June 7th, 2008
Light quickly faded in the warm summer evening, and it was nowhere more evident than in the attic, as Cowboy, Peace, and Beard struggled with a way through the roof using flashlights and the tools at hand. They worked until they were nearly exhausted, and, upon seeing their progress and the toll it took on them, T.Rex authorized showers for everyone as long as the water held. Those waiting fixed themselves a hearty dinner of peanut butter sandwiches and granola bars.
Leaving the piles of individual equipment half sorted, they cleaned up and settled in for another hot and nervous night of rest. Ryan insisted that they all stay busy not only to complete important jobs and keep them from getting stir-crazy, but perhaps more importantly to distract them from constantly looking out the windows.
Unfortunately, as they turned in for the evening, the silence of the still apartment quickly gave way to the moans of the living dead outside. Earlier, Brant had found a box of earplugs nestled in the case of the rifle, and that gave everybody not on night watch a bit of respite from the horrible sounds. The windows, kept shut to muffle noise both coming in and going out, kept the heat trapped in as well, unfortunately. They had to cope as best as they could, and eventually they all drifted into uncomfortable sleep.
Ryan had always been a voracious dreamer, and the possible destruction of the world did nothing to quell that. Between the heat, the uncomfortable earplugs, the moans that still got through, and his aching muscles, he tossed and turned throughout the evening. Nightmares were creeping in as Cowboy and Kamikaze woke him and Angel Hair for the 3am-6am night watch shift.
T.Rex rose slowly. He started shaking his right arm vigorously and drew a quizzical look from Angel Hair. He silently mimed falling asleep on top of his tingling arm, and Angel Hair gave a silent "Ahhh", tapping his temple in recognition. They crept to the back bedroom and stood vigil over the apartment.
Ryan and Angel Hair peered through the blinds and gasped in unison. Outside, the number of zombies had increased dramatically, their eyes glowing ever-so-faintly in the darkness. Their shadowy figures stumbled around clumsily in the darkness, occasionally bumping into each other or an object without care. In the distance, a shrill scream could be heard, as a woman took what was most likely her last human breath.
Angel Hair sat quietly, contemplating. With no real light and the need to keep alert for strange sights and sounds, they more or less stared at the gaps in the blinds for a while. Ryan retreated inward, tuning out his self-doubt over leadership and instead took his girlfriend's frequent advice to think positive and be more optimistic. He thought about what a diverse and skilled group of loyal friends he was fortunate to collect.
Kamikaze. Renee was an incredibly sweet and thoughtful person, and the only girl in the current group of survivors. Come to think of it, she was now the "token female" now that Sweet Speak had graduated. Renee was a hard worker, and was always thinking of ways to improve their situation. She never complained about assignments, and didn't hesitate to ask for help. She'd grown up on a farm and wasn't afraid to get her hands dirty. She was studying psychology after switching from engineering, so she thought with both halves of brain quite handily. One of her favorite pastimes was questioning people in different ways, just to see how they reacted or what they were comfortable admitting. It made conversation interesting, to say the least. She had recently shaved off most of her long, distinctive ponytail, but kept her weathered blue NASA hat. Renee was one of the tallest Fools, and nearly always wore a long denim skirt.
Peace. Andrew was a spastic and excitable fellow, but intensely inquisitive and dedicated on top of that. He has large eyes and always spoke with his hands. Often, he wore his glasses and hat with a stylish flair. He was an Eagle Scout, a chemist, and spoke multiple languages - but considered himself a writer first and foremost. He had questionable taste in music, but they shared a love of webcomics, Star Wars, and many other things to compensate. Just thinking of Peace incited a game loss. Ryan considered Peace his closest friend in the improv group currently, and was doing his best to groom him as a future leader of the troupe.
Beard. Eric was a manly and fierce looking character, but anybody who spent time with him knew he was a fair and incredibly reasonable person. The thing with Beard was, he'd give you a ton of chances to atone, but once you crossed the line, you were a goner. Ryan chalked that up to his Quaker beliefs and his Eagle Scout code. He also was trained in martial arts and a biologist. Peace and Beard were best friends since high school, and though they bickered like a married couple, they had a strong friendship that was not easily strained. Other than Beard's distinctive facial hair, both Andrew and Eric were similar in size, average height and weight with brown hair.
Cowboy. John was probably the most "normal" of the Fools, and not in a bad way. He was high octane, loud, and brash, but more sensitive than most people knew. Like Ryan, he loved to play Guitar Hero and watch football (as well as other sports). He usually wore his treasured blue Indianapolis Colts hat to practice. John had a large toothy grin and often amused himself with the antics of the other Fools, usually with Beard in the back of the room. He was fit and active, and was a management major. That kept him plenty busy, but he still found time to be in a business fraternity and to volunteer to be a Big Brother. He had a temper that flared up from time to time, but he worked hard to direct that into productive energy.
Angel Hair. Steve was a wiry chap with long, flowing locks and a comically large nose. He took it in stride, however, like everything else in life. He was the other newest Fool, and Ryan constantly strove to know them both better. He was a vegetarian, which currently did not conflict with the current menu of pre-packaged foods. His treasured leather jacket seemed to fly in the face of this belief, but he insisted it was "grandfathered in." He was a dual major, chemical engineering and theatre major, which gave him a dual personality similar to Renee. Rumor had it that he was something of a pickpocket as well, though that wouldn't do much against the living dead.
Rubble. Brant was a large jolly friend with a penchant for vests and fedoras. He was one of the two newest Fools, so Ryan didn't know him as well as he'd like to - yet. His major was medieval studies, which meant Brant had all sorts of useful skills like archery, fencing, and other weapons training. He had plenty of nerdy hobbies like reenactment societies and D&D, but that only endeared him to the group more. The first year of improv was a large test for Brant, but he emerged on the other side a stronger performer with more confidence and skill. Steve and Brant were as much a pair as Andrew and Eric, though they'd become friends with the entire troupe right away.
And himself? Ryan was easily the shortest of the Fools, with hobbit like features (though he'd just lost his curly hair). He was an aerospace engineer taking the scenic route through college, and the upcoming fall would be his fifth year...if society hadn't collapsed by then. He had been in the improv troupe nearly that entire time, and had even been Captain for a time, but that seemed like such a long time ago.
Ryan was by far the most senior member of the group, something that weighed heavily on his mind. He was only 22, but the other Fools around him seemed to look up to him at times as a respected elder, when in reality he still felt like a newcomer at times, especially when he thought back to all the past members. The older retired members seemed like giants, legends in their own right. Past exploits were handed down to the new Fools through a rich oral tradition. If something went wrong here, that could all be lost.
For all their differences, there were some similarities that connected them all, mostly having to do with improv. All of them were quick witted, clever, and committed to entertainment in some fashion. For the most part they shared the stage more or less equally, and valued teamwork. They all were trained to attack problems from multiple angles, to not deny, and of course improvise on and off the stage. Each one of them had individual specialties in academia, but most of them also had overlapping knowledge in more esoteric knowledge, from famous historical assassins to Golden Age movie stars.
Ryan slowly blinked the world back into focus as his trance-like concentration was broken by a sneeze. Angel Hair was sitting across the room quietly, eyes closed.
"Hey buddy," T.Rex said, softly.
"I was just resting my eyes!" Angel Hair insisted, snapping his head forward violently.
"It's fine. Let's go wake the others and get started for today."
They were walking towards the living room when they heard a pane of glass shatter nearby.
Current Word Count: 17,839