“Is that all of them?” Marco asked.
Vera surveyed the pile of un-moving bodies at their feet, then slunk down along the wall into a squat. “What the fuck, man. What the fuck. How is any of this real?”
“I don’t know,” Nick said, adjusting what was left of his shirt.
Marco was fumbling shells back into his shotgun, reloading it. “Everybody okay? Nobody bit?”
Ashly shook her head. “No. But we should try and find a first aid kit for my wrist and Vera’s arm.”
“And my leg,” Josh said.
Marco cocked an ear towards the hall. “There’s rooms on either side of the hall, but I can hear something moving around in there.”
Mythic: Are the party going to be completionists and investigate every room? Yes, 33%, no 64%.
72. No. We remain focused on escaping.
“Let’s not borrow more trouble than we have to,” Josh said, taking the holster and revolver from a dead security guard zombie and clipping it to his belt.
The first rooms on either side turned out to be bathrooms – devoid of useful supplies, but the water was still running and Nick was able to wash the grit out of the innumerable small nicks and cuts he’d sustained in the elevator fall. The others did likewise.
Vera chuckled as she washed the gore from the grip of her revolver. “Thing works better as a hammer than as a pistol. I think I got maybe one shot off. Missed.”
“I didn’t even have the chance to pull the trigger,” Nick said. “But you dropped what – three yourself?”
“Something like that,” Vera said. “But we got lucky. One of those things bites us…”
“We don’t know that they’re that kind of zombie,” Josh said.
The others slowly stopped what they were doing and turned to give him a look, almost in unison.
“Yeah, you’re right.” Josh said.
Marcus cocked his head, listening. “More in the room next to us. Whatever happened, it’s probably throughout the building.”
“Why are we even here?” Ashly asked, on the verge of tears.
“Maybe it’s connected to whatever is behind the zombies,” Nick said.
“Zombies don’t make any sense,” Ashly said. “Even when it comes to movie monsters its made-up bullshit.”
“And yet,” Vera said. “Here we are.”
“Don’t you start your bullshit,” Josh said.
“Is not bullshit. It’s… činjenica. A truth. Accept what’s in front of your face.What’s happening. Not wasting time saying, “Oh this cannot be.” Because it is. Why? Don’t matter. How? Don’t matter. Right now, we deal with getting out of here alive.” She finished scrubbing her hands. “Worry about how and why when we’re safe.”
“Right.” Marco hoisted the shotgun. “Let’s head to the end of the hall. You see more of those things, you need to shoot, you shoot. But make it count. Take your time, aim, pull the trigger. These things are slow. But they get close, or you don’t think you can shoot without hitting a friendly… do like Vera.”
“Do like Vera is a general good policy,” Vera said with a smirk.
Marcus grinned. “Let’s go.”
He led the way past supply rooms, offices, a generator and security room. Shuffling sounds could be heard behind several doors, but none of the lights were on, save the promised “Exit” at the end of the hall. There were a few more bodies – none animate – smears of blood, and another dead guard.
Marcus took the pistol from the last, handing it to a reluctant Ashly. “Whatever happened, happened fast. During the time we were in the elevator.”
“An hour at most,” Vera said. “Christ.”
Furniture had been set up in a barricade at the end of the hall. Partial, incomplete, smeared with blood, but a barricade never-the-less. Marco took a quick look through the doors, then gestured that the others should follow.
Nick followed into a massive stairwell, easily fifteen feet across. Moans could be heard echoing from the floors up above, though not immediate enough to be threatening. Still, the five of them moved as carefully and as quietly as they could manage, up to the ground floor.
Vera gave the door a tug. “Locked.”
Marcus nodded, leveling the shotgun at the knob. “Get ready to run.”
“Ready,” Josh and Ashly said in unison.
Nick nodded, standing just off to the side.
Vera took a last look up the stairwell. “Do it.”
The sound of Marcus’s shotgun blast reverberated up the stairwell. He shouldered the door open and Nick followed, almost tripping over him when Marcus stopped dead in his tracks.
Beyond Marcus was the lobby, literally crawling with the walking dead, a thin pool of blood spreading out over almost the entire floor. Nick scarcely had time to estimate that two dozen moving corpses were slowly turning to face them before Marcus shoved him back into the stairwell.
Mythic: Do we try to fight our way through the lobby?
“Up, up, up!” Marcus urged.
“What?” Asked Ashly.
“The shotgun told all of them where we are!” Vera protested.
“It’s worse in there,” Nick said, half-turning, seeing that the lobby doors were swinging back open, that there was nothing to block them with.
“Shit,” Josh said, staring past him.
“Move,” Marcus said. “They’re slow, but they are coming.”
The next floor’s landing was devoid of zombies, and when Marcus went to the doors Nick took a fearful gander down towards the lobby entrance. A few of the walking dead closest to the stairwell had only just stared stumbling out.
“Shit,” said Marcus, backing away. “There’s a bunch right on the other side of the door.”
“Where are we going?” asked Ashly.
“Maybe we try to force our way to the door?” Josh suggested.
“We barely made it past the half-dozen in the hall,” Marcus said. “And the lobby’s so open – they’d be coming at us from all sides.”
Nick backed away from the stairwell, where the first of the dead had reached the bottom steps. “Up to the roof.”
Marcus nodded. “It’s the most defensible position. And if there’s any rescue coming we can get an airlift up there.”
“Up a dozen floors?” Josh asked. “Past who knows how many dead?”
“Not all in a horde, though,” Marcus said. “We come across one or two at a time, mob them, take them down. And if we find more… something tells me they don’t handle stairs too well.”
“And if there’s more on the roof?” Ashly asked.
Nick backed away from the rail. “I’ll take ‘maybe zombies on the roof’ over ‘definitely zombies coming up the stairs.’ Let’s move!”
Marcus led the way up to the next landing, where a single zombie office drone in black slacks and a white shirt was making its clumsy way down the stairs.
“Get ready,” Marcus said, tracing the zombie’s passage with his shotgun as it descended, unsteadily, step after step, almost toppling with each one.
Josh shot first, missing.
Ashly did not, the zombie’s left eye disappearing into a pulpy mass just before it fell.
Everyone aims at the zombie.
The zombie stumbles down the stairs, and halfway to the group.
Josh fires at the zombie’s head. (+3 aiming, +1 all out attack, -5 for headshot, -2 for range, net -3.) Miss. 3/5 shots left.
Ashly fires at the zombie’s head. (+3 aiming, +1 all out attack, -5 for headshot, -2 for range, net -3.) Critical hit. 16 damage. HT roll failed, zombie drops. 4/5 shots left.
“Holy shit,” Nick said, lowering his gun. “Nice shot, Ash!”
Ashly held the firer’s posture a moment before tilting her wrist to look at the weapon. “Yeah, I… yeah.”