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Part 2: Dis Manibus Sacrum

She could only assume that this was Zephyrus Technologies’ lobby.  It was surrounded on most sides by windows that may have made the room feel open and inviting, if not for the fact that they were almost all broken.  The body of the receptionist lay slumped across the front desk, still clutching the telephone in her claw-like false fingernails.  
I may be the only person still alive, she thought.

“…not go.  It is not safe ou-ou-outdooooooooors,”  said the computer.

“Damn it, I thought I killed you.”

The computer emitted a series of upbeat musical tones before speaking again. “We at Zephyrus Technologies believe in the use of redundant systems to prevent overall system failure.  As a result we have multiple backups throughout the facility…”
She did not wait for the computer to finish its monologue and marched across the broken glass and into the parking lot beyond.  She briefly considered going back and trying to find the computer’s backups and destroy them but decided that it was more trouble than it was worth.  Besides, the thought of reentering that building disgusted her.

Little bits of green poked up through the cracks in the pavement, and she felt secure in the thought that even if she didn’t do anything about the building itself Mother Nature would eventually reclaim it.  The broken glass and cracked asphalt felt rough and sharp against her feet as she crossed the mostly-empty lot to the chain-link fence and guardhouse on the other side.  The house itself was vacant but a humanoid figure seemed to be staggering near the entrance to the lot.  He moved in an odd, jerky rhythm and wobbled slightly.  Perhaps he was drunk.

“Hello?”  she called out to the figure, “are you alright?”  He turned towards her and let out a low, unearthly groaning sound.  His eyes were glassy, his skin was clammy-looking, and he smelled of mold and rotted meat.  “I guess not.”  He began to move towards her, still fairly slowly, but faster than he had been moving before.  “Stay back!” she raised the crowbar in a defensive stance.  He tripped over the guardhouse’s traffic gate but stood up and continued to come towards her.  “I’m warning you, don’t come any closer!”  He reached out and attempted to grab her by the wrists.

The crowbar removed about half of his face when she struck him, a high-pitched screech and semi-coagulated blood oozed from the wound as he fell and began to rise again.  She dashed around him and leapt the traffic gate.  Whatever that thing was, it wasn’t quite human, and as a general rule she didn’t trust things that were almost human.  She disappeared into the forest, hoping never to visit the place again.  

The entire forest rustled around her.  The trees seemed to tower endlessly overhead and smaller plants grasped at her clothes as she passed.  Everything was green and cool and yet it still felt dead to her.  Unfamiliar sounds echoed around her.  She wondered if there were others like that thing she’d encountered in the parking lot.  Her stomach growled and she realized that she hadn’t had anything to eat or drink since she’d awoken in the facility.  Had she escaped just to die out here?  She had traveled far enough that she didn’t know how to get back to the road.  If only she’d planned on what she was going to do once she escaped.  She leaned against a large tree and tried to think.  I could collect dew from the leaves, maybe.  

She was interrupted by a hissing sound and the sight of something moving in the bushes.  She backed up against the tree, clutching the blood-stained crowbar to her chest as if it were some prized possession.  Something large exploded out of the bushes.  She heard a loud crack and it fell, twitching at her feet.

It was vaguely human shaped, but appeared to be missing most of its skin and its legs were much too long for its skinny, sinewy body.  The odor was even fouler than the creature she saw earlier, and it burned the inside of her nostrils and made her eyes water.  She began to feel sick to her stomach.  The creature gurgled through a gaping hole in its neck, the apparent handiwork of some expert marksman.

“Oi, Sheila!  Are you a’right?” called a masculine voice from above.  She looked for the source but only saw foliage.  

“I think so,” she replied.

“Hold on, we’ll toss ya a rope.”  A rope ladder uncoiled from the forest canopy a few meters away from her, and a man wearing a neatly pressed suit and black leather gloves slid down it.  He had short, messy, brown hair and held a revolver in one hand.  He looked like he belonged more in an office building than the woods.

“’Ave you been bitten?” he asked, casually waving the gun, but never directly pointing it at her.  His voice didn’t match the one she’d just heard and she couldn’t place his accent.


“Ze leaping corpse, did it bite you?”

“No.  Nothing bit me.”

“Ah, good, good.”  He tucked the gun into his jacket and approached her.  “Please, forgive my rudeness.  I but ze blood on your clothes was disconcerting, and we must be careful, no?  What is a lady such az yourself doing on ze forest floor?”

“Oi! Wanka!  How ‘bout you flirt after we’re all safely in camp!” shouted the first voice.
The suited man sighed, “but ’e is correct.  Ze forest floor is unsafe.”  He drew a balisong out of his jacket, casually flipped the handle open to expose the blade, and cut a strip of flesh from the dead creature.  She turned and ascended the ladder.  She wasn’t entirely sure these guys were trustworthy, but her options were extremely limited.   Staying with them was probably the smartest course of action, however odd they may be.  

At the top she found a wooden deck and tree house nestled in the forest canopy.  In many ways it resembled a campsite, with several plastic coolers, logs for use as benches, and a fire pit made out of a metal wash basin. Rope bridges lead off in several directions.  
A tall man with long hair and a cowboy hat stood by the ladder, aiming towards the ground with a customized sniper rifle.

“”Lo,” he greeted her without looking up from the scope.

“Er, hello.”

The suited man returned up the ladder, holding the tissue sample he’d collected in a zip-lock bag.  He tossed it into a cooler filled with ice while his friend pulled the ladder back up.   

“So what were ya doin’ on the forest floor?” asked the man wearing the cowboy hat, lowering his gun.  He eyed the massive bloodstain on her pant leg.  “Are ya hurt badly?”

“I didn’t know there was any better place to go, and no, I’m not injured, I think.”  Both men stared at her with disbelief.

“Yer kiddin,’ right?

“I’m sorry?  I don’t understand.”

“No one lives on ze ground,” interjected the man in the suit, “ze corpses would get zem.  Anyway, it is safe up ‘ere, in ze trees.  You must be very tired, no?”

“Yeah, I’ve, uh, had kind of a long day.”  She sat down on one of the log-benches around the fire pit.  The man in the cowboy hat seated himself across from her while the suited one stared out into the forest, apparently watching for more “corpses” as he’d called them.  He sneezed.  A few moments passed in awkward silence.  The man with the cowboy hat fiddled with the fringe on the edge of his poncho.  She desperately wanted to ask them about the creature and their apparent treetop way of life.  
Everything was so different from what she might have expected.  She wasn’t sure what she would have expected, but it definitely wasn’t anything like this.  She wondered if she should tell them about her experiences inside Zephyrus Technologies.  Perhaps that would be commonplace to them as well.

“M’ name’s Simon, ‘e’s Nicola,” said the man with the hat, gesturing towards the man in the suit, “You got a name?”

“Oh, yeah, it’s… uh…” she trailed off.  It had felt so obvious a moment ago, but now nothing came to mind.  “I don’t know.”

“’Er name tag says ‘Jack,’” said Nicola, who suddenly seemed to be hovering over her.  He placed a gloved hand on her shoulder.  His hand was warm even through the glove, and it calmed her somewhat.  She looked down and examined her shirt.  Sure enough, a small embroidered patch read “Employee #48534 JACK” and featured a stylized letter Z logo.

“But, that’s a man’s name,” she said.

“Ah, but we must call you somezing, no?  ‘Ave you anozer name zat you prefer?”
She pondered the suggestion for a moment.  There were worse things she could be called, and, given how odd everything was already, having a man’s name seemed relatively mundane.  “I suppose it will do, at least until I figure out what my real name is.”    

“Odd that ya can’t remember yer name, though,” said Simon.  He struck a match and began to light a fire in the wash basin.

“Yeah, I can’t remember anything before I woke up this morning.  It must be some kind of retrograde amnesia…  Actually, you’re the first live people I’ve seen.”

“Good zat we found each ozer zen.  Ze nights ‘ere are very cold.”  Nicola settled himself on the log next to Jack.  “It is difficult to survive on one’s own.”

“Are you two out here alone then?”

Simon and Nicola exchanged glances and chuckled a little.  “Nope,” replied Simon, “We got a village of sorts, we’re just out here on business.”  

“Business?  What sort?”

Nicola suppressed a cough.  “We are collecting samples from ze corpses.  Ze Doctor wants zem for somezing.”

“It’s somethin’ sciency I guess.  Maybe wants to cure the plague.”

“What plague?”  Jack’s lack of knowledge made her extremely uneasy, and left an empty feeling in the pit of her stomach, or maybe that was just the hunger.   Simon muttered something about getting dinner started and retreated into the house.

“Ah, you’ll have to forgive ‘im. ‘Is sister caught ze plague and, well, you know…”   

“Actually, I don’t.  Did she die?”   

“In a sense, but worse.”  Nicola grasped Jack by the elbow and led her to the railing at the edge of the deck.  They looked down at the creature that had attacked her earlier, or what was left of it.  Several more humanoid things had already appeared and were alternately gnawing on the body or fighting over it.  “People who are infected become like zem.  Sometimes zey mutate, like ze leaping corpse.  No one knows how it started but ze first ones appeared when I was a child.”  Jack wondered what the correct emotion was for her:  Fear?  Disgust?  Pity?  All seemed appropriate.

“Ya shouldn’t look at ‘em, you’ll lose yer appetite.”  They turned around to see Simon placing a large pot of what appeared to be some kind of stew over the fire.  “Why don’t ya tell us ‘bout that long day ya’ve had, eh?”

She returned to her spot on the bench, “I’m worried that I’ll sound crazy.”

“Really?  Have you looked at me and Nicola?”

“I zink I look rather ‘andsome.”  He straightened his tie.

“Hm, you make a good point,” mused Jack.  A bowl of hot stew was shoved into her hands, it turned out to be very spicy and contained a number of vegetables she didn’t recognize.  Jack began to recount her experiences inside the Zephyrus Technologies building.  She told them of the computer and the tests and the dead bodies she’d seen.  She explained that she’d apparently been experimented on somehow and that she’d healed very quickly but she didn’t really know what they’d done to her.  “Then I ran into the two of you, and uh, that’s pretty much my whole memory.”

There was a pause.  Simon spoke first.


“You were right, zat does sound crazy,”   said Nicola, who had apparently forgotten about his food.

“You don’t believe me…”

“Nah, we believe ya, but it’s also crazy,”  Simon paused to yell at Nicola, who had begun to cough again, “Ya should eat more when you’re sick, Mate, it’ll kill the germs.”

“I am not zick,” wheezed Nicola, covering his mouth and nose with one hand.

“Ya’ve got a bloody cold or something.”

As they continued to argue, Jack noted that they fought like siblings.  They must be very close friends…  I must have had friends before, right?  She looked down at her feet; there were surgical scars on her ankles.  I don’t even know what I look like.  I have light skin.  I’m probably Caucasian.  I hope I’m pretty.  I wonder how old I am.  Did I have a family?  Maybe I was married.

“Oi, you alright?”  She looked up and found Simon leaning down so that they were eye-to-eye with one another.

“I, uh, yeah.  I’m just tired, I think.”  She rubbed the back of her neck and found more surgical scars running along her spine.

Simon straightened up and nodded at her, “yer right, we should all get some shut-eye.”
Chapter 2. Modified a fair bit from the version I turned in for class.
Still trying to think of a new title, but I don't have anything yet.
Working on part 3 now.
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DarkNyxfire Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
I would love to read this story if you get the chance to finish it!
kytri Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
I might go back and rewrite it eventually. I just don't have time at the moment.
Isabel-W Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Have part three come out yet? If so, where :) I'm curious of the next page :D
kytri Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013  Professional Digital Artist

I think I wrote part three but it may have been lost in a computer crash.

I wrote this for a creative writing class like five years ago, but unfortunately never finished it. I'll probably reweite it at some point.

Isabel-W Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh, that would be amazing if you did! I ate my whole popcorn bucket at the first page, loved it! Nice work with the accent thingy, though I'm having problems reading it smoothly ^_^
FoolsEnigma Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2010
This is like the most awesome compilation of the greatest games ever to be put in written form. It's like Portal+tf2+l4d and equals Pure win. Also, the corpse that went for Jack in the forest was like a Jockey right?
kytri Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
It was just a jumpy thing. This was actually written before either Left 4 Dead game was released so I didn't know anything about the different kinds of zombies in it then.
FoolsEnigma Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2010
ah. Kay. I can just imagine it being a Jockey though, 'cause of the leg thing.
Tingcat Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow the comments are empty. Wonder where everyone's gone. Good job on the writing. I'm amazed that you managed to portray the spy and sniper (Liam and Gabry?) like this. That's usually very hard without the normal visual input. Once again, good job. :p
kytri Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
They're called Simon and Nicola actually. I hadn't created any characters for CV when I wrote this, so they're more similar because the inspiration was similar rather than being the same characters.
There are some older doodles of most of the characters here: [link]
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April 1, 2008
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