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The Art of Death: Love & War

By: Quentin Washburn





Copyright © 2016 Quentin Washburn

All rights reserved.

ISBN: 1539413411

ISBN-13: 978-1539413417










DEDICATION


Dedicated to my friends and family. Especially my mother, father, and editor, who wouldn’t give up on me.





Part 1





Chapter 1


“March 25th, 2172

2172, mankind has been near extinction for 75 years. Ever since the unexplainable outbreak when the dead came back to life. March 5th, 2097 was the day the world as we knew it ended. Billions of people have died from being eaten alive by those things. The unknown virus was faster than any illness combined. A cure was being researched, but no one could find it. Pretty soon, we all gave up. I heard a rumor of a refugee camp in Northeastern Canada. My name is Oliver Saxon. I am a survivor of the third outbreak of 2152, twenty years ago. When I was born. My grandfather was a survivor from the second and first outbreaks. He died in 2132 when he was just 52 years old. My parents died on the day of the third outbreak; the day I was born. The military, or what was left of it, protected the young at all costs. I am writing this for my journey to Northeast Canada, to find a safe place to survive.”

I wrote in my journal, before heading off. I was sitting in a church. The death-ridden things, or Beasts, attacked here too. They attacked and killed all of the militia group I was a part of. They attacked out of nowhere; fifty of them upon us before we had a chance to draw our weapons. We didn't stand a chance.

I stood up and looked at the corpse-ridden room. The corpses of the beasts and my allies were scattered all around. Soon, the dozen or so militia will be reanimated.

"May as well burn this place to the ground," I whispered to myself. I was also bored and wanted to have some fun. We were all heading to Canada in a military van our "leader" made. The thing broke down and blew up. Of course, it only blew up when I shot it out of anger. We had matches, all of us were given some for survival. Luckily, I never needed to use any. All I needed was a gas tank, or some source of gas and the place would become engulfed in an inferno. The church had no doors except for a front door. It had to have a basement somewhere. I pulled out my handgun and searched the church.

I started to think of the story the "Leader" liked to tell from our history to ease my nerves. We didn't have a lot of tech advances recently. Ever since the Treaty of 2025, which stopped the advancement of weapon technology. We were stuck in a rut for years. The president at the time, whom I don't know the name of, signed the treaty of compassion. It was to help "stop" terrorism. After we nuked the Middle East and killed off the terrorist groups at the time, it was a time of peace and prosperity. The president was anti-war, atheist, and blamed weaponry and religion for the atrocities. Instead, we, focused on medical advances. Which increased the average lifespan to that of at least ninety years old. Of course, we had no plans for the apocalypse that happened seventy-five years ago. Because of the advancement, life seemed to keep going and going. Our medicine stopped working, rendering all our advances completely useless.

I looted the corpses. I found guns, but with no ammo. Pointless to drag on extra weight if it won't help. I did find bullets for my handgun, yet, none for the other guns. I gripped my handgun in both hands. I knew there had to be a basement entrance somewhere. All churches have one. I looked under the carpet- nothing. I exited the church and walked around it since I didn't every side to it yet. The back did have a door that didn't lead into the church, but it was locked. I hit the window to try and unlock it from the other side, but it wouldn't break. It had to be bullet proof glass.

"Shit!" I hollered. I had to find a key or a way to bust the lock. Then, it hit me. I took my handgun and hit the butt of it against the doorknob a couple of times until it fell off. The door creaked open and I stepped inside.

It was somewhat dark in the basement. The only light I had was from the sun beating in from the doorway. I walked further inside and lit a match for more light. There was still no sign of gas or anything like it. I started hearing groaning. It sounded like one of the Beasts. It was getting louder and louder. I couldn't see anything since the light from my match was still dim. I moved it around and saw nothing. The basement seemed a little bigger than average, but I wasn't complaining. I just needed to search more. I kept walking, but I couldn't see the thing that was making the groaning sound. It was getting louder as I walked through but still saw nothing. The sound it was making was getting more obnoxious and grotesque by the second. The smell of rotting flesh and mildew entered my nostrils. I gagged, but kept searching; hoping to come across a light source. I barely could keep the gun in my hands from the sweating and shaking. My heart was racing a mile a minute. All I could hear was the beats of my own heart. Thump, thump, thump. The groaning wouldn't stop. The smell of death of was bad enough to make me almost vomit. The sound the thing was making was close to me. It seemed like it was groaning in my ear. I bumped into something dangling. It was a pull switch. I pulled on it and the light turned on. It made a clicking sound. I heard a growl behind me as I turned around to see the doorway. Then, I felt something grab me; making me jump and drop the match on my boot. I looked down to see a slimy, greenish-blueish, diseased ridden wrapped around my ankle. I kicked it off me and the match landed on the hand and lit on fire. The fire followed the arm back to the body and caught the rest of the beast on fire. Burning it as it screeched at me. It continued to crawl towards me, the fire still blazing. I held my gun and pulled the trigger. The bullet entered its eye socket, brains and blood splattered all over my boot and the floor. The fire finished burning the rest of him before it went out in a few minutes.

I checked around the basement for gas. I came across this heater. I turned around and checked outside. It was almost dusk. That's when the Dusks come out.

"Shit," I whispered. I went back to the entrance and aimed my gun at the heater. I hesitated, but I forced myself to pull the trigger. The bullet rang through my ears and went through the heater. At first, nothing happened. Gas started spilling out and rushed towards the doorway. I lit another match and threw it into the stream of gas. I ran as fast as possible away from the church. When I was just out of the blast range, I heard the satisfying explosion of a job well done. The sight of raining debris and body parts was all the more satisfying. I had a sigh of relief, but it didn't last long as I heard more hissing and moaning.

I turned around to face the church. I watched as three Beasts started running towards me while on fire. One of them was missing both arms. The other two was missing a part of their heads. You could see the blood draining out from the head where brains, and parts of their skulls, were popping out. I was scared. The scent of blood will attract more Beasts and Dusks. I removed my clip to count the bullets. There was four left. Counting the two I picked up, I had six shots to work with. I wasn't too worried. Once I got back to the camp I could get more ammo loaded the two bullets in; the Beasts running towards me. The armless was faster than the other two and it leaped towards me. I shot at the beast's leg, and it came clean off. It fell down and it started crawling towards me as the other two made their way forward. Their movements looked like they were doing a waltz. The one on the ground growled and got my attention back. I stomped my boot on its head and watched as blood and brains came out; soaking my boot in its disgusting bodily fluid. I looked back up. The other two were now only a few feet away and I was able to get a better view of the horrid creatures. One was missing an eye and the other one was missing a huge part of its head. I shot the eyeless one first. The bullet penetrated his skull and blew his head off. I kicked him, launching him toward the other one to make it lose its balance. I walked up and kicked the still conscious one in the head. They both stayed down after that. I heard a loud screech and looked around. The sun was setting behind the horizon. 

 "Shit!" I yelled. I had a half an hour before it was nighttime. Half an hour before the Dusks would be out. I started to run in the direction of the camp, tripping over my feet before I got into a full sprint. The camp was only a mile south, but I didn't know if I could make it in before the sunset. The good news was I was in a desert that led straight to the camp; so I could run straight on without being interrupted. The bad news was there were buildings all around that sunk into the sand where Dusks loved to hide. My tall physique and long legs made me more noticeable.

 I ran as fast as possible, but it seemed like the faster I ran the darker it got. Given where I was before I started. I estimated about a quarter of a mile left and roughly 20 minutes tops until I made it back. I stopped when I tripped over something. There, by my blood stained boots, was a sign that said "San Francisco, 6 miles." I went pale. We used this sign as a landmark when we went out for the day. That meant I had at least a half a mile or more to go. At least fifteen minutes more before I was safe. I started feeling droplets hit me. I looked up to see the clouds above me. "Damn, just what I need, is to be slowed down," I whispered. I heard the screeching getting closer. Since it was raining, it got darker. Meaning the Dusks are out and near me. With the half a mile I had left, I picked up my legs and ran the fastest I ever did in my life. 

 The camp was in my sight, surrounded by a building or two, with woods on the outskirts of the desert. It had an electric fence to keep out the Dusks, but we turned it off before we left and no one came back yet. I was a few yards away. I could hear running and howling behind me. The Dusks are here. I ran up to the fence door and opened it, slammed it shut, and latched it. I ran up to the power panel at the side and flipped the switch. The fence buzzed to life. I sighed in relief but noticed the door to the building we stayed in was wide open.  

I stood in the doorway of the building. There was some shuffling on the floorboards. Someone, not something, was making it. I got my handgun ready. I entered and looked both ways. To the left was the end of the hallway. The right, the hallway entered into a living room type area where some of us slept. There wasn't a lot of us after all. I moved down the hallway and into the living room. There was no one there. Just a couch, some sleeping bags, and a small television. I looked around and heard a cough from the next room over in the kitchen. I stepped through and entered the doorway leading to the kitchen. I saw a man, looking through the fridge. He had brownish the shish hair and was a bit shorter than me. I pointed my gun at him.

"Who are you? I have a gun!" I shouted. The guy got startled and hit his head on the fridge door. He put his hands up and turned around. Judging by his face, he was older than me. At least in his forties. He had bags around his eyes and the blood vessels in them were noticeable. He looked tired and intimidated by my gun.

"I'm not looking for trouble," he started saying in a deep, raspy voice.

"Shut the fuck up, I ought to' shoot you now just for invading my cabin!" I hollered at him. He backed up as I edged closer to him.

"Get in the living room and sit down!" I ordered. He looked at me confused and in a daze. "Now!"

He did what I said, and walked past me as I pointed the gun at him from behind. I led him to the couch like a prisoner.

"Another fucking scavenger," I whispered under my breath. He sat down and looked at me as I sat down next to him and looked him up and down like a guard dog for a minute.

Why was he here? How did he get in? I was sure we locked both the fence and the building. The building had no back doors or any windows. It was part of a safety procedure so Beasts and Dusks just don't waltz in. It was the only thing the supposed leader did right. Well, at least I don't answer to him anymore. Funny enough, this building was built four years ago; when I was 17. Well, it still was being built, but it almost completed. It took us a year to get as close as we are now. Back then, we slept in a nearby building until it finished. While having one or two of us to keep watch while the others slept. We had limited number of people and supplies. Some of us worked on the building while others went out to look for supplies; wood, bandages and such. Both tasks deemed important, making it take even longer. We went out to get food I always went out with them. Unless it was a special mission, then I made sure I was the first to sign up. At sixteen, holding a gun and killing made it more fun. Some of us came back, some of us didn't. I remember one time I was a survivor from a mission gone wrong. It was actually a day like today. It was beautiful out at first. We didn't even encounter a single Beast while looking for supplies. But, of course, clouds threatening rain formed overhead turning the bright sand dark. It turned from a good day to a bad one fast. The Dusks thrive in the dark. It was me and three others on that mission. We had limited ammo. One had a submachine gun, the other two had shotguns. I wasn't trusted enough, so they gave me a handgun. They may regret it now, though.

"I have a couple of questions to ask, and I need them answered, understood?" I told the guy. He shook his head agreeing. "For one, how did you get in here?" I demanded.

"Well, I climbed over the fence, and the door was wide open." He articulated, talking in a deep, raspy voice.

"Must've been Kenny..." I whispered under my breath. Damn it, Kenny, now you're dead and I can't smack you.

"Huh?" He asked, while weirded out.

"Nothing, nothing, but why did you come here?" I questioned him.

"I was hungry, thought you noticed by me being in the fridge," he explained.

"So you're by yourself?"

"Have been for a while."

"What's your name?"

"Uh..." He whispered.

"Now!"

"Elias."

"Ok, Elias, where are you heading?"

"Canada, supposedly there's a refugee camp, survivor or whatever camp up there." I knew about it, but how did he know? That means either it’s fake or everyone else is heading there.

"Where'd you hear that?"

"Rumor I heard it months back."

"Figures, me and my group were headed there."

"Members? Where are they?" He asked looked around the room.

"Dead," I answered.

"Not good members, eh?"

"Yeah."

"You still going up there?"

"I don't know."

"Why wouldn't you?" He persisted.

"Don't know where to start... I'm by myself, that's mostly why."

"We can go together!" He told me. Poor guy. Must be lonely.

"I don't know you," I replied. "You could be a murderer."

"You have a gun, come on, staying here won't help because you don't have any essentials for surviving." He was right.

"Fuck it, why not, nothing here for me anyways."

"When do we leave?"

"Tomorrow."

"Hopefully it won't be raining. I'll sleep here." He laid down in the couch, making me move.

"Oh sure, make yourself at home, why not?" I uttered. I laid down on my sleeping bag on the floor, and we both fell asleep.





                       











Chapter 2

I fell asleep hard. I woke up to screaming ringing in my ears.

"It's time to leave, now!" I heard Elias yelling at me. I finally opened my eyes and got up. I saw him panicking.

 "What's wrong?" I asked.

 "Look outside!" He yelled at me. I opened the door and peered outside. Multiple Beasts broke in last night. The gate door was wide open. 

 "We have to go!" Elias hollered. I grabbed my gun that I left next to me before I fell asleep. 

 "Do you have a gun?" I asked Elias. He lifted up his shirt and revealed one on his side." You had one the entire time?" 

 "No. I found it this morning in a drawer. I found bullets too," He explained, then handed me about ten handgun bullets. 

 "Do you have any?" "Yes, I split them in half, found twenty, plus this thing is loaded already!" We left in a rush. There were a few Beasts outside waiting for both of us. One was outside the door. I shot it after the door slammed into The Beast, and made him fall. I shot the thing in the chest, and blood splattered all over. I kicked the corpse out of my way and walked towards the gate. Another Beast saw me and screeched as it ran towards me. I aimed and shot it in the legs. Then kicked it in the face while it was down on one knee and it landed against the fence, electrocuting it. 

 "Elias?" I asked. 

 "What?" He replied.

 "The electricity is still on; how did they get in?"

 "Beats me, but I guess maybe they knocked the lock loose after slamming on it." He assumed.

 Then, I felt something from behind grabbing me by the arm. I yelled out as I saw it was a Beast. It was an above average one that was taller, and fat. 

 "Oliver!" Elias screamed, shooting the thing in the arm, knocking it off. I got up and ran a few feet away. "Damn Spitters!" He yelled, and unloaded two bullets in its face before he went up and uppercut it. The thing fell to the ground and he put a bullet in the back of its head.

 "What the fuck is a Spitter?" I demanded. 

 "Spitters; they are advanced Beasts that plan an attack on their target. Like Dusks. Except for Dusks run in packs like wolves. These guys are a bigger, fatter, slower version. They also come out at daytime and they are a mutated version of a Beast. They are super rare." 

 "Well yeah. The Beasts did kill billions of people." I replied, then added, "How are we going to get to Canada, genius?" 

 "Survivalists always find ways, my dear Oliver." I couldn't help but agree with him. Going into the unknown, trying to find a safe way to travel, was next to impossible, but we are two people. Two brains. So, I figured there would have to be a safe way to get there. I still had my doubts about it. 

 My brain was fried. Out of everything, I had to live in this godforsaken time. I swore, if I ever got bitten by one of those things, I would end myself. Luckily, I got this far, so what could there be to lose? Nothing. 

 We were walking out of the fenced in area. Through grass, and through woods. Closer to the city it was a lot of desert. 

 "Oliver?" Elias called my name. 

 "Yes?" I responded. 

 "What would the time be at this moment?" I looked at the sky. The sun was beating hot, and it was in the center of the sky.

 "About midday, or 12-1 in the afternoon." 

"Good, that means we have five or six hours before the sunsets." It was the dead end of winter, so the sun still sets early. 

 "Where are we going?" He had yet to tell me his plan and how we would get there. 

 "I assume San Francisco, or what's left of it. There are abandoned buildings, we can stay in one of them for a few days until we find some type of ride to get us to Canada. I know how to repair some stuff, but not cars, because cars are not built to last. I know one thing that might work, though." Going to infested San Francisco didn't sound like the greatest idea. If he can repair something, I'm sure we can get out of here. I doubted anything was repairable.

 "So what will we travel by?" I asked. 

 "Most likely by train," he answered. Makes sense, they are built too last because they weren't commercial. They were used for transportation of goods. Even when we advanced so much, we still kept railroads.

 "So what would we need to repair the train?"

 "Depends. It's much easier than preparing a car. There is no way to jumpstart them anymore since there are no more wires. So, if we don't have a key or it was sitting for a while, it won't start. Not to mention the computer system for theft protection. So, you would need a pin and I.D. to start it. The problem is that there's no chance of finding out a pin for a specific car and the matching I.D card. The biggest shortfall being the inventor put everything on one network. Which, we have no way to access it." 

 "How do you know this?" 

 "Self-taught, I had a lot of time on my hands. Plus, reading newspapers from 2097 and before, and countless written records." 

 "Do you keep them?" 

 "Only a few at a time. I don't want the dead weight to bring me down." 

 "So I guess you don't have any right now?" 

 "Nope, but there's bound to be some in San-Francisco. Maybe a library, and a record building. I haven't checked that far yet."

 "Okay, I guess," I spoke, while slightly disappointed. That stuff interested me. I looked around. We were surrounded by trees. I've never been through here- a shortcut maybe?

 "What time is it?" Elias spoke up. "Hmm..." I hummed. I studied the sky for a second. The sun moved down a little, then I added, "About 2:00 or 3:00."

 "At least three hours," he guessed. "Good, enough time."

 "How long until we get there?"

 "Well we have three miles left, I reckon. So about an hour, hour and a half. If we spend time looking for shelter for an hour, we might just make it. Dusks come out at night, not at dusk. Which is ironic, but we have twenty minutes past seven until it's almost night out. Another ten until all light is gone."

 "Guessing?" 

 "Yep, but I learned I'm not far off from learning, reading, and other stuff." I shook my head. I misjudged this man. He had great survival techniques. He was smart and brave.

 "I have to apologize," I spoke up.

 "For what?" He asked.

 "I misjudged you. You are smart and brave." I admitted. "It's ok," He sighed, "You have to be smart and brave in these times. You have to protect yourself first. I can't blame you."

 "True, but still," I sighed in relief myself. I looked around and saw the light at the end of the woods. It was about a quarter mile away. I knew we were almost there.

 We walked out of the woods and saw dozens upon dozens of cars just sitting there. They were covered in moss, dirt, and other things Mother Nature did.

 "We haven't encountered a Beast in a while," I noticed. 

 "Yeah, because most are in the city," he explained, "Very few travel far enough to get to the woods, without nature getting to them first." I shook my head, and saw a sign that said: "San-Francisco, two miles." We were close. I knew it.  

"What time is it?" Elias inquired. I examined the sun and sky.

"About 3 or 4," I guessed. My guesses were always at least an hour off, so giving an idea of what time it is within the hour is the best we have.

"Let's assume it's four. So we have at least 45 minutes, which would run at 4:45, giving us an hour to find shelter. It would be about 5:45, with it starting to be dark at 6:30, we would have 45 minutes to spare."

"Can we find food?" 

"If there is any, we would have 30 minutes to spare, if not, we will have to go without."

"Without?"

"Deal with it, if you had food back at the cabin, you wouldn't be hungry." That's right, I haven't eaten in a day at least. Actually, that's why we left yesterday before I had to run back, to find food.

"If not we will find some tomorrow, I need to eat too," Elias admitted. I guess if you're a survivalist, food should be a big priority, but it's not in this case. Which I can understand. Because it will be dark in a few hours, and we are not even there yet. We had two miles left. We didn't run fast because of the Beasts, at least I didn't. I think the sound of footsteps alert them. Even though there isn't any around now, they can come out of nowhere. It's happened on several different occurrences, just to me alone. I did wonder if it happened to Elias.

"Elias?" I spoke up to him.

"Yes?" He replied to me.

"Have The Beasts ever come out of nowhere? Like hordes of them?" I inquired.

"Yes, several times, why?" He wondered.

"It happened to me quite a few times on missions in the group I was in," I explained.

"Yes, they are attracted to the smell of blood, loud noise, and human's scent," He articulated. I knew about the blood but I wasn't sure of the latter two.

"I knew about the blood, but not the other two," I admitted.

"I'm sure there’s more," he told me, then continued, "I think they are attracted to meat, not just human meat, but any kind."

"What else?" I asked.

"Maybe more people- which is why you shouldn't travel with more than three people at a time. And it starts bringing the group down," He articulated.

"Anything else?" I pressed.

"Not sure about this one, but water, I noticed more Beasts around larger bodies of water, like hordes on a beach, for example," He said. Wow, this guy must have watched their behavior. I watched as we walked through the abandoned highway, seeing so many abandoned cars, trucks, and such. But then again, the whole water thing could be wrong.

"Hey look, Oliver a police car!" Elias yelled, running towards a car. I caught up to him, he already broke the window.

"Nothing in here, let's see the trunk," He said, like a kid on Christmas morning.  The trunk opened, and we both looked inside. We found a container of fifty handgun bullets. I now had 45 bullets total. We split them, so he had 35 bullets. We also found two shotguns, one was a different shape, and longer. Both of them were black and thick. We found the longer gun had five bullets in it already. The other one had four. He let me have the longer one. We continued walking, since most of the cars were in bad shape anyways. So we didn't think about bothering trying to start the cars here or look for engines.  Not that trying to start it would work. Funny enough, there were no dead corpses in any cars, nor were there Beasts. The cars were just abandoned it seemed like. Though it has been 75 years, so I get it. Most of them have left to different places, most likely San Francisco, and a few on the outskirts and the woods.

"Elias?" I spoke to him.

"What?" He responded.

"How long have you been traveling alone?"

"At least a few months. I was scoping out for survivors to go to Canada with me, but I wouldn't take more than three or four with me," He told me. I shook my head and stayed silent. He was looking for company. Something we both needed.

"How far are we from San Francisco?" I asked.

"Mile and a half- I can see some towers now!" He replied, then added, "Look up!" I looked up and I was shocked. Many towers haven't even fallen yet. I assumed they were built to last for many years. Mother nature has done her work with it. The highway started forming into a small moss covered desert. We came up to another sign. Elias wiped it off with his hand and it said: San Francisco, 1 mile. We saw a bridge dead ahead of us.

We walked up to the bridge. It had a few Beasts walking on it. You could see a few giant towers ahead. The bridge was destroyed halfway through.

"What is this bridge?" I asked.

"The Golden Gate Bridge. It's about a mile and a half across," Elias explained, then added, "Shh, a few of The Beasts are ahead." I knew that. I could see several of them walking around, but they didn't seem to notice us. Yet.

"Let's not waste more ammo unless it's needed," I whispered to Elias.

"Agreed. There's a walkway under here." He pointed to a sidewalk that led under the bridge. We walked under the bridge and there was a giant walkway with only a few Beasts. We would only attack if they came at us. They were a few yards away and I think Elias and I silently agreed to be as quiet as possible. As we tiptoed over any debris that was in our way. We made some noise while moving, but the bridge was rickety; there would be no way around that. With all the holes, it was only a matter of time before it collapsed completely. The Beasts were a few feet away at this point, and the hole in the bridge was behind them.

"I have an idea," I whispered to Elias.

"Shoot," He responded.

"We shove those two into the water below."

"Let's do it!"

"On the count of-" I started saying before I saw Elias shove one into the water, then kick the other one down. It made a small splash noise but nothing to worry about.

"Ok, I guess you had it," I whispered. We came up to the giant gap where the bridge separated. "What do we do now, genius?"

"We walk on the steel that supports it."

"Are you kidding? It's dangerous!"

"The only other way is to jump, and I guarantee you won't make it across." He was right; this still was a dangerous idea, but I went with it.

"I'll go first." He got on the steel pipe and walked, balancing himself out. He was like a trapeze artist from a circus. He made it halfway, with his arms balancing himself out.

"You go!" He shouted, but in a quiet tone. "Don't look down!" I huffed and got on the pipe, following him and trying to not look down.

He got off and I was halfway at that point. I looked down to see a deep blue sea under me crashing into the beams that were holding the bridge in place. I started freaking out but composed myself. I was deathly afraid of heights, but I had no choice. I reminded myself I was almost there, with a yard to go. I moved, focusing on my steps and balance. Then, when I was finally at the edge of the other side, I jumped off.

"Wasn't that hard was it?" Elias laughed.

"I'm never doing that again," I whispered at him.

"Oh, I can guarantee we will do it again before we get to Canada," He admitted, thinking it was funny. I just looked at him and rolled my eyes. "I estimate a mile left!" We were close.

We walked down the abandoned bridge, which had nothing on this side. The sun was still high in the sky. It wouldn't start setting for a while yet.

"What time is it?" Elias asked.

"About 4 or 5," I replied. I was already guessing.

"Good, at least an hour to find food and shelter." Finally, food. I was starving at this point. We came up to a hill, which came out from under the bridge. "Oliver, welcome to San Francisco."





Chapter 3

We were finally in the ruins of Old San-Francisco. Some of the buildings were collapsed, some were still standing tall. Some were covered in moss, growing trees and plants out of them. The whole city was turning into a desolate wasteland. I wasn't surprised by this. I was never allowed to go this far, not even with my group because, "I was just a kid and would be in their way."

"You haven't been here yet?" Elias asked when he saw my look of wonder.

"No, my group treated me like a kid," I explained then sighed.

"Don't mind them, they were only trying to protect you and themselves." He told me, then patted my back.

"I'm twenty..."

"And I'm 45."

"You don't look it." I lied. I just needed a friend. He looked like he was in his mid- 50's.

"Yep, but I know you're lying, you thought I was older, didn't you?" He smirked.

"Did not!" I lied.

"Well, who cares." We walked further and we came to a three-way fork in the road. One went forward, the other two went right and left. "What time is it?" He asked.

"4:30 or 5:30."

"Good, we both can find food and shelter. Each of us should find one of those things." He pointed down one of the paths. "You take right, I take left. We shouldn't have to push forward. The deeper we go, the more likely hordes of those things will come." I shook my head, but maybe I wanted to take left. Who made him in charge? He went on his way as I went on mine.

I walked to the right. There were a lot of abandoned cars, but I saw no Beasts. They could be anywhere, and come out of hiding so I tried to stay alerted. They are attracted to my scent, and the sounds I made. I was sure to encounter another one soon. I always had to be prepared.

I passed many stores and hotels which were all abandoned and destroyed. I came across one store that had many clocks in it. I peered into the darkness of it and could see some of the clocks somehow still working. Then, a white, misty hand touched the window. I jumped back as it started to disappear. The thing is, I was paranoid; like something bad was going to happen all the time. It wasn't anything to do with the Beasts or Dusks. It was something else.

I cracked open the glass with my gun. I stepped inside and saw many clocks, watches, batteries, and more. A watch was still ticking. After all this time. It said, "5:15," on it. I was off. It turned five as soon as we got here. The weird thing about this was the clock had a black spot at 7. I had no idea why. I picked it up, and it was connected to a charger.

"Weird," I whispered. I unplugged the charger and put it in my pocket. I turned the watch around, it had writing on the back. It said: "The most accurate watch EVER! This watch not only tells time but shows when the sun rises and sets." This was perfect. I snapped the watch on my wrist. I didn't have to estimate time anymore, but how was it charging? This confused me.

I made my way through the store, and I saw two doors; one leading outside, one leading somewhere else. I opened the outside door. I saw solar panels and I went up to them. They were new like someone just set them up. I looked down, and they were clean. I looked under it. There was a key. Thinking I might need it, I picked it up. I wondered who, or what set these panels up. I should tell Elias. I went back in and went to the other door. It was locked. I put the key in and it opened up into a big hallway, with three doors; one straight, and one on each side.  I went straight and opened the door. It opened up into a big kitchen and living room area. Someone was living here, or maybe someone still is.

I got excited at the thought of it. There was a freezer and a fridge too. By the sounds it made, it seemed like it still worked. I opened the fridge and all it had was water. I opened the freezer, and there was meat; recently frozen. Someone used to live here. They left in a hurry by how it looks. There was a couch and even a TV. I was excited. We had plenty of food and water here that might last the rest of our journey. Let alone having another person to travel with. I checked the room to the left of it back in the hallway to see what else there was in this place. It had empty cans, and a bed on the floor. That was it.

Then, the smell of dead meat and urine filled my nose. I went back out. It was coming from across the hall.





                        







Chapter 4

I walked towards the door; my heart beating out of my chest. I haven't inspected this room yet, but the smell scares me. I knew that smell. It's the smell of death. I twisted open the door handle and peered inside. It was a bathroom with the lights still on. From the solar panels. It had a toilet, white tiling, and a sink with cupboards, a mirror, and a bathtub. On the sink, I saw a note. I looked at the bathtub, and it seemed fine, but the curtain was drawn.

I walked in and headed to the sink. I picked up the paper. It was a letter. It said: "To whoever finds this. I'm sorry you had to find me like this. There's no point in living. I rather die now rather than die by one of those things and be reanimated. I can't I'm sorry." He didn't sign his name.

I read it in shock and horror. I looked at the bathtub and drew the curtains open while closing my eyes. I didn't want to open them. I opened them finally, and in the bathtub was a dead, bloated, greenish body covered in moss. Its head fell into the water with the rest of the body. There was blood in the water, and on the tiling next to the bathtub. I saw a revolver sitting on the floor between the bathtub and the sink. I gagged and started to freak out. This was a half rotted, half eaten corpse covered in maggots and other bugs. Sure I dealt with Beasts, but this guy killed himself. I did feel sorry for him. I would doc it too if I was in that situation. I heard of people doing this, but I have never saw it. Now I wish I didn't.

I left that room and left the shop. It was 5:43, 17 minutes until I had to meet Elias back at the spot. I wasn't sure if I should tell him. I mean if I came up empty handed he might be mad, but if I show him, I don't know what would happen. I should tell him. Not about the corpse in the bathroom, but that I found a place to sleep, and I did find food. We could cook it since we had the solar panels and not worry about getting sick or undercooked meat over a campfire. I rushed back where we would meet, next to the bridge.

I waited and waited. It was now 5:50. I still didn't encounter any Beasts. That didn't mean he didn't. I was worried and grew more so as the seconds turned into minutes. It was 5:57. He should be here. I mean we have three minutes, maybe he's late. I shouldn't have split off from him. Something bad happened. I knew it. I felt it.

5:58, the minute hand turned. Oh, god, where is he, I knew I shouldn't have let him go alone. He could've come across a horde of them. I don't know. Those things might've eaten him alive.

The minute hand turned 5:59. I was panicking. Where the hell was he? If he becomes a Beast, will I have to kill him? He is a human being after all.

6:00. I was sweating. My mind went to the monsters and what they were. Those Beasts were all human at one point. We are killing humans. Are we the bad ones here? Am I bad a person for killing my fellow man?

6:01. He's still not here yet. Keep your cool, Oliver, I thought to myself. His timing may be off. Maybe he lost track of time or his estimations were off. He did ask me for the time. I mean the clock was set at 5:15. So he had to be a few minutes off.

6:02. I heard loud groaning and hissing.

"Oliver!" A voice screamed. I looked up. It was Elias, he was being chased by dozens of Beasts. I aimed my shotgun at them.

"Don't bother," he continued, "There's too many! I hope you found a place!"

"Follow me!" I hollered and led him while running to the clock shop. The Beasts followed close behind. We ran up to the clock store and entered. I led him to the door, as the Beasts were right behind us. Elias went in first, and I was right behind him. I struggled to close the door. I had to shoot a few of the Beasts arms and faces to get the door too close and lock.
                        




Chapter 5

We both caught our breath. With those Beasts slamming on the door we didn't know if the door would last or not. Elias ran into the door that led to the kitchen and living room.

"Oliver!" He shouted. I was still catching my breath, and still out of it. Should I tell him? I went into the room he was in.

"What?" I asked.

"We scored big here didn't we, bud?" He answered while he was inspecting the freezer.

"I see you found the freezer."

"Yeah, man, this can last us for weeks. Only thing is we can't bring it all with us. How about we stay here for a week, and what's left we bring with us!"

"But doesn't meat attract the Beasts?"

"Not if you put it in an airtight package and mini cooler; they won't smell it then." He was right. We just needed to find a cooler and a few air tight bags. I'm sure we could worry about that later. I'm sure we could stay for a while at least; to get some rest. The banging on the door was still going.

"Well, Elias, I need to tell you something, well, show you something." I told him.

"Well, show me," He sighed. I led him to the bathroom. You could still them groaning in the clock store. The banging stopped. Because those things gave up. I opened the door first, and he followed behind. I pointed to the bathtub.

"Damn," He sighed then went closer to the body. "He recently died."

"How do you know?" I questioned.

"He's still decaying."

"What do we do?"

"We ignore it, if we need to go to the bathroom, we go outside. If you need to wash up, I'm sure there's running water somewhere; due to the electricity we have."

"We don't just ignore it..."

"Yes, we do!" He shouted.

"What do you expect me to do, sleep with a rotting corpse?" I yelled back.

"Yes! Now just forget about him! This bathroom is off limits, okay?!" He stormed off to another room. I just looked down in shock before I left; locking the door before I closed it.

The groaning out in the clock shop was still going on. They knew we were here. They were waiting for us to come back out. I walked back in the kitchen and living room space and he already had the TV hooked up and playing. It wasn't loud enough for the things to hear it, and to hear us for that matter. He was watching "I am Legend" with Will Smith.

"Will Smith was a great actor wasn't he, Oliver?" Elias exclaimed. I just nodded. How could he just forget the corpse? Is it past trauma? Either way, he was hiding his past. He wouldn't tell me now. I have no idea how to get him to open up to me. He just kind of stared at the TV blankly as the movie was playing. Like he was one of the beasts.

The movie seemed to predict the future well. Except for the fact that it actually didn't, but there are key elements in it that're happening now. I wondered about it for a second, then shook it off. I was being paranoid about Elias' intentions. I don't think he had the best intentions in mind for either of us. He is still in shock over what he went through. I have no idea what it was, but I wasn't prepared to find out either; yet.

"Oliver, why are you just standing there? Sit down," Elias spoke up as I was still thinking.

"Sorry, it's just, I was thinking. I got distracted. What are we doing again?" I asked.

"Nothing until tomorrow."

"Why?"

"Don't feel like it," He answered and looked back at the TV. Of course, he was the lazy and laid-back type at night. During the day is when stuff gets serious. I just sat down on the couch, and I nodded off to sleep.





















Chapter 6

I woke up to the sound of gunshots and stuff shattering. I looked around to see the door going into the hallway, has fallen completely apart, like a giant ox ran into it. I looked over to the kitchen to see Elias and a giant, mutant looking thing fighting. The thing was about seven-foot-tall. It had tentacles coming out of its sides. The thing was completely grotesque and rotted to the point of seeing its insides. Like its organs, meat, and bones. I could only see the side of its face. It was hissing at Elias, then with one of its tentacles, it grabbed him by the throat, and slammed him on the counter. It hadn't noticed me yet, since its senses seemed basic, but still more evolved than a regular Beast. The thing still looked like one, except bigger. And more evolved, yet, it still looked stupid like one. I got up off the couch and pointing my handgun at it.

"Oliver, help me!" Elias screamed in terror. It looked up and noticed me, it threw Elias against the fridge and made him tumble to the ground. I saw its face. Its face covered in blood, which I assumed it was from the handgun blasts to it. One eye was missing, but the other still intact. The rest of the face was rotting, the thing looked at me and walked over to me. I started unloading my gun into its head, with nothing happening. I ran out of bullets, the giant Beast went to slap me with a tentacle and I rolled out of the way of it. I reloaded again, and this time, I targeted its tentacles, with two on each side of its body. I shot it five times, and the thing stumbled back, then I heard two guns click from behind it. Elias had two shotguns in his hands. The thing turned around and Elias unloaded all the bullets into the things tentacles until he ran out. The three of the four fell off it, and it kneeled down in pain, then made a loud roaring sound. Then I unloaded five more bullets into the last tentacle, and it got back up, targeting Elias again. I then reloaded, and then it slapped me from its behind, without even looking at me, making me crash into the TV. I could hardly see anything as my vision was blurry, and my ears were ringing, until I was knocked out cold. 

 I woke up and was covered in a blanket on the floor. I looked around to see everything destroyed and fallen over, like a house robbery gone wrong. I didn't see Elias, I got up, and I felt a quick jab in my leg. I fell to one knee, then got back up, walking slowly, still in pain. 

"Elias?" I shouted his name, wondering if he was here. No answer. Guess he must've gone out. I checked the time on that watch I had, and it said 12:00 PM. I did get worried wondering where he was. I noted my handgun on the table, but my shotgun was on the floor, split in half, the monster destroyed it. I'm assuming if he did go out, he took both of his with him. I grabbed my gun and noticed it was loaded with only five bullets. I went out of this room and checked that bathroom, where the corpse was. The corpse was gone. I thought about it for a second. What if that giant, mutant, beast was that corpse? Either way, there was no sign of it being anywhere. The only evidence was everything in this small apartment being half destroyed. I checked the other room. Just as I thought, the corpse of that thing that attacked us last night was laying there, it looked dead. But I couldn't trust it if it was the same corpse in the bathtub. In fact, I was sure it was. If it came back once, what would stop it again? I decided to ignore it, since I wasn't touching the gross dead body, at least without help. I closed the door behind me and decided to venture back out into the clock store. I didn't hear anything on the outside, like no sounds of the Beasts being there anymore. I twisted the handle and the door was already unlocked. I went outside it, having my guard up for anything.

I creaked open the door, and opened it completely. There were no signs of anything being there. For a second time seemed to stand still because of how peaceful and serene it felt. I looked around, noting there were no corpses or Beasts anywhere. They must have left. I left the clock shop, making sure if I go too far, to be able to remember common landmarks. I noted the Clock Shop sign, which just said Clock Store on it. I walked around the street. I saw restaurants, small hotels, some skyscrapers in the middle of the city I could see from here. I walked around and went down to the bridge where we came from. It was still rotting away. Then I went straight from there, as it was unexplored area still. In the middle of the street was a trolley. I checked it out, and it still worked. I hopped on it, and a loudspeaker came on, which was a tour guide. 

 "Shit!" I whispered, panicking. If any of the Beasts here it, they'll come to it immediately. Their sense of sound is twice as better than a bloodhound. They can hear up to two miles away. They can hear a needle drop in a loud room and still hear it two miles away. That's how good their sense of sound is. Their sight might not be the best, but they still have all their senses ready to go so they can feed off their next victim. I hopped off the trolley, and it ceased the sound. I walked up the trolleys route would've taken. There were more restaurants, bars, that type of stuff. I got to the end of the street, and there was a giant building, behind two connecting roads to the street. I walked up to the building. A giant, gold-plated sign said: "Federal Technological advancements."  Under it, it said in big bold letters: "Authorized personnel only!"  This must have been a tough building to get into. It had walkways from the building, some elevator looking things on the side. Either way, I was going in. 

 I walked up the walkway to enter the building. There was a fingerprint scanner of some sort by the entrance. To let people in, at least the ones that are supposed to be there, of course. I wouldn't be allowed in, if it wasn't for the fact we live in a dead world, I wouldn't go in. Now that there's no one here to stop me, I will go in and investigate. I was curious. I was going to find out stuff about the past. Maybe even what caused the outbreak. I couldn't be too sure what was in there. I went to the fingerprint scanner and pressed my thumb on it. As expected, I got the typical "Access Denied." And then, all of a sudden, a giant alarm went off, and then, I heard something creak open. I looked around, and the ground to my left moved and opened, revealing a staircase. Then, I heard something growl from below it, then it closed again. I wasn't too sure what existing thing on this planet could've made that noise. Nothing, not even the Beasts or the Mutant one we fought last night could've made that noise. I decided to head back, as it was already 2:00 PM and maybe Elias was there wondering where I went. I headed back the way I came, and in the middle of the street, I saw Elias, and he was looking around. He hasn't noticed me, but I saw him. I walked down further, him getting closer, and he still didn't notice me. I was ten feet away from him, and then he turned around and saw me.

"Oliver! I was wondering where you went!" He shouted at me. 


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