User:Cpl attari/The Generator Society pt1

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Malton chronicle.jpg This story is part of the Malton Chronicles.
This story is fan-made, and is not officially part of any background history for Urban Dead.

Chapter 1: The Bentley Cinema

It was going to die.

Over the past few days the steady hum of the generator had deteriorated to an erratic thrumming. The movie cinema had only offered minimal protection anyway. Ian Carson looked down at his cerulean blue uniform. It was once pristine, in top condition, but now it was ragged, torn from too many close calls, dirty from cowering inside of filthy buildings, and bloody, from fighting off the hungry hoards of the living dead.

"To think, I almost made the Detective." he mumbled. The generator gave a warning sputter. Ian looked up at the lights as they dimmed and flickered.

"You think Kyle will get back soon?" Samantha asked nervously why she smoothed out her rumpled clothes. Ian looked out the dirt streaked window. A spider web of cracks shot through the glass, all emanating from a central point. A tiny, dime sized bullet hole. Ian could see a decent way into the dead city of Malton, or more accurately Undead city, from the upper floor of the cinema. A flare went up into the air about 7 blocks west of their current position.

"No." Ian said. "I don't think he will." Ian had met the young fire fighter a few days before; they had come across one another while searching an auto repair shop for anything they could use. When the generator had first began its downward spiral to eventual death Kyle had said he knew where to find fuel for it. The debate didn't last long, Kyle said without the generator, things would get tough fast. He had gone out, fought his way through the zombies with his fire axe, and left. Ian hadn't seen him since.

"Well what if he does come back?" Samantha pushed. Ian turned away form the window and ignored her question.

He wished he was anywhere but here. News was sparse in Malton, ever since the quarantine they had been cut off from the outside world. Occasionally an army transport plane would fly over the darkened city. The drone of its engines just a quiet buzz from down on the ground. It dropped white leaflets, telling the survivors of operations in progress to save the meager groups of survivors. The pamphlets were always upbeat.

And they were always wrong. No rescues were attempted. After the first pamphlet drop, Ian learned to ignore them.

"So that's it then? We just stay here? Stay here and wait for those things to get inside?" Dexter demanded. Ian sent a glance at the man. He was the kind you would think to automatically classify as a 'nerd'. But this nerd was armed with a crowbar. He dressed like a white collar cubical-jockey gone postal. He had his white button down shirt and pocket protector, his tie hung loosely around his neck and his glasses were bent slightly. One lenses looked cracked. A splash of dried blood crossed his left side.

"What do you propose?" Ian asked. "You have a plan?" Dexter glared.

"Listen you bastard." he began, "Our generator is going out! We can't stay here any longer. We have to move on, Kyle is either one of those things-" he pointed the end of his crowbar at the window, "Or he is long gone." the room fell silent. Twin gunshots cut the silence. All eyes turned back to the window. The shots had been close. Ian could make out movement; it was a group of people running down the street. In the lead a man holding a police shot gun. They were close enough to hear their shouts.

"Let's go!" the man with the shotgun called back to his posse of survivors. Ian felt his heart go out to him. He felt he could connect with this man; both of them had been pushed into a position of leadership. What came behind the survivors made Ian’s heart sink.

"Dear god." Samantha breathed. It was a pack of Flesh eaters.

The shotgun man stopped and let his survivors pass. He took two potshots into the lurching hoard. The buckshot tore holes in the living corpses, but didn't do much more than slow them down.

"Hey!" the fourth member of Ian's group called. The young man, Jason Mosley had hooked up with them merely a few hours after the evacuation of Malton ended. He had ventured into the center of town from Malton University trying to find his girlfriend. Unfortunately for him, they never got to her apartment; they had been holed up in the theater. The leader of the second group looked up to the third floor window of the cinema. "Over here! There is an entrance around the other side!" he added. The leader flashed Jason a thumbs up. Ian traced a path from the group to the base of his hold out. The fence of an empty lot stood in the way. The empty lot was part of David's plan. They had hooked part of the generator to the chain link fence, electrifying it. Ian had his doubts at first, but when he saw what electrical current did to the zombies; his fears flew out of his mind. It put the zombies in a sort of mental/physical loop, same effect it would have a human, it paralyzed them, they would stand there, holding the fence and twitching until they collapsed and didn't get back up. It gave the survivors of his group a little extra room to go outside, and provided a final hold out. But now that the generator would die they would lose that much of their space.

"I'll let them in." Jason said and bolted for the stairwell that lead from their projection booth hide away all the way down to the lobby. Ian turned his attention back to the running survivors. He knew that after they were safely inside, this hideout would no longer be safe. The handful of people the man with the shotgun was leading looked tired; they must have been running for a while. A zombie lunged from a darkened doorway and grabbed hold of a plump man in an expensive looking business suit. He screamed in fear and surprise, the golf club he was holding fell from his hands. The man wielding the shotgun whirled around and saw the large man as he struggled with the zombie. It clawed at his face with its torn jagged fingernails.

"CARVILE!" the shotgun man screamed. Another zombie emerged from the building. The aforementioned zombie was blown off its feet by a well placed shotgun round. A third zombie leapt from an upper window and landed beside Carville with a sickening bone breaking sound. It pulled itself over to him and bit onto his ankle, invoking more screams and a flow of fresh blood.

Ian winced.

"Dear Jesus." Samantha cried and clasped her crucifix tightly. The man with the shotgun hesitated and then fled. He narrowly sidestepped an attack similar to the one that had claimed Carville. He pumped his shotgun and fired a round into the rotting cannibal. He pumped the gun again and then slung it on his back. By Ian's count the gun was dry.

"He's not gonna make it." Dexter said pessimistically. There was another series of quieter gunshots from around the corner of the building. Ian, Dexter, and Samantha all rushed over to the other window. One of the Shotgun man's survivors was wielding a pistol and firing wildly into an oncoming zombie. The rounds mainly missed. The young man panicked and tried to stab the zombie with a knife produced from his fatigue jacket.

His blade gutted the zombie, spilling its intestines, but it had little effect. The dead thing grabbed him and bit into his neck. The kid screamed. When the shotgun man reached him from around the corner he swung hard with a length of pipe. The bent pipe hit the cannibal square in the fore head, sending it reeling backwards. Another swipe of the pipe and it fell to its back. The shotgun man stood over it, raised his pipe high over head and then crushed the corpse's skull.

Ian heard Samantha retch slightly as grey brain matter splattered the pavement.

"Jack. Jack." the bleeding kid called gurgled actually. The shotgun man who was actually named Jack ran over to him and helped him to his feet.

Jack said something to the bleeding kid that Ian couldn't make out. Besides Jack and the wounded teen there were only two other survivors. Ian watched as Jack and the hurt kid disappeared around the corner, the cinema's blind spot. It was where the actual theater was, there were no windows on that side of the building.

"Come on." Ian called to Dexter and Samantha. He ran for the stairs Jason had descended not but seconds ago. He couldn't tell if they were following him or not. Ian got to the lobby in seconds, he saw Jason standing beside the strongly barricaded plate glass window and looking out through a crack in the glass.

"You see them yet?" Ian asked gripping his side arm, and taking a place beside the door. Jason merely shook his head. The lobby was dark, all the power was upstairs. The survivors had moved the perishable food refrigerator upstairs so there was no need for power downstairs. A sudden and sharp scream sounded and ended in a trailing gurgle. Jason and Ian exchanged looks. Ian looked through the shatter proof glass door he stood beside. He saw litter blowing in the street and a wrecked compact car.

A woman collided with the door. She would have been pretty if not for her tangled hair and blood stained clothing. "Help me! Please let me in!" she pleaded. Ian took one step back, then got hold of himself and unlocked the door. The woman pushed her way in, her baseball bat striking Ian in the shin inadvertently as she spun around to check behind her. The ex-cop simply winced and then shut the door, turning the deadbolt and waiting patiently for Jack and the young man.

The seconds dragged on, Ian began to wonder if Jack would make it, until he saw the man stumbled into view, lugging along his wounded comrade.

"Jack! Oh Jack!" The woman beside Ian shouted. He winced at the sharpness of her voice. The cop placed one hand on the Deadbolt and put his weight against the door, gripping his handgun tightly. Jack got closer and closer to the store. Ian could see him more clearly now. He had on a blood splattered T-shirt and faded blue jeans. The shirt simply read I wish it were Friday. The hoard of shambling bodies was right behind him; Jack couldn't make good speed with the teenager he was helping along. "Jack! Leave him!" the woman screamed. Ian threw open the Cinema door and sighted his pistol on the dead. He fired twice, both rounds tearing apart an ex-military zombie's head.

"Jack!" Ian called. Jack looked up at Ian. Ian could see the desperation in his eyes, desperation mixed with exhaustion, together they spelled 'Malton Survivor' Jack gave the kid with him a shove toward Ian. The cop lowered his pistol and caught the reeling kid. Ian raised his eyes from the terrified teen to see Jack stumble and fall.

"NO!" the woman behind him screamed. Jack tried to regain his footing but undead hands grabbed at his ankles and feet, eventually getting a hold of his Converse All-stars and dragging him into their swarm. Jack went into the hoard swinging his pipe. Ian watched in disbelief as the man he admired but had never spoken to, disappeared into the legions of the dead.

"Jack!" Ian called out; not believing it could be over. Jack's own blood curdling scream snapped him back to reality. Hands grabbed the back of Ian's uniform and pulled him back just as a zombie grabbed at where he had been. Ian's heart was hammering and his hearing was muffled, partially from the concussion of gunshots, partially from shock. Ian raised his pistol one handed and fired a round that tore through the zombies head and blew out the back of its skull. Jason pulled Ian back into the Cinema and slammed the door. The living bodies hit the door and pounded on it mercilessly.

"JACK! NO!" The woman cried out again, letting her bat fall to the floor and going to her knees. Ian looked back at the kid Jack had given his life to save.

"My neck. It hurts." The kid groaned. Ian looked from the kid to where Jack has disappeared, knowing that Jack was gone, and now only his body remained.

"Ian." Jason said. Officer Carson looked back at Jason, "We need to get this guy upstairs; Samantha can take a look at him."

"Not Jack." The pretty woman murmured from the floor where she sat. Ian shook his head to clear it.

"Jason, get Dexter down here to help carry this guy." he said to Jason. The man nodded and rushed up the stairs. Ian looked back at the hurt kid. "You're okay." the kid coughed and groaned. Ian tore off his left sleeve and pressed the dirty blue cloth against the gash in his neck.

"I don't feel good." the kid said, spraying speckles of blood when he talked. Ian resisted the urge to pull back in revulsion.

"There there." Ian soothed and looked back over his shoulder to the stairwell. There was still no sign of his help.

"Where....where's Jack?" the kid asked. Ian looked at the sobbing woman,

"Help me!" he yelled at her. She looked up from her lap and over at Ian and the boy, she merely scowled in distaste at the boy.

"Jack?" The boy asked again. "I'm scared Jack." His lips had turned crimson from blood that covered them Ian looked at his makeshift bandage. The blue had become a sick purple and red blood oozed onto the tile flooring.

"Jack's not here right now." Ian told him, feeling like an answering machine.

"Katie? Katie hold me. I'm scared Katie don't leave!" The boy babbled, clawing at the air between him and Ian. Ian fought back his tears. The kid Jack had given his life to save was dying.

"What a waste." Ian mumbled. He heard footsteps thundering down the stairs. "Where the hell were you!?" he demanded. Dexter looked Ian in the eyes but gave no explanation. The kid's breath soon became hitched and irregular, sounding like an organic version of the generator. The pounding on the glass doors tore Ian's attention from the dying teenager. He saw several of the living corpses beating on the glass door and moaning. "GO TO HELL!" Ian screamed at them. "GO TO HELL WHERE YOU BELONG!" He stood up and stumbled back from the boy lying on the floor.

"Katie..." he mumbled weakly and reached after Ian. Ian's thought returned to the day David had taken him and Dexter out for a food run. The wounds David sustained that day had been fatal. Ian had been forced to-

"Ian!" Jason shouted. Ian looked back at the young man. Around him were Samantha, Dexter and Jason. Samantha had out her medical kit and was working on the wound in his neck.

"We can't move him in this condition." Samantha said calmly. Ian nodded; the kid was going to die.

"Don't leave me Katie....please." The kid in the fatigue jacket pleaded.

Why is life so monstrously unfair? Ian thought. A question man had asked himself since the beginning of time. The boy's breath became short and he began gasping for air and coughing, loud wet coughs. This went on for a matter of seconds until his eyes snapped wide open and he slumped back, his breath had stopped. The other survivors in the room stopped the fevered work and simply stared at his body.

"Who was he?" Samantha asked quietly. Ian looked at the sole survivor from Jack's group. The woman looked between the others in the room.

"Hell if I know." she replied spitefully. Ian looked back at the boy. His face was troubled, he hadn't died peacefully.

"His soul rests while his body will walk." Jason said and took off his baseball cap. Ian and the others bowed their heads.

"What a load of bullshit. Jack died to save this sad fuck. There is no honor here, no justice. The man I loved died because of this twit." pretty woman said. Her pretty face contorted into an ugly sneer. "He got what he deserved for being such an absolute dipshit that he couldn't shoot straight." Ian turned to face her.

"Shut your mouth now, never speak of this again or you're gonna learn first hand what happened to him." Ian said. The woman looked shocked at first, like she couldn't believe what he had said to her. Her disbelief turned to anger.

"You have no right to talk to me that way!" she declared. "I am Sheila Dupree! I am big in this town!" Ian barked with laughter.

"Wake up lady! I don't know if you've taken a look around our town lately, but from the way I see it, you aren't worth shit!" silence followed, broken only by the groans of the zombies and the sputtering rumble of the generator. Ian forced himself to relax.

"Easy, we're all on the same side here." Jason soothed.

"What side would that be? Cause I'm not to sure that Miss Dupree is fighting for humanity." Ian shot back. It was a bad comeback, but he was tired. The rumble of the generator from upstairs fell down to a quiet purr, then died all together. Samantha gasped. Ian merely took out a precious cigarette and lit it. He never broke eye contact with Sheila.

"I don't know about you guys. But I think we overstayed our welcome here." Dexter said. Jason reached over and tender pulled the dead teenagers baseball cap down so the bill covered his face.

"Dump the body and let's go back to the gennie, I might be able to squeeze a few more minutes out of it." The college student said upon standing back up. He walked over and picked up the woman's baseball bat from where it lay in a corner. "You can come if you want." he added. The woman stopped her sobbing and self pity to look up at Jason, her face was red from crying.

"You can go to hell!" she spat. Jason shrugged his shoulders and held up the bat.

"I'm taking this." he told her like a parent scolding a child. He set off for the stairs. The other survivors followed, Ian only cast one glance at the woman before making his own way upstairs.

Chapter 2: Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

The small group of survivors stood around the silent hulk of the generator, eyeing it the way one looks at a coffin.

"It's fried." Jason said, as if they couldn't figure it out on their own. "It's not even out of gas; it just blew a turbine from running rough for so long. There's no way to fix it here, we'd be better off finding a new one."

"Oh yeah?" Dexter broke in, pushing his glasses up with the hand not clenching his crowbar. "And where do you propose we find a new one?" The college kid shrugged, naturally all eyes turned to Ian. He sighed and looked out the bullet shattered window.

"I think maybe a factory might have one we can use, they sue 'em to power the conveyor belts." Ian spoke from experience, before the mugging that changed his life and made him a cop he was a belt operator in Malton's own electronics plant. The cinema was dark and silent. To Ian it felt the way movie theaters do before the movie starts, apprehension was almost palpable in the air, people were simply waiting for the main feature.

"Does...does anyone else hear that?" Samantha asked tentatively. Ian looked at her for a moment, studying her innocent, dirt streaked face. He didn't know mush about how she survived the zombie invasion, all he knew was that she was a Necrotech employee, and good with a first aid kit. Ian listened intently in the silence, downstairs he could barely make out the sobs of Jacks 'widow'. Outside there was a whistle of wind and Ian caught a quick sound. It sounded like music.

"The Beatles?" Jason asked. Ian looked at the college student, "That was Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds if I've ever heard it." The survivors listened again, this time only hearing the groans and primitive communications of the undead outside.

"Who would be crazy enough to play music that loud?" Samantha asked.

"Maybe someone with a death wish." Dexter suggested, "Or perhaps they're trying to attract other survivors." Ian looked up at the cubical dweller.

"That's a damn good idea." Ian said almost casually. He scanned the cityscape intensely, not seeing any light for miles. "Could be out of view." he mumbled to himself. From street level there was a shout of rage. Ian cast his glance downward to see a man running along wearing a postal worker's uniform. He swung with his hockey stick and knocked a zombie back.

"He must be a straggler from Jack's group." Samantha said. Ian watched the man as he continued his sprint. He eventually came to the impenetrable wall of dead that had claimed Jack and most of his followers. The man skidded to halt, looking surprised and confused.

"Get to some shelter!" Jason shouted to him. The man looked at him, then to the apartment building beside him. He took a step back then rushed the door, at the last moment throwing his full weight against the heavy door. There was a splintering crack and it swung open. In a flash the post man was gone and the door closed.

"He made it." Samantha said, sounding almost surprised.

"Excellent, now we have neighbors." Dexter replied sarcastically and peered intently out the shattered window at the darkened apartment building next door. There came a steady clomping sound someone coming up the stairs. The small band of survivors looked and saw Miss Dupree enter the room. She said nothing, merely looked around shamefully and sat down in the corner. Ian looked back out the window at the building their new neighbor was in.

"When we leave, we get him." Ian told the other members of his meager group. No one questioned his order. What Ian said, usually went down as law. The only one who usually questioned him was Dexter, and that was usually a toothless threat. Before that fateful food raid David had given the orders. Ian liked to think he was trying to save this man for the common humanity they shared. But it was much more selfish than that, Ian wanted to know more about Jack, pure and simple.

There was a shattering sound from downstairs, and the feeding cries of the zombies became much louder.

"Time's up." Dexter said. Ian slammed the door to the projection room, immediately regretting that course of action; the loud noise would doubtlessly attract the flesh hungry zombies.

"Out the window. Go!" Ian commanded. Jason swung his new baseball bat and completely shattered the broken glass of the projection area's window. He then helped Dexter up to the ledge of the small window.

"I swear this better work." he said to Ian. Ian only gave Dexter a moment and then turned to face the door, his 9mm pistol out and ready. Ian heard the clomping of people climbing the stairs, but this time it was irregular, the steps sounding heavier than they should have and the should of feet dragging occasionally. Jason stood beside Ian, his bat at the ready. Now they could hear the groans of the dead.

"Father, who art in heaven, hallow be thy name..." Jason mumbled under his breath, his knuckles were white from gripping his bat too tightly. Sheila was next out the window. Samantha took her place ready to jump. Something bumped the projector room door. Ian and Jason jumped and Samantha screamed.

"Oh my God. God help them." she said quietly while looking at the door. She jumped. Ian wondered if she meant the zombies or him and Jason.

"You're up next Jason." Ian said quickly, shifting his grip on his pistol.

"Not a chance, you've got the gun, I've got the bat. You go and wait for me, I'll meet you." The doorknob started to rattle. Ian felt his hands start shaking.

"Fine." Ian said bitterly and jerked his trigger three times; the rounds tore through the thin doorframe. The moans on the other side became distressed and more frantic. Rotted hands smashed through the plywood frame.

"Go!" Jason urged. Ian turned and climbed into the window sill, with a last glance back at Jason, he jumped. The fall was longer than he expected, but he finally hit the dirt of the wasteland between the theater and the street. Ian's ankles ached from the rough landing. He stood and took a few steps forward, looking back to where he jumped from. Sounds of wood on flesh impacts sounded from the projector booth. Ian then saw Jason climb into the window sill. Zombified hands clawed at him but he pulled away and jumped.

It only took Ian a second to realize that jump was little more than a fall.

"No." he murmured. Jason hit the ground feet first but there e was a sickening snap of bone breaking. "JASON!" Ian shouted. Jason looked up, his face twisted into a mask of pain. Ian took a step forward and a zombie landed on Jason.

"NO!" Samantha screamed. Ian raised his pistol and fired twice. The bullets tore into the zombie's flesh and knocked it off Jason. The wounded student moaned in pan and clawed at Ian.

"Do it!" Jason shouted. Ian aimed and fired again, the last round tore a hole through Jason's chest and heart.

"JASON!" Samantha screamed. Ian felt Dexter's hand on his shoulder.

"We have to go!" he commanded. Ian looked back at him. Then faced Jason again, three more zombies had landed on the ground. With shock and horror Ian watched Jason stand up slowly. His head rolled on his neck the way it does on a newborn baby. Ian felt sick.

"Dear God in heaven let this all be some sort of nightmare." Samantha pleaded. Ian's eyes went from Jason's swinging head to the baseball bat that lay beside him. He needed that bat. Ian had no close quarter’s weapons to speak of. With a jerky motion, Jason's corpse leaned down and picked up the baseball bat.

"Ian, don't." Dexter warned.

"Get to the guy across the street if I don't make it back." Ian replied and sprinted toward Jason. The other zombies around Jason stumbled to intercept him. The first one he reached swiped high and Ian easily ducked under it, planting a fist in the cannibal's stomach. It was cold and softer than it should have been. Ian kept moving and knocked a Zombie aside with a heavy blow to the head. Ian finally had got to Jason's body. The soulless thing swung with the bat. Ian pulled it from its uncertain grasp and swiped back. The zombie didn't dodge and took the blow to the temple, reeling back against the cinema. Ian shrieked in rage and held the bat at eye level like a lance and rushed the thing that had been Jason. It snarled and the bat was driven into its eye. A jelly like substance sprayed out and it howled in what could have been dismay. Ian pulled it back out and swung, the bat connecting with its neck, and knocking it to the ground. He raised the bat high over head and swung downward into it.

Its skull cracked but didn't give way. Ian raised his bat for another try when he heard a loud impact from behind him. He turned and saw Dexter beating back the other zombies with his Crowbar.

"Ian! We have to go now!" he said. Ian looked back at Jason's battered corpse. It was feebly attempting to regain its footing.

"Let's roll!" Ian shouted and ran for the edge of the junkyard. They reached the fence and Ian tossed a pair of wire cutters to Samantha. "Cut it, let's go!" The Necrotech employee hurried to comply. She fumbled with the awkward shears then began to snip away at the rusted wire. Dexter picked up a brick and handed it to Sheila.

"If you're gonna be here, you might as well make yourself useful!" she accepted the dubious weapon reluctantly, but without a word. Ian and Dexter, wielding their weapons like swords, turned to face the oncoming group of zombies; it was growing still as more zombies jumped from the upper window.

"Hurry it up!" Ian warned as the bodies of the living dead shambled closer and closer.

"Got it!" Samantha cried and the band of survivors poured out of the fence. Ian stepped through and saw a zombie approaching him, raising a steel pipe up to strike him with it. Ian was faster, knocking it in the head. It seemed momentarily dazed and Ian jerked the pipe from its hands and tossed it back, hoping Sheila would have sense enough to get it. Using all his physical strength Ian drove the bat into the flesh eater's stomach.

"ROT IN HELL!" he shouted and began furiously pummeling the thing. It fell back under his withering assault and fell back to a sitting posture, raising its arms to ward off his blows. On his last swing the wooden bat splintered on contact with its arm. Ian raised the jagged bat over his head. "THIS IS FOR JACK!" he screamed and plunged it into other zombies face. There was a great gushing of blood and it fell forward in an unnatural position.

Ian froze.

On its back was a police issue shotgun. Ian's heart skipped a beat. He kicked the lifeless body in the ribs and it rolled over onto its side. He could barley make out the slogan on its torn shirt.

I wish it were Friday.

"JACK!" Sheila screamed. Ian was only dazed for a moment.

"That was for Jack." he repeated and grabbed the shotgun from the body.

"Hurry it up buddy." Dexter said nervously. Ian nodded and kneeled beside the redead body. He took a deep breath and stuck his hand into Jack's jean's pocket. He came out with a handful of shotgun shells. The other pocket yielded a small black book.

The groan of a zombie snapped Ian back to the task at hand. He stood and saw a corpse stumbling towards him, dead hands outstretched, almost beckoning him to join him in the lifeless void. Ian quickly chambered two rounds and pumped the shotgun. He then nestled the butt of the gun in the crook of his shoulder and fired.

The blast was deafening. The effect was more awe inspiring. The corpse's head dissolved into a red spray accented with chunks of skull and grey brain matter.

"Where was the other survivor?" Ian asked upon turning back to the survivors.

"He went in here." Samantha said gesturing at a building and running toward it. Dexter and Sheila followed. Ian spared a glance back at the hole in the fence beside them. Undead people had nearly filled the empty lot and were filing toward the man-made hole. Ian saw Jason’s body leading the pack.

"Hurrunhy Hyean!" it groaned at him and reached toward him. It was almost as if Jason was begging to be left. Ian aimed the shotgun with his cold eyes and sighted it on Jason. Ian wasn't sure if he had imagined the look of relief that flooded Jason's face just before he fired.

It couldn't be possible that part of Jason had survived in the body.

There was no way.

Mere scraps of flesh attached the remnant of Jason's skull to his neck. The body fell over and didn't stir. After he ejected the empty round, Ian turned to follow his friends.

Dexter led the two women to the apartment door they had seen the postal worker enter. Dexter pounded on the doorjamb with the crooked neck of his crowbar.

"Sir! We have to go! If you're in there come on!" he yelled. After a moment there was no response. "Shit." Dexter added and threw open the door. He saw the postal worker in front of him. It took Dexter a moment to realize why that unsettled him. The man's eyes were cold and dead, they revealed no compassion or kindness, only hunger.

Before he could pull back or defend himself the body grabbed him. Dexter shrieked and felt a wet warmness spread across his leg. The world went blurry when his glasses fell to the floor and shattered. The dead man grabbed him and pulled Dexter close to him. But instead of a loving embrace it became a feeding stance, the zombie bit into the side of Dexter's face.

"OH GOD!" he cried and thrashed his arms. Behind him Samantha screamed, it seemed far and distant, like it wasn't important. "SHEILA!" he screamed, knowing the woman was wielding a metal pipe. He felt and heard his own flesh tearing under the zombie’s assault. Dexter tried to pull away from the zombie but its superior strength kept him and place. Over the Zombie's shoulder he could see an old woman wearing a nightgown stained red with her own blood shuffling down the hall toward them; he also saw the postman's broken hockey stick lying discarded in the hallway. Suddenly all of his life's work didn't seem so important; Tax correction software hadn't done a thing to save him. The butt of a gun broke the dead mailman's nose and forced it to release Dexter.

Ian pulled back the gun and swung it like he had swung the bat; it knocked out several of the zombie’s teeth and made the thing spit a spray of blood and flesh across the wall. Ian liked to imagine that it belonged to his target and not to his wounded friend. He planted a foot in its midsection and sent it flying backwards. The old woman growled and raised her hands toward him. Ian grabbed the door handle and closed it with an echoing slam. He whirled around to face Dexter who lay bleeding in the street. Samantha knelt beside him and comforted him, zombies were closing in fro mall around.

"Go, go on without me. You'll die if you don't." Dexter said, blood dripped from his mouth and onto the pavement. Ian was about to answer when the glass of the door exploded and two clawed hands grabbed his neck and pulled him back against the door roughly. Ian gasped and stuck the barrel of the shotgun over his shoulder and through the window. He fired and there was a shriek on the other side. The hands were pulled off of his collar like as if their owner was jerked back by a large chain. Ian stepped away from the door, rubbing his neck. Dexter looked up at Ian and their eyes met.

Ian saw all the pain in Dexter's eyes he had thought he'd seen in Jason's eyes and Jack's eyes. Dexter just wanted to die. Ian looked at his shotgun, it had four rounds left. Dexter followed Ian's thinking.

"I think I'm ready to call it quits Ian. Put one right between my eyes." he said. Samantha suddenly jumped up and away from Dexter, eyes wide with horror.

"Wait! What!?" She shouted. Ian aimed the shotgun at Dexter.

"Catch you on the flip side." The cubical worker said with a slight smirk. "Cheers." Ian fired.

Chapter 3: Chudleyton

A rusted sign lay on the ground. It had originally said Welcome to Chudleyton. Now added to that message in blood red spray-paint were the words Now get the Hell out. Ian stared at the sign, trying to find a reason to laugh. He couldn't find one. He cast a glance at the only two remaining survivors of is group. Samantha looked about as nervous as ever and twice as preoccupied as usual. Sheila looked isolated, that was all Ian could discern from her blank expression. Ian's feet were aching and his legs were tired, after they were run out of the Bentley Cinema they had walked out of West Becktown and went more or less North, the direction Ian thought the music had come from. It was getting dark; the seemingly endless twilight of sunset was coming to a close.

"We need to find some shelter soon. The dead usually like to hunt at night." Ian said. As if the others in his group weren't aware of that now. They searched around for a temporary shelter. They came across a building perfect for their needs.

"The Ratcliffe Motel." Sheila read. "Great choice." Ian shot her a hate filled glance but said nothing.

"We can each get separate apartment rooms and open all the doors between them." Ian suggested. Samantha nodded and Sheila glowered. "Well then...shall we?" Ian asked. Almost in unison the trio kicked in their assigned door. Ian swept the room quickly and unlocked the neighboring door, it led to Samantha's room. When he went back and knocked on Sheila's door she didn't open it.

"What?" she asked.

"There is no door to your room, are you sure-" he began.

"I'm fine. Didn't want to be attached to you anyway." Ian shrugged.

"Just....scream if you need anything." he walked back into his room, closed the door, locked the chain and put a chair against the door. In post-outbreak Malton there was no such thing as too careful. Ian was surprised to see Samantha sitting in the other chair in the room. "Samantha?" he asked. She looked up at him.

"I haven't been completely honest with you." she said. Ian didn't say anything. "I was more than an intern at Necrotech." Ian sat down, anticipating a long story." she rubbed her neck subconsciously. "I was a medical technician there. We were treating some of the earliest outbreak patients when, the one I was assisting with got loose, he....he bit my neck." She said. Ian suddenly noticed a scar there he had never seen before. "I died." she added.

"Then how-" she held up a hand and too ka syringe out of her bag.

"This." she said and handed it to him. Ian took it from her and stared at it. "It’s a revivification syringe." it was filled with a sick yellowish liquid. Ian turned it over in his hand.

"Revive? You can...." he looked at her; she was staring at her lap. Ian grabbed the collar of her lab coat and jerked her to her feet, letting the syringe fall to the bed. "You can bring them back!?" he shouted. She flinched but didn't scream.

"It's not that easy. It only works on the recently deceased they can't have rotted at all. And if the damage to them that killed them in the first place isn't repaired they'll just die again. The syringe I have is good enough for one use only." she explained rapidly. Ian felt his rage slowly subside. He released her collar and suddenly felt very bad.

"I'm....I’m sorry. Samantha, I...I just-" he stammered. She shook her head, "Don't apologize. I was there with you remember? But now you know why I can't kill zombies. And I did try. I cornered one with a scalpel I grabbed, this was when my work building was being overrun, but just before I stabbed it, instead of that man, I saw me, me as a zombie. And I couldn't do anything." Ian's head swam with the realization. How many people that I have killed could have been saved by this technology? Samantha put the syringe delicately back in her pocket.

"Tomorrow, we'll find out where that music is coming from right?" she asked. Ian couldn't bring himself to say anything so he merely nodded. "Okay then. Goodnight." she said and walked back into her room. Ian walked slowly over to the bed and pulled back the covers. He looked up at the ceiling and watched it fly past as he fell back into the soft mattress of the bed. Ian stared at the ceiling and listened to the steady thrum that shook the building's windows.

"It's a subwoofer." Ian said. This meant nothing to hi mat first. But then he gradually realized that it meant there was safety nearby.

Ian smiled.

Chapter 4: Saftey

Ian sat up suddenly. The sharp scream still rang in his ears. The question was, was it a dream or not? Samantha rushed into his room, her lab coat was rumpled, she had slept in it.

"Is Sheila okay?" she asked. Ian looked at her, then at the wall separating the two rooms.

"I don't think so, you wait here." he said.

"Wait!" Samantha pleaded. Ian looked back at her. "Here." she placed the syringe in his hand. "Just in case." she offered. Ian took it and stuck it in his shirt pocket. He then grabbed up his shotgun and ran outside to Sheila's door. He didn't bother to knock; he simply kicked in the door a second time. The door chain hung from the doorjamb where it had been torn from the poorly made door.

"Sheila!" Ian shouted. He heard a commotion in the bathroom and he ran for it, jumping over the bed.

He arrived in the bath room and nearly slipped on the blood that covered the floor. He looked up and saw a man wearing a cheap looking business face eating Sheila's arm while she lay lifeless on the floor.

"There's no way. This can't be real." Ian whispered. The man in the suit turned to look at Ian while blood ran down his chin. It was made all the more unreal by Sheila sitting up as well and turning her head to face him. Ian raised his shotgun at waist level and fired twice. Though shear luck taking the heads off both zombies, rendering them harmless.

Ian stepped out of the bathroom and sat down on Sheila's bed. Samantha was in the room.

"Both dead?" she asked. Ian nodded. She looked at the shotgun, "Got any ammo left?" she asked.

"One shot." he replied.

"I'm sorry." she returned and gently too k the gun from his fingers. He watched with tired eyes as she walked into the bathroom carry the gun like it was a baby. After a second he heard the unmistakable sound of the gun being loaded. Then there was a pause and a deafeningly loud gunshot.

Ian saw a spray of blood splash across the mirror and he heard a body slump to the floor.

Minuets later Ian was walking down the road, the now empty shotgun slung on his back. Retrieving the gun had been one of the hardest things he had done. Second only to what he had done for David Jason, even Jack. Now he walked past wrecked cars and litter that blew in the abandoned streets, he saw a pack of wild dogs feeding on a dead body. As long as it stayed dead Ian didn't care.

The cop froze for a moment, he heard music again, it sounds familiar but he couldn't quite make it out. It was coming from just to the north. Ian changed direction by turning left. The closer he got, the louder the music got. Then Ian saw a welcome sign. It was graffiti on the side of an office building.

Caiger Mall only 4 blocks. Safety four blocks away.

Ian tried to feel happy and couldn't. Every person he had ever cared a bout was dead. All he could do was live on and make the undead pay for it. He walked on. Those four last blocks seemed to melt away and then Ian was at Caiger mall. It was a sight to behold. A nearly continuous stream of survivors was making its way to the mall from all directions. From what Ian could make out, it had been heavily fortified; barbwire and firing emplacements covered its roof. Along with the defenses were huge speakers placed all around the mall. The last thing Ian noticed was the large banner that hung from the side of the mall. Ian read it slowly.

Caiger Mall Rats welcome all. It also bore an illustration of an axe-wielding mouse. Ian tried his hardest to fell happy. But without his group of survivors it was hollow victory.

Ian said a word he hadn't though about for a long time that explained the situation best. "Freedom."

End Book I


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