June 14th, 2008
Beard was missing.
Everybody looked around in nervous disbelief. Beard was considered to be one of the strongest and most capable combatants amongst them, not to mention his formidable survivalist skills. Nobody dared to imagine losing his talents. Fighting back panic, Ryan treated the situation calmly, like a misplaced set of keys. "Where was the last place anybody saw him?" he asked, nervously.
There were several shrugs and nervous glances. "He was right behind me as we ran through the apartment complex," Angel Hair offered.
As if on cue, a muffled grunt marked the return of Beard to the group. He stumbled backwards from around the corner of the apartment, his hatchet lined with gore. "We, uh, need to get going right now," he said nervously.
"Fools!" Ryan commanded "Form up on me, and let's get moving."
With a quick glance around the corner, T.Rex led the Fools between another pair of apartments and across the street. A pair of zeds noticed from the corner of Marsteller and Harrison. With a snarl, they staggered after the group.
Ryan jogged over to the greenhouse facilities behind the Horticulture Building. Ducking between two of the first units, he crouched and signaled for the group to hold. He noted in his head each Fool as they rounded the corner, now paranoid of losing one of his friends.
Five, aaaaand six, he counted as Beard joined them. "Alright, our next objective is Discovery Park. Everybody good?" He noticed his own breath was short as the Fools nodded affirmative.
T.Rex signaled once more, and they stood in unison. Zig-zagging through the greenhouses, they noticed a significant amount of broken glass. This was but a small sample of the destruction around campus. Without power, each greenhouse was a darkened maze of vines and foliage. The dim moonlight cast odd shadows and made the benign flowers look menacing.
The group reached a dead end in the heart of the greenhouse block. Must've gotten turned around in the darkness, Ryan scolded himself. Pausing for a moment, he surveyed the area through the clear buildings around him. He could see a few zeds about 30 feet away struggling to reach them, shuffling in place against a pane of glass. I hope they get confused seeing us, but not really able to reach us, he thought, grinning.
The furthest zombie on the right pounded on the glass in primal frustration. The other two joined in, and a crack appeared at the corner. It quickly spread into a crystal spiderweb before the entire pane shattered, sprinkling the zombies with razor sharp fragments. Free of restriction, they continued to march towards the Fools coated in glass.
Ryan's smile quickly faded. Fuck. Well, two can play at that game.
There was a moment of hesitation. Ryan always strove to set a good example, and wanton property destruction wasn't really a great way to do that. Still, they were boxed in with no place to go. He flicked his wrist and shattered the closest pane of glass with his crowbar. "Oh look," he said in mock surprise. "An exit."
Taking care to avoid the glass shards, they squeezed into the greenhouse single file. "I can barely see through this jungle!" said Kamikaze.
Beard was stoic. "Stay sharp, people."
"Ack!" Cowboy cried out. "My pack is caught!" As he struggled, the sounds of rustling leaves mixed with the wind rushing through the broken glass. The two nearest Fools tried to help untangle him.
Angel Hair's nimble fingers went to work. "Quit struggling for a second, Cowboy. Your strap is caught on a thorny vine. Can somebody grab a flashlight?"
"Got it," Kamikaze replied.
There was silence as the group waited to clear the snag. An eerie blanket of tranquility drifted into the greenhouse. After a moment, it was broken by an odd, faint noise.
"Uh, hurry up with that strap," Peace said. "I've got a bad feeling about this."
A small zombie emerged from beneath a table of potted plants, a victim of previous attacks. Both of its legs were broken, so it crawled with determination It gargled menacingly, attempting to moan with damaged vocal cords. It was only after it had latched onto Cowboy's shin that the group determined the cause of the strange noises.
"Get it off me, man!" Cowboy yelled, arms flailing. The dark, close confines of the greenhouse made it difficult to see or even move. "It's got my leg!"
Kamikaze's response was both swift and decisive. "Hold still!" she said through clenched teeth, trying to find the zed at their feet. A bright beam of light appeared from the flashlight in her left hand. A solid thunk removed the zed's hand at the wrist, courtesy of the machete in her right. Pushing Cowboy away from the danger, she raised a her boot into the air and gave the zombie's skull one solid stomp. Cowboy shook his leg violently until the dead hand flew off.
Nobody moved, including the zed. "Is...is it dead?" Cowboy asked, nervously.
Kamikaze gave the zed a quick once over with her flashlight. "Looks like it. Get that strap fixed and let's get moving!"
"Make sure you kill the flashlight soon - it's probably attracting more attention," Angel Hair wisely pointed out. Kamikaze checked Cowboy's leg for damage. There was none, so she turned off the light.
With another flick of the wrist, Ryan "found" another exit on the other side of the greenhouse and led the group out into the night. In front of them, less than 400 feet away, was the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Building. On Service Drive, located between that building and the Fools, was an overturned bus.
The group had no way of knowing that several days prior, that charter bus filled to capacity with Purdue students had attempted to return to campus. While on a field trip to a pricey research facility, a series of strange and confusing messages had assaulted the researcher's mobile devices. Cutting short the trip meant risking a sizeable grant, so by the time scientists finally decided to return tensions ran high as they drove through the night.
Nearly home, the bus driver narrowly avoided flattening a rogue figure in the middle of Service Drive that night. He had slammed on the brakes and swerved, but in doing so lost control of the bus and crashed it into a railing. The bus groaned as it leaned onto the railing, before finally turning on its side as the passengers screamed. Miraculously, nobody was seriously injured in the accident at first.
The ragged figure responsible for the bus driver's maneuver was an infected professor. He found his way aboard the capsized vehicle and found a host of panicked and trapped bodies. It was a feeding frenzy. The resulting carnage had drawn creatures from all over campus.
Presently, over two hundred zombies heard the sounds of breaking glass, and went to investigate.
Current Word Count: 30,073