A/N: Lots of plot hints in this book. Coincidences as well! This one and the next will be two of the shortest chapters in this story! Mostly due to them being hint and Easter egg heavy. Collect them! Lots of running and life or death moments! Can this Jin woman be trusted? Or will she shoot them in the face or something? Who is she looking for? Want answers to those questions? Read on my loves.
Having not gotten proper rest, after all, I went through today had my body taxed. I was stumbling and faltering on my feet, in so much pain I was sweating profusely. My body seemed to decide it had been through enough as everything in me gave out, alerting Oscar and Jin.
“Was he bitten or attacked?” She asked, a rifle clearly ready to dispatch me if I was.
“I don’t think so. We split up for a bit.” Oscar tried to reason, getting some cool points with me. His defense was much needed as I was still trying to collect myself.
“Not, bitten. Just in a lot of pain and I’m tired.” I panted, steadying myself against the wall, seeing that Jin wasn’t buying it as she came up to me, her eyes glaring into me like daggers.
“Lift up your shirt.” She commanded firmly, stepping back.
I did just that, my head swimming. Her eyes widened in shock as her eyes roamed my torso. Out of curiosity, I glanced down at my own body, seeing some pretty nasty bruises forming along my lower ribs; though luckily no bites.
“What the hell did you go through?” She whispered softly, her eyes flitting up to meet mine for just a moment.
“Chased down by hundreds of those psychopaths. And barely escaped an explosion.” I explained, already breathless again.
“Fuck. You could have internal bleeding. Can you carry him? My partner can probably save him.” Jin said urgently, starting off again after she turned to Oscar.
Oscar turned to me, worry evident in his dark eyes. Was this where it ended for me? Oscar hoisted me up into his arms, pain shooting through my abdomen causing me to wince. Oscar’s usual puppy dog-like expression was replaced by a blank and worried one. Despite my current condition, I wanted to pry at the mind of his to get down to the source of this change.
“Did you see a ghost or something?” I asked as he carried me, trying to keep my composure due to the fear and pain I felt.
“I just...don’t like losing anyone.” He replied.
“You barely know me. No need to get so worked up.” I chuckled, wincing from the pain that action caused.
“I’ve lost teammates. Family, friends. I don’t want to lose anymore.” He replied, his expression still blank.
“A veteran?” I asked curiously, knowing that if that final question was answered I’d know enough.
“Y-yes.” He croaked, stepping into the massive student lounge where a man sat reading a book.
“Ellis! We need your expertise. You might be able to save this kid.” Jin spoke, approaching the man.
If I thought Oscar had a puppy dog expression, this Ellis man seemed ten times more innocent in nature. I would have ordinarily flirted with him if I didn’t feel like I was the manifestation of death itself.
“Any clue what’s wrong?” Ellis spoke, as Oscar not so gently laid me down on a coffee table.
“I think it could be internal bleeding. It’s around his lower ribs so he could have lacerated an organ or something.” Jin explained.
“I’ll save introductions and examine you right away.” Ellis spoke, instantly moving to rip my shirt off, causing me to internally groan at all the destruction of my clothing.
His eyes wandered my chest with precision and so much discernment that I was sure he had x-ray vision. He made a gesture to Jin who was idling nearby. She disappeared and came back with what looked to be a blood pressure monitor. After a few moments of more checking, Ellis finally heaved a sigh.
“You’re incredibly lucky your body stood up to whatever abuse it went through. You’ve got some internal bruising of your organs. Bruising of your ribs, and maybe some light internal bleeding that should resolve itself.” Ellis explained, sighing in relief.
“So he’ll be okay?” Oscar questioned.
“Yeah, he’ll need rest for about four weeks and he’ll be out of the woods.” Ellis smiled warmly; a smile so warm that it made me forget about things for a moment.
“My sister. I need to get back to her.” I winced as I forced myself to sit up.
“You need rest. Or your internal bleeding could worsen.” Ellis quipped sharply, gently pushing me back down.
“Sister? Or furthermore. Do either of you know an Alisha Boe?” Jin questioned, her eyes burning into me and Oscar. What shook me to my core is that she uttered my sister’s name.
Jin being visibly keen, picked up on my slip-up. Her eyes flitted with interest as she had an amused grin on her cherry red lips.
“So, you do know an Alisha?” She drawled, sauntering up to me.
Ellis seemed to have my side as he took a defensive step before me.
“Let’s not get hasty partner.” Ellis spoke, Jin standing down a bit.
“He clearly knows something. Once we find her we can get her to the lab and get the hell out of here.” Jin huffed, narrowing her eyes at Ellis.
“I want to get out of here as much as you do. Don’t go harassing my patients.” Ellis bit back.
I debated whether I should answer her question. Then again Jin had the power here as she was armed, and I didn’t quite know if I could trust her. But I had something she wanted; my sister. Maybe I could hold this over her to a degree. Heaving myself to stand, alerting Ellis who was already trying to coddle me back down into submission. I shrugged him off as I strode up to Jin, stopping right before her.
“And just what are your intentions with her?” I questioned, silencing Oscar who was trying to shut me up. I knew she had already gathered enough from my slip up to know that I knew of her.
I drew the assumption that she had a short temper with her playful nature. She reminded me of a tiger; she liked a challenge but hated being teased. She was smart though and knew just what game I was playing, though I knew I had the upper hand; or so I thought.
“I can assure you no harm will come to Alisha. We need her talents in order to gain some insight into all of this.” Jin replied, giving me a tight-lipped smile.
“Oh? And what’s in it for everyone?” I pressed.
“Everyone? You seem to care a great deal about this person. I can assure you of her safety.” She began, a confident smirk on her lips as she flipped the situation back on me. I got careless and she pinned me.
“She will indeed be safe once she’s transported to the lab though.” Ellis reasoned from behind me.
I realized I couldn’t win in this situation as she proved to be ahead of me by some steps.. Oscar could easily get away as he was in good shape. But I on the other hand was in no shape to move out there again.
“I’ll make a bit of a deal. I’ll get her here and no harm will come her way. Just tell us where she is.” Jin reasoned, her words soothing my wary body. I didn’t have much fight left in me and I wanted to get back to her as soon as possible.
“Let’s trust them kid. Our hands are tied right now.” Oscar offered.
“Your friend here is smart. I want nothing more than to complete my mission for the sake of humanity.” Jin smiled, not totally convincing me of her intentions.
“I’ll go with you. Alisha isn’t alone so we don’t want there to be a misunderstanding.” Oscar interjected, giving me a brief nod.
Oscar was gaining more and more of my favor with his actions. I wasn’t exactly sure if he was doing this for my sake or if he just thought it was the most logical thing to do. I really wanted to go as well and figured I’d at least try offering.
“Why don’t I go instead?” I added.
“You? You must be kidding. From what Ellis here says you would probably die if one of the infected so much as looked at you.” Jin chuckled.
“You should stay here. I don’t recommend you do anything active for some time.” Ellis added, sitting me back down on a chair.
“Then it’s settled. Where is Alisha and company?” Jin questioned.
“I’ll lead the way.” Oscar sighed.
“Okay then. They’re more active after dark so let’s get going and get back.” Jin commanded.
And just like that, I lost a battle of intellect. Though I wasn’t the smartest when it came to the general intellect, I could pick apart minds very well. Though that woman had me beat, so easily that I was wondering just who or what she was. Ellis had a thoughtful look on his face.
“So, what was it like for you when all this happened?” He questioned his voice carrying an odd southern-like accent.
I thought for a second, thinking back on everything I’ve been through in the past days. It feels like I’ve been going about this for years but in reality, it hasn’t even been two days.
“I was late on the first day of class. Honestly, I’m a mess.” I began with a shrug, wincing a bit.
“Actually I was almost late on move-in day because the college fucked up my dorm. And my car broke down when I was driving myself and my sister here. So we had to stop at some shady mechanic.” I rambled, backtracking even further back.
“Alisha?” Ellis questioned, a grin on his face, though it was obvious who she was to me.
Logically she could only be related to me, a good friend, or girlfriend. I mentioned a sister and let it slip that I knew an Alisha. So it only made sense that he made the connection.
“Yes.” I sighed, rolling my eyes.
Now that I thought about it, I recalled listening in to the radio in my car as my sister stepped out to call her best friend Namiko that was living over in Atlanta. There was a reporter talking about the end of times with that bug that had been passing around. He honestly sounded like someone who lost touch with reality. Perhaps I should have taken him more seriously. Though when it came to it, there hadn’t been anyone running around biting on people.
“You froze there. You okay bro?” Ellis asked, tugging me from my thoughts.
“Just thinking. But anyway, there was this problematic girl who came into me and my sister’s class coughing up her lungs.” I continued, fishing out even more details, thinking of how to word what I was about to say.
“She eventually passed out and our professor moved to check on her.” I rambled on, trying to sound coherent but I was far too exhausted to explain things clearly.
“And she bit him?” Ellis surmised.
“No, I kicked her ass and saved his life.” I scoffed.
“You have a way of speaking huh?” Ellis chuckled.
“But I saved him, that guy is Oscar. Then he saved me when that sickly girl got up and tried to take some bites out of me.” I explained
“We then ran into this other dude who saved my life again because the infected like harassing people I care about.” I continued.
“And then we holed up in my room for the night, me and Oscar coming out to survey and get a sample today.” I finished.
“How were things for you?” I asked, trying to get comfortable in my seat, but my aching body wanted none of that.
“I was just coming back home after deployment. And when I make it to my apartment, I get attacked by who I thought was a homeless man. I tussled with him for a bit, almost getting my ear bitten off.” Ellis explained, being more eloquently spoken than I was at the moment.
“I noted how weird that was and instantly pulled out my phone when I got into my apartment to figure out what that was. I knew there was something weird about him because he was bleeding everywhere and looked dead in the eyes.” He elaborated.
“Couldn’t get in contact with the police and just stayed there because the lines were busy.” He went on, stroking his beard of stubble.
“Where did you live?” I asked, curious to get some other perspectives. From what I gathered so far it started on or really close to this campus.
“I lived downtown. Me and Jin had to fight our way out. It was crazy as hell down there.” He sighed, running a shaky hand through his hair.
“Just how did you meet Jin?” I pressed.
“In the middle of the night, there was a knock at my door. And on the other side was Jin, demanding I come with her, saying something about a mission I needed to join her for.” He finished, letting me piece the rest together.
“Do you know what she did before all of this?” I asked.
“Something to do with death and the government I’m guessing. I’m just a combat medic.” Ellis shrugged.
And I set to work trying to piece together an image of who that woman was. She was dangerous, which was clearly seen in her mannerisms; each and every single one of them calculated and methodical.
“So how do you think all of this will play out?” Ellis asked.
“I don’t know enough to draw a conclusion. But people can do awful things to one another when rules can’t be enforced.” I reasoned, thinking how this could all go.
I saw the world in absolutes; a flaw that I was well aware of and tried to see it instead as a soothing shade of grey.
“What is the scale of this? Where has it started?” I asked, hoping he would possess an answer.
“I hear it’s rampant and started on the west coast by now. Reports of it starting up and down the east coast too” He began, painting a grim picture.
“Georgia so far has been handling itself the best. The only area lost so far is Atlanta and some surrounding suburbs.” He shrugged.
“And if it’s here in the midwest in just a few hours I think the U.S might be done for.” He admitted grimly.
“What about in other countries?” I asked.
“There have been reports of people coming down with similar symptoms in South Africa and as far as Japan. So most countries are stopping international travel for protection.” Ellis informed, brandishing his walkie-talkie
“So we’re fucked?” I mused, dark thoughts latching on from the depths of my emotionally scarred brain.
“Let’s stay optimistic though. The best scientists we have are working on cures. We just have to survive. But I don’t think there’s any hope for the infected.” Ellis spoke optimistically, his words holding such conviction I knew the emotion he was feeling was genuine.
It was plain to see that he was terrified. I think everyone was. So badly I was having grating thoughts of depression coming for me. Though I knew this time was truly justified and not caused by some of the irrational worryings I could be plagued with. I wouldn’t have the help of a therapist throughout all of this. Hell, I may be the one everyone needs. So I’d have to delve into what brought me to the brink of ending my own life years ago many times; helping others until I started to feel a gnawing sensation of feeling taken for granted. Perhaps I could cope better since I knew just what I was doing?
“So how did you get so banged up exactly.” Ellis asked, sparking my love for telling stories, distracting me for but a moment.
I needed that secretly, it was so outlandish what happened today that it made me feel as if it weren’t real.
“So as we were on the run I had the hair-brained scheme to draw all the infected out of the building and after me.” I began.
“So there I am, banging on walls throughout my dorm building, making noise since it attracts them. And I drag them from the top floor through the building, having to run a marathon to escape.” I explained, a small grin pulling at Ellis’s lips.
“I drew them to the chemistry building, and then make a cocktail and start a fire. I wasn’t expecting an explosion that large but it was a chain effect. I broke a window and dove out of it and ran as fast as I could.” I continued.
“But the shockwave caught me with a mean full-body punch.” I finished.
“That’s fucking insane.” Ellis snorted, trying to stifle his laughter.
“It was a high risk, higher reward. I reduced the population of infected by about a couple hundred at the least.” I shrugged.
“So what are you doing here? What are you studying?” He asked, seeming to want to pry more information out of me.
I’d stay a bit guarded, but I felt that was a question I could answer. He seemed far too innocent from basic observation.
“I’m a clinical psychology major. I would have been graduating this semester since I killed myself with all the classes I took had this not happened.” I huffed.
“Ahhh I see. Interesting stuff.” Ellis mused, obviously not having the faintest idea of what that meant.
There was a gunshot off in the distance, catching Ellis’s attention as well.
“She doesn’t have a gun that makes a sound like that; they’re all silenced.” He said quietly.
“Other people with guns on campus? Great.” I sighed, sinking into my seat, ignoring the pain my body was in as I deflated.
“I’ve got means to keep ’em at bay.” Ellis grinned, gesturing to a rifle I couldn’t identify; so much for being born to a military family.
My parents were on my mind at the thought of that. Were they okay? Perhaps I should call them while I still had service. I shakily stood up, Ellis looking ready to fret but was distracted by a sequence of beeping coming from his means of communication with Jin.
I staggered off for a bit of privacy further into the lounge, fishing my phone out of my back pocket seeing that its screen had some pretty severe cracks in it and was slightly bent. Though I internally sighed when the screen still worked. I flitted through my contacts, deciding to call my mother as her phone was always on silent.
“Isaac!” She greeted excitedly.
“Hey, mom.” I greeted back, my ears still ringing.
“How are my babies?” My mom asked hurriedly, my father saying something in the background.
“I’m, okay. A little banged up, Alisha is okay too.” I informed her, not wanting her to worry as she was expecting twins, my little brother, and sister.
“How are you two?” I asked, seeming to have her pleasantly fooled as I knew where she was.
“Well me and your father have changed plans and are headed to the coast, he knows a friend from his military days when he was stationed in Ft. Bragg. He has a boat, we could get there and wait for you and Alisha.” My mother explained gently as if she were talking to someone made out of wet tissue paper.
“Mom I’m handling the stress fine. No worries.” I assured her, knowing where her tone was coming from.
“That’s my boy!” I heard my father in the background.
“Well, keep in contact for as long as possible. The Cole’s have said people are starting to try leaving powerplants. The guarded ones won’t stay up much longer.” My mother fretted.
“I can assure you mom. Nothing will happen to us. We will be okay I promise.“I assured her, hoping to have soothed her worrying.
We bid our farewells and hung up, a new plan formulating in my mind. The coast, perhaps Oscar wanted to go there as well? But nonetheless, we had to make it there. But first I had to figure out where these two mysterious people intended on bringing us. Though I had time, it would take my parents about two weeks judging by the current situation the country was facing. My father was a capable man, and my mother literally went on a march two weeks after giving birth to me and outdid several of the men. I had to believe they would be okay.
“Your sister and those two other guys are coming in.” Ellis informed me when I hung up.
“Where are you taking us?” I asked.
“Honestly I’m along for the ride. I don’t know where Jin is taking us. I just know I serve a purpose for some damn reason.” He sighed, causing me to groan internally.
“Oh fuck you look a mess.” Alisha teased as I turned around at the sound of an opening door.
“You did a great job kid, killed so many infected that I only saw one roaming around.” Jin informed me as I was pulled into a bone-crushing hug.
“Oh, I brought you a change of clothes since she said you would probably need something new to wear.” Alisha went on, showing me something that I would have actually put together myself.
“I hear you went on a mission of heroics. We saw your work dude and that’s sick!” Daniel cheered.
“I feel like I’m 100 years old now.” I huffed dully.
“There are showers in this building right?” I asked, remembering as I spoke this was a lounge and student life center, the small gym in it had showers.
“Never mind.” I tacked on quickly, taking my clothes and heading off.
I felt like every character in a horror movie going off to their death, but I knew this building was secure. And if there was an infected in here they could catch these hands!
A/N: This one is really short in comparison to the others. It’s dense in plot hints for future ventures of this world I’ve been creating for years now. How are you all liking the upload schedule? It’s a pretty good pace so far when it comes to last-minute editing and working on the second book of this series!