A/N: There was a hint dropped in this chapter, well more so an easter egg. Find it my loves! I’ll be dropping them throughout the story as it progresses further on. And once they are all pieced together they will reveal a “new” character. Of course, this person will be revealed eventually. But the hints will be there for my sleuths~!
“I’m not going anywhere without my brother. So kindly fuck yourself!” I heard shouted from a familiar voice, waking me up. Jonas was gone, standing beside Alisha, who glared down Jin and Ellis while everyone looked tense.
I had an idea come to mind; perhaps a bit twisted. But I would play along as I normally would.
“What’s going on?” I asked, sitting up on the couch me and Jonas had slept on.
“These bastards are trying to take Alisha to some lab.” Jonas spat.
“Not happening.” I said hotly, putting on the best show I could, already getting a strange look from Ellis.
“I tell you what. I’ll strike a deal.” Jin proposed.
“We’re going to the NTIDC downtown. There are safety measures already in place. Food and supplies. We’re losing the battle and need all the brilliant minds we can get.” Jin explained.
“I’m willing to leave a valuable asset to our medical team here with you in exchange for your sister. He has to come back. So come back with him and you all get a pass.” She explained, smoothly, glinting eyes challenging me to say otherwise.
Jonas looked at me, with the same challenging glare just as my sister did the same.
“Let us talk it over for a moment?” I asked Jin and Ellis
“Fairness is key.” She shrugged, pulling Ellis aside.
“You’re a dick Isaac.” My sister Alisha shot at me hotly.
“You’ll apologize later.” I said simply, pulling both Jonas and Alisha to me.
“So, mom and dad are at the NTIDC.” I began.
" Well, they should be right now. You’re going to the very same place. I want you safe from all of this.” I tacked on quickly, getting gasps from Jonas and Alisha.
“That is why I’m in agreement that you’re going. If that wasn’t the case I’d outright refuse.” I added.
“Damn you’re smart. I love that you thought of all of this.” Jonas sighed.
“I try. Now anyways, go. We’ll take Ellis and meet you there soon.” I explained to my little sister.
“That woman is dangerous but she wants you safe.” Jonas added, taking my side.
“O-Okay.” Alisha stuttered, heaving a sigh.
“When are you going to come?” My sister asked, eyes emotional.
“I’m feeling a bit better today after some rest. It will probably be tomorrow that I leave.” I informed her, pulling her into a tight hug.
“Promise me this brother before I go.” My sister began.
“Something tells me this is going to get terrible. Don’t be afraid of killing if you absolutely have to. You know better than anyone that violence is there for moments like this. I want to see you again.” She explained, trying to put on a tough front as she fixed my clothing.
“And I’ll look after myself too. So don’t worry.” She assured me.
Her words struck my core, having already had the debate of becoming something dangerous for my own survival. But could I actually go on killing these monsters? I had done it before without much thought. Though I was terrified; fight or flight instincts coming into play. Alisha was strong; both physically and mentally. She just had to get over the fear.
“I’ll keep him safe.” Jonas said, helping me out with something he knew I wasn’t going to face yet.
I could come across as blunt and mean at times. Though I and everyone that knew me knew I was a softy.
“Done deliberating?” Jin asked, strolling up to us.
“Yeah.” I sighed.
“Taking the deal?” She asked beckoning over Ellis who looked uneasy.
“There are a few conditions already in place. I’ll comply.” I replied calmly, just committing. I’m sure Alisha would be able to look after herself. And what I’d seen of Jin she wasn’t a slouch either.
“Good. We should go now. Reports of the nature of this ordeal have come in this morning. Nighttime is the worst time to be out.” Jin explained.
“I’ll leave you with Ellis and a few guns and ammo. Meet us there at the NTIDC as soon as possible. We need this man back.” Jin added monotonously.
“I’ve got guns covered. Keep all of them for her. If anything bad happens on your watch, just know I’m coming to give you a gift.” Jonas replied hotly.
“I have killed well over a hundred men in my lifetime boy. A few unarmed savages are nothing.” She replied coldly, confident in her ability.
If it were possible her icy nature would flash-freeze the flames that were Jonas.
“Be safe Isaac.” My sister huffed solemnly as she followed behind Jin.
And then the anxiety set in, my chest feeling tight, my thoughts racing. Anything could happen while they were gone. If I lost her I don’t know what I would do. There were things I deemed critical losses in my life; as unhealthy as that sounds. They were the loss of things that I cared so deeply for that I don’t think I could survive myself in the wake of their parting. They were things I’d protect fiercely even before all of this.
I guessed I had spaced out when I felt pulled into a one-armed hug.
“She’ll be okay.” Jonas said softly, staring off where they disappeared.
“That woman is legendary in her line of work. They’ll be there incident-free.” Ellis huffed, falling down into a chair.
I heaved a sigh, needing something to do with my time or risk driving myself into depression; something I didn’t need in a time like this.
“Okay so. Oscar and Daniel. What are you two doing?” I asked, turning to them.
“It makes more sense for me to come along. It would put me westward and I’m heading west.” Oscar explained.
“My family is west too. So I’ll come along until I figure some stuff out.” Daniel chuckled with a shrug.
The more the merrier. It increased our odds of survival by a bit. We all got along for the most part. Though these were a bunch of men. No matter how nice they could be testosterone-fueled beasts; myself included sometimes. I’d just have to work towards keeping the peace until our next point of rest; the NTIDC.
“Those gears are going.” Jonas commented.
“Where are those guns of yours? We are heading out tomorrow. It’s better to get ready early.” I asked Jonas.
“My truck.” He replied.
“You’re in no shape to be out there right now.” Ellis pipped up from where he sat.
“I’m not. But that is my sister out there. I don’t care if I have to die protecting her or ensuring her safety. Some things are worth protecting at all costs.” I replied.
“Plus. I want to study these infected. There’s so much we don’t know. It’s best we change that.” I added more calmly.
“What about them?” Daniel asked.
“They show predatory tactics; rudimentary. But the tactics are there. They can talk for what I’m assuming as lures.” I began, Daniel’s face dropping.
“And further more their behavior changes drastically depending on if it’s night or day. I want to know why all of this is. It will help.” I finished.
“That is some scary stuff man.” Daniel sighed.
“Indeed.” Oscar agreed.
“I can go alone for those guns. Or with people. Staying still seems like death. They’re strong and I don’t think it will be long before they get into here.” I explained.
And in the following moment of silence, the power flickered, leaving us in darkness, bathing us in the dim light of the emergency lights.
“Damn.” Daniel sighed.
“The people at the power stations likely can’t and won’t stay. It was bound to happen eventually. Hopefully, all of this will end soon.” I said carefully, being both realistic and optimistic at the same time as I laced up my boots.
The swords my father had gifted me were dulled and bent now; the blades unusable. It would have to be hand to hand for me.
“I’ll come with you. You’ll need me anyway Bambi.” Jonas sighed, a small smile on his face as I realized me going on my own would be impossible without his keys.
Jonas knew where his truck was while I didn’t. Maybe I’d have to reel myself in when it came to making statements like that.
“Okay, Ellis and party. Can you three stay behind and hold down the fort? We won’t be long.” I announced.
“We can gather food and supplies for the journey there from around the building.” Ellis huffed, getting up from where he sat.
“Isaac,” Oscar began as me and Jonas were about to leave.
“Hmm?” I asked.
“Use that sharp mind of yours while you’re out there.” He said simply, offering me some verbal encouragement.
I found that in tough situations the one who stepped up to be a pillar of strength was usually the most scared. But if we let fear overtake us, a horrible fate awaited. I wasn’t sure if everyone realized what I was trying to do, but it seemed to be working at the moment. Jonas took my hand as we left the main hub of the building, leading me down a few halls that wouldn’t lead to an exit.
“Where are we going?” I asked skeptically.
“To get you a weapon. There’s usually a crowbar in the janitor’s closet.” Jonas explained quickly, kicking open a wooden door.
He disappeared inside, reappearing a few moments later with the metal rod in question, handing it to me.
“We have a long walk. My truck is pretty far.” Jonas explained as he walked.
He put himself into autopilot; I could tell just by how methodical he seemed.
“Blunt weapons work better. Don’t wanna jam something in them and get it stuck.” He explained as he opened the door to the outside world.
There was that faint smell in the air that I remembered from last night. It was summer, and the campus had quite a few trees in bloom. Perhaps that was the cause of the soft and sweet scent? Jonas huffed at the sight of a few infected roaming around.
“Kill them?” I asked.
“Yeah, no guns.” He answered, returning his pistol into his holster.
It was obvious he was still in shock over the loss of his friends. It just made this all the more real. As if beckoned by scent, the infected that were roaming around came running at us. I took the lead, readying the crowbar to defend us. But then I saw a face as time slowed, stopping in my tracks. It was as if I ran into an invisible and incredibly sturdy net.
Just before I was reached, a gun’s stock was rammed into the head of the zombie, putting it down. Jonas was quick and when it came to scuffles and fights. He was unstoppable. He elbowed the other one in the jaw, pinning it down before smashing in its skull. When it was all said and done I was shaken, unable to move yet.
“Hey, Bambi. You good? You froze up.” Jonas said to me, giving me a sobering shake.
“Sorry I just uhh,” I began, collecting myself.
“I froze up.” I sighed, fixing my clothes.
“Look. Over there.” Jonas pointed out, a line of dead infected.
“They made it out safely.” I exhaled, feeling a little relieved.
“Now you just have to keep your head in this game until we can see her again.” Jonas said, seeming to get a grip on himself for me.
I heard something almost a little too late as I was tackled to the ground, snarling and chomping jaws making attempts at my life.
“Hold on Bambi.” Jonas grunted as he tussled with an infected as well as more were coming for us.
I managed to keep it at bay with an elbow pressed to its neck as I maneuvered my crowbar. Grimacing, I drove the bar of steel into the head of the infected. Though I should have made sure I closed my mouth as the metallic taste of blood dripped into it. I forced the now dead body off of me, swinging the crowbar yet again, freeing Jonas.
“Give me your gun!” I shouted, my heart racing.
“Wait what?” He asked, puzzled, as I took it from him.
The timing was bad but I didn’t want to turn into one of those things and attack Jonas. I put the gun up to my head as I waited.
“The hell are you doing?” Jonas shouted, lunging at me.
“Stay back.” I warned, waiting and waiting.
Though time was up as the infected were too close. I took aim, firing quickly and managing to take them down.
“Fuck we have to go, they’re all gonna come here now.” Jonas said, taking me by the hand after he took his gun from me. We ran into an alley to catch our breath.
“What the hell was that Bambi?” Jonas growled, seemingly and understandably upset with me.
“S-some of it got in my mouth. I thought I’d turn.” I replied between breaths,
Jonas didn’t say anything as he just pulled me into a hug.
“Don’t ever do anything like that again.” Jonas scolded.
“I had to do something fast. It takes hold quickly.” I replied.
“You feel okay right?” He asked, looking me over.
“Yeah. Are you okay?” I asked.
He nodded, going back into his pockets, pulling out what looked to be fireworks.
“They’re like moths to a flame with fireworks. The sound pulls them in. If they get to the lounge it’s over for those guys.” He informed me as he pulled out a lighter.
“How long have you been out there with them again?” I asked, amazed as to how he knew so much.
“After I lost those two I’ve been out. The dorms are deathtraps.” He replied as he lit the fireworks.
“Run.” He said simply, giving me a push.
I took off, Jonas right on my heels after he dropped our lure. He pulled ahead, hopping up and tackling an infected on the outlet of the alley. He gun butted it in the head, ending it and making me shiver. It’s as if he were made for killing. He seemed to do it without thinking. He raised his shotgun, firing and downing a crowd that was already drawn to us.
“Fuck.” I cursed.
“We get to my truck and haul ass.” Jonas panted, as he took on more of the infected, while all I could do was watch and dodge grasping hands.
I wanted to be useful, I couldn’t just let everyone do everything for me. So after some thought, I committed to things that couldn’t be undone. I struck down infected as they came at me and Jonas.
“Hell yeah Bambi!” He shouted wildly, cheering me on.
All the while I felt queasy and angry. Why and how could something like this happen? The battle between us two versus the hoard of infected wore on for what felt like hours before all that stained the courtyard we fought in was blood and dead bodies. I was covered in splashes of blood, my body tired and aching. I was regretting pushing myself while being in such rough shape already.
“We need to get out of here. There’s more coming I’m sure.” Jonas warned.
“Help me up there. And I’ll pull you up.” I told Jonas, pointing to a ledge we could climb up to get on the roof of a nearby lecture hall.
“But,” Jonas was about to complain, being cut off by infected coming snarling into the courtyard.
We ran to the building, Jonas handing me his guns as he hoisted me up. I tossed our weapons onto the ledge, launching myself up it. I turned around, helping Jonas up as well. With all my might I tugged him up just in time as the infected reached us. Panting, I looked down over the ledge, one infected standing out as it seemed to glare up at us, eyes devoid of life and glazed over. It then let out a loud shriek, sending shivers through me. Not wanting to put up with these strange creatures I rolled over further onto the ledge, laying next to Jonas as we both caught our breath.
“So, what now?” I replied, sitting up, glancing over the courtyard as more infected came into the courtyard.
“Too many down there. We’re a little stuck and I’m almost out of ammo.” Jonas sighed, offering me a weak smile.
“This low key seems like a suicide mission.” I replied, chuckling a bit.
“If we can get up to the roof maybe we can cross a few if we cause a distraction and get them off of us.” I offered.
“A few more fireworks left.” Jonas shrugged, standing up.
Once we collected ourselves, we trudged up the incline of the ledge we climbed up onto, climbing up onto the roof.
“Feeling sick?” Jonas asked suddenly.
“No?” I replied, wondering myself for a moment if I did.
“Okay, let’s keep going.” Jonas panted, taking my crowbar from me. He ripped up an HVAC system cover, walking over to the ledge opposite the direction we were headed, dropping the metal shell onto the ground creating a loud bang.
“A little treat.” He smiled, before igniting the fireworks, dropping them down as well.
When these went off, they went off with a much larger boom, the infected snarling and screeching towards the sound. Just like moths to a flame. He tossed me back my crowbar, disappearing over the ledge of the building. When I got there I saw he was waiting to catch me.
“This is gonna hurt so bad.” I sighed, dropping my crowbar down for him to catch.
Carefully I lowered myself as I felt his hands grip my waist as I slipped down, pain shooting through my ribs.
“I’ll let you take a nap while we drive back.” He replied.
“I need it now.” I smiled weakly.
We repeated the process, finally reaching the ground. Something familiar was in sight. It was Jonas’ pride and joy, his massive and heavily modified Dodge Ram.
“My baby!” He cried silently.
There was a massive expanse of campus green before us; a place once associated with hanging out and peace now something scary.
“We make a break for it. I already have my keys ready.” He added, giving me a reassuring shake.
He knew that in my shape that I’d have a hard time keeping up. I was probably undoing all the healing my body had done so far. But I needed to get to my sister and keep everyone going. I took off with all I had across the field, as if I were being chased by a horde of infected. Jonas was right behind me as I cleared the field, hopping up onto the step rails of his truck, opening his door as I struggled in. Though I was taken by surprise as something caught my ankle, dragging me down.
It was an infected clambering up my body. He was massive and incredibly strong. I fought and struggled as I was overtaken. And then in one breathtaking moment, I felt teeth lightly graze the exposed skin of my neck. Though the jaws stopped in their tracks, still trying to chomp at me. Jonas had the infected by the hair, sitting on its back effectively crushing me under their combined weight. And in one swift motion, he bashed in the back of its skull, the lifeless body falling limply onto me.
“M-my neck?” I asked Jonas, terrified.
“You’re fine Bambi. You’re okay. It didn’t bite you.” Jonas sighed, tossing the body off of me.
He heaved me up, holding onto me for just a moment. I just stayed there. I had been close to losing my life but it was less than a hair away from tearing into my neck. After I came down from the adrenaline, I felt new pains throughout my body as I had been yanked down onto the ground pretty roughly. Jonas didn’t say a word as he opened the door of his truck, walking around to his side after he helped me inside.
It was hot as hell within the confines of the black truck. Once he was inside he told me to reach into the glove box for something. When I opened it there was more fireworks.
“What’s with all the fireworks?” I asked.
“They were gonna be for a celebration. Light em’ up and toss them out of the window.” He replied sheepishly before giving me some instruction.
I did as he said, rolling down the window as the truck roared to life.
“It’s unstoppable at high speeds but if they surround us we’d have to wait until they get bored.” Jonas attempted to joke.
Tossing out the lit fireworks, Jonas backed out of the parking spot, speeding off.
“I just don’t feel like this is real sometimes.” I sighed, growing tired of waking up and things not being like they used to.
“We’ll be okay. Lisha will figure out something I’m sure.” Jonas comforted as I leaned back into the comfort of a hot leather seat.
“What’s gas looking like for you?” I asked as that would be important in the future.
“About 800 miles of range give or take. The tanks aren’t full.” He sighed.
“That should get us far I guess.” I replied.
“I can run it on vegetable oil if it gets down to it.” Jonas shrugged.
I for once was happy he sometimes spent more time working on this truck than he spent with me. It was invaluable for all it offered.
“You’re smiling. What’s up?” He asked as he took a turn out of the campus, confusing me.
“Where are you going?” I asked, sitting up.
“If we drive right there my truck will lure them there. So I’m going to drive up the hill leading to the student lounge from the back and roll down it with the engine off.” Jonas smiled, seeming proud of his plan.
“Yeah, we’ll be okay.” I joked.
“So what were you thinking about?” Jonas asked as we reached the top of the hill.
“I was just thinking about how you liked working on this truck more than spending time with me.” I poked.
“There were some things she couldn’t offer.” Jonas said suggestively.
“If that’s insinuating sex I’m glad she couldn’t.” I quipped.
“I’m gonna go drop a few fireworks up the road and run back to the truck.” Jonas said, getting out of the truck.
I wanted to tell him to wait or be careful but he left too fast. With a pained grunt, I slipped into the back seat of his truck, opening the back window that lead to the enclosed bed of the truck.
“Okay, hopefully, I didn’t get too fat.” I huffed, squeezing through the open window.
Opening a ventilation hatch, I looked out over the road, as this was the closest I have gotten to seeing outside of campus since this all happened. I had a decent vantage point, seeing Jonas Strolling down the road, shotgun ready. I looked to my left seeing plumes of smoke which would have been downtown. I hoped my sister was okay, as that was the direction she had to go. To my right was more of the campus. I strained my eyes seeing some of what I assumed to be infected off in the distance. Some of the other buildings were burning. I wondered just how many people managed to survive. If it were just us that would mean less than 2% of the school survived. I guessed I had spaced out as Jonas came to a stop after clearly having run back here.
“Down the hill, we go. Climb back in through the sunroof. We don’t need you getting decapitated.” Jonas chuckled.
“Open it first unless you want me to break it.” I quipped, rolling my eyes.
He climbed into the truck, opening the sunroof. Just as I had slipped in, he released the emergency brake, the truck rolling down the hill just as I heard the cracking of fireworks going off. He had everything planned out so well that the truck slowed to a stop with enough momentum to block off the very door we went into. He looked at me with this huge grin that made me want to smack it off of him.
“And you say Alisha is smart.” I smiled.
“You and her are brilliant. I just have to keep you two alive so you can figure out everything. I’m just lucky.” He shrugged.
I couldn’t help but blush at his praise, feeling incredibly flustered.
“C’mon, let’s get inside. But I have something for you first.” He said, climbing over me and getting out of the truck through my door.
He went to the bed of his truck, coming back with something that tickled my fancy, digging up old memories.
“A diamond edge SB-1?” I asked, feeling a bit of excitement at the exquisite bow he held in his hands.
“Black-ops package.” He replied.
“How and why do you have this?” I asked, completely in shock.
“I was gonna apologize for being a dick over the summer. So I bought this for you since you know you loved archery when we were teenagers.” He added.
“Why now?” I asked quizzically, already knowing the answer; well a bit of it.
“When we get into downtown, guns will draw them like crazy. I need you to tap into that skill of yours and snipe em’ down with this bow.” He answered bluntly.
“What if I run out of arrows? And it’s been years since I’ve fired a bow.” I replied honestly, listing some variables.
“You won’t shoot through almost a thousand arrows. And I trust you’ll get the hang of it. You’re the guy that won nearly every single archery meet he encountered.” He shot back, looking over his shoulder as an infected ambled into sight off in the distance.
He then turned to me, handing me the bow, and a single arrow.
“Give it a try?” He asked.
Perhaps it was time I tried contributing in taking down the infected more; without hesitation. I nodded, climbing out of the truck. I notched an arrow, readying it. Once drawn back, I looked through the sights, observing the trees and vegetation near the infected, seeing it was a wind blowing to its left. I took a steadying breath, the draw on this bow heavier than I was used to. But just when I was about to let the arrow fly, I caught a glimpse of its face; my drawn in breath escaping me.
I coaxed the arrow off of the tension that would have sent it flying at several hundred feet per second with a sigh.
“Not yet. I can’t.” I said simply, not quite ready to give that up yet.
A/N: Comment your thoughts if you’d like! And thank you for all the support! Love you guys!