A/N: Let’s have a bit of fun in this chapter shall we? Will our group stick together or fall apart with different motives? Read on to find out exactly what that means.
The shock of yesterday had worn off. Life seemed bleak and I found myself frustrated at how I lived my life up until this point. It felt incomplete as there were so many things I hadn’t gotten to experience. I wrapped up my shower as Oscar was probably waiting for me. I looked at my unkempt appearance. My messy and kinky hair a problematic fluff atop my head. I bundled it together and put it into a small man-bun; a term I hated. Though tactically I’d prefer an infected not to get an easy handful of my hair. I quickly finished getting dressed coming out of the bathroom, entering my room, everyone’s eyes on me.
“I did that for my mental health. I don’t think we’ll have that luxury for much longer.” I huffed simply, grabbing my swords.
“I was just going to comment on the fact that you took the effort to look good during this who ordeal.” My sister quipped.
“Mental health. I would like to keep my sanity. For as long as I can.” I replied firmly, seeing that Oscar was ready to go.
“Daniel. Nothing happens to her while we’re gone. Alisha, call if there’s trouble.” I said to Daniel and Alisha, lacing up my boots. I didn’t know if I’d come back from this. I was nervous, to say the least. But I wanted to come back with everything I called mine. I’d have to be willing to do anything to survive. My internal pep talk came to an end just as Oscar called my attention.
“Ready?” Oscar asked impatiently, pacing in front of the door.
“Yep.” I replied curtly, helping him move the dresser we had blocking the door.
Once out in the hallway, we were greeted by the same distant screams echoing further in the building. Out of curiosity, I walked over to the stairwell to our left; the stairwell we pulled the bodies of infected to. I peeked into the window seeing something whimsical before me. Giant colorful stalks sprouted from the bodies there.
“What the fuck is going on?” I whispered softly, being taken by surprise by Oscar coming to stand beside me.
“I take it we’re taking the other stairwell?” Oscar inquired.
“I don’t trust whatever those stalks are. So yeah.” I replied, spinning on my heels and walking back down the hall in the other direction.
“So I suggest we go to the eastern dining hall just south from here.” Oscar proposed.
“Agreed. Then we get that sample.” I replied, making sure he knew the multiple parts to this mission.
The silence between us ensued, not that it bothered me, I was too busy listening out for sounds. I was curious to test my theory as to if the seemingly bloodthirsty and thoughtless infected did indeed have intelligence still. The floor below my room which happened to be on the top floor was dimly lit, several infected wandering around with jerky movements. I found this behavior notable. The last infected I encountered yesterday were standing still for the most part. To see them so active on the other side of the door as a bit of a surprise.
“Noted...” I said softly, seeing Oscar stare at the infected in horror.
I hated labeling people without talking to them properly after surface-level analysis, but he seemed frozen and triggered by certain things. I couldn’t trust these strangers entirely. So it was worth keeping a watchful eye on them.
“This is bad.” He commented blankly.
“Yeah. It is.” I replied verbally, to get his attention off of the infected.
More silence followed, only the sounds of our footsteps echoing in the stairwell. Something seemed off, aside from the infection in the dorm halls, we had yet to run into any in the stairway. The screams weren’t as bad as they were yesterday either. Perhaps most people got away or were killed? With the peace we had for a moment I signaled to Oscar to pause, getting a strange look from him.
“While we have some time. Let’s get to know one another, as we may be stuck together for a while. Unless we have other plans.” I began, leaning against the railing of the stairwell.
“Have any family you need to get to?” I asked directly.
“My parents moved to Italy when they retired. My twin brother lives in Cali. He basically lives in a fortress so I’m sure he’s okay.” He explained humorously.
“The rest of my family lives in Mexico. Near Puerto Vallarta.” He finished.
“Family? Partners?” He asked me.
“My sister Alisha and my parents. Getting to them is our goal. And I’m better off single.” I chuckled a bit darkly.
“I would say you still have time but I’m sure that’s the least of your worries right now.” Oscar rambled nervously.
I decided we had idled enough and decided that we head off again, I didn’t want to be away from my sister for long.
“So what are your goals in this situation? What do you hope to accomplish?” I asked as we continued down the stairwell.
“My brother is my only family in this country so I’ll get to him. He lives near a beach and has a yacht. It’s the safest option I can think of.” Oscar reasoned.
“So you’re going your own separate path?” I asked, trying to passively get him to stick with the group.
Solitude in a new world like this could work; if you were a trained killer that is. For ordinary and slightly above average people would struggle. The infected were pretty daunting to face.
“I don’t know. Strength in numbers. Maybe we could all help one another and then part ways?” He proposed.
“To get to my parents is west of here by about 62 miles or so. It’s a long way to go but if we get out soon. I’m not sure what Daniel wants, we should discuss this as a group when we get back.” I explained.
Suddenly, a blood-curdling scream echoed above all the other faint ones in the building.
“Help me! Please! Help me!” The voice shouted, sending a bolt of fear through me.
“We should help whoever that is.” Oscar said hurriedly, causing me to curse in frustration as I hurriedly followed after him.
Could any sound heard be trusted? What I saw yesterday still haunted me. That infected person spoke. When all I had heard from them were growls and other animalistic sounds. After we rounded a corner that should have been the place the sound came from, there was a brutally mauled infected jerkily moving in the hall.
“Maybe they got away?” Oscar whispered, catching the attention of the infected.
“Run!” I shouted, not wanting to stick around to encounter whatever those freaks had to offer.
When I risked a glance behind us, I saw that more than one of the infected had joined the chase. I was growing tired of running, my temper flaring in reaction to just how much life sucked now.
“Fuck off already!” I shouted, spinning on my heels and surprising myself with my own might by pulling down a massive trophy shelf in the halls, taking off again. That bought me and Oscar enough time for him to break a glass case holding an emergency fire ax before we took off again.
Suddenly, an idea struck me. What if we ran through every floor, creating a massive ruckus to draw them all behind us, emptying the building?
“I have an idea.” I panted out to Oscar as we practically flew down another stairway, onto yet another floor, a gradually building hoard of infected after us.
“Spit it out, fast kid!” Oscar shouted back, knocking down occasional things in our wake.
“We draw every single one of them out of the building and lead them somewhere else on campus.” I replied, rounding a corner sharply to add a bit more distance between us and the infected hunting us down.
“That’s fucking crazy. What if we run into a dead end. We’d be fucked.” Oscar countered.
In my years attending this university, talking to many people for countless group projects, I knew this entire side of the campus like the back of my hand.
“Trust me.” I said firmly, hearing Oscar heave a troubled sigh.
I knew that in situations like this, it was a high risk and high reward if you pulled off large plans. I wracked my brain to lay down the rest of the plan that I had in mind. But the more ideas my sometimes crazy mind conjured up, the lower and lower my odds of survival got.
“Shout for their attention.” I told Oscar, finally getting some compliance out of him as he began calling out to them loudly.
As we entered another stairwell, shrieks of the infected were growing in number. Just how many people died to these things in this building? It seemed ghostly empty when we had gotten here. The hall we turned into after we exited yet another stairwell had a few infected idling in it. I grabbed a metal trashcan lid, wondering if it would hold up to what I was about to put it through. Without hesitating or breaking pace, I rammed my way through the infected, my already tired and aching body screaming in protest as I forced my way through. I wanted to give this my all as it could save what people still on campus potentially.
I pushed my body even harder, running even faster, taking glances behind me to see if Oscar was keeping up. We rounded the corner to the final floor, a bit of relief washing over me as there weren’t any visible infected on this hall. We burst through the doors into the sunlight of the outdoors. For once I was a bit happy to feel the hot rays of the sun beat down on my skin. Though this moment of bliss was short-lived as a sight before me had me a bit distracted. Hundreds of corpses dotted the green grass of the campus grounds, those same colorful stalks erupting from their bodies. Something jolted me from my source of distraction as Oscar was impatiently waiting for me.
“Where to now?” He asked, as the hoard behind us was entering the final hallway.
I glanced around quickly, seeing the rear of a building I dreaded entering last semester.
“Okay, I’ll do the reckless shit. You climb that truck and wait for them to all get into the building. Once they’re all in, lock the door and then climb back onto the truck. I’ll meet you back here if it worked. If I die they’ll at least be trapped.” I hastily explained as we took off again, sprinting across the field of other-worldly stalks.
Oscar didn’t say anything as he gave me an exasperated sigh. I know he was probably growing tired of running, but this had to be at the very least attempted. Once we made it to the building, Oscar split off from me to do his part of this job, looking a little at ease as he’d finally have a bit of a break as he hauled himself up the dump truck. I paused before entering the building. I wanted every single one of them to come so I’d wait until the last moment, and then take off again. Seeing that a few stragglers were branching off, I shouted and banged the hilt of one of my swords against the metal handrail. That caught their attention just as the front lines of the hoard were bearing down on me quickly. I gave the doors a push and remembered that this building would have been locked as there was a lab being renovated.
Not wanting it to end like this, I mustered every ounce of strength my body could provide, I rammed my shoulder into the door, practically falling into the building. Though I recovered quickly and was on my feet again in less than a second as I ran into the building, a particular classroom in mind. Haunting and terrifying shrieks echoed off the walls of the dark and empty building, giving me the motivation to run further and faster. Rounding a corner, I kept making noise as I ran to keep their attention on me. I quickly reached the chemistry lab that I had in mind for my hair-brained scheme. But something this wild could work either way. Oscar had to lock them in the building so even if they caught me, that’s a huge chunk of them missing.
Now wasn’t the time for those thoughts, everything had to be perfect. I ran into the lab, slamming and quickly locking the rather sturdy door behind me, giving me a bit of peace. I paused for a few seconds to catch my breath, surprised with myself that I was more athletic than I thought. But then again having to run for your life is easier than running a mile that someone told you to run. Stumbling over to the cabinet containing various chemicals I thought back to one of the few things I enjoyed in my chemistry class; conducting experiments.
I never did well in the class but I remember the most basic and first chemical reaction we learned about. I spotted sugar first, grabbing that and setting it on a lab table as the infected were trying to force their way through the door, the sound of wood splintering making me incredibly nervous. Spotting the sulfuric acid, I set that on the table as well, wracking my brain to remember the third member of this combustible reaction. Then my eyes landed on it, I grabbed the sodium chlorate, setting that down on the table as well.
I paced around the room, knowing I was running out of time before the infected broke down the door. I glanced at the aptly named supply closet, walking over to it to collect some things to amplify the blaze that would soon ensue in this building. There were rolls of paper towels and a few beakers I could use. The sound of glass breaking alerted me, I risked a glance outside the supply closet relieved that they had just broken the window. I hurriedly re-entered the lab, combining the chemicals. Realizing I’d need some sort of glove but had nothing to use as such. I looked around and didn’t want to alter the spread of flames in this room by moving around the paper towels I already spread around. Today was the day of crazy Ideas; not like it mattered how I looked at this point. Grasping at some scissors I saw nearby, I sheared off the lower half of my shirt, effectively making it so short that I couldn’t raise my arms without showing off my lower abdomen. Even crazier I saw some rubbing alcohol in the corner of the small lab, drenching the paper towels scattered everywhere in it.
I then opened the containers of sugar and sodium chlorate, mixing the two together in the two beakers I had collected. I spaced them so I’d have time to get out in the instance the ratios I used were volatile. I poured some of the acid into the mixture, seeing it instantly spark, igniting the alcohol-soaked paper towels. I hastily poured some of the remaining acid into the final beaker, seeing it spark to life as well. Then reality dawned on me, there were so many other sensitive chemicals here, meaning I’d have to get the fuck out of here fast. Alarm filling my body with strength was just amplified as the infected broken into the room, instantly springing at me. Spinning on my heels, I literally threw myself through the nearest window, practically ninja rolling up to my feet and taking off as fast as my body would carry me. My swords were slowing me down as the bounced around on my slim frame. I took them off, chucking them off further ahead of me by a considerable distance. Then in an instant, time seemed to slow. I felt my body being violently shoved forward before time sped up and I was painfully thrown forward by what had to have been a shockwave from an explosion.
After being thrown across the ground more than my brain would like, my mind went blank, darkness consuming my vision. Was this death? It felt peaceful, all the exhaustion and fatigue my body felt faded into nothingness for a moment. Though in another flash, I gripped back to reality due to the sound of growling and something grabbing at my leg. I came too, my head pounding. But this day didn’t seem to be done with me yet, and I wasn’t done with it either. I kicked my attacker, seeing that it was a flaming infected that was nothing but a torso. Once I had pulled myself away from it a little ways, I stumbled to my feet, my legs giving out underneath me.
Was I going to die from injuries? My body was in an unbelievable amount of pain, everything ached and hurt. I resolved to make it back to see my sister at the very least. I forced my body to comply to even more of my demands, standing and limping over to my swords that I was glad I threw; I wouldn’t have wanted to get stabbed by them because I landed badly. I glanced back at the building, knowing full well we should get away from it as it was now burning wildly. If that chemistry lab blew up like that I sure others would too as the flames spread. Once I oriented myself, I decided to head back to Oscar. Luckily for me, not a single infected was in sight; save for the ones that were immobile and sprouting colorful stalks. I didn’t have any more fight left in me today anyway. After limping what felt like miles, I saw Oscar sprinting around the building, his eyes widening in shock at my probably less than aesthetically pleasing appearance. Just then, probably because I felt a sense of safety with someone I knew nearby, my legs gave out.
Oscar was a reliable guy in many ways, and managed to catch me before I faceplanted.
“You look like shit kid. What happened?” He asked, pulling away and practically staring into my soul.
“Gee, thanks. It’s a long story.” I sighed dismissively, my eyelids growing heavy, though Oscar was having none of that as he gently shook me awake.
“Did you happen to be near that loud boom?” He asked, worry evident in his voice.
“I ninja hopped out of the window and was dramatically thrown by the explosion like in action movies.” I replied dryly, wanting to sleep for ten years.
“You’re insane. You probably have a concussion so no sleeping.” He chuckled, an amused smile on his lips.
“Can you walk? We need to get you patched up.” He added, looking around.
“We, need to get away from this building. It could blow up some more.” I replied, feebly raising a hand to point at the flaming chemistry building.
“Oh fuck.” Oscar said hurriedly, pulling me up with him roughly causing me to wince.
“I’m going to carry you. We can’t have you dying yet.” He said, urging me to climb onto his back.
“I’m heavy man. I’d break your back or something.” I replied, trying to walk on my own, my body faltering.
“You’re like 115 pounds kid. I can carry you.” He bit back.
“120 pounds actually. But if you insist.” I replied, getting an exasperated sigh from him as surprisingly he lifted me like I was weightless.
He sprinted away from the chemistry building, back towards the resident hall we came from. All the while my body was aching and I seriously just wanted to sleep. But I suppose being carried until I regained my strength wasn’t so bad. I must have gotten hurt pretty badly as aside from my body aching, there was a sharp pain in my lower abdomen that made being carried like this uncomfortable. I moved a bit, wincing and causing Oscar to stop, another deafening boom going off in the chemistry building as another lab exploded.
“Something wrong?” He asked as he came to a stop.
“All this being jolted around hurts. I’ll just walk.” I replied, climbing off of him.
“Are you okay to walk?” Oscar questioned.
“What building are we going to?” I asked, feeling a little confused.
“The dining hall and student life center. There’s a nurse’s office there. Not sure about infected but I think this ax will take care of them.” He smiled, probably trying to reassure me.
I knew that if we were attacked I’d probably die in the condition I’m in. It was something dark to think about but it was realistic; I was so fatigued my body was trembling. But nonetheless, I forged on. If there was a happy ending to all of this fighting and darkness, I wanted to live to see it. There were a few infected idling around the dining hall blocking our way. And I don’t think Oscar was okay with the idea of battling through them to get in.
“What do you say we go around the to the other side?” He proposed, looking little jarred at the sight of them.
“Sure.” I huffed, rolling my eyes.
We made our way around to the building, seeing that hallway was fortified and filled with what looked like dead infected. I found this strange; were there people here?
“Let’s try the supply dock.” I suggested, honestly just wanting to sit down.
“Yeah.” Oscar said absentmindedly, casting one last worried glance at the infected.
My poor body was about to give out on me. But nonetheless, I took a distracted Oscar by the arm, pulling him behind me. I was currently exhausted in more ways than one at this point. All of this carnage going on had rubbed my mind raw. Was it ethical to even kill the infected? Or could they be saved? Then again being ravaged by teeth and brutality was a sucky way to die. When we made it around to the other side of the building, we were confronted with yet another roadblock; the door was chained and locked shut.
“Time to put this ax to use.” Oscar huffed, wedding it between the two doors, slamming a fist down into it slicing the chain, and lock in pieces.
Once inside we were confronted by another set of doors that offered us some security in the small odd hall. Finally feeling safe, I fell to the ground exhausted. Though I wished I let myself down more gently as I ended up in even more pain and I laid limply on the cold tile floor staring up at the flickering light overhead.
“That was intense. What did you do in there?” Oscar said, turning to me after he made a makeshift lock with the fire ax he had.
“I spread them throughout the building. Then locked myself in a chemistry lab,” I began, running out of breath as my body was tensed in pain. Oscar was now looking at me as if I was telling the most fascinating story ever.
“I remembered something from my chem class some semesters ago and made some fire. Then I realized the room would eventually explode because of other chemicals and almost died.” I finished with a few dramatic hand gestures.
Our short moment of peace was ruined when I heard the sound of a door opening, causing me to stagger up to my feet as quickly as I could. It was a woman, wearing a devious grin on her red lipstick panted lips. A rifle was poised at us as she seemed to take in every detail of the two of us.
“We don’t want any trouble. We can leave.” I informed her carefully, raising my hands in surrender, my body screeching at such a simple action.
“Oh, I won’t hurt you two. Actually, you may be of some use.” She chuckled, lowering her rifle with a shrug.
I released a breath I hadn’t known I was holding. She extended a hand out for me to shake, practically breaking my hand in her firm grip.
“Oh gee, what happened to you?” She asked curiously as she took in my appearance.
I was about to speak before I was cut off by Oscar who stepped in defensively.
“A long story but he’s okay.” He said firmly.
The strange woman raised her hands in surrender as she turned around.
“I’m Jin by the way,” She began, turning to look at us over her shoulder.
“Oh, why don’t you two come and answer a question for me and my partner? We’re trying to find some people on this campus.” She added.
“How do we know we can trust you?” Oscar countered hotly, displaying more fieriness than I was used to. I tried to silence him by practically screaming at him with my eyes. Though he pressed on, firmly staring the woman down.
“Well. I’ll tell you this bit of information about myself. Let’s walk and talk.” She quipped playfully, gesturing for us to follow her.
Sure she was armed but I was curious as to what she meant by she was looking for someone. I’m sure the two of us could take her should her intentions be bad. I nudged Oscar forward, telling him that we should follow her. Her confidence to stand at an open doorway with her back turned told me this place must be relatively safe, or at least I hoped.
A/N: I hope to keep up a consistent upload schedule for my works. After I finish uploading the chapters for this first book, I will begin sharing in an exclusive gesture some of my other unseen work. It will be the sister series to this To Death series. And was previously slated to be released first on Wattpad. The upload schedule for the To Death series will be Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. While the sister series; Paradise and Melancholy, will see light on Tuesday and Thursday. So content every day of the week is coming soon!