zombie chapter teaser: the first reports
That was the word that came to mind when the first reports came in. It had been a relief to think that it wasn’t a big deal. That something so trivial and far away could in anyway affect him. It wasn’t until later when he thought about it again and realized how foolish he had been.
Joseph Strife had been sitting in the middle of the campus dinning commons. The large rooms had several televisions through out it and each one was displaying the bruin’s hockey game. Many people were simply grabbing a quick bite to eat and checking the score before moving on to their next class. The dozens of large tables were filled with students all chatting and laughing, some shouting abusive words towards the other teams goals or encouraging the B’s leading scorer to another goal.
Joseph on the other hand was not paying close attention to the Bruin’s game. His eyes were transfixed on his screen. He had a paper due in an hour and was just looking up the last bit of information he needed to make the final changes to it before heading off to class himself. Rubbing his eye and glancing up from his work he happened to see the giant of a defensive player Zdeno Chara wind up for a one timer which rocketed towards the net at blinding speed. Running his hand through his buzzed down hair and groaning with the rest of his classmates at the missed shot Joe returned to his work.
He had been puzzling over the wording to use for his paper for the past night and finally he thought he had the perfect quote to put in. It was an old African proverb he had stumbled upon on one of his favorite websites and it seemed to fit perfectly into his paper. He had just begun looking up the proper way to cite it in the paper when the chair next to him was pulled out and an extremely large man sat down next to him.
“What’s up Joe? Still working on that same paper that kept you from the party last night?”
Not even bothering to glance over he simply smiled and nodded
“What else would keep me from watching the Bruins right now Thor?”
The big man laughed patting Joe on the back with such force that he nearly was knocked off his seat. Thomas Odinson or Thor as he was known earned his name his freshman year. While hanging out with some of their other hall mates they had all begun asking about which sports everyone played in order to learn a bit about each other. Upon hearing that he had been one of the greatest High school hammer throwers in the country and knowing a bit about comics from his youth Joe had jokingly started referring to him as Thor. This had been well received by the big man and seeing as he stood a surprising six foot ten inches tall the name seemed to fit. The name caught on quickly and stuck so well that Joe sometimes believed he was one of the few people that actually knew his real name.
Yet despite having known him for so long Joe was still sometimes amazed when he saw him. His towering figure dwarfed that of Joe’s. Who, despite being of average height, still stood over a full foot below him. Even his own fairly muscular body looked like that of a child’s compared to Thor. Even so this didn’t seem to completely satisfy his desire to gain more strength and over the past year the work he had been putting into the gym had shown results. Thor had managed to some how add an extra 10lbs of muscle to his already huge frame. This coming even after he was cut from the schools team. Joe never got the full story out of him, and after their last talk about it he wasn’t sure he wanted to, the one thing he did know about the situation was that his father had been very heavily involved. Even with this setback his determination never waivered and ever since he had been removed he’d begun to obsess over the gym spending as much time there as his body could possibly allow. Even with all the strength he had he kept pushing himself, and on more than one occasion he even pushed himself into a state of near collapse.
But that was the thing that made Thor one of Joes closest friends. He had a drive and motivation to push himself just as hard as Joe did, possibly even harder than Joe as of late. And though this did sometimes lead to confrontations between the two it was nothing that they didn’t get over very quickly. It was just in their competitive nature, whenever they were together they always pushed each other to new limits. Be it in a class they had together or in the gym. Even so the two had been extremely close since freshmen year when the two had been roommates and they were nearly inseparable.
Joe was quickly brought back to reality when Thor spoke.
“Yea?” He said not looking up.
“Joe. You need to look”
“What?” He said only half listening. Though was sure had heard something in his voice he didn’t recognize but he was busy trying to work out this citation.
“What!?” Joe yelled in frustration finally looking up from his work at his friend. He was surprised to see something on his face he hadn’t thought he would see there. It was the unmistakable look of shock. Suddenly Joe had noticed that a silence had fallen over the cafeteria. Turning in his seat to look around he noticed the same look of shock on others faces. Confused he turned back to Thor.
“Dude what’s going on?”
Thor simply raised his hand and pointed. Joe followed his gaze to the nearest big screen and felt the blood drain from his face. What he had thought was a commercial playing was actually a breaking news story coming in live over the Bruins game.
A young dark haired reporter was standing outside a small restaurant with police vehicles and ambulances rushing around in the background. It was fairly obvious something had happened. But that wasn’t what really put Joe on edge. It was the look on her face. It wasn’t simply the look shock the other students around him wore. It was one of pure and undeniable terror. She was clearly trying to very hard to control herself, and while her voice remained steady her face betrayed her true feelings.
The headline below her read Brutal attacks in Richmond, California.City under lock down. Fearing the worst Joe stood up and walked over to the television set fumbling around for the volume button. He finally located it and turned it up several clicks. Stepping back he and his fellow classmates watched in silence as the clearly shaken reporter continued.
“It began hours ago in Richmond, California with initial reports coming in of several savage attacks on a subway car in the city. According to police a man suffering from severe mental illness had attacked several people on the car leaving several wounded and another dead.” Images of a limping young woman and a man who looked to be in his fifties clutching at his blood soaked arm flashed onto the screen. It however changed quickly to a blurry video of a man facing away from the camera hunched over another blood soaked young male. Joe found it odd that no one else was with him trying to help him stifle the blood that was pouring fourth from him.
“The man was taken in to custody after the savage attacks but not before a violent struggle, which resulted in one officer losing his finger.” The feed changed once again to another shaky video of a man, soaked and covered in blood, being dragged none to gently, into the back of a police car.
“What the hell?” Thor whispered under his breath “How the fuck did he lose a finger?”
Joe glanced over at him he hadn’t been able to tell from the initial video but to him it looked like the same guy they had taken into the back of that car was the same man who had been hunched over the young mans body.
“This however doesn’t seem to be an isolated incident” The reporter continued again her voice wavering this time “Officers now believe however that this was not an isolated incident. Several more attacks one by a homeless man downtown and several outside the restaurant that I am currently standing outside of. Police are trying to piece together exactly what it is that has happened here in Richmond. Due to the nature of the attacks and the mental state of those involved police concerns of some sort of contamination within the city have been raised and the order by the mayor has already been issued to lock down the city. Live on the scene this is Laura Michelson channel 12 special report.”
Silence fell over the students again as the Anchor came back on the screen. “Terrible news from Richmond, California… we’ll bring you more live coverage in just a moment”
“For Christ’s sake I nearly had a heart attack” A tall sandy haired student next to him sighed out. “For a moment there I thought there was some sort of bombing. Built it all up for a couple nutters who decided to have a mental break down at the same time.
“Jimmy!” One of the girls next to him scowled disapprovingly “the cities on lock down! Something really could be wrong there”
“Right” He laughed as he began to walk away.
“Jim!” The girl cursed as she followed after him berating him for brushing this off.
Pushing their conversation out of his mind he turned to Thor who was still staring at the screen.
“Yo, you alright man?” He asked.
Thor nodded a look of concern on his face. He raised his hands and brushed them through his head bringing them to a stop behind them.
“I got a lot of family out there just a little worried that’s all.” He said.
Knowing his friend and how much he cared for his family Joe reached up and clapped his hand on his shoulder.
“Don’t worry about it man I’m sure they’ll work out what’s going on.”
Thor nodded his head slowly as he seemed to slip into a daze of sorts. Joe stood there and waited for his friend to speak. The moments passed by as people began to leave the cafeteria no longer interested in staying now that the game was not on.
“You alright?” He finally asked
Upon hearing Joe speak again Thor seemed to snap out of his daze and turned to look at his smaller friend. He had worn this look only twice before and both times they had been followed by unavoidable moments of misfortune.
“I don’t know man. I just have one of those feelings again.” He frowned. “Something bad is going to happen. And whatever is going on there is going to have a lot to do with it.”
Joe gave him a hard look. He knew better than anyone that when Thor had a bad feeling you follow his instincts. Not only that but he himself had gotten a similar feeling as well. His gut told him something was wrong. He just couldn’t put his finger on it.
“I think we need to head back to the Dorms,” Thor said quietly. “Something isn’t right and I really think that’s the place we need to be right now.”
“Then let’s go.” Joe said. Gathering his stuff quickly he took a moment to pull out his cell phone and check the time. Frowning he realized that his hour till Professor Quins class had all but slipped away. But now wasn’t the time to think about that. He knew his professor well enough and was sure that an email explaining why he hadn’t handed in the paper would get him a days extension on it. Packing the last of his work away he and Thor made for the main entrance.
Thor had once again grown quiet but this time Joe let him be. He knew his concerns for his family were great but that didn’t seem to be what was really troubling him. Nor in fact was it what troubled Joe the most either. Having met several members of Odinson family he was fairly certain that they could handle themselves should one of these nuts decide to go after them. For the most part they were all built along the same lines as Thor, though he out did them all in terms shear size and strength. With the only exception being that of his brother, Greg, who despite being five years younger was only a few inches, and maybe a few years at the gym, shy of matching his brothers height and strength.
No, it wasn’t a concern for the Odinsons family that preoccupied his mind. It was the look on that mans face as he was dragged into the back of the police car. Something had been off about it. There had been no fear, no anger, no emotion that he recognized. Joe frowned and raised his hand to his chin, resting it there as he searched for the word that he looked to describe it.
“I know that look.” Thor finally spoke. “You’re thinking about something.”
Joe let his hand fall once again to his side as he looked up at his friend. They had continued walking though Joe had not been paying attention, his feet guiding him across the campus he knew so well automatically. They continued on through the center of campus following the walkway, which was lined with a many perfectly spaced small trees and a few benches here and there. The campus green, just on the other side of the trees was busy with students as usual as they moved hurriedly across it to their next classes or to their own dorms. Joe ignored them all as they continued to walk.
“Didn’t it seem strange to you?” Joe asked quietly.
“Didn’t what seem strange?” Asked Thor clearly at a loss.
“They never said what he used.”
“The hell is that supposed to mean?” Thor said impatiently. “You always do this you start thinking. You start off on it then get all vague, just tell me what you’re thinking.”
“That’s the problem though,” Joe said. Knowing his friends mood was not being improved by what he was saying. “I’m not exactly sure what I’m thinking here. Just something seems a bit off about what’s going on. I need to go and take a look at that news report again.”
Thor shook his head. Clearly he was still not satisfied with where they were on campus yet and Joe knew from experience his mood wouldn’t improve until they made it to where they needed to be so he held his tongue. Fighting with his friend right now wouldn’t resolve anything and only had the potential to make whatever was coming worse.
They continued in walking in silence each pondering their own thoughts about what they had just witnessed. As they approached their dormitory Joe looked up at the old building to his bedroom window as he always did. It was one of the oldest dorms on the campus standing six stories tall. Large windows lined the sides each one belonging to a different room.
In all there were about six hundred rooms, a hundred rooms per floor. The design of the building was a simple rectangular box with a courtyard in the middle. During the first two years at the school the courtyard had been one of Joe’s favorite places to go but he had since lost interest in it since the discovery of a way to get to the roof, which he often retreated to in order to gain some time alone to sit and think should he become to stressed. He didn’t know why but breathing in the cool, fresh air often cleared his head and there was something peaceful about being able to lay back and simply stare up at the stars.
He had yet to tell even Thor of this spot preferring to have this one area to himself, at least, for the moment. He knew he’d eventually tell his friends about it but there was no need to rush this, they’d all have plenty of time to enjoy the view later.
As they entered the building Joe fell in step behind Thor allowing him to lead the way. As they passed the empty reception desk headed to the right in the opposite direction of their own dorm it became obvious that Thor already had an idea of where they needed to be. Moving quickly down the hall Thor took them to the end and made a left headed down the buildings eastern side. Passing several students in a rush Joe began to realize just how serious their situation may be.
It wasn’t just the look that his friend had worn that had Joe wishing he knew what was going on, it was Thor’s whole attitude. He knew his friend could sometimes have a quick temper but even then he would do his best to control it. And now as the moved quickly and quietly down the hall he noticed for the first time that Thor seemed to be nearly desperate to get to wherever it was they were going as quickly as possible while still trying to maintain that air of calm. But whatever this feeling was it was pushing him well beyond his point of control. His desperation was beginning to show.
“Thor?” Joe asked, “Hey, Thor? Where are we goin-“
“Can it!” Thor snapped coming to a halt. Joe stood there and met his friend’s angry gaze returning it out of frustration.
“Then tell me where you’re taking us.” Joe said forcefully. Thors expression lightened as he looked down at Joe. Joe could tell that he now realized he had let his anger get the better of him. He stood silently fuming as the bigger man averted his gaze.
“Just trust me.” Thor said, looking back to Joe “We need to get to Mysha’s right now.”
“Mysha’s?” Joe asked, slightly thrown off. “Why are we headed to her ro…”
Joe’s sentence trailed off as realization dawned on him. Thor seeing the comprehension on his friends face turned and moved off at a trot leaving Joe in his stunned silence. Joe stood for a moment feeling like an idiot for not seeing his friends plan earlier. Joe had even said it himself, he needed another look at that video, who better to go to for this than Mysha?
“You coming?” Thor called from down the hall. Moving quickly Joe approached the stairwell in the center of the hall where Thor was waiting. Nodding his apology to his friend. Thor knowingly nodded back and held the door to let him pass through first, understanding what was meant Joe moved past him and began hurtling the stairs two at a time moving to the third floor. As he came to the door it opened in front of him and he quickly scooted by a brown haired girl who held it open in surprise of their rush. Heading again to the right they came to a stop outside the fifth door down the hall and knocked.
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