Survive: Book 1, Chapter 2
Nathan squinted as he focused on one of the four-story apartment buildings down the road; the low-set sun burned his eyes a little, his sunglasses luckily blocking out most of the rays. The rain would occasionally glimmer from sunlight as well, adding to the annoyance. His eyes had become unusually sensitive to light over time, so his shades were one of the few things he valued aside his weapons. Subsequently, he was able to see in the dark much more clearly than before, which he found extremely beneficial to night travel.
There were more footsteps, faster this time; a few high-pitched shrieks shattered the silence and a blunted crash came from the front door of the apartment. One of the wooden panels over the highest window splintered away as the “inhabitants” broke through it, their eyes a fiery red – the infected humans. Nathan quickly counted out at least a dozen of them as they gained speed, though there may have been more. Knowing he had only a few seconds, he aimed the pistol and squeezed the trigger expertly, knocking the creatures down to the ground with a bullet blasted through each of their skulls.
Nathan heard scuffling from behind; he continued to pick off the ones in front of him and with his left hand he unsheathed the sword on his back and spun around, slicing into the attackers that were now in very close proximity. Fluidly and effortlessly he threw the sword around himself to keep them back, killing every single thing that came at him. For most of his life he had studied various types of swordplay as a hobby, one of the few things he did in his life that was purely for enjoyment – and the dedication paid off well.
He focused on the sword but he still picked off others with the pistol until his clip ran empty. The final handful of Infected charged him and just as quickly as the first few he cut through their bodies, leaving their battered corpses on the pavement.
Nathan huffed, still in stance as he shoved the empty pistol into his back coat pocket; knowing the commotion would draw attention, he had to act swiftly. Glancing over the bodies, he found a back pants pocket bulging outward on one of the females. He reached inside and found a pocket knife buried deep within – he removed it and flipped open the blade, seeing that it was still usable. Can’t hurt to have one more, he thought, slipping the knife inside his pants pocket. Though the stragglers were dead, Nathan still sensed another’s eyes on him; quickly he wiped the blood on the sword off on one of the tattered shirts of the dead, and continued to walk down the main street.
No sooner had he taken a few steps forward then he heard a low, guttural growl echo from his right side. In the alleyway next to the outlet store stood a large quadruped, its eyes carrying a bright violet glow. The creature snarled and snapped at him, creeping slowly out of the alley as it sized up its prey. As it fully emerged, two more came out behind it and they began to round Nathan’s right and left sides in a hunting pattern. Even with the viral strain they appeared to retain their pack instincts. He eyed them carefully, all three baring their overgrown teeth that dripped disgusting amounts of fluid; their oversized muscles pulsed in anticipation, and their matted, filthy fur stood on end. They looked like dogs, or some type of wild canine, but they’d been transformed by the sickness and were now more feral than before. Judging by the size and overall shape of the creature, Nathan figured they were wolves or coyotes. Used to be, anyway.
Quietly and slowly unhooking his shotgun with his right hand Nathan waited for the moment; the first let off a shrill howl, and then lunged upward to pounce. Nathan stood in a ready stance and raised the barrel, blasting into the creature’s midsection – it tumbled to the ground and moved no more. The remaining two growled fiercely and the one on his left made its move; Nathan was faster and cut into the creature before it could ever bite him. The third seemed to take advantage of Nathan’s divided attention and leapt into his side, knocking him to the ground; his sword and shotgun both fell from his grip and he landed on his back with the hunter snarling in his face. Nathan managed a grip on the animal’s throat with one hand, brought up his other and positioned them on its gnarled head. With a quick jerk of his arms the neck snapped and the growls ceased. Nathan shoved the body off of him as he picked himself up off the ground, brushing some of the grime from his shirt. As he walked over and picked up his weapons he felt it again… he looked around but still saw nobody. Why now? What’s different?
He reached underneath his overcoat to a large belt compartment and took out a handful of shells, hastily reloading the shotgun. A high-pitched, bone-shattering shriek called from high-up; Nathan followed the sound which led to the top of the apartment building… on the edge of the roof looking over him was a lanky, oversized humanoid with bright green eyes. It cried out again, sending its screech into the evening air and causing Nathan to wince a little at the sound. Suddenly he heard the familiar growls of Infected. Then he heard more, quickly amplifying in intensity and proximity. Shit…
The echoes of stampeding feet reached his ears as he scanned his perimeter – droves of Infected poured out from buildings, alleys and roads, everywhere he could see. Every window and door overflowed with the red-eyes. There’s too many…
Then the pain swelled; his skin down to the bones seemed to be igniting to an intolerable degree. The attacking hordes slowed in their tracks as his vision sharpened dramatically. His skin stuck to his clothing, feeling a wetness drip from his face that got worse as his adrenaline pushed faster. He could hear the most minute foot shuffle, the ragged and raspy breath of his attackers, even the ones on approach from a far-off distance. He let out a shriek of his own, and then ravaged the hordes surrounding him, swinging the sword with such quick precision that the opposing forces wouldn’t comprehend it, even if normal. The liquid oozing from his skin crept into his eyelids, but he remained relentless in his assault, sending out a shotgun blast to thin the incoming waves. The commotion alerted even more of the Infected, but Nathan was lost in a tortured oblivion, sending their bloodied, lifeless bodies spattering to the asphalt.
A loud crack landed near where Nathan stood; while batting off the Infected he managed a glance behind him… the creature from the top of the building had jumped down right next to him with such force that it shattered the concrete. Its glowing green eyes seared into his white ones as it stood up straight: the abomination nearly broke 9 feet tall, its legs and arms were well-defined, muscular and abnormally long as if they had been subjected to a medieval stretcher. It belted out its high-pitched howl and lashed toward Nathan. As it jumped toward him he reached out, clasped his gloved hand around the mutant’s elongated neck and used the momentum to flip it over and slam its head into the concrete with a smack, taking it out of commission. Nathan wasn’t sure if he’d actually killed it, but his attention immediately returned to the hordes that continued to surround him.
As he turned around mid-swing he saw the creature stumble back to its feet, its eyes glowing almost neon; it lunged at him again but he used his already flowing momentum to swipe the blade across the creature’s neck, beheading it completely. The corpse collapsed as Nathan’s blood raged; the only thing on his mind was to kill everything that moved.
Another oversized screeching creature suddenly jumped in front of him and sent him to the ground, knocking his sunglasses clean off his face. It grasped him by the neck and its oversized nails, which more resembled claws, dug into the back of his neck, tearing some of the flesh. The creature lifted Nathan up into the air with godlike strength, snarling into its prey’s face as the Infected below clamored after him. In a flash the mutant slammed Nathan back-first into a parked car on the side of the road, which once again caused him to lose his grip on his weapons. The pain of the impact snapped him out of his rage; his vision returned to normal, his body turned limp and the adrenaline subsided. In fact, the trauma to his back made him unable to move his arms in defense… even if he were able to move he’d still be too weakened.
Nathan’s attacker picked him up again and this time threw him to the ground; unable to move and increasingly fatigued with the blood leaving his body Nathan stared into the eyes of the mutated creature, its teeth dripping as it opened its mouth to feed.
A metallic pipe traveled through the air above the horde and landed on the ground – a pop snapped and a flash of overpowering bright light filled Nathan’s eyes, followed by a high-frequency tone. Within seconds the Infected dispersed, jumping off Nathan’s body and retreating. Nathan, still somewhat paralyzed, writhed on the ground trying to withstand the whine that accompanied the explosion. For some reason he felt like running away and escaping the sensory overload, the frequency burning into his ears and causing him no shortage of discomfort – he even felt his ears bleeding a little. Soon the sound diminished and Nathan forced himself to open his eyes, worn-down from exhaustion and his vision blurred from the sunset creeping down the horizon.
Though his consciousness dripped away, he could hear the faint cluttering of feet on the pavement along with the falling rain. As it got closer Nathan could make out four figures slowly nearing him, three of which had firearms drawn. They use guns now…?
The fourth he recognized as a female, shorter than the rest. Though more obvious was her eyes – instead of the glowing crimson that was an attribute among the human victims, they shined a calming bright blue. His head lopped to the side to look at the other three, discovering the same trait. They’re different…
One of them stepped back and cocked their gun at the sight of Nathan. “You see his eyes, man? That’s some freaky shit.”
“What the fuck is he?”
“Y’all want me to shoot it?”
The female spoke in an authoritative yet soft voice and stepped closer, signaling the others to stand down. “Wait… don’t kill him.”
They’re REAL people… The realization was enough to put Nathan into a more relaxed state. His body screamed at him for rest; he closed his eyes, their muffled voices becoming a faded blur.