" Phillip retorted, stepping up to Woodrow.  "I'm not going anywhere, so deal with it."

"You know," Woodrow laughed humorlessly.  "Even though I would have failed this class, I deeply contemplated putting a bullet through your torso while you were out there.  That's how pissed I was.  I would have put it right into your stomach instead of your head so you could feel the pain of that while those zombies tore into you.  In a way, you freaking owe me your life."

"Right," Phillip nodded with sarcasm.  "But for the record, in case you forgot, I made sure those fucking zombies out there followed me farther into the building while Francine got away so they wouldn't follow her up here and tear you all to pieces.  So I think we're about even.  And if you EVER flaunt that 'I'm better than you' attitude to me again, I'll rip you to pieces the same fucking way."

"Are you threatening me, Slybourne?"

"In every way, shape, and form," Phillip responded sternly.

"All right, you know what?" Jay stated, walking in between the two opposing forces.  "I think you guys need to separate for a little while."

"No," Phillip said simply, shaking his head.  "I'll do what he says.  I'll be the bigger man and give him what he wants, since he refused to do the same for me.  I'm stocking up and I'm leaving."

Phillip turned away and moved efficiently as he gathered his things.  He picked up one of the duffle bags he'd been given earlier and laid it on an excercise bench before walking across the room and reaching into the refridgerator.

"Come on, Phillip," Jay protested as Phillip pulled several water bottles out and carried them to his bag.  He returned to the fridge to grab one of the Donut boxes and the energy bars, shoving them into the bag as well.

"I'm taking this box since you guys can just go across the street and get more," Phillip replied calmly to Jay and Dylan with no signs of hostility towards either.  "Is that all right?"

"Yeah man," Jay said quickly.  "But you don't have to play"-

"There's more First Aid Kits in the back, right?" Phillip said, pointing to the back room where they'd gotten the Kit for Jonah.  "I'm going to take one, just in case."

Phillip rushed to the back room and opened the door, flipping on the light.  It was relatively small but was stacked to the brim with unused and broken equipment, with the exception of the First Aid Kits stacked in the corner.  He went over and grabbed one, examining it quickly before he turned around.  As soon as he did, he nearly collided with Jay.

"Dude, you don't have to play into his game," Jay said in a near whisper, as Dylan accompanied them, leaning against the doorway.  "If you leave, you're just doing what he wants."

"I am so far beyond him right now, Jay," Phillip said, giving off an exhausted vibe as he shook his head.  "I'm honestly beyond caring what he wants at the moment.  I only care about what I want and what I want is to get the fuck out of here.  I am so sick and tired of dealing with his bullshit on a constant basis.  I absolutely refuse to let him order me around like some guard dog.  I'll be damned if I let that happen again.  You never realized it, but he's always been the self-proclaimed leader of our group.  He would order us around to do stuff for him like he ruled over us or something.  I didn't even notice it until I picked up on how he acts around here.  He's always been this way, we just overlooked it.  Any girls that were around us, he would be the first to make a move on, even if we told him we were interested.  Beatrice was far from the first girl he stole from me.  I'm so done with his twisted sense of friendship.  He's a selfish, arrogant, horrible person that forces me to use every inch of mental self-control I can possibly muster to stop myself from throwing him out of that fucking window.  I'm sorry, but I just can't deal with it anymore.  I want to do whatever it takes to get the hell away from him right now.  I also want you and Dylan to follow me out that door, but I know that's not going to happen, so I'm only handling what I have control over at the moment."

Phillip slipped past Jay and Dylan moved out of the doorway, allowing him to get through.  He shoved the First Aid Kit into the bag and slung it over his shoulder.  As he turned to head for the door, his eyes fell on Francine, who was sitting in the corner by herself in thought.  He'd nearly forgotten exactly why he'd risked his life in the first place.  He walked over to her and she stood up at the sight of him.

"Listen, Francine," he said sincerely, putting a hand on her shoulder.  "Jay and Dylan are going to take care of you, okay?  They'll have your back."

"Okay," she muttered weakly as he nodded and turned back to the entrance.

"I'll see you guys later," Phillip nodded, heading for the door.

"Find somewhere to store up for the night, man.  It gets extra dangerous out there in the dark."

Phillip nodded at the two of them and unblocked the gym door, disappearing down the stairs and out of sight.

"Where is he going to go?" Francine asked innocently.

"Fuck if I care," Woodrow muttered heading back over to the sniper rifle.  "Just glad he's gone."

Jay turned to Woodrow slowly, a scowl forming on his face.  "Did you ever think of Phillip as your friend?  Did you ever think highly of him at all?  Because he has every reason to be pissed at you."

"What, so you're taking his side now?-"

"I'm starting to!" Jay shouted.  "I used to be neutral because I didn't want to be split between friends but now I'm starting to notice that you're being nothing but an asshole about everything."

Woodrow stood up from his chair and walked towards Jay slowly.  "I haven't changed, okay?  I've always been this way, it's not my fault if you're being brainwashed by his nonsense.  Sure, okay, I made a mistake and fucked his crush, but to be perfectly honest, I sort of had feelings for her too.  He didn't even care to know how I felt about him and her together-"

"Maybe if you had just told him, you two could have talked about it instead of keeping it from him and making moves on her behind his back," Dylan interjected.

"Really?  Knowing Phillip, you think he would have wanted to sit down and talk about my feelings?  Phillip only cares about himself!"

"That's awfully hypocritical of you, Woodrow," Jay said, shaking his head pathetically.

"You know what, Jay, if you've got a problem, you can follow his ass out there."

"I'm starting to consider that option," Jay said in a near whisper with his teeth gritted in anger.

Woodrow scoffed, shaking his head.  "Right."  He sat back down by the rifle and Dylan put his hands on Jay's shoulder to direct him away from the area.  When they were across the room, Jay turned to Dylan with a look of underlying rage slowly growing.

"My mind..." Jay whispered, flushed with frustration.  "It's freaking on fire right now.  I hate when I get like this.  All that fucking therapy and it's about to all go down the drain because of that bitch."

"Calm down, bro," Dylan said, patting Jay on the back lightly.  "Deep breaths.  Inhale...Exhale...Inhale...Exhale..."

Jay followed Dylan's instructions and began to calm himself down.  "I'm sick of all of this drama.  I just want it all to end."

"It will, bro," Dylan nodded.  "Soon enough."

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Hymon pulled a book off the shelf and examined its front cover.  "Oh man, I've always wanted to read this one."

He slipped it under his opposite arm, where five other books were stashed.  He continued along the shelf, scouring its contents for more works of literature but he saw no more that interested him, he brought his books to an empty corner of the Young Adult section.  The sky could be seen from this side of the Book Store and the darkness was swelling over the entire city as if a blanket of night was slowly covering it.  When Hymon had reached the corner, he passed a shelf where Kurt suddenly came into view in a tank top, sweating profusely as he pumped himself up and down with sharp Diamond-handed push-ups.  His large muscles were inflamed, his skin was bright red, and veins were protruding from his neck.  He breathed rhythmically with each push.  Hymon was amazed at the sight.

"Dude, you are killing them," Hymon said in wonder.  "What number are you on now?"

Kurt pushed himself up to his feet and smiled.  He wasn't a large guy in stature but when his muscles were displayed, his curves and creases were incredibly impressive.  "More than you could do in your life," he said arrogantly grabbing a towel that he'd laid over one of the five-foot high book shelves.  He wiped his face off with it and let it sit over his head.  "I never make my cadets do what I can't."

"Awesome," Hymon said, heading back over to the corner.  "Well, I plan on spending the night over here with these books.  I'll see you in class when midnight hits."

"Yeah, whatever," Kurt said to himself, turning away and heading deeper into the store.  "Nerd."

Hymon slouched down and leaned against one of the taller shelves, which was fixed against the wall.  He picked up the book he wanted to read the most and stared at the cover with an excitement, then turned it briefly and read the back cover before opening it, only to be sorely disappointed.  There was a blank page in the middle of the book.  Hymon turned each page and saw that every one of them was empty.  He put the book down and picked up the next one, turning each page only to see that it was void of words.  He threw the book away from him in frustration.  Because they were in a fictional version of their own city, it was impossible for the FEVAR Machine to accurately display the content of every single book in a Book Store.  When it was designed, that must have been overlooked and/or skipped in favor of detailing more important designs.

Hymon picked up the last book, which was a book that he'd read several years earlier and wanted to take a look at again.  He examined the contents of this one and found that each word and passage was where it should have been.  It was Hymon's prior knowledge of the book that allowed his brain and subconcious to supply the book with all of the content he'd previously read.  Hymon made a note to find the books he wanted at the Book Store on the surface and spend a second looking at each page so that they could be stored in his subconcious for later use here in the Scenario.

With this in mind, Hymon closed the book, stacked them all together at an angle, and laid them to his side, using them as a pillow to rest his head on.  Within a matter of seconds, he found himself slipping off into dreamland.

Kurt had taken a bottle of water from Hymon's bag and opened it up, pouring its cold liquid over his face and body.  The water in his own bag was lukewarm, so he took one of Hymon's, which was in a bag that kept its contents refridgerated at a colder temperature.  Kurt wiped his face off with his hand and saw the slightly blurred image of Tammy through his wet eyelids leaning against one of the shelves casually.

"Hey," was all she said.

"Hey," he replied just as simply.

"What'd you say your name was again?"

"McCormick," Kurt answered smoothly, wiping his face with his towel and wrapping it over the back of his neck.  "Kurt McCormick."

Tammy snorted with laughter.  "Was that supposed to be impressive?"

"What?"

"Trying to say your name all cool like you're James Bond or something."

"Trying?  Honey, I don't need to try to be cool.  I just am."

"Conceited too, huh?" Tammy said with a smirk.

"Now you're just being mean," Kurt responded, returning the half-smile.

Tammy moved in closer to Kurt, putting a hand on his shoulder.  She lifted her chin and licked her lips seductively.  "I like confidence in a man.  You give it off well.  I like that."

Kurt shrugged.  "What woman doesn't?"

"You mean, what woman doesn't like confidence in a man or what woman doesn't like that in you?"

"Both," Kurt said slyly, pressing his lips against Tammy's, who hadn't even gotten the chance to lean in for it.  He grabbed hold of her face and pushed her's against his as he filled the air with unneccessary sucking and fleshy sounds.  Tammy caressed him softly as she kissed him, trying to match his furiousity but Kurt was handling her like a wild animal.

Suddenly, Tammy forced herself forward and Kurt began to back up.  It seemed as though they were only so deep in the moment that they were beginning to blindly search for a harder surface to relinquish their clothes on and prepare to do the deed, but when Tammy began to increase her speed, Kurt could feel himself losing his balance before the back of his head met the side of a shelf.  Kurt collapsed to the floor, completely unconcious.

"God Damn," Tammy swore, wiping her mouth furiously.  She left him lying on the floor and crept around the library, picking up all of the supplies the three of them had accumulated together and stuffing them into her Duffle Bag.  When it was nearly full of food, resources, and weapons, she crept over to the corner of the Young Adult section to see that Hymon had been completely knocked out in a matter of minutes, his head placed awkwardly over the books that he lied it on.  Tammy made her way back to the center of the library and headed straight for the exit.

"Oh and by the way," she whispered to Kurt's unconcious body before leaving.  "You're a fucking horrible kisser."

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Lamar was alone in the inside of an empty gas station convenient store.  His stomach growled in hunger but he was too shaken to even grab a snack from one of the racks.  The white noises of the background kept him put where he sat, behind the counter of the store in fear of the unknown.  Every little sound made him jump and nearly put pressure over the trigger of the gun that his finger should have been beside instead of directly on.

Lamar slowly leaned up across the counter and edged out towards the now broken door, which left him out in the open as night began to slowly approach.  In the distance, he could see a figure running across the front of the gas station.  He started to dip down below the counter again, until he recognized that the figure was running with a posture different from the other zombies.  Its stride was almost human.  As it drew in closer, Lamar recognized exactly who the figure was.  Jonah.

Lamar hopped over the counter quickly and walked to the broken entrance.  "Hey Jonah!" he bellowed out to get his attention.

Suddenly, the grotesquely eroded face of an infected figure slid into view from the wall in front of the store and right in Lamar's line of sight.  Lamar jumped in horror and aimed the gun at the creature's skull, pulling the trigger.  Its head spilled dark-red blood over the pavement behind it and it fell straight onto its back.

At the sound of the gunshot, Jonah jerked around in horror, accidentally firing a shot from his own pistol into the gas station.  The bullet hit one of the gas pumps farthest from Lamar, causing it to erupt in a golden inferno, the force of which knocked Lamar back into the store and caused the windows of the station to shatter immediately.  The blast was bright and Jonah threw up his hands, shunning it.  Lamar could feel the heat nearly singeing his skin before it died down to a dull roar of flames.  Jonah ran his way towards the station, avoiding the embers that flew in his direction.  Lamar got to his feet and staggered to the doorway, where Jonah was waiting for him.

"Lamar," Jonah said in surprise, approaching him.

"What the hell was that?" Lamar said, breathing heavily, doubled over.  "You trying to kill me?"

"I'm so sorry, man, it was an accident, honestly."

"Don't worry, I believe you.  But right now we need to move.  That explosion probably drew their attention."

"Right," Jonah said, looking around as Lamar led the way around the station.  A lone zombie was waiting for them by its side and Lamar made short work of it with his pistol from a fair range.  When it was down, the two sprinted across the street, where a long strip mall with a large grocery store in the center was dormant a few feet up hill.  The parking lot was right ahead of them when they made their way across the street, but out of the corner of Lamar's eye, he spotted a horde converging around the gas station and sprinting in their direction.  "I don't think we can out-run them," he shouted through breaths after each step.

"No," Jonah said but with a strange sense of confidence in his voice.  "But watch this."

Jonah stopped suddenly and handed the First Aid Kit he'd been carrying to Lamar, allowing him to run ahead a few feet.  When he realized that Jonah had stopped, he slowed his stride and looked back at him in with worry.

"I discovered something incredible earlier," Jonah said excitedly.  He turned back to the horde that was charging directly at him.  One was closing in.  Jonah reared his fist back and jerked it forward, punching the closest zombie in the face.  Its head burst immediately and Jonah's fist blew right through its cranium, sending blood, bone fragments, and brain juice to the ground behind it.  Lamar's mouth hung open in amazement.

As another zombie approached menacingly, Jonah turned his opposite fist around and swung it upward with an uppercut into the stomach.  The zombie propelled high into the air and flew back towards the gas station, landing through its roof cover and slamming onto the pavement below.  At the sight of this amazing feat, the zombies that were charging toward him slowed down and began to back away.

"What the fuck?!" Lamar exclaimed in absolute shock.  In response, Jonah stepped to the curb that led into the parking lot of the grocery store, right next to an abandoned Honda that had been parked by the side of the road.  He bent down and wrapped his hands under the bottom of it, lifting it with abnormal ease.  With very little effort, Jonah miraculously brought the entire car up onto his shoulders and turned towards the loitering zombies.  In one quick movement, Jonah hurled the vehicle through the air and watched as it collided with the infected, crushed them like ants, and continued to roll into the area in front of the gas station until it skidded to a stop.

Jonah smiled brightly at the result of his actions and turned back to Lamar, only to see him sprinting up towards the grocery store several yards away.  As he began to approach it, a zombified creature cut in front of him from behind one of the abandoned vehicles and crept slowly after him.  Jonah spotted them and sprinted towards the spot, taking long conquering strides that had him reaching the location in a matter of seconds.  He hopped over entire vehicles with no effort and reached the zombie and Lamar, just as it grabbed hold of Lamar's body.  Jonah hopped into the air and brought his leg across the zombie's head, sending the entire creature smashing into the front windshield of a parked van where it lay dormant as the van's alarm began to blare.

"How the hell is this happening right now?" Lamar shouted in disbelief when Jonah landed beside him.

"I'll tell you later," Jonah said sternly.  "Get on my back, now."

Jonah bent down to one knee and turned his back on Lamar.  "Do what now?"

"Hop on my back, fast!"

Lamar looked around embarassingly.  "Cecillia would so leave me if she saw me doing this."

Lamar mounted Jonah's back and in an instant, Jonah took off, stepping at a speed that Lamar had only experienced through sports vehicles or roller coasters.  Within seconds, Jonah had charged to the entrance of the grocery store, the doors of which were currently boarded up with a large shelf.  Jonah hopped into the air and brought his legs forward, smashing through the glass entrance and sending the shelf straight to the floor in the interior of the grocery store.  Jonah landed expertly in front of the fallen shelf as Lamar continued to hold tightly, his eyes closed.

"It's over, dude," Jonah said simply.  Lamar opened his eyes and let go of Jonah, staring at him in shock and wonder.

"What the hell?!" shouted a female voice from deeper inside the grocery store.  From one of the aisles, Robyn came into view, staring at the wreckage in surprise.  "How did you guys break our barrier?"

"Ask this freak?" Lamar shrugged, pointing at Jonah.

"Freak?" Jonah said with offense.  "This freak just saved your life.  Can I get some gratitude?"

"Stop arguing!" Robyn shouted.  "We've got to fix it now before the zombies get in!"

Jonah turned to the fallen shelf and reached down, sticking his fingers right below it.  He took a deep breath and brought it up with ease.  Just as he did, someone shouted from deep within the parking lot.  Jonah looked up and watched as Gustavo sprinted in their direction with a horde right behind him.  Despite this, Jonah knew that if he didn't close the entrance soon, they'd be fucked.

As soon as Gustavo reached the entrance, he stepped up the slop of the shelf while Jonah steadily lifted it into the air.  He nearly fell several times at the shift of the weight but kept his balance, his focus inpenetrable.  Jonah shoved the shelf up one final time and placed it against the entrance, just as Gustavo jumped off.  He flew into the air and gravity began to pull him downward, but Jonah hopped back and collided with him as they both collapsed to the floor.  Jonah pushed Gustavo away and sprinted back for the shelf, as the horde tackled it with force and sent it back several feet.  He pushed it forward quickly and crushed the limbs of several zombies that were trying to wiggle their way into the building.  When the infected were at bay, Gustavo, Lamar, and Robyn raced to move more of the store's contents in front of the shelf to keep it back.  

"Did you do it?" Robyn asked Gustavo frantically.

"I did," he said, pulling out a small device with a button directly on top.  He pressed down on the it and a loud, floorshaking explosion could be heard from a distance.  In an instant, the rumbling and activity subsided and Jonah was safe to walk away from the shelf without worrying about it being overpowered.

"Okay," Gustavo said in between breaths as they began to calm down.  He held on tightly to the spot where the gunshot Lamar had given him earlier had grazed his rib.  It was covered with a bandage.  "What the hell did I just see you do?"

"Yeah," Jonah said, breathing just as heavily as he grabbed the First Aid Kit from Lamar.  "About that..."

"You've got super powers," Lamar shouted, pointing at Jonah accusingly.  "He must have found some way to activate some kind of cheat code in this thing or something."

"That's impossible," Robyn countered.  "Don't you think there'd be a more fool-proof way to stop that from happening?  I mean this is something that's used across the country.  Wouldn't it make sense that someone would have prevented that after all the years this program has existed?"

"Guys!" Jonah shouted, lifting his hands to calm them down and get their attention.  "I don't know what the hell is going on with me.  I was just minding my own business a few hours ago and some infected zombie snuck up on me so I had to fight it off.  When I did, I ended up knocking him halfway across the block.  I started experimenting and then I realized I could do all of this amazi"-

Jonah was cut off by a sudden coughing fit that caused his cheeks to puff as he put his hand up to his mouth.  He doubled over from the force of it and Lamar rushed to his side, patting him on the back.  When Jonah leaned back up, he wiped his hand on the back of his jeans.

"Wait a minute," Robyn said suspiciously, noticing his movement.  She walked up to Jonah and grabbed his arm forcefully, looking into his palm, much to his protest.  There was blood residue all over it.  "You're sick, aren't you?"

Jonah swallowed hard and his eyes darted back and forth between them.  Lamar began to back away slowly.

"Look guys," Jonah said, holding up the Kit hopefully.  "I have medicine that's helping me deal with it."

"So you are infected," Lamar stated loudly.  "You can't stay here."

Jonah turned to Lamar with a look of protest.  "I said I've got medicine."

"It doesn't matter, you've got to leave."

"Hey," Gustavo snapped, turning to Lamar.  "You just got here.  That means you don't call the shots.  I've got this."

Lamar shrugged and rolled his eyes.  "All right, fine, go ahead."

"Look," Jonah explained, pulling out the First Aid Kit from his bag and opening it on the floor.  "For some strange reason, this infection is giving me these abilities.  That's a good thing, I can help you guys.  I'm like a machine right now, I can protect you.  You need me.  I've got enough Flu Deterrent to keep the Flu at bay for at least two more days.  There's bound to be more somewhere around here also."

Gustavo sighed and thought for a moment.  "Well Jonah, I know you from way back.  I guess I can trust you."

"You can trust him?" Lamar protested.  "Can you trust that Flu in his body as much as you trust him?-"

"The pros outweigh the cons, Lamar, so deal with it."

Lamar smacked his teeth and turned away from Gustavo in annoyance.  "You have no idea what you're doing," he muttered under his breath but loud enough for everyone to hear.

"Don't know what I'm doing?" Gustavo repeated with offense.  "That explosion you just heard from around the corner was me knowing what I'm doing, okay?  I set up a bomb in a building down the block with some C5, so that it would draw those fuckers away from our location when they caught wind of where we are.  There are more in other buildings too.  So don't tell me, I don't fucking know what I'm doing, because I probably know more about how to survive in this shithole than you do about the lifestyle of a jock with no balls to do anything.  And that's really saying something."

"Okay, you need to watch your mouth!" Lamar shouted, stepping up into Gustavo's face antagonistically.  Robyn and Jonah rushed to separate the two and Lamar glared at Gustavo dangerously.

"Look, you two need to calm down and get yourselves sorted out," Robyn said patiently.  "The last thing we need to be doing in a situation like this is fighting with each other.  We need to save the anger for those decaying bastards outside."

Gustavo turned to her and nodded.  "I'm going for a walk," he said, heading in the opposite direction, near the Deli section of the grocery store.   Jonah followed after him quickly.

"Dude," he said in a near whisper.  "Did you really use C5 on that building?  Where the hell did you get your hands on that?"

Gustavo chuckled softly as he continued to walk.  "My uncle...he's an interesting guy, to say the least."

--------------------------------------------------

"Sarah," Louis called softly, entering her quarters from the deck.  He closed the door behind him.

"What?" Sarah said, slightly irritated, eating from a plate she'd brought from the kitchen quarters, where Kristina had just made them a delicious dinner straight from a recipe she'd brought over from her country.

"I need to talk to you."

"I'm eating."

It's important."

"I'm eating."

Louis rolled his eyes.  "All right," he said in annoyance, turning to exit the room.

"Wait," Sarah said, rolling her eyes.  Louis closed the door and walked back in.  "Sit down."

Louis took the bed that was directly opposite hers and sat down as she took another fork full of her food, waiting for him to talk.  "I'm going to keep eating.  Keep the conversation one-sided until I finish, will you?"

"Okay," Louis said anxiously, rubbing his hands together.  "I'm having this...weird feeling lately-"

"It's called puberty.  It passes.  Now get out."

Louis glared at Sarah.  "For your info, I've had puberty already.  Twice."

"Twice?"

"It's not important.  My problem is, I've got this thing going on.  It involves Kristy."

"Mmm," Sarah said, with her mouth full, nodding with somewhat of an understanding.

"Yeah.  I think I might love her."

Sarah coughed aggressively as she swallowed hard, pounding on her chest.  "What?!" she exclaimed.

"That's just it.  I think I might be in love with her."

"You love her or are you in love with her?"

"Is there a difference?"

"Yes.  If you're in love with her, that means you're in a state of mind known as love, where you see yourself and her together.  Its like the equivalent of being in love with the thought of being in love with her and that can just be a phase.  If you love her...well that means a hell of a lot.  That's a pretty big deal."

"I know," Louis said, getting flustered.  "That's why I'm struggling with this.  I don't know what to do.  Why in the world would a girl like that want a guy like this?  She is WAY too far out of my league."

Sarah shrugged and slid her plate away from her momentarily.  "I don't know.  I've seen weirder.  Granted, the chances are low, but she's not American so she doesn't have that narcissistic, condescending, superficial attitude towards different people like most girls do.  At least, I don't think.  I don't know her like that.  But she seems like a well-rounded person, you should go talk to her.  Just don't mention any of that love stuff or you won't get anywhere."

"I know that much," Louis said, shaking his head.  "But what do I say?  I don't have any way to break the ice.  I can't just go in and ask random questions.  I want to date her, not interview her."

"It's called casual conversation, like you and me are having right now.  First off, I think you'd get her attention a little more by calling her by her full name, Kristina.  Kristy is like a pet name everyone else calls her.  Calling her Kristina is almost like you're addressing her as a woman.  And try not to think about going out with her so much.  Think about the fact that you're having a conversation with a friend."

"An insanely hot friend."

"Yeah, try to block that out too," Sarah said, getting up and patting Louis on the shoulder.  She then pushed him towards the door.  "Now get out.  My food is getting cold."

"Whatever," Louis said with a smile heading for the door.  "Thanks, Sarah."

"Yeah, yeah."

He closed it behind him and looked out across the Deck.  The waters were completely still.  The cloudy skies of the morning and afternoon were trailing away in the distance and the setting sun spilled an orange shade down on their surroundings.  As a result, everything around them was tinted with orange, like the eyes of the undead, as if the coming night was sending a foreboding message, the seizing of the infected, an epic testimony signifying that the city now belonged to the zombies.  These dark and disturbing thoughts were trailing their way into Louis' brain, but he tried his best to enjoy the environment he was surrounded by instead of resenting it.  The city of Ocean Valley was in view just in front of them but it was dark and would remain that way for the remainder of their time in the Scenario.

"Nice night, yeah?" a voice called out from along the Deck.  It startled Louis momentarily, before he recognized it to be Kristy.  She was leaning over the rail and staring out onto the same broken city that he was.

"Oh," he said, not knowing exactly what to say at first.  "Yeah, yeah it is.  It's beautiful out here."

"You carry ze Sickle Cell, no?" Kristy said with a bit of concern.  "Because ze flies are plentiful out here."

"Oh yeah, yeah, I have the trait.  Sarah doesn't, that's why she's staying inside."

"Ah," Kristy said, nodding and looking back out towards the sea.  Louis was extremely hesitant, but he wanted desperately to walk down by her side.  He was talking to her from several yards away and it was getting hard to hear her over the sounds of the swaying waters.  He decided to disobey all of the thoughts disuading him from doing it and headed down the Deck in her direction.  "So are you with her?"

"With Sarah?" Louis asked, continuing down the Deck.  "You mean like, are we dating?  No, no, she's just a friend.  We had a few classes together back in the day.  She's a Junior and I'm a Senior, so we don't get to spend much time around each other anyway; usually you have to be in an elective course to get to hang out with people of different grades and I've only got core classes this semester.  She's cool though.  A better friend than most of the people around here.  Everyone else treats me like shit."

"Really?" Kristy said with a bit of surprise.  "Everyone I've met haz been nice to me."

"That's because you're beautiful," Louis said without hesitation, leaning on the railing right beside her.  "That's the way this country works.  We idolize the pretty and alienate the ugly, but try to work towards 'preserving the beauty of humanity' without realizing that it's that immoral view of our own people that's slowly destroying it.  The worst part of it is having some of them pretend like they appreciate you for who you are, only to have them stab you in the back when you're most vulnerable.  Can't tell you how many times that's happened to me.  Like a wise man once said, 'Fake friends are like shadows: Always near you at your brightest moments but no where to be seen in your darkest hour.'"

Kristy nodded in acknowledgement.  After some thought, she giggled softly.  "Back vhere I come from, if someone is ugly, zhat is ze first zhing you mention vhen you greet zhem."

Louis chuckled at the remark.  "Well honesty is a lonely word around here."

Silently, Louis had taken note of her comment in his head.  If he was ugly, she would have told him to his face.  He couldn't tell if she was just joking or if she was serious about it, but either way, it meant that she didn't think he was ugly, at least not enough to tell him directly.  That meant there was a slim chance of interest.  It still wasn't enough.  He was a handsome fellow and he knew it, but he also knew that he was average to most girls, compared to the muscular white guys that populated his school and stole the hearts of the majority of his crushes.  He indirectly despised most of them, with their stylish side-swept hair, slim bodies, and their unlimited parental funds that made sweeping a girl off their feet with presents and shiny cars an easy task.  Being a short, heavy-set, black guy made it nearly impossible to get any of the shallow girls at Thomas Quick High's attention, despite being handsome enough to woo many girls if only he possessed the confidence to do so.  

But this is what he liked the most about Kristina.  She wasn't hypnotized by the money or the muscles or the side-swept hair.  The same guys Louis had seen with the women of his dreams that were confident enough to approach her were instantly turned down, leaving the rest of the boys as Thomas Quick High too afraid to even try.  This included Louis, who only had the luxury of surveying her from afar like everyone else.  But due to a stroke of fate, he'd found a way to ally himself with her in the mind-melded city formed by the Scenario.  It was a coincidence, he thought.  Coincidences are God's way of remaining anonymous.

--------------------------------------------------

"So what are you thinking?" Ross whispered as the fire crackled on the floor in the center aisle of City Hall's Conference room.  The infected at the door had finally given up and there was silence in the entire building aside from the fire.  Austin lay a few feet from the fire they'd started, using the Confederate Flag that had been hanging at the podium as a blanket to keep himself warm as he laid in one of the many pews running along the City Hall interior.  Because City Hall had been unoccupied for the day, it was colder than usual, thus the need for the fire and the blankets with the central air still circulating around the building.  An argument had sparked when Ross had moved to use the State Flag as his covers and Latasha started to use the American one.  Austin refused to let Latasha use the American Flag as a cover, since letting it lie on the ground would defame the flag's purpose.  Latasha exclaimed that the flag wasn't real and accused Austin of being racist once again, believing that he was using it as an excuse for Latasha to not be warm for the night and reinforced this with Austin's quick decision to use the Confederate Flag as his own blanket without a second thought.  Austin dismissed this and went to sleep away from the two, while Ross let Latasha use the American Flag as her cover when Austin had drifted to sleep.  Now they were sitting around the fire with the flags over their shoulders and discussed deeper matters: Royce.  "Do you think he left him out there on purpose?"

"You really asking me that question?" Latasha said, her hands out in front of the fire.  "I think he's capable of anything at this point.  Of course, I think he did it on purpose.  Probably pushed him down those steps himself."

"But wouldn't he get punished by Glass for that?" Ross asked, giving it some thought.  "I mean if he did do it, he would have blatantly killed the guy."

"Not necessarily.  He would have killed him without actually killing him.  He would have knocked him into the zombies and they would have ended his life.  He might get away with it too.  We don't have enough evidence against him to get him kicked out of class.  Mr. Glass said that as long as we don't kill each other, everything else is fair game.  He also said that trusting someone is stupid and smart.  In this case, trusting that racist bastard was stupid.  Still is.  He might end up getting all of us killed.  I say we ditch him by morning."

"I suppose," Ross said nervously, rubbing his hands together over the fire.

"What do you mean, 'I suppose.'  As much as your ass keeps arguing with that fool"-

"No, it's not...It's just...I'm an honest guy.  Trust me, I wish to God I could just leave him, but a part of me won't let me do that.  I can't leave a man out here to die alone, that's just not right."

"He can handle his own better than any of us," Latasha whispered harshly, leaning forward towards him.  "You know this.  He might actually be happy that we left him alone.  We need to go and make sure he can't follow our trail."

"I'm sorry, Latasha.  I just can't do it.  If I do, I'll never let myself live it down.  It's just immoral.  If we do it, we'll be stooping to his level."

Latasha sighed and rolled her eyes in annoyance.  "Fine.  But when you wake up tomorrow and he's gone with all our supplies and leaves the damn door open for the fucking infected to get in here, I hope you think about how fucking stupid you being right now for staying here with his ass.  I swear, when I get back on the surface, my boyfriend, Tyrekis, is going to tear his ass up.  Damn, why is it so cold in here?"

"Austin broke the air conditioning while it was on high," Ross said lazily.  "I didn't know how to turn it off."

Latasha turned her head and looked over to the spot where Austin was sleeping.  "Let me rephrase that.  Tyrekis is going to tear his ass ALL the way up."

In the pew near the back, Austin had been lying with his face facing the back of the pew.  His eyes were wide open and he sat fully awake, listening to Latasha and Ross' conversation from start to finish.

--------------------------------------------------

Outside City Hall, on its blood-spatter painted steps, the ragged carcus of what used to be Royce Ferguson was lying still, decaying against the dried blood that surrounded it.  Its legs were gone and its torso consisted only of the chest and bony arms that had been ripped of most of its skin and flesh.  The most intact portion of the corpse was the head, which, despite having part of the skull ripped off from its socket, a missing eye, and ripped lips, was still somewhat recognizeable.

Out of the death and rotting decay that made up and surrounded it, the moon was stretched out across the sky, illuminating the entire block with its magnificent light.  And in the midst of this beauty, the body began to move, its fingers inching slowly back and forth.

Suddenly, the body of Royce Ferguson shot forward and inhaled forcefully with an inhuman shriek following it.  It weezed and grunted wildly as it gazed down at its own grotesque lacerations and its dismembered body.  Its one orange-pupiled eye zipped back and forth across the area before it lifted itself up with its crumbling arms.

It laid still for several minutes and looked forward out on the sea of infected that staggered across the street on the block ahead.  They took heavy steps and gazed at each other aimlessly, bumping past one another, searching for something to satisfy their hunger.

Royce's corpse stared at them but not with an eye of absence.  An eye of purpose.

"I think," Royce's corpse croaked weakly, surveying its body once more.  "It's time for a little remodeling...."

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