June 14th, 2008
Hillenbrand Hall - Room 462
With nothing to lose, T.Rex reached for the door handle. Just as he touched it there was a lengthy rumble from the other side of the door, and Ryan took a step back instinctively. The locks clicked, and the door opened just a fraction.
Jenny's eyes appeared in the gap, and they widened when she recognized who had been knocking. "Oh my god!" she said, nudging the door open and leaping out to hug him.
For several moments neither spoke, holding each other tightly in the darkness. T.Rex looked down the hallway with a nervous glance, then ushered his girlfriend back into the relative safety of the dorm room.
"I was so worried about you! What happened to your arm?" Jenny said as she relocked the door, tears forming in her eyes.
T.Rex gently wrapped his arms around her. "Just a little scratch," he said in a calming voice. "It's okay, I'm here to rescue you."
"I was afraid you w-wouldn't come," Jenny said, now sobbing in his arms. "That something had happened to you, that those awful monsters had hurt you, and when I couldn't get ahold of you on your phone I-"
"Shhhh," T.Rex said, wiping a tear from her cheek. "Doesn't matter now. I'm here, you're here, and I'm going to take you far away from all of this mess. I need to know what happened, though. Are you okay? Is there anybody else in the building?"
Jenny squeezed her boyfriend tightly. "I'm okay," she said quietly. "Days ago we got a call from Liz that there was some sort of police action on the Eastern portion of campus, and that we weren't allowed to leave the building. I heard some rumors that there was a mob or something, so I ran down to the RA kitchenette and grabbed all of my snacks, just in case. When I got back there was an official Purdue email about some sort of 'civil disturbance', and that we had been asked to stay in our rooms.
"So I waited in my room, like they made us, and every time I looked out the window there more of them. At first there were just a few, coming from over by Meredith, and as they days went on they kept coming. Then the power went out, and I got so scared I went to find Mike. He decided that as supervisor he would gather up all the OAs and we stayed together in his room. Then... then..."her voice trailed off as she looked away.
"Hey," T.Rex said, "look at me," as he guided her face back to meet his gaze. "I've got you now, I just need to know what's going on before we get going."
"They never came back!" she blurted out. "Abe and Brett left to go get some supplies and to block up some of the exits, but we never heard back from them. Then we waited even longer, trying to keep up our spirits telling stories about the awful conferences we've had. Kate just sat in the corner and wouldn't talk.
"Then one day they broke through the window. Mike told us to run, and so I did. I ran in the dark back to my room and I don't know what happened to any of them!" Jenny said, crying into Ryan's shirt.
T.Rex kissed her forehead. "You did the best you could. The most important thing right now, though, is for you to get your things so I get you out of here. Away from campus, away to the country. Can you do that for me?"
Sniffling, Jenny nodded. As she scurried about the room, T.Rex went to the window and peeked around the curtains. The view from Jenny's room covered most of the exit route he had planned, and there looked to be just a handful of zeds in the way.
I might actually pull this off, T.Rex said to himself, lost in thought as he imagined their escape.
"You look very different," Jenny said offhand as she stuffed her bookbag with clothes.
T.Rex snapped back to focus. "What was that?"
"You look different. I mean, I haven't seen you in almost two weeks..."
"Oh, well, I did cut my hair," T.Rex said as he moved towards the bathroom. In the dim light he could see his reflection, and it startled him. His hair was shorter, and he had a light beard, but beyond that he looked ragged and worn. His shirt was a canvas of gore, sweat, and dust, and his eyes looked as bad as he felt.
"Sorry I'm so gross," Ryan apologized. "It was...an...interesting trip over here. I would've been here sooner but-" he stopped as Jenny crossed the room and put a finger over his lips.
"Don't worry about it," she whispered. "You're still my knight in sort-of-shining armor. I'm just happy to see you." She pulled his shirt so their lips met, and they kissed for a long while before T.Rex broke it off.
He grinned. "We need to get going, hon. The Fools are waiting."
Her eyes widened. "The Fools?" Jenny had been with Ryan longer than some of them had been in the improv troupe.
"The ones on campus when the zeds hit: Peace, Beard, Kamikaze, Cowboy, Angel Hair, and Rubble."
"Where are they?"
"Holding down the fort in the Hillenbrand Parking garage." T.Rex left out his other thought: I hope.
Jenny smiled. "I think I'm ready to go, then," she said. Ryan took a quick glance through her bookbag to double check what supplies she had. It wasn't much, but it did include a laptop, camera, and more medicine that the group could use. Nothing in the room even remotely resembled a weapon, however.
It will have to be enough, T.Rex thought. He had no problem convincing Jenny to cut her hair to lessen the chances of falling into the clutches of the zeds. At T.Rex's insistence they also left a note of the time and date they were leaving, directions of where the group was planning on going, and contact numbers of the lifeless phones they carried.
"Do you have your master keys?" T.Rex asked, trying to remember everything they might need.
Jenny looked puzzled. "What for?"
"We'll need them to get out of Hillenbrand," he said.
She ran to the closet and retrieved the keyring given to all OAs for the summer that granted access to almost every room in the building. "Anything else?" she asked.
T.Rex glanced at the locked door the separated them from the outside world before turning to his girlfriend. "When we go out there, I need you to stay close and do exactly what I say, okay? Stay quiet unless you see something, and let me handle the zeds."
"Are you kidding me? I'm not going to let you out of my sight," she said with a weak smile that seemed to mask a worried expression.
Together they quietly slipped into the dark hallway. A quiet moan drifted through the hallway, and T.Rex looked around with an intent stare, daring anything to challenge his protective stance. After several moments, they continued cautiously. Picking their way over and around the debris, they reached the stairwell at the end of the hall without incident.
T.Rex looked back at Jenny and pointed to the stairwell door, then pointed downward, then flashed three fingers. She nodded back, and he eased the door open. A small amount of sunlight leaked through the windows, illuminating their path. The door was halfway open before the hinge squeaked, echoing in the vertical expanse of the stairwell.
"Fuck!" he hissed. T.Rex grabbed Jenny's wrist and took off down the stairs, wondering if their echoing footsteps masked any nearby zeds. When they reached the third floor he flung the door open and dashed inside, crowbar ready to dispatch any threat.
He scanned the darkness. Nothing. "Jenny?" he said quietly over his shoulder.
"Yeah?" she said back, gently tapping his shoulder.
T.Rex released the breath he didn't realize he had been holding. "Just checking." He moved forward slowly, extra conscious with Jenny in tow.
A quiet crunching sound caught their attention, and they both froze. T.Rex squinted into the dim corridor and saw a single zed stumble into the hallway from the study lounge area.
"Get back," Ryan said without hesitation, and took a few steps forward. The zombie lurched closer, and every time it placed a foot on the ground there was an odd clicking noise. T.Rex watched in puzzlement as the creature drew near.
"Ohhhhh," he said aloud, when he suddenly realized the zed most likely had broken glass embedded in its foot, probably from the study lounge. It was a slender zed, wearing a pair of broken glasses and sporting a pair of plaid pajamas.
The creature showed no signs of pain as it walked, but the glass gave it a distinctive gait. T.Rex waited, studying the motion for an opening. When the zed was just a few feet away T.Rex moved, stepping into a soccer-style kick that connected with the inside of the zed's leg, just as it shifted its weight to the other side.
Off balance, the zed toppled onto the floor. T.Rex spun and drove the tip of his crowbar directly into the back of the zed's skull, piercing the decaying flesh and weakened bone violently. There was a twitch of the zombie's feet, then all was still.
Word Count: 51,573