June 6th, 2008
There was nothing Ryan could do to stop them.
The entire group of Fools scrambled out of sleeping bags and blankets, crowding to the windows. Each peered through a slat of the blinds to look out into the night.
"Guys!" Ryan hissed. "At least stay quiet, and make sure there is no light coming from up here!"
Looking around to make sure there were no sources of light to betray their setup, Ryan found his way to the window to join the others. The Fools parted to let him access a lower slat and somebody accidentally elbowed his bandaged arm. Wincing in pain, he gazed into the darkness and grimaced at the sight.
Several silhouettes could be seen in the parking lot, in the streets, and the nearby sidewalks and pathways. They stumbled and lurched around, each with a distinctive way of dragging its feet. Ryan even thought he saw one in a window in an apartment across the way.
T.Rex was dismayed as he spoke. "It's spreading even faster than I thought."
"There's only about thirty of them, by my count," said Angel Hair, optimistically.
"I could take 'em," Beard said.
"Listen. Nobody's going anywhere, and attacking in the dead of night is madness. You'd only be drawing more out. I want everybody to get back in bed and try and get some sleep." Ryan was terse with his orders, but felt uncomfortable. Like I can order these guys to get to sleep, he thought. Hell, I probably won't even sleep myself. Still, I feel like the group needs to know somebody is in control of the situation, as it were.
As the group settled back into their sleeping positions, Ryan tried to push the doubt of his own leadership from his mind. They all talked nervously, ignoring the occasional moan that permeated the still night. Between the excitement, the noise, and the heat, it was a long while before voices started leaving the group chatter. Nobody had to be woken up at midnight for the changing of the guard.
Ryan felt a hand over this mouth and he flailed about momentarily, before Beard came into focus. Beard raised a finger to his mouth and extended his free hand, helping Ryan to his feet.
"You're up for third shift," Beard whispered. "Nothing to report."
"Good work," T.Rex replied. "See you in the morning." He saw Cowboy across the room tapping Kamikaze awake and he waved her to the back room.
The two crept back to the back right bedroom and closed the door before they spoke again.
"So, what exactly are we supposed to do on this night watch, anyway?" Kamikaze asked, rubbing her eyes.
"Well," he yawned. "We're mainly just making sure the others get a chance to rest. We watch for attacks, for any sign of danger, or any sign of help. Things like that."
She nodded, and they took up positions in folding chairs facing the window. Kamikaze refused to let the shift pass in silence, and Ryan was glad for the conversation, in part to make sure he stayed awake and alert.
Among Kamikaze's chief concerns was who might take care of the animals in the veterinary portion of campus if the people in charge were infected. Ryan was slightly ashamed to admit that he was less concerned about them than saving his own life.
As their shift ended, the sun began to rise and filter through the blinds. It became light enough that they broke out a pack of playing cards. They had a healthy game of gin rummy started, with Renee leading the series 3-2, before somebody tapped on the door.
The noise startled Ryan, and before he could recover Kamikaze said "c'mon in," softly.
The door slowly opened, and a groggy Beard shuffled in. "I really couldn't sleep much, and I don't think anybody else did," he reported.
"Fair enough," Ryan finally said. "I think we may have to work out a pair of codewords. I don't want to have to worry about a zombie with an uncannily human knock," he chuckled. "Kamikaze, I want you to get breakfast started, in a little bit. Beard, you make sure everybody is up and awake soon. I'd like to get a good start on the day, because there's still work to be done."
The apartment slowly stirred to life as each Fool either woke from the sun or the sounds of the others. Together they shared a sugary breakfast of Pop-Tarts and water, and to those who disliked the taste, it already seemed like the food options were unpleasant.
Post breakfast, Ryan divided the Fools equally to tackle the two biggest tasks left. Peace, Cowboy, and Beard went to work on the roof hatch while Angel Hair, Rubble, and Kamikaze set out to to finish the inventory list.
Ryan sat down with a notepad and began to compile a set of notes, mainly lists of things to do. Something felt wrong, and he could not figure out what. He mentally reviewed the Emergency Zed Plan, trying to think of something he'd missed, or a step that wasn't completed. He chewed on the end of his pen as he searched for the right detail.
All of the sudden, it hit him like a ton of bricks.
Current Word Count: 14,057