Category Archives: Mid-Afternoon of the Dead

The gang have to fight off zombies to survive, only issue is that the gangs NOT all here.

Chapter 7: Finding Michael  

“MICHAEL!” We all shout in excitement having finally found our missing friend. Michael jumped back in surprise at seeing a whole group suddenly in front of him, then, realizing it was us slowly pulled himself forward.

“Guys what’s up you come to work out with me?” Michael asks with a smile. We all stare silently unsure of what to say at this point.

“What?” Michael places his hand on his face, feeling around to make sure he didn’t have anything on it that didn’t belong there.

“Dude what are you doing,” I ask looking at Michael’s work. His cell phone was connected to a pair of earplugs and laying on the counter behind him next to the blender he had been filling with fruits and other ingredients.

“Making myself a smoothie before getting back to my workout,” Michael explains as he continues about making his shake. “I can make you guys one if you want, you want to wait five minutes after drinking it before you start lifting though, that gives the protein time to kick in.”

“Dude do you even realize what’s happening right now?” Ben practically shouts trying to imply the seriousness of the situation Michael is apparently completely unaware of.

“Um no,” Michael stammers looking up for only a moment to display the slightest look of interest and confusion before turning back around and tossing three slices of peeled kiwi into the blender.

“Dude it’s the zombie apocalypse!” Ben sharply explains. This catches Michael’s attention and he stops to slowly turn back to us.

“Wait, seriously?” He asks. I’m surprised at his reaction and the fact that he is so quick to believe us, even aside from all the pranks we’ve pulled on the guy a zombie apocalypse isn’t usually so easy to incite to someone without having a half-rotted walking corpse right in front of them.

“Yes!” Ben enunciates throwing his hands into the air. “How do you not know this!?” Michael takes a deep breath as if preparing to relay a long story.

“Well,” he starts. “I got here at 9am and went through my usual routine, half-an-hour on the treadmill, half-an-hour on the stationary bike, then rehydrate up here with a high energy shake. Then I move onto some stretches to loosen up my body before I hit the weights…”

“I don’t mean your routine dude, I want to know how you could possibly miss the concept of the zombie apocalypse happening in and outside of this building!”

“I’m getting to that!” Michael says with a hint of annoyance towards Ben for interrupting. “Anyways, after my stretches are done I come over here to get my high protein shake; this helps build more muscle once I start lifting.” Ben growls and gives Michael an evil glare, a non-verbal cue that Michael better hurry up with the story. “Ok well basically I come over here to order it and then something comes over all of the TVs at the same time, it’s the news. So I’m trying to listen in right? Then the dude making my smoothie flips the blender on making me miss the whole story. So I turn around and people are like rushing out of here.”

“And that didn’t trigger anything with you?” Ben asks his words thick with judgment.

“Well I wasn’t going to ruin my workout just cause a bunch of people leave, plus I was waiting on my smoothie.” At this point all of our faces are buried deep into our palms in embarrassment. “ As I’m waiting though the dude making it stops as an announcement comes over the speaker saying that all the staff is to leave everything where it is and to go to their homes because of some kind of emergency. Anyways the guy starts to leave and I’m like ‘hey dude what about my smoothie?’ and he just tosses me his keys and walks out the door saying something about making it myself.”

“And you didn’t think YOU should leave?” Quinn exclaims.

“Nah bro, like I said they said all staff was supposed to leave, they didn’t say subscribers had to go.”

“I like how you use the word subscribers instead of customer,” I chuckle noting Michael’s choice of words.

“So yeah, I’ve just been chilling here since then working out and drinking smoothies.” At this point Michael turns back around and continues his blendable concoction. I turn to look at Ben who looks like he’s about to explode.

“Why didn’t you answer our calls?!” His voice booms and resonates throughout the room bouncing off the various workout equipment, and ringing off the metal. Michael looks at us, then reaches past the blender and picks up his phone. We watch as he unlocks it and goes to the recent calls tab a little red circle above the missed calls section reading the number twenty three.

“Oh,” Michael muses and then clears the screen. “I changed my settings so that when I’m listening to music notifications for calls and texts don’t interrupt, helps me get into the zone you know.” Ben began to growl with annoyance when Caleb suddenly raised his hand.

“Guys do you hear that?” He asked looking worried. The room suddenly went silent as everyone held their breath. Sure enough they all could hear something coming from downstairs. The group slowly tip-toed their way to the door and opened it, from down the stairwell they could hear the sound echoing up the incline: growling, deep guttural growling; there was only one thing that made a sound like that: zombies a lot of zombies. Ben pushed past us and looked over the edge of the wall separating us from the deep drop to the first floor. We followed and joined his eyes with our own to experience the sight below. Zombies, about thirty at least, all piling on top of another attempting to get up the stairs, some managing a few stairs already thanks to their friends pushing them upwards in a mindless attempt to get the delicious flesh we featured.

“How are we going to get past that?” I breathed not taking my eyes away from the horror below. Ben stares at me eyes wide with fear.

“I don’t know.”

Chapter 6: Mr. Swimtastic

We stare through the glass door looking in every direction possible for any signs of danger.

“Looks clear to me,” Caleb whispers. I slowly open the door and peak out, still nothing. Then putting my right foot out, and my left foot out, I step onto the wet tile floor. I stand there alone, the others inside the door still awaiting my signal. As I’m about to motion to them I stop, there is a shuffling sound to my right. I turn to look and see the lifeguard station collapsed but moving. I motion for everyone to wait as I make my way towards it, floaties and other swim gear piled alongside it covering whatever was causing the movement. I put the sword I’m currently holding back into its sheath and quickly remove the longest one; with this I have the longest reach. I hold it out in front of me; I am now only two and a half steps away from the moving who-knows-what, I reach out with my weapon and using the tips toss some of the debris into the air. I quickly jump back as the unknown lurches towards me revealing itself. I find myself looking straight at a very muscular lifeguard zombie, a pair of swim-trunks covering his lower half with their brand name reading: “Mr. Swimtastic.”

My friends must have noticed my surprise because only a second later and they are by my side weapons at the ready. I hold out my arms to show them everything is ok and they stop to view the oddity in front of me. The man is trapped under a heavy enough object that he cannot get out and simply reaches for us his eyes glazed back in undead blindness, he cannot see only hear; mindlessly he shifts, occasionally kicking his legs in an attempt to remove the wreckage that rests atop him.

“Hm,” we all hum as we watch the creature struggle.

“What should we do with him?” I ask looking around for ideas. Caleb steps forward and reaches into his jacket and pulls out one of several large and well-sharpened knives.

“I got this,” he claims as he raises the knife high above his head reaching out as much as possible to avoid getting too close to the enemy below. When he decides he is at the right spot he lets go of the blade; we watch as it falls towards the monster’s head. There’s a quick clinking noise as his blade lightly grazes Mr. Swimtastic and then his the floor; the zombie, being attracted to sound, quickly throws his head towards the blade and begins to gnash his teeth in its direction trying to get a bite at his would-be attacker.

“Ha! Try again!” Quinn scoffs at Caleb as his friend stares sadly down at his failure.

“Now I can’t get my knife back,” Caleb lightly cries realizing that reaching for that knife would potentially get him bitten which was the last thing he wanted to do. Suddenly we hear a noise; a loud grinding coming that echoed through the room, bouncing off of every wall. The echo kept us from being able to pinpoint the location of the noise but looking around we knew it obviously wasn’t anything in here.

“C’mon,” Ben shouts rushing back towards the changing rooms.

“Wait what about this guy?” Caleb stands pointing at the undead lifeguard. I stop in my rush to follow Quinn and Ben sword raised above my head and slice down quickly lopping off the monster’s neck and everything attached.

“There,” I shout. Caleb bends to pick up his knife while I return to following the other two, just before leaving I grab a towel off the shelf by the changing room door containing hundreds of towels; I grab one and use it to wipe off my blade before tossing it and heading out of the pool room.

We quickly make our way back through the locker room and into the front lobby.

“I’m guessing it came from upstairs,” Ben shout back to us as we run up to the second floor. There’s no need to be quiet now, any undead in the area had to have heard that sound and are going to be focusing on that rather than us.

As we reach the top of the stairwell we find ourselves on the cardio floor offering ellipticals, stationery bikes, treadmills, and other similar equipment. We take a quick look around and see nothing but the equipment.

“It must be the next floor,” Ben states already spinning around and stepping onto the first step. Suddenly we hear it again, a loud grinding noise.

“Is that a blender?” Caleb asked as we rush up the staircase.

We make it to floor number three, the top floor of the building. Inside we see weight-lifting equipment: bars, lifts, and weights all neatly organized throughout the room. We come around the corner and see something at the far end of the room, the smoothie bar. As we come closer we notice movement behind it, then the noise again.

“Gggrrrrrrr,” we all jump in surprise. The sound WAS a blender and someone behind the bar was operating it. We approached weapons drawn and at the ready awaiting any sudden movement. The person moved quickly, too quickly for a zombie; grabbing a banana, pouring a small amount of protein into the blender in front of him, then spinning around to grab some more fruit causing him to find himself staring right into our eyes.

“MICHAEL!”

Chapter 2: On the Road

We walked down the dirt path outside of Quinn-Land; interestingly enough that’s literally the name of the town. We had stopped for about an hour in the village to grab supplies before we left, thankfully Quinn had managed to spare us some of his highly protected coin to pay for our general needs on this journey. He didn’t, though, give us enough money to get ourselves some horses which made me more and more annoyed with each tired step I take.

“You know what would be cool?” Ben suddenly chimes up.

“What’s that Ben?” I ask with a huff of exhaustion. Amazingly enough Ben carried a massive bagful of his wares along with us hoping to sell some weapons throughout this travel.

“What if we started a guild?” Ben states excitedly.

“What kind of a guild?”

“Like a mercenary’s guild, we could be soldiers for hire.” I nod lightly at this suggestion thinking it could be an interesting business to venture into.

“I like it,” I smile.

“Yeah? What about you guys?” he turns to Caleb who walks to the right of him and then looks back at Michael who is close behind. Ever since we left Michael has been closely watching and following the rogue keeping his hand on the hilt of his sword ready for Caleb to spring at any moment.

“What kind of money is in it?” Caleb whispers just loud enough for Ben and I to hear.

“Well it depends if we can make a name for ourselves,” Ben chuckles. “In fact if we really get going on this we could start making a reputation for ourselves during this quest.”

Michael clears his throat. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.” He states simply.

“Oh and why’s that?” Ben muses at the knight’s statement.

“Our mission is to find and capture this Jonathon and return him to lord Quinn, we should not be stopping for any other reason.”

“So you’re telling me that if you saw a child about to be viciously beaten by a plains troll, that you would just walk on by without helping him? Doesn’t seem very knightly of you,” Ben’s smile becomes an evil grin as he plays the part of the devil’s advocate.

“Well…I suppose I would stop in a situation like that…”

“And that’s exactly what I’m saying! Making a name for oneself can be easy and you can easily do it without taking too much time off your current goal.”

“Well I suppose,” Michael grunts.

“If there’s money in it then I’m in,” Caleb smoothly states. I swear I see a small smirk form at the corner of his lips.

“Well honestly I was planning on quitting as Quinn’s wizard anyways, so yeah I’d love to join,” Ben smiles proudly as I say this.

“That’s wonderful!” Ben shouts in happiness and turns back to Michael.

“Well sir knight, you’re the only one who hasn’t said anything yet what would you say to my offer?”

“My duties are with Lord Quinn,” he says dutifully not turning to even look at his addresser.

“Awe c’mon you can’t tell me that ole Quinn and you are that chummy,” Ben laughs.

“I am quite fond of the man,” Michael says not faltering his focus in any way.

“Oh? You say you’re quite fond of him eh?” Ben chuckles and glances in my direction with a wink causing me to burst out laughing.

“Now what is this?” Michael shouts turning towards Ben and I who are now both laughing uncontrollably. Michael stops and an angry frown erupts from his face.

“I’m sure you….and Quinn are just….best of pals,” Ben can barely make out his words between fits of laughter.

“Yes quite good buddies indeed,” I say with a wink followed by Ben and I toppling to the ground in hilarity. Suddenly Caleb himself begins to laugh a deep-throated booming laugh startling us all.

“HA HA HA I’ve changed my mind I definitely want to work with the three of you!” Ben and I pick ourselves up from the ground, this guy might be a little creepy but he doesn’t seem so bad. We continue to laugh at which point even the knight himself has cooled down and gives a little grin.

“I can see this journey being quite entertaining, and if we must stop then let us, but I can’t make any promises on your offer,” Michael says with a smile and continues walking.

“A maybe is good enough for me,” Ben states happily as we catch up to the armor-clad man and walk down the road with a slightly stronger bond than before.

Chapter 5: The Ladies Changing Room

As we cruised through downtown making our way towards the gym where we hoped our missing friend was hiding out. Quinn lay at Ben and my feet as we rock back and forth to Caleb’s crazy driving. Quinn continued to whine but all we were focused on was the road. Suddenly an idea jumped into my head, I reached forward and hit the power button on the radio and on popped a familiar sound: music. Thankfully the radio stations hadn’t quite gone down yet. We all smiled as the music played on, and chuckled when each song ended and there was awkward dead time where the host was supposed to be inserted.

It wasn’t too long before we reached the gym which was pleasantly empty aside from a handful of cars making it easy for us to find the perfect parking spot. As we neared the front door we saw it, Michael’s car; the silver one with both back handles broken off. He claimed it was because he was just too strong for his own good, we really didn’t care. All of our hopes sprang up when we saw the evidence of Michael’s locale.

Parking the car we paused for 3 minutes looking intently out of each window to make sure nothing was coming, and by nothing I mean zombies. The time passed slowly and to be totally honest I started to get bored.

“Can we go now?” I huffed, sitting back in my seat. Ben slowly leaned back not for a second taking his focus from the window he was looking out.

“Yeah let’s go,” he replied but his mind was in another place. I slowly, and as quietly as possible, opened the door attempting to silence the click as I pulled the handle. It slowly swung open and I stepped out one foot at a time looking both ways as I did and pulling my sword out my short sword a little ways just in case. Nothing, I set the rest of myself on the ground and took three steps forward giving Ben some room to exit. Caleb crept out the front door and pointed his handgun out in case of danger while Quinn grunted as he sat up shotguns hanging by his sides and his hands in his armpits attempting to massage the pain away.

“Ow,” he cried as he pushed himself out of the vehicle. We all turned around and shushed him then quickly returned our focus to the matter at hand. The door was about 10 feet away, automatic doors that should still work, it was too soon for all electricity to have gone out. Sure enough they did and we entered the gym.

The first floor contained the information desk where one could set up their subscription to the gym and work out any other information. Behind that was stairs to get to the rest of the buildings floors; the gym didn’t offer elevators for the sole reason that stairs are better exercise, a clever concept I suppose. Behind the stairs was a brick wall with two open hallways leading left and right; the right one was for the ladies changing room, and the left for the guys because behind that brick wall was the pool.

“What’s the plan?” Caleb asks us as we find ourselves all standing in front of the info desk looking around as if expecting something bad to happen.

“It’s really quiet in here,” Quinn notes still holding his pits but based on his look of amazement it would seem that his pain has since subsided a little.

“Alright here’s what we’ll do..” Ben starts.

“I swear if you think we’re splitting up here and now…” I mutter.

“No no you’re right no splitting up,” Ben assures and we all sigh with relief. There are four floors in all counting the basement which would mean each of us would have to take one and I was definitely not planning on doing that.

“We’ll just take one floor at a time starting here, if anyone hears or see anything do NOT refrain from letting the rest of the group know it could mean life or death.” We all nod in agreement as Ben finishes his speech.

“Oh and one more thing,” he adds as we’re about to turn away. We all look at him intently knowing that whatever words come out of his mouth could lead to the success of this mission. “Be Quiet!” Again we nod and slowly start making our way towards the pool entrance.

“You go first,” Ben whispers motioning to me, causing my heart to leap into my throat.

“Why do I have to go first?” I complain trying to be as quiet as possible in concurrence with Ben’s recently made rule.

“Because you decided to be Mr. Melee and thus have the quietest weapons of us all, if anything comes out of there I don’t want to have to alert anything else around whilst killing it.” It was a valid point and I had no choice but to agree. We slowly made our way towards the wall and I began removing my shortest sword from its sheath, I started o slowly veer to the right but when I looked behind me the other guys were heading left paying no mind to the direction I was subtly moving towards.

“Guys where are you going?” I whisper rather loudly. They turn towards me and start looking around as if confused.

“Well, I mean it’s the guys’ changing room, it’s just habit.” Caleb states matter-of-factly.

“Dude everyone is gone, it’s our big chance to get to go into the girls’ changing room!”

“Yeah but if there’s no girls around here then what’s the point?” Quinn states.

“He makes a good point,” Caleb nods.

“Plus,” Ben starts to add. “Even if there are girls in there they’re probably zombies and I don’t think I wanna see a naked zombie chick to be totally honest.”

“Yeah but I mean it’s worth a shot right?” I ask practically begging for the chance to go inside. “Plus I hear they deck out the girls’ section really well.”

“What do you mean?” Caleb asks. By this point everyone is standing around without a care in the world simply having a conversation as if the world wasn’t ending.

“Like they put nice couches and stuff in them, I don’t know but I WANT to know!” I look around pleading with the others to join me.

“I mean maybe we find some nice smelling shampoo or something,” Quinn chimes in. We all turn to look at him our eyes sending judgment glares his way.

“What the heck, why not,” Ben finally agrees and the rest of the group faces my way. I slowly make my way inside my back against the wall being as sneaky and cautious as possible. I look around the corner; inside are the typical toilet stalls, shower heads, etc all looking just like the guys’ shower room. A mirror sits on the wall directly across from the stalls just above a row of sinks, all the stall doors are conveniently open and thanks to the reflection in the mirror I can see that they are all empty. I stretch my neck to see if there is any other notable detail before proceeding; nothing, no fancy couches or complimentary packets of makeup and conditioner, just a typical changing room.

“Well this is disappointing,” I sigh depressively as I pull away from the wall and walk straight in lowering my sword to waist-height. The others follow, each dropping a hint of their guard as they get a better look inside. We walk through quickly realizing there’s nothing special here and, at the end of the room and around another corner, we find the glass door leading into the pool.

Chapter 4: The Plan

Ben is the first to exit; being the most tactfully experienced it makes sense. Followed by him is Quinn, then Caleb, then myself. No zombies in sight. I figured the ones that had went for us and were hitting the door must have attracted the ones within hearing range to them so they were all in front. Focusing our hearing my theory was proven true, we could hear what sounded like a massive group around the corner still thumping on the window. Ben held up his hand, motioning to stop us, and turned to speak.

“Ok here’s the plan,” he whispered making sure to only be loud enough for all of us to hear him. “We should be able to sneak past them if we’re quiet enough, once we make it to the car I want Skyler and Caleb to get in first, Skyler you drive.”

“Why can’t I drive?” Caleb asks with a hint of whine.

“Caleb this isn’t the time,” Ben coughs attempting to cough down the frustration. “Skyler once you’re in the car start it.” Quinn hands me the key which I accept. “Once it starts that’ll make some noise which will obviously bring the zombie’s attention to us, so I’ll get in and Quinn you’ll get in last.”

“Why do I have to get in last!?” Quinn begs thinking about his potential fate if he doesn’t get in before the zombies get him.

“Because you’re the one with three shotguns giving you the ability to blow them all away if they get too close.” Ben reassures with a wink a smile as if almost jealous that Quinn will be the first to potentially take down some zombies. We readjust our line with Caleb and myself in front; my sword readied and he with a knife in his right hand held with the blade facing away and in the other a handgun cocked and ready. Quinn and Ben walked nearly back-to-back behind us Quinn facing towards what was about to be the large group of zombies, and Ben facing the other way ready to take any that might be coming from the other side. As we approached the corner we all took one last deep breath before Ben loudly whispered, “NOW!”

I took off speeding towards the front of the car my eyes and head quickly darting back and forth to each side checking to make sure there were no zombies in my immediate area. Behind me I could sense Caleb following my steps being as silent as possible and covering my back. Every part of me wanted to slow down and take a quick look around but I knew there was no time; my only focus needed to be starting this car.

As I came around the van I was thankful to see there were no zombies waiting to surprise me on the other side, I quickly opened the door and hopped in. Behind me the side door opened and I could hear Caleb breathing quickly partially from the run but mostly from the exhilaration. I reached out to close the door and cringed at the loud thud as it swung back into place. I had to look. I twisted my head around to include the passenger side window in my vision; a large group of zombies were mindlessly bumping into or slamming their arms against the shop, about four heard my door and turned around starting to head towards us. Quinn and Ben were still outside making their way around, I could see Quinn nudge Ben’s shoulder and motion so Ben would see the one’s starting to move towards the car.

I snapped out of my observance and turned back towards my job. I quickly slid the key into the ignition and the van quickly jumped to life, I jumped in my seat; things had been so quiet up until now, even the car door slamming wasn’t THAT loud, but the car booming upon startup was like a cannon going off. I quickly swung around to watch as every zombie began to awkwardly turn towards us, hungry intent clearly visible in what was left in their dull rolled back eyes. Ben and Quinn’s pace quickened and they were at the front of the car. Ben motioned for Quinn to wait till he had gotten in before swinging around and jumping into the car. Quinn slowly backed away as the zombies came closer and closer.

“What the heck is he doing?” Ben asked as he leapt over the front-seat divider. We watched as he stood outside the car, faced us, and giving us the thumbs-up.

“What the…” but that’s all I can get out of my mouth as Quinn quickly shoulders the two shotguns around his back and fired them both. It was a mixture of laughter and horror as Quinn flew backwards from the impact of two guns knocking him to the ground about 5 feet away. Ben and I barely stifled a laugh before we realize the danger Quinn is in. Looking back to the group of zombies we find ourselves fairly surprised, the number of still moving zombies was cut in half some of them literally cut in half from the shot. I busted out the door and Ben leapt back and pushed his way out the side one. As we rushed to Quinn’s side we could hear him moaning in pain.

“You dumbass,” Ben scoffed as he and I grabbed each of Quinn’s arms and started pulling him backwards back into the van.

“Uggghhhhh,” Quinn moaned as we lifted him in.

“Caleb! Drive the car!” I yell as we lay our wounded friend across the floor and get into our seats.

Chapter 3: Between a Shop and a Hard Place

I feared the worst as I was jolted backwards and a voice yelled, “Get in!” I saw Caleb rush towards me but lowered his stick as he raced past me. Why wasn’t he helping me, I cringed as I looked up expecting the end when a familiar face greeted me; it was Ben. The door to the shop was being held open by Quinn who I suppose had managed to get Ben’s attention, and Caleb was rushing past as Ben pulled me by my jacket collar into his store. He let go once I passed the door’s threshold and collapsed letting the fear leave my body in long deep breaths. I could hear the door slam shut and a click as the lock was re-initiated, I sat up.

“Why didn’t you radio me!?” Ben asked his hands flailing around in frustration.

“What radio?” I was confused.

“The incredibly expensive walky-talky I got for this exact reason!” Ben continued to shout but I still sat there confused. “The one in the cabinet above the stove in the apartment, I set it on the right channel and everything so that you’d be able to contact me while I’m in here in case the doors are locked!” Suddenly it came to me, it was a part of the plan Ben had recently added that I had totally forgotten about. I’ll be the first to admit that I have a terrible memory, and Ben never shared the information with the others because it was a somewhat complicated piece of equipment that he didn’t want to waste time re-explaining to the other guys.

“Oh yeah,” was all I could manage. Ben sighed with frustration and went back to prepping the guns. I looked around the shop; cabinets, shelves, and drawers all opened to the fullest extent and most of them absolutely bare. Those that weren’t empty featured only a few wood-chippings or empty ammunition boxes. One shelf remained completely stocked though; it was the non-lethal section that held the pepper-spray and Tasers. I looked over at Ben who was leaned over the counter, the one he as an owner typically stood behind while running the store, which was totally covered in guns and boxes of ammunition. He would set a gun in front of him with a pack on ammo directly under the butt of the gun, then removing the clip he would fill the magazine with the ammo form the previously mentioned box until the box was either empty of the magazine was full, then slapping that clip back into the gun he would set it on the massive pile of other firearms he had already made it through and move onto the next one following the same process as before.

“So what’s the plan from here?” Caleb asked always being the curious one. He sat eagerly on a display case while Quinn looked through the various munitions testing the sights and weights of the guns.

“Hard to say since we don’t know where Michael is at.” Ben stated not even for a second taking his eyes off of his process. “We could just wait here for him to show up, that is hoping that he thinks to come here and not try to leave town with everyone else.”

“Where IS everyone else,” I asked finally getting up off the floor and moving my way towards Ben and his work.

“As soon as the news went out for the first time this morning there was a large but very brief panic. Families immediately left to find a safer place and to seek out other loved ones, while others took the opportunity to grab some free stuff and run.” Ben relayed the facts to us like Captain Ahab did when telling the crew how the great white whale stole his leg.

“Wait so if this all was happening this morning why didn’t you call us sooner.” I asked with a hint of annoyance about not being informed of a world-wide happening sooner.
“I was busy!” Ben states, setting the gun he was loading down and finally looking up from his work. “First there were a bunch of people rushing into my store to buy, and in some cases attempt to steal, my guns. I sold some stock and to quell the masses started handing out my backroom reserves of the non-lethal stuff hoping that would get them out so I could lock up and wait for you guys. It worked on some but others were smart enough to realize that pepper spray won’t hurt zombies and were pushy about getting a gun. I didn’t want to sell anymore because for one I was out of crappy stuff I didn’t mind getting rid of and also because money isn’t going to be very useful once everything goes to hell so I told the people to go bring me useful things like knives or food or else there would be no sale. This got rid of almost everyone but then I had to deal with some thieves.”

“How’d you do that?” Caleb asked innocently.

“Take a look out back behind the shop,” Ben chuckled.  Caleb winced wishing he hadn’t asked that question.

“Anyways that’s the gist of it now we need to decide what to do from here,” Ben states finishing the last of the guns in his pile. He also had another pile off to the side full of bows and arrows, and a small pile even further down on the cabinet of knives.

“Well the main thing is finding Michael,” I state in all seriousness. The others nod in agreement and stare at me waiting for more information. “We can’t contact him through cell phone and the internet is down as well.”

“Not that it would really help if we DID have internet,” Quinn chuckles. “Since Michael got rid of his iDentityBook account.” We all chuckled, Michael was very specific about his social media and which ones he would and wouldn’t use, iDentityBook was one nearly everyone in today’s society was using but Michael, possibly in an attempt to seem hipster, had chosen to stop using the tool.

“Wait,” Caleb hopped up and raised his finger to illustrate that an idea had entered his head. “He’s probably at the gym!” Everyone’s eyes lit up at the same time this was a really good point Michael was always working out, since it was practically his job, so where else would he be but at the gym. The gym was a big place and in fact was a big feature to the city we lived in, people from nearby towns and cities actually drove all the way down here to go there and work out because of the physical health programs they offered, the equipment, and the smoothie bar. The only issue for us was that it was a ways away, and judging by the occasional thud from the window we could easily guess that the zombies from earlier managed to make it to the shop and weren’t planning on leaving.

“Ok so we go check the gym, but how do we get out of here?” I ask looking to each person for answers.

“Well we can always take the back door to avoid the ones out front,” Ben says pointing to the back of his shop. “The only tough part is getting to a car without running into the zombies.”

“We have all the guns and ammo we could possibly need why is it such a problem?” Quinn asks speaking for the first time since we made it inside.

“Quinn makes a good point; we can go out the back door shoot down what’s immediately in our way and then take the car from there.” Ben planned. We all nodded and Ben started packing away his guns. “We only have to take what we need now and we’ll come back for the rest once we get Michael.” Ben stated strapping three holsters to his belt; two on each side and one in the back each carrying a handgun in each. Quinn loaded up with two shotguns slung across his chest and one in his hand making him look like a suburban Rambo. He was about to shove an extra handgun in his pocket when Ben stopped him and pointed out how he should be plenty prepared with what he was already carrying.

Caleb and I took a couple hand guns each which we both strapped to our ankles. I can only speak for myself but I hate being weighed down by guns, my forte is melee and that’s what I’ll stick with the guns are simply for emergencies. Once we were packed and Ben had grabbed a bag with some things he decided were a good idea to bring along we were set. Ben pulled out his keys and we lined up at the door waiting anxiously for him to twist the key and turn the knob releasing us into the unknown alleyway behind his shop knowing that there could be any number of zombies waiting for us on the other side.

“You guys ready?” Ben asks flirtatiously knowing how nervous we are. We each give him the “hurry up and just open it already” look before he chuckles to himself and opens the door.

Chapter 2: Get to ‘The Gunner’

“So what exactly is the plan?” Caleb asked as we drove down one of the many backstreets attempting to avoid as many crowded areas as possible.

“We’re gonna stop by The Gunner, grab Ben and some guns, and then go look for Michael.” I repeat for the tenth time. I turned to look at Quinn to make sure he was doing ok, he was our designated driver because he claimed he was the best at handling a vehicle than the rest of us; we didn’t necessarily agree but we let him have his desire.

Caleb nodded silently as I re-adjusted the swords I had strapped to my belt. It was a collectible samurai set, with the three-differently sized blades, but I always kept them sharp specifically for this day. Caleb carried three large knives and a thick stick he called The Slammer that he had been training with for the last month and a half. Quinn had Alchmophobia, the fear of sharp objects, which in his case was specifically related to knives; being as the only things we had were knives and a couple useless blunt objects at the apartment Quinn decided he would just go without until we got to Ben’s and he could get a gun.

We had attempted to get ahold of Michael multiple times and were continuing every 10 minutes but we couldn’t get anything which made us want to move even faster, and eventually the phones gave out which we were expecting. We sped through seeing few survivors and so far none of the undead of course we were avoided populated areas as much as possible. Finally we took the left at the final intersection that takes us into town, as soon as we did so the apocalypse was evident; windows were smashed and looting was evident. Thankfully we had found out about an hour or two later than most others, because that’s when Caleb’s shift had finished and he was able to come tell us, so we avoided a lot of the initial chaos but that also means we missed out on some of the best loot. When I saw the mess around us my heart dropped a little thinking about what could have happened to Ben’s shop in the craziness, but thinking about how aggressive Ben can be if he’s pushed to it relieved my fears.

We drove a couple blocks before we pulled up alongside Ben’s shop. The sign across the top reading “The Gunner” was the same as always still featuring big teal letters and the businesses character: The Agent, standing next to the ‘r’ in Gunner pulling a massive handgun out of the inside of his tuxedo.

As we hopped out, Caleb and I quickly scanning the area for the undead, I turned to see Quinn putting change into the meter next to our car.

“Dude! What the heck are you doing!?” I whispered harshly trying not to be too loud and potentially attract any living or dead.

“Sorry dude, old habit,” he said realizing what he was doing. We turned towards the shop and I reached for the handle, locked. Of course it’s locked, Ben wouldn’t want looters and of course the zombies. I immediately went for my phone but replaced it into my pocket remembering that phones are useless right now.

“How are we supposed to let him know we’re here,” Quinn huffs with frustration as he begins to pace. I look into the window but no luck; he has the metal anti-theft blinds down. Caleb takes a long stride towards me and starts to slam on the door making a light thudding noise on the bulletproof glass.

“Dude stop!” I shout grabbing his arms and pulling him a couple steps away from the glass.

“What? I’m trying to let him know we’re here!” He shouts. I grab his mouth to quiet him and quickly look around, scanning for any invited danger.

“Dude you’re making more noise out here than you are inside, we don’t want to be stuck out here telling all the zombies that we’re here!” Caleb loosens his muscles and I remove my hand from his mouth.

“Ok my bad, but how are we gonna let him know?” Caleb asks leaning against another car parked in front of our van.

“Beep! Beep! Beep!” the car alarm begins to honk and the entire block of shops and other buildings causes the noise to resonate down the entire street. Caleb jumped off the car landing precariously on one foot nearly falling to the ground. I whipped out my sword and started frantically looking back and forth my blade following my gaze. Suddenly I saw them, about six, zombies coming around the corners of another shop about two blocks down. I quickly looked over my shoulder to make sure there were none behind me before focusing my attention towards the ones ahead of me. They were fairly clean for zombies, must be recently turned and each with only a little noticeable bite mark on either their shoulder or near the lower part of the ankle. They weren’t rotting and neither did they make much noise except for the occasional gargle in the back of their throat, probably their body continuing to reject the fluids that make up the rest of us living breathing people.

Quinn backed to the door and started to frantically beat upon the wood, pulling at the lock hoping maybe the lock would just remove itself. Caleb, after pulling himself from the ground, pulled out his stick and held it in the direction of the oncoming undead. As the dead slowly came closer with nothing else in mind except for reaching us, others would randomly pop out from various open buildings and from around dark street corners and alley-ways; I counted nearly twenty at this point.

Suddenly I felt a hand on my back, in horror I pulled away and fearing a bite attempted to twist myself to avoid being anywhere near any possible head causing me to fall to my knees. The hand was strong though and wouldn’t let go. I was scared, the zombie apocalypse had just started and here I was going to be the first to get bitten what a waste.

Chapter 1: The Beginning of it All

“Die, damn it, DIE!” Quinn was screaming at the TV again. His screaming had rudely awakened me and I slowly sat up from my bed rubbing the tired from my eyes. I looked over at the Spider-Man alarm clock my mom had gotten me just before I had started college a few years ago. 4 o’clock.  I suppose it was probably about time I got up anyways.

I walked over to the apartment’s only bathroom and closed the door behind me. It’s nice living with all guys because I rarely had to lift the seat. I released my liquid waste into the bowl as I stood patiently waiting for the stream to end. Suddenly, I heard the front door fly open and slam against the wall on the other side. Someone ran in and a second later Quinn started yelling, whoever was out there was messing with the TV and Quinn was pissed. I zipped my pants up and walked out into the hallway. Caleb lay on the floor, Quinn atop him, holding the remote and flipping through the channels on the TV while Quinn attempted to wrestle it out of his hand. Caleb pushed, his hand on Quinn’s face, fighting off his larger opponent his eyes focused on one thing though: the TV. He continued flipping through channels as if his life depended on it and Quinn was simply an unnoticeable obstacle.

“Dude what the h…”

“There! Just watch!” Caleb yelled throwing the remote across the room, pushing Quinn off him, and leaping to his feet all in one motion. I turned to look at what he had managed to accomplish with this whole fiasco. Disappointment weighed upon my face causing my eyebrows to droop in annoyance and my eyes to squint to match, the news. Caleb made all that fuss to watch the news; at least it wasn’t sports news but seriously. Quinn just became more furious and leapt for the remote, Caleb’s fast reflexes let him leap faster and snatched it up Quinn landing on his left shoulder nearly smashing his head into the wall behind them.

“Just listen!” He yelled as he narrowly dodged Quinn’s fist which landed a hard slam onto the carpeted floor.  He rolled towards the couch and Quinn and I sat down next to him, as the news reporter talked Quinn sat next to me giving up on his murderous intent.

“…I repeat an outbreak has occurred of the X1Z1 virus which causes the death and then reanimation of anyone infected. Please remain inside and do not attempt to leave your home at all costs.”

“I never understood why they think that’s the best decision,” I stated coolly.

“Dude be serious,” Caleb shouted with intensity in his eyes.”It’s the freaking zombie apocalypse! We’ve been preparing for this our whole lives! All the books…”

“And if you had actually read any of those books you’d know that the first rule is not to panic.” I said trying to calm Caleb down. We both turned to look at Quinn who stared at the TV, his face void of any happiness or positive emotion of any kind.

“Hey bro it’s ok we’re going to make it, we’ll be fine.” I reassured him. He slowly turned his head and looked at me, the horror in his eyes increasing causing them to grow wider.

“It’s not me bro, what about Michael.” As soon as he said it my mouth dropped open, he was right if there was anyone in our group that was less interested in the whole zombie prepping thing it was Michael. He had ignored our packing and planning and warning of his not packing and planning.

“Where did he say he’d be all day?” I asked worrying more and more for his safety every second that went by. Quinn was about to answer when suddenly my phone rang. We all turned to it the same idea running through our heads: I hope it’s Michael.

I pulled it from my pocket and looked at the caller ID; it was Ben, I answered.

“Dude did you hear the news!?” Ben excitedly shouted into the phone.

“Yeah bro, zombie apocalypse,” I confirmed. Ben was the one person that we had the least amount of concern for partially because he owned a gun shop but also because he had military experience and was the most prepared of any of us for a situation like this.

“It’s about time,” Ben replied. I could hear the sound of guns being loaded and cocked in the background.

“Sounds like you’re getting ready.”

“Yep, when you guys coming over?” He asked as if this was all part of his plan, which honestly it probably was.

“Well we were just freaking out because we have no idea where Michael is.” I inform him. I look around at the nervous faces of the other apartment dwellers unsure of what to do. Since Michael was never part of the planning and typically worked from home we never had thought to plan an emergency setup in case he wasn’t around when the virus broke out.

“How about this: you guys grab the car and swing by the store and pick me up, we’ll load up with the rest of the weapons I’ve got, and then we’ll go looking for him.”

“Alright sounds good bro, see you in 20 minutes.” I hung up the phone and turned to the other two both with worried quizzical looks on their faces. “Get your bags guys we’re heading out.”