Left four dead story.
I sat quietly in the alleyway, waiting the final results. Last time I had seen my best friend, she was wandering into the blackened shadows with a dangerous predator of the night. Sure, I was told she was to become a Zombie as I did, but could I really believe that? The tension in the alley was killing me. Every second I feared Hunter would step out from the alley, blood staining his claws, and attempt to give me some poor excuse on why Morgan’s dead. It was like waiting in a hospital. You never knew when or what would happen.
Out of the corner of my eye, the one that I can still see out of anyways, I spotted Smoker attempting to sit next to me. I heaved a huff, a green cloud of smoke billowing out of my mouth, attempting to hint at him to take a hike. His head tilted to the side, but he must not have gotten the hint otherwise as he scooted closer to me as I attempted to slide away from him.
Finally giving up on getting rid of him, I turned in his direction and said with a depraved sigh, “What is it this time you deranged lunatic?”
For a fraction of a second, I could’ve sworn Smoker was insulted at my comeback. But then I noticed it was a fake expressing of emotions, kind of like what Hunter would do to Witch and I decided to drop that conversation in my head. “Why?” Smoker asked.
He hadn’t said anything but that one word. At first, I was confused, not sure how to reply to a single word. But then I understood what he was asking. He still wanted to know why I didn’t like him. Once again I sighed deeply, releasing even more smoke. Unfortunately, the smoke didn’t agree with me too well and I coughed loudly. I could feel my lungs burning with each and every coarse cough that ruptured from my throat. I simply couldn’t stop myself.
Without warning, Smoker suddenly whacked me on the back violently. At first, I thought he was being a jerk. But I only coughed once more after he did that. It was one large cough, which released a thickened cloud of smoke into the sky. After that, I could breathe again. I took in a deep breath, glad to have oxygen back into my lungs.
With a tilt of the head, Smoker asked, “Are you alright? You were going through a coughing frenzy there.” I simply watched him silently. “Its something most recently changed Smokers go through. They don’t release enough smoke or intake enough oxygen, so it results in what you just experienced. Best thing to do is to just whack yourself on the back, you’ll usually release the built up smoke in one heavy cloud. Try to control it, the cloud of smoke usually alerts the survivors.”
“Good to know.” I huffed loudly, knowing I would forget what I was just told within five minutes anyways.
When I looked back up at Smoker, he had that same eager look on his face. He had returned to his previous question and was awaiting a response from me. Deciding to metaphorically sigh, since sighing hadn’t gone so well last time I attempted it, I responded, “You really are clueless, aren’t you Smoker? Have you ever thought about looking at things through my point of view. There’s a pretty valid reason for my disliking of you.” He looked very interested. I had to wonder… “When I first arrived here, I was lonely. I was broken off from the few friends I still had. Imagine if without warning, an ambush of survivors came here, killing nearly everyone you knew and loved. You only have a few friends left and soon you’re experiencing their gory deaths left and right. You had to have been human at one time. Don’t you remember your family or friends at all? Do you ever think about what happened to them? I don’t know how you became a Zombie, but I had a chance at freedom. It would’ve been lonely freedom, but it would’ve been freedom all the same. Now I’m stuck as something I never wanted to be, cut off from any remaining friends forever.” Without warning, I burst into tears. When I did so, I could feel the right side of my face, the side I couldn’t see out of, growing itchy. But for some reason, it didn’t bother me. “I loved someone with all my heart and now I’m ever cut off from them! Love is something that repairs slowly. Did you ever stop to think about any of this? How I feel? What I must’ve gone through? Or is this all one big game to you?”
He paused, I wasn’t sure what he was going to say but either he forgot what it was or decided against it. Rethinking his response, he finally replied, “I-I never had any friends.” He lowered his head, watching his feet on the ground below. “I was always rejected from groups, so the life of a loner became mine. As for family…? They’ve probably been digested through the system of that group of Zombies already.”
For some reason, I took an interest in what happened to him. It was actually showing an emotional side that wasn’t interested in rude commentary. So I asked, “What happened?”
“I was still living at home.” Smoker sighed dejectedly, seeming completely ready to spill his story to me. “Yeah, laugh at me! I was too spiteful towards others to get a job. Anyways, the infection had just recently began to spread in my town, where ever that was… I can’t remember it…” Would I forget things like this too? “My family was taking the necessary precautions that CEDA had released. Far as I was concerned, I just wanted to go outside. I never bought into the whole infection thing and I thought CEDA was a load of bullshit. Well, the infected broke into our house; I told them a thousand times that if Zombies existed a bunch of rotted boards wouldn’t keep them out, but who listens to me? Well, my family was the definition of timid. My father, mother, and brother were all as timid as mice. So naturally, they weren’t much of a fight when the infected attacked them. For some reason, they hadn’t taken an interest in me. I noticed one glance up at me, but went back to feeding. At first, I thought maybe they were stupid and thought I wasn’t human or something. But do you think I was right?” He laughed loudly, startling me suddenly. “Turns out they weren’t attacking me because a little someone had told them to leave me for him. I learned the hard way when I was smoked. Now the virus’ spreading is different between species. For the common infected, it’s just like an airborne flu virus. It spread to whoever it wants. Some catch it and turn special because their traits match. But the special infected can directly pass on their traits in a way that varies between the species.”
Rolling my eyes, I interrupted, “You don’t say.” I motioned him to my own figure and form, a byproduct of his own creation.
A sheepish feeling ran over Smoker. For a moment, he fell quiet. Then, realizing he was mid-story, he continued, “Yes, anyways. I don’t know many forms of passing it on. But I know the way the Smoker species works through obviously being one. A Smoker shares the infection through its saliva, yes disgusting, I know. The way I changed you was the friendly way.” He shuddered and I was frightened to learn the other way. “He must’ve planned this from the start. This isn’t a pretty description, might I tell you. To make a long story short, once I was pulled in, I was given some short lecture about how he had hand chosen me and I should consider myself lucky. He must not have cared for me opinion, because he released his hold on me and before I could run his tongue was digging through my throat. Now, imagine trying to swallow a stick of licorice that’s four feet long whole. That was what that felt like to me. I felt myself chocking to death. I was released before I could choke. But by then, I had lost consciousness. Because of that, I didn’t have to suffer the pain of the change. But I woke up in my house, surrounded by the curious infected and the rotting corpses of my family. When the infected scattered, I admit I was royally confused. Let’s just say a little look in the mirror cleared my head right up. After that, I never got close to anyone.”
“What about Hunter?” I asked, once again interrupting his now slightly disturbing story. This was one moment I was glad not to be a Boomer or he would be covered in bile by now.
Smoker shrugged, making it appear as if it almost didn’t matter how him and Hunter came to be friends. “He saved me. Nobody had ever cared for me before. I was usually pretty good with survivors. I caught on quickly. But a group caught me by surprise and he stopped them from killing me. After that, I took an interest in him and followed him to see if I could figure out why he bothered with me. I had come across many infected and not a one had ever bothered helping out unless it simply came to mind at the moment. While I was following him, I spotted a survivor sneaking up behind him unbeknownst to him, so I saved him from it. I don’t know why I did, I just did. After that, we formed a trust towards one another. I guess my empty void felt slightly filled, so we started working together, slowing attempting to understand the other.”
It took me a while, but I just now noticed that me and Smoker were having a decisive conversation with one another. I wondered if this would ever happen again. For this time, I had completely forgotten about Morgan and Hunter. Now I remembered suddenly.
Glancing back at the alleyway they had wandered into, I muttered, “What’s taking so long?” Throwing a glance at Smoker, I asked, “Know anything about Hunter transformations?”
With a unknown shrug, Smoker responded, “Not really. I know Hunter said something about biting, but he does that to everyone he kills so there must be something more to it. Don’t worry, they’ll be out soon.” He looked me over, a smile forming on his face. “Hey, you’re surrounded by a little cloud of yellow-green mist. I’ve never seen anything like it. It looks so gentle and calming compared to the cloud of smoke most Smokers release.”
Did it matter to me? What was I supposed to say in response to his comment, hmm? Was I supposed to say something like ‘Oh yeah that’s totally awesome!’ Pfft! As if I actually give two cents about that. I was just worried about my friend. Which reminded me, I never did know what became of Tom and Chris. It really worried me to think something had eaten them.
“You never told me your name.” Smoker suddenly said in the middle of my thoughts, totally wrecking my train of thought. Whatever I was thinking of, I completely forgot now. I had no clue what it was I was thinking of now.
Deciding to play karma on Smoker, I responded with a shrug, “You never told me yours. Why should I tell my name to someone who never even bothered to tell me theirs?” He deserved that. I could see the shocked expression that lurked on his malformed face.
Smoker responded, “Don’t know.” He forgot his own name? Would I forget my name too? “I can’t remember my name. But you must still remember yours.” What was I supposed to say now. I wasn’t expecting him to not know his own name. But it made sense now that I thought about it. Everyone had just went under the species name. Didn’t it ever get confusing? Why was I saying this to myself? I should to asking my nameless Smoker… friend over here.
Finally not thinking and deciding to speak, I finally asked, “Doesn’t it ever get confusing with everyone not having names and whatnot?” Smoker gave me a look as if he had never thought of that before. “I mean, it might be easy for species there’s only one of, but what about the Spitters or the Jockeys. There are multiples of them. How do you identify one from the other? Its getting hard for me to separate you from that other Smoker.” Taking a deep breath, not realizing it could cause a coughing fit, I finished, “Don’t you ever think about that?”
Once I finished, I noticed Smoker had fallen completely silent. I wasn’t sure if he was thinking about what I said or was zoning out or what. It took him a while, but Smoker eventually responded, “I never really noticed that before. I don’t really care though. I was just making conversation.”
I decided to just answer Smoker’s previous question, but not in the way he was probably expecting me to. I fixed myself in my seat and said gently, “My name means nothing to me. That was a name I used when I was human, when I wasn’t infected. Why should it mean anything now?” I sighed sadly and stopped mid-topic, looking downwards with a dejected expression haunting my face.
“Well, why don’t we get you a new name then?” Smoker asked with a cheeky grin. I glanced up at him, wondering where he was going with this conversation. “If you don’t want your human name, we can simply make you another name. Who’s going to stop you? There aren’t any legal issues or a Zombie lawyer or anything. What works well for you.”
“I don’t know.” I muttered, completely unsure what exactly I was supposed to say. I had never thought about name change. And I was going to have a name around a bunch of nameless Zombies?
Smoker must’ve noticed my hesitation, because he eventually decided to speak up. Glancing at me with an unreadable expression on his face, he said, “Well, what about Mist?” I fell silent. “Remember what I said earlier about that cloud of misty smoke around you? I think it would be really fitting.”
Mist… I feel deep into thought, wondering about the name. I had always thought of name options as things like Mandy or Sarah. I had never thought about using something like Mist as a name option. But nobody said it was bad. “Hmm…” I muttered to myself. “Mist huh?” Smoker was watching quietly, seeming to appear a bit worried. Maybe he was scared I didn’t like his name choice. I hope he didn’t think I liked him, because I still hated him, but this was a real discussion and I was simply enjoying it. “I like it I really do.” It was simple, but cute, unique, but fitting.
Once I responded and confirmed I liked Smoker’s name choice, he smiled cheerfully. After smiling, Smoker said with an excited grin, “You really like it? I’m glad to hear! From now on, you’ll be Mist, then.” I could feel the excitement in Smoker’s voice as he spoke. I had never hear him so excited before.
“What about you?” I asked, tilting my head up slightly to look at his face. He didn’t appear to care very much. He was zoned out in an odd fashion. “Don’t you want a name?”
Smoker finally tuned the world back in. He shot me a glance, looking at me quietly with an unsure expression on his face. Finally, he released a throaty bellow and said in that laugh, “Naw, its not really my thing. I’m fine as is.” There didn’t seem to be anything I could do to convince him without flirting hopelessly, so I decided just to drop the topic completely.
I jumped up, nearly falling out of my seat as a loud scream erupted from the alley. It sounded a lot like my friend Morgan screaming. At that thought, I instantly leaped to my feet, ready to rush and see what was happening. I barely got a couple of feet before I heard Hunter’s voice explode from the alley way, he was loudly yelling one thing, “JOCKEY!!” I stopped dead in my tracks. What had Jockey done to tick off Hunter so badly? And which one was it anyways? If I remembered rightly, there were four Jockeys in this alley; so it could’ve been any of them that ticked Hunter off.
There wasn’t a scintilla of a moment for me to go check, because Hunter came tearing out of the alley in a frenzy, closing in on the tail of a skittering little bundle of energy racing on all fours across the cement. I could immediately tell it was the coffee addict Hunter was racing after. I watched as Hunter would close in on the swift little maniac, only to suddenly be outsped and lose his close on the energetic little monstrosity. The abomination was continuing to evade capture.
Even Smoker was watching, curiousity brimming deeply in his blood red eye, I say eye because the other isn’t visible under his growth. “You creepy cackling abomination! If I get my hands on you you’ll be joining your kill on the pile of the dead! You’ll regret ever bothering me when I was busy! Get back here you four legged, scrawny, pseudo insane, maniac! All that energy of yours if gonna fizzle out soon and you’ll collapse at me feet!” He could keep telling himself that, but that bundle of energy didn’t appear to be growing any more tired, in fact, it looked as if his energy were actually increasing slightly. I was pretty sure he was going faster now.
I didn’t even notice Smoker glancing at me. Even when he spoke, I just barely noticed it. He muttered to me, “What do you think Jockey did to piss off Hunter so badly?”
Hunter stopped suddenly, crouching down, but not sitting, and licking his claws little a cat. Jockey stopped, turning around to see why Hunter had given up the chase. Even I was very confused. Still bursting with energy, Jockey asked, “Why did Hunter stop chasing Jockey? Did Jockey get out of trouble? Jockey safe! Yay!” He was bouncing, his boundless energy bursting like a balloon.
A bemused glint raced through Hunter’s deep red eyes and I hardly had enough time to comprehend the speed of Hunter’s graceful movements. He pounced like a leopard towards Jockey. Even with his short attention span, swift and unpronounced movements, and overall energy, Jockey couldn’t react quickly enough to stop Hunter from pushing him to the ground and holding him down, pinned and helpless.
“Help!” Jockey screamed, a wave of terror rushing over him at the sight of Hunter hovering over him. “Jockey help! Jockey needs help! Can’t die! Jockey can’t die, Jockey so very sorry!”
But it was clear Hunter didn’t want to hear anything Jockey had to say for himself. He was lurking over Jockey, a hateful shadow covering his face. His eyes were narrowed in anger, almost glowing with an evil malevolence. A claw was raised over Jockey, ready to come down upon his body and tear it to shreds. “Give me one good reason why I should rearrange your face! Give me one valid excuse for why I should rip open your stomach and tear our your heart! I’d love to hear it! Throw it upon me! I’ll kill you! Kill you, you little son of a deviled freak!” I shuddered as he brought down his brandished claw quickly. He was seconds from bringing it down upon Jockey before he stopped, his claw hovering not even an inch from Jockey’s chest. It held there, unmoving, tension stalking over its very existence. What had stopped him?
An ear splitting shriek raged across the alleyway, stopping time itself for a moment. The action had frozen. All glanced around for the sound of the shriek. Hunter spotted it first. A little shape, crouched on a rooftop, watching out group quietly. Another Hunter, it looked like. I could just barely make the shape out as it was. It was unmoving, as if it were still frozen in time.
Then, it pounced. A swift motion as it left its building overlook. I wasn’t sure who it was going to aim for. Then I noticed it was aimed towards Hunter. Why would one Hunter pounce another? Nobody had time to react as the other Hunter’s figure fell upon our Hunter’s forcing him off Jockey and holding him in a pin this time.
It was then I saw it. This wasn’t any random Hunter, it was Morgan, now cloaked in a black hoodie that Hunter must’ve supplied to her. She wasn’t attacking or anything, just holding him down, watching him closely. I could see the glow of her eyes through the shadow cast by the hood. Every time she blinked, I was well aware of it. Hunter appeared shocked, like he wasn’t expecting to see her lurking above him.
Jockey had raced off, back into the alley him and Hunter had come from at first. He was dragging something, but I wasn’t really bothered enough to see what the hell he was dragging with him.
“I thought…” Hunter started, seeming shocked, “…that I had gutted your throat like a fish. I thought I had bitten too deeply… when Jockey startled me.”
I saw it now. On her throat, was a deep, bloody mark. The bite mark was oozing heavily with blood. It was hard to spot over the hoodie, but the scent of the blood had really caught my nose. It smelled so tempting, if it wasn’t for the fact she was mixing a Zombie scent in with her human blood, I would’ve mauled her on the spot whether I want to or not. I guess Smoker was right, a Hunter’s transformation was caused by biting in some way, shape, or form. I was trying to understand this story. From what I was getting, Hunter was in the middle of changing Morgan and Jockey came rushing in and startled him, making him bite harder then he expected. He must’ve thought he accidentily sliced into her throat and ripped her throat open, causing her breath to escape her throat almost instantly. He must’ve been overreacting at thought she was dead before double checking and came to rage at Jockey for this.
Morgan laughed, a darkly laugh that must’ve came with the transformation, as I had never heard her use it before. She then responded to him, “Hell no! Once the pain faded, I could feel a nimble and limber feeling racing through my veins. I could tell something was different about me.”
Hunter smiled, showing all his teeth in that one toothy grin. In that grin, he said to her, “Well, it looks like Hunters are much stronger then I thought they are. I picked a good one after all.” He leaped up, knocking her off of him when he startled her. “Well god damn it! Its a nice day, huh!?”
She climbed off of Hunter, allowing him to get to his feet. Neither said anything further to the other, just watched silently. Even Smoker was watching the two of them watch one another. I was about to say something about the overall dullness of watching people watch one another, but Smoker purposely yawned loudly, beating me to the chase when he said to the others, “As interesting as this is, I’ve got better things to do then watch you people stare at each other. I don’t know what that something is yet, but I’m sure its something.” With that, he wandered away, not sparing us the dramatics of his exit.
I would’ve loved to stay around, but nothing interesting was actually happening, so I didn’t have a purpose to stick around. “Look, later peoples.” I waved subtly to Hunter and Morgan and wandered away from them, or at least began to.
But before I could escape them, Morgan called out to me, rushing away from Hunter as she yelled, “Carissa, wait!” I stopped, I had just seconds ago expressed my disliking for my human name. But she didn’t know that; I had never directly told her, only Smoker.
“Don’t call me that anymore.” I muttered, not bothering to turn around and look at her or Hunter. I heard her attempt to respond, but I interrupted her by adding, “Call me Mist. I’ve decided to use a different name. Carissa was my human name. I’m not human anymore.” Then I walked away.
Turning towards Hunter, Morgan said with a curious expression on her face, “Did you know about that?”
Shaking his head no, Hunter replied, “Not at all. She must’ve just decided that when we were back in the alley.”
Morgan took a moment to think about what Hunter said. She fell silent, thinking to herself in that awkward moment of silence. Hunter didn’t dare speak and bother her thinking process. Eventually, Morgan said to Hunter, “I want something like that! I want my own new name!” Morgan was very forceful on the topic, basically making it so Hunter had to do something about it. He reassured her they would think about it and draw back into the topic later. I finally stopped listening and left quietly.
As I found myself standing in a silent, empty clearing in the alleyway, I glanced into the star ridden sky, wondering it anything would ever be as it was. I was a Zombie, my friend was a Zombie. I had just remembered that Jockey was obsessing over a kill, but something told me I would hear about it later whether I cared or not. Not would be my current choice, but I knew he would show me anyways.
My eyes caught sight of a lone metallic pole sticking blatantly from the very top of the largest building in my line of sight. I had always wondered how well this would work. So I suddenly shot my tongue upwards, grabbing hold of the poll. I yanked back, finding my tongue’s grip on the pole was powerful. I then lifted my feet off the ground and started pulling my tongue back inside my mouth. To my surprise, I lifted off the ground, retracting towards the building’s top. It was working! My tongue was working like a grappling hook, pulling me up towards the rooftop. Soon I reached the top. I grabbed on to the metallic poll, yanking myself upwards until my feet were planted on the roof’s surface. Finally, I grabbed hold of my tongue and yanked back violently ripping it off.
After I calmed down my loud screaming, I flicked the remains of my tongue like a snake. It quickly jeered out of my mouth, racing back inside as if something had badly startled it. Already I could feel it growing back with intense speed.
From the roof, I could view the outskirts of a small abandoned town. There was nothing but deep brown dirt, littered with the corpses of the dead and drawing in the pleasant scent of human blood. My sensitive eyes could easily catch the dull and lazy movements of any infected wandering below.
For some reason, I took an interest in watching the infected wander like the mindless zombies they were. I sat on the building’s edge, throwing my legs over the side as I sat myself down.
Watching the infected was actually very interesting. How often can a survivor really say they got to sit down and watch what an infected does? Usually the infected are always chasing after you, trying their hardest to maul you and tear you into tiny shreds. When they didn’t care what you were doing, mostly because you were in some way one of them, it was interesting to watch them. Sure, they wandered aimlessly like anyone would expect them to. But just expecting it and actually watching it were two completely different things. Actually watching them revealed just how mindless their wandering really was. They just stumbled left and right without a goal or location in mind. It was such a senseless wandering it seemed like they would never arrive at any location unless that location wasn’t anymore then two or so feet away.
I coughed loudly, not meaning to, but doing it anyways. Most of the infected didn’t take anything to it. They just continued their pointless wanderings. But one sole infected, one my trained eyes could make out as a tall male with messy brown hair in a ripped up security uniform, glanced up at the sound of the cough. He was watching me, despite the fact that something told me he hardly even understood what it was he was watching. But he seemed so interested in something so minor. He would watch me, unblinking, unsure what to make of me. Eventually, he lost interest, going back to his business.
I kept my eyes trained on that very infected, watching his senseless wandering about. I had to wonder what he was thinking, if he were thinking anything at all. As I had learned while being in this alley, some infected were more thoughtful and intelligent then others. I don’t know if the virus didn’t hit others as badly or if it was just complete random chance whether you were concise or not, but some were, others weren’t. That’s all I knew at the moment about the topic. It was clear his intelligence was low.
The silence was so comforting that when it was broken without warning it scared the smoke right out of me, literally. Something leaped on my shoulders, wrapping sharp claws fingers around me, and I about shit myself. “Holy mother of fuck!” I screamed loudly, once my loud shrieking calmed enough to form valid words. A thick cloud of smoke erupted out of me, coming from god only knows where. It puffed into my face and floated away into the sky. I could barely breathe. My chest was heaving heavily and rapidly up and down, attempting to inhale any oxygen I could possibly get a hold of. My heart was beating like a hummingbird after a gallon of coffee.
On my shoulders, was the little ball of energy I knew to be the Jockey from earlier. Something told me he would attempt to track me down, deeply wishing to show off his kill to someone. “Jockey found Mist! Jockey found Mist!” he cheered in a hyperactive manner. For a moment, I thought he was going to have a seizure right after I had a heart attack. But then he calmed just a little bit and continued, “Jockey wants to show something to Mist.”
Heaving a large sigh, I muttered, “Of course you do, you little overexcited psychopath.” Attempting to push him off my shoulder, I finished, “Get off of me and maybe I’ll look. Just get this over with, what person that means next to nothing to me did you kill now.”
To my surprise, Jockey took a grand leap into the air, leaving my shoulder and landing on all fours on the hard, cement roof of the building. He was still skittering around, but at least he wasn’t on my shoulders anymore. He ran behind a crate, pulling out the kill he had hidden. “Look at this!”
I turned around to see what Jockey was holding. As I did, I about threw up on him. I quickly covered my mouth, swallowing my vomit before I could bring it out, despite the horribly sour taste it left in my mouth. I could barely even look at the horribly mangled body he was holding in front of me.
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