A/N: If you know you know! Facts are facts, very much that, etc.
Night had fallen everyone having fallen asleep after playing arcade games. I was away roaming the empty halls of the lounge building. I eventually circled back to the main lobby where everyone was dozing off on the assorted furniture. Though this time Jin and Ellis were gone. I noted that as odd. I would have run into them a few times in the halls had they been in here. Clutching at my aching rib cage I trudged up the stairs, not trusting the elevators. I made it to the second floor with had a balcony that ringed around the whole building. Nothing here would say they were up here. I circled the balcony, looking down at the ground below seeing some movement in the distance that must have been infected. Eventually, I spotted my quarry, eyeing them curiously.
I couldn’t quite hear them from up here so I noted their position, deciding I would just get as close as I could as their conversation seemed serious enough for them to be outside. I stalked my way downstairs, stepping carefully on the carpeted floor, as to not wake anyone. If my body could speak it would be swearing at me profusely as I willed it to do things it was too tired to do. Going out unarmed was stupid but that hot shower worked to soothe my muscles a bit so some of my strength had returned despite the pain of moving. When I made it outside I was greeted by the cool night air and a slightly sweet scent floating about. Another unusual thing noted as I crept alongside the building, hidden in shadow. Eventually, I came within earshot, a little ways off but their voices were soft.
“....Too many? We can’t take them all in the truck?” Ellis said, his tone fretful.
“We’re here just for the girl. The others can follow if they want. She is the priority.” Jin replied, sternly.
“They won’t make a deal like that. She’s that boy’s sister. He’ll be pissed I know it.” Ellis huffed, seemingly on my side.
“Well, I don’t like confrontation.” Jin began.
“So I’ll bring it to everyone’s attention. Before we go.” Jin shrugged, looking in my direction, almost catching sight of me. I ducked into a small alcove on the side of the building, my heart racing.
And then suddenly I felt a strong grip overtake me, and before I could scream for help I was silenced by a hand clasping over my mouth. My fight or flight reactions kicked in, my body flooding with adrenaline. All of my prior experience of being a child black-belt came to me. I wiggled a bit, creating some looseness, elbowing my assailant in the ribs before freeing myself and turning on them. There was a grunt and a soft chuckle. I knew just who it was just by the pine-mint scent that circulated in the air around me. My heart was racing at just the smell. The thrill of the person. I pinned him to the wall beside me where the moonlight shone to get a good look at him.
“Nice to see you’re still alive Bambi.” My on and off ex smirked at me, his gold plated canines glinting back through his parted lips.
“What are you doing snooping around here Jonas.” I whisper yelled, tightening my grip on his collar as his smug look had yet to fade.
“I saw what you did earlier from one of the dorms. Was waiting for an opportunity to see if you were okay.“He drawled, blowing me a kiss, irking me even more.
“I was literally just an experiment to you. You used me and you were ashamed of the fact that you might be gay! I don’t have time for your games anymore Jonas!” I growled, my body’s adrenaline trickling away and the pain coming back.
“Woah, that stung. I cared about you.” He defended, his smirk melting like an ice cube being dropped into the sun as his gaze hardened from my accusations.
“Bull-” I began when I heard the clicking of metal, being interrupted mid swear.
“You okay there partner?” Ellis asked, Jin nowhere in sight.
Though this situation escalated rapidly, Jonas drawing a shotgun of sorts as he pulled me to him in what could be seen as a protective gesture; though I knew it was probably so I didn’t block his shot with a gun that lacked penetrating power.
“I’m, fine. He surprised me is all. I know him.” I explained, smacking Jonas’ face softly as he glared at Ellis, causing him to release his firm hold on me.
“I heard a struggle. Wasn’t sure who it was.” Ellis shrugged, lowering his gun.
“Who’s this?” Jonas asked me hotly, his abrasive personality something I learned to cope with within our time together.
“Someone surviving this alongside me for the moment.” I sighed while gesturing to the decomposing corpses of infected in the distance, deciding Jonas could be useful.
Just seeing his face sparked painful memories I had to dig up and put on display before a therapist when the whirlwind that was our relationship multiple times had picked up and stopped just as fast. He was dangerous, but deep down I knew he cared. To everyone looking from the outside in saw a man that was intent on giving me the moon and stars. But that was true, he would give me his all. But what no one saw was his shady past and life. He was heavily involved in a gang, even getting me involved at times bringing me on jobs with him. The good times with him were amazing euphoric highs. And the bad was the nasty arguments and the physical violence at times. Part of me missed those good times. But I knew that was just like playing with fire. He was no good for me. No matter how good he could make me feel sometimes.
“I think he’d be safer with me honestly.” Jonas piped up, stepping in front of me.
“You think so?” Ellis asked sharply, his puppy-dog demeanor thrown into metaphorical moving traffic.
“Okay, everyone shut the fuck up, this isn’t even the place to have a conversation. Those things are the last thing I want to see.” I spoke up, hating how I was placed on the backburner of this exchange.
“And I’m not letting you sweep me away again. I have Alisha to look after.” I scoffed sternly.
“Oh my gosh, Alisha is here?” Jonas asked excitedly, his gruff persona tossed aside as she was like a little sister to him.
“Are you with anyone?” I asked him, his hazel gaze dimming with sadness the moment the question left my lips. We weren’t on speaking terms right now. But I couldn’t just be a dick in this current situation. It wouldn’t be fair to him. I berated myself for always being the one to come back with compassion and understanding.
“I’ll give you two a moment.” Ellis said courteously, stepping a little ways off and watching our back.
“Darren and Felix are gone, man. We were in the cafeteria when it all started.” Jonas began, his voice a little choked up as he crossed his arms, defiant in the face of torrential emotion.
Darren and Felix were his best friends. And were people who made sure I was okay when I was supposed to be with Jonas while he was off doing shady things. They knew that wasn’t the life for me so they did their best to shield my eyes from it, but they didn’t know all I was up against all the time.
“We should get inside and talk about it. It’s dangerous out here.” I sighed, taking him by the shoulder and pulling him alongside me.
“We’re headed in, Ellis.” I huffed, catching his attention as he trailed behind us.
“Wanna talk about it? We can talk about it.” I said to him, casting aside the past we shared just for this moment. I couldn’t let a person drift in the wayside and not help when I very well could.
I knew he was just as broken as I was. He hurt a lot and I knew that hurt people, hurt other people sometimes. So I’d sympathize with him as he’s just lost two people he cared about, while luckily for me I hadn’t lost anyone yet. Deep down I knew it to be the right thing to do. Even if it was playing with metaphorical fire.
“Yeah, yeah...“He sighed shakily, seeming distant.
I pulled him to me and gave him a comforting squeeze, knowing I was breaking several rules of what would have been my career. That was our relationship after all. We had broken up sure, and in times we could stand to be around one another; well times I could stand being around him. It was like nothing changed. Words that could describe us were on and off again on a sexual level, sometimes emotional.
This night made me think of the times he would show up at my dorm room at odd hours. Either the moment I got out of class. Or sometimes in the middle of the night. Sometimes it was out of lust. Others it was just to talk about life. But right before this semester started we got into a nasty argument about our relationship and how I wanted him to leave me alone. And after that, I hadn’t heard or seen him until today. I was growing tired of his games. And I reached my breaking point with him.
“What the fuck is going on?” He cursed, seeming angry all of a sudden.
It was a justified emotion I expected from anyone who has lost someone to the sped-babies.
“I’m not sure. It’s just started and most problems can be stopped easily when they initially start.” I offered, a ray of optimism that my pessimistic nature cringed against.
Sometimes you had to just tell people things they’d want to hear.
“The northside is gone, westside is demolished, eastside is in flames right now.” He began, pointing out a massive plume of smoke rising into the air.
“How long have you been alone?” I exclaimed, being taken aback.
“Since early yesterday. Me and the boys were eating in the cafeteria. After I lost them I was roaming around trying to find someone I knew. And if I did know them they were either nowhere to be found or dead.” He huffed.
“Well, you should know I’m a fighter by now. And you managed to find me.” I offered, trying to be as positive as I could in my wordage.
“And I’m so fuckin’ happy you’re okay Bambi.” He sighed, pulling me close and ruffling my hair, annoying me playfully.
When we were together he’d always call me Bambi, a fictitious character that was known for his innocent demeanor. It was inspired by our first ‘date’ as we watched the movie together in my parent’s basement back home.
“How is Ali? She isn’t hurt is she?” He asked quickly, seeming to cheer up as he packed away his baggage for later.
It was something he often did when he felt like he didn’t have all of me. Or when he knew he couldn’t have all of me. It was either of the two that made him switch his tune so quickly. He was still the same old Jonas it seemed.
“She’s okay. I’ve been trying to keep her away from them since they freaked her out when this all started.” I sighed.
“Those things are dangerous.” Jonas explained, gesturing to some bloodstains on his shirt.
“You weren’t bitten or scratched were you?” I asked worriedly.
I knew it was infectious by nature. And every one of the infected I’d seen so far bore a bite mark of some sort. I wasn’t sure what else was possible with these things.
“Nope. One of those fuckers tackled me and I shot ’em.” He replied smoothly.
“So that was the gunshot I heard earlier.” I mused.
“Wait why do you have a gun?” I fretted, knowing that weapons were strictly prohibited on campus.
“I kind of need them, Bambi. You need one too. I saw what those things can do. And if they overpower you by just a second you’re done.” Jonas quipped hotly.
I reached my limit of physically fighting against the infected quite a few times. Probably only surviving by sheer luck.
“Also are you sure you’re okay? I saw what happened in that building and you’re tottering.” He asked, stabilizing me as I had been growing wary again.
I risked a glance back at Ellis who was watching us intently, getting an indifferent shrug.
“A little banged up, I’ll be totally okay in a few weeks though.” I said carefully, knowing just how his mood worked.
Though I wasn’t careful enough as his facial expression changed into something unreadable. Perhaps he was starting to feel the tug of depression? I know that was something we both dealt with on different levels; it was actually the thing we first bonded over despite that action being unhealthy mentally for us both.
“You’re stronger than that Jonas. What’s your survival plan? What’s on your mind?” I asked firmly yet gently.
“I was just so worried ya know? After I lost Darren and Felix...You and Alisha were all I had left.” Jonas sighed, looking down.
“Sleep with me tonight. Okay?” I said to him, quickly realizing that he could misread that. But before I could backtrack he spoke.
“I don’t think sex would fix us right now.” Jonas explained roughly, rubbing his temples.
“I didn’t mean sex.” I began, feeling slightly humored.
“Oh shit, I’m sorry.” He rambled with a troubled sigh.
“I just meant we could sleep near each other and talk.” I sighed.
“Hold it right there.” A familiar voice greeted me at the doorway.
And out of the shadows stepped Jin, her typical bored expression piercing.
“Who is he?” She asked me and Ellis.
“Jonas. I can introduce myself.” He said gruffly, making me cringe at his tactlessness.
“And who are you to these two?” Jin asked, intentionally questioning him further.
“Boyfriend!” I blurted quickly in an attempt to shut him up.
“He’s my boyfriend.” I said more calmly, shutting him up with a look.
“Oh? I see. Well, are you bitten? Jonas...” Jin questioned, her empty gaze something unsettling.
“I’ve gone through that already. No, I’m not.” Jonas huffed.
“And how are we to know? There are certain risks I won’t take.” Jin drawled.
“Check me yourself then pretty lady. I’m all yours if you want.” Jonas challenged boldly.
My calling Jonas my boyfriend didn’t work. I was learning more and more about this woman who seemed to like taking charge. Interesting things that I’m not sure even she was aware that she was projecting. But I’d let this happen.
“Okay? Strip then.” She said calmly, her face expressionless.
“What if an infected comes?” Ellis asked, being quickly silenced by his more domineering partner.
“Then I’ll shoot it.” She shrugged, turning a sharp look on Jonas.
“Fuck it.” Jonas cursed, unbuckling his pants, sliding them down his ankles, kicking them off.
I had to turn away and watch our backs just so I didn’t get too distracted.
“Want me to take the underwear off too?” Jonas asked firmly, annoyance clear in his tone.
Then I spotted it, a hoard of infected coming our way, some lumbering others running with twitchy and jumpy movements.
“Shit.” I cursed, taking a cautious step back.
They were on us too fast for us to retreat into the lounge building so we all took off, Jonas clumsily gathering his discarded clothing. I was trailing behind as my body had reached its limit quickly, everything feeling like it was shattering and tearing apart all at once.
“I can’t keep up.” I shouted, trying to keep my stride up.
Ellis turned back first, facing down the infected as he remained beside me, Jonas right on his heels.
“Step aside.” Jin sighed, drawing a silenced pistol from her thigh.
Efficiently, she dispatched each of the infected with perfect headshots. Though as if everything knew I was injured I was attacked by an infected, knocked back into a brick wall behind me, being knocked dizzy. I struggled to fight back, my strength fading rapidly as chomping jaws and grasping hands drew closer. The only thing that stopped it from biting me was my forearm firmly pressed into the neck of the rabid man trying to ‘infect’ me. Then suddenly, a flash of silver caught my eye, followed by a loud bang, brain matter splashing just passed me.
It was Jonas, who pulled me to him.
“Inside!” He shouted, haphazardly picking me up and dragging me into a door he kicked open, everyone else falling into it, Jin securing the door closed with a conveniently placed metal rod.
Pain as a word didn’t hold enough depth for the sensation wracking my body. It hurt so much that I felt weak and lightheaded as I just lay limply against Jonas for a moment.
“Were you bitten?” Jin asked quickly.
“In a few more seconds he would have been.” Jonas sighed, looking me over.
“Did anyone else see that though?” Ellis brought up.
“Their behavior. That one singled me out. You all’s backs were turned so why me?” I proposed, seeing the action as predatory.
“Are you saying it singled you out as the weakest among us?” Jin asked, seemingly shocked.
“Precisely.” I grunted, the pain turning back to its dull ache I had been feeling before.
“This is unexpected.” Jin mused, staring out of the small window of the sturdy metal door as a few more infected lurked outside in the open.
“I’ve seen how smart those bastards are. They can mimic voices.” Jonas huffed as he put on his clothes.
“I’ve experienced that too.” I gasped, figuring what I saw couldn’t have just been a coincidence now.
This was really bad. Maybe it was just flukes though? Perhaps some infected that were further gone still grasped at the human psyche within them? Or were those infected curable to a degree, just driven mad by whatever is infecting them. Intelligence like that was found in humans or predatory animals; seeking out the weakest link and exploiting it.
“Those gears are turning. What’s going on in there?” Jonas asked, crouching down before me after he had put his clothes back on.
“I don’t know. That behavior scares me a bit though. Are they still human at this point?” I asked, a haunted look crossing Jonas’ face.
“They’re savages. Nothing less, nothing more.” Jin surmised a calculated look etched onto her features.
“Perhaps. It’s something I will personally look out for and study.” I sighed, grunting as Jonas helped me stand.
“Forever the optimist.” Jin scoffed, stalking off, disappearing into the building.
“Hey, I wanna go and check on Ali. Where is she?” Jonas asked.
“In the main lobby. I’ll catch up, I need a breather.” I sighed, slumping against a nearby wall.
Jonas gave me a salute and went off to find my sister as I just rested, letting my eyes blink closed.
“So boyfriend huh?” I heard suddenly, causing me to jump out of my skin.
I blinked my eyes open to see Ellis grinning at me sheepishly, knowing full well he just gave me a heart attack.
“Something like that.” I explained hurriedly, staring off in the direction Jonas disappeared off to.
“I was a little confused since it seemed like you wanted to rip his face off one moment. Then the next you two were all huggy.” Ellis explained innocently, his accent just adding to his soft demeanor.
It was hard to believe someone so obviously gentle was an active combat medic. Though I could be overly critical of people upon the first investigation. My mind kept wandering back to all that transpired within the last seven minutes or so. They were going to try taking my sister from me. And alongside that, the infected were proving to be even more terrifying. I found myself trying to wake up from what so obviously seemed like a bad dream.
My phone went off in my pocket, surprising me. I pulled the broken and rather expensive device out of my pants, seeing it was my father. I answered it as Ellis went on ahead of me.
“Isaac,” My father greeted.
“Dad, this is just. I-I can’t.” I rambled, feeling the defeat come crashing down.
“Listen to me and listen to me, well son. This isn’t the end. Your mother and I were found by some friends we had in the military. We’ll be headed to a safe zone near your college. Meet us there.” He said calmly.
I had begun pacing as I felt a panic attack coming on. But by the time I felt it, it was already too late. What if the very moment I opened my eyes I was met by chomping jaws. Or the loss of my sister or Jonas. Was I strong enough to protect them?
“You’re okay. You are okay. Breath. We will all be okay.” My father assured me, his calm floating through my phone.
“Okay,” I said shakily, just managing to be caught and grounded before I floated up too high.
“Jonas is with us now.” I said, feeling so blank as I had staved off the attack.
“Good. Is he looking after you both?” My father asked, knowing just what to say to me in times like this. I knew exactly what he was doing. I knew he was scared for us. And I shouldn’t worry him. I had to be strong for my sister, for Jonas. I couldn’t let the burden fall onto Jonas alone to protect us.
“Yes. I’m okay now.” I replied.
“Okay, get rest. And stay safe tonight. The base is in downtown at the NTIDC building.” He informed, hanging up the phone after hurried words. He probably had to go.
I needed to find out where they were going to take my sister. If it was out of the way, I’d fight them tooth and nail to stop them. I willed my body to move faster and faster until I caught up to Ellis, a rash idea coming to mind. It seems he didn’t notice me coming as I pinned him to a wall, hiking and twisting his arm in such a way that he might dislocate it if he resisted.
“Tell me. Right now. Where are you and that woman taking my sister?” I asked, getting resistance.
“What are you on about?” He asked.
“I heard some things. Now answer me or I’ll dislocate this arm of yours.” I threatened, though without intention.
My strength was fading fast. I needed him to answer me quickly.
“Alright alright. I don’t believe in hurting my patients.” He grunted as I let him go, my breath quickening.
“To the NTIDC. They’re trying to find out what’s causing all of this and if it can be cured. Almost every biologist in the area has been rescued and brought there.” He explained, looking around nervously.
“Interesting.” I said simply, having peace of mind.
“Your sister, you can’t tell her. We need her there. Her mind according to her records is brilliant.” He admitted.
“No issues here.” I shrugged, having gotten what I wanted out of him.
I needed to focus on getting better. Even if I wanted to I couldn’t leave out on my own. Even in a group, it would be difficult. The psychology of these creatures scared me. Tonight they proved to be predatory, or so I thought at the moment. If only I could spend some time with one without the risk of being attacked. If there was no hope for humanity, I just might have to cast mine aside to survive for myself and those I cared about.
A/N: A relatively short chapter with a few coincidences. The next chapter may or may not have a ton of action as I prepare for the next psychological experience. I’ve spent time crafting these infected to be just as interesting as the characters. Also, I’ve decided to post and share the sister series alongside this one! I initially thought the storylines would conflict, but I realize that they could be read alongside one another. The first update should be Tuesday! And take place on the schedule I had planned.