Japanese Red (Ongoing)

Zombie or Post Apocalyptic themed fiction/stories.

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Japanese Red (Ongoing)

Post by RingWraithsAnonymous » Wed Apr 22, 2020 7:18 pm

Hello! I'm posting two things today, this and an unrelated short, Into the Darkness, which has been stuck sitting with my drafts for months before I resurrected it a few days ago. Hopefully you like both.

Here's that longer story I promised. I'm already many updates ahead on this one, so hopefully what happened with the Flesh Eaters won't happen with this one. I'm rather proud of how it has turned out thus far in the draft stage, so it'll surely translate better as I refine it before each posting.

What follows is some backstory behind the origins of this tale. Feel free to read it if you fancy, but if not it's perfectly fine to skip the story itself. Neither I or anyone else (at least, I don't think anyone else) will judge you for it.

For a while (about a couple weeks I'd guess) it was something I wrote when I couldn't focus on a short, started less than a week after I got my new laptop. It was (and still is) structured less like an online serial and more like a Steven King book, with thicker chapters divided into sections ranging from pretty long to microscopically short. I didn't even intend on posting it. Eventually though, I started something I rarely get past with projects of this size: The Mystical Second Chapter. I decided that I couldn't resist the possibility of posting it, but was still wary, worried I might burn out. Then I got to the unheard of third chapter, the previous two having roughly ten sections each, and knew I was getting somewhere. I announced the idea with the short Conspiracy, which shared some lore with this one, and I'm finally posting it now.

Due to the nature of it's structure, postings gonna be a little different than it was with a Price for Every Head. Sometimes (like this one) I will post only one section, others I will post two, either due to length or to prevent confusion within the plot. Hopefully it works. This one is rather short, but not so short that I would feel bad about posting it by itself.

As always, I hope you enjoy, let me know what you think, and as always: thank you for reading.

***

Japanese Red


Chapter 1: the Red Car

1.
It was a chill spring afternoon in the middle of March. March 16th, in case you were wondering.

On a state route, out in the middle of gently hilled farmland, a red car was rushing down the west-bound lane. It was an old, battered piece of machinery from the beginning of the 2000s. There was a dent on the front left side from an old encounter with a deer. A piece of bird shit decorated the roof, having been soiled less than a week after getting washed. Rust was scattered over the area just beneath the lid of the trunk, like acne over a teenage boy's face. An old, cracked bumper sticker (a relic of the previous owner) warned people about the dangers of drunk driving.

As the red car drove westward away from the town of Silver Springs (a town which sits at the northwestern edge of the Missouri Ozarks), the four men inside knew little of what their future might hold.

All were in their early twenties and had graduated together from Silver Springs High School. Thomas Owens sat in the drivers seat and (in contrast to his car) both his glasses and his haircut were brand new - his brown hair was combed over to the left side, and was fairly short. His full concentration was on the road, occasionally checking the speedometer to see just how much over the posted speed limit they were going. Sitting next to him was Edward Smith, a man high off his ass on some illegally purchased Mary Jane. Despite this, his expression as he stared out the window showed anyone paying enough attention that he was not having a good time. He coughed and swept black hair out of his eyes. Bill Lewis sat behind his pal Eddie, staring blankly forward at the grey seat back in front of him. He had his earbuds in, completely drowning out the rest of the world. In the otherwise silent car the others could hear the faint sounds of his overly loud rock and metal mix. The last of the four, David Taylor, sat next to the zoned out Bill, frantically waiting for his girlfriend Olivia - who was visiting family in Texas - to pickup the phone. He had called a total of seven times since he had gotten in the car, and hadn't heard from her since the night before.

Truth be told, they weren't sure she would ever pick up.

The red car zoomed past a 55-miles-per-hour sign, doing around double that. Much faster and they would max out the vehicle's speedometer. As they crested a gentle hill, they were met by a State Patrol car in the opposite lane. Despite going so fast Thomas was committing a felony, the authorities didn't turn on their lights or sirens, or even turn around for that matter. Like them, it's driver probably had other concerns.

They were on a desperate journey to a neighboring town, quizzically named Utah, to meet up with some other friends. After that, nobody was sure how things would go or what they would do.

A figure shambled out of the tree line and into the ditch up ahead, getting onto the shoulder as the car rushed past them. The haggard figure turned, and began to follow at a pitiful speed. They crested the top of another hill and Eddie saw a similar figure down at the bottom of the hill, which at their speed wasn't very far away.

"Shit!" he yelled a second after (his reflexes were slowed by the marijuana), right before Thomas noticed it. They swerved into the eastbound lane, dodging the undoubtedly sick man.

"Jesus Christ!" Bill shouted, torn out of his daze for a moment.

They missed him by a mere foot, and Thomas steered the car back to it's proper lane. They hadn't slowed down a single notch. David was too worried, too wrapped up in trying to contact his girl to notice what had happened.

"You trying to kill us?" Eddie shouted.

"Y'all said thirty minutes was too long," Thomas replied, referring to the length of the trip, "If this is too fast for you, deal with it. I'm not slowing down until I see the traintracks running next to us."

"How long do you think it'll take for us to get there?" Bill asked.

"I'd say ten more minutes. Now let me drive. Y'all just sit back and sit tight for a minute." Thomas told them.
If you think about it everybody lives in the same place: somewhere between the Empire of the Penguins, and the Kingdom of the Elves.

My Fiction on ZS:
a Price for Every Head
Conspiracy
Dead Memories
Into the Darkness
Japanese Red (Ongoing)
the Bigger Monster
the Flesh Eaters (Hiatus)
the Watcher

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Re: Japanese Red (Ongoing)

Post by 91Eunozs » Sat Apr 25, 2020 1:26 pm

Good start...
Molon Latte...come & take our coffee order
Doctorr Fabulous wrote:... It's fun to play pretend, but this is the internet, and it's time to be serious.
zengunfighter wrote:... you don't want to blow a tranny in the middle of a pursuit...
woodsghost wrote:... A defensive gun without training is basically a talisman. It might ward off evil, but I wouldn't count on it.

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Re: Japanese Red (Ongoing)

Post by DAVE KI » Wed Apr 29, 2020 4:00 am

Did he almost hit a zombie? Good start.
"We'll Fight Them, Sir!, Until Hell Freezes Over, And Then We'll Fight Them On The Ice! Sir!

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Re: Japanese Red (Ongoing)

Post by RingWraithsAnonymous » Wed Apr 29, 2020 6:17 pm

To DAVE KI: It does indeed appear that a zombie was almost harmed in the making of this story.

Today is one of those days that I'll be posting two sections. The first one's a bit of a flashback, the second one the follow up. Hopefully that's apparent in the writing. If not, oops. I tried.

As always, I hope you enjoy, let me know what you think, and as always: thank you for reading.

***

2.
It was late dawn. The sun was up, but barely, that autumn morning. Bill was driving the truck (the one that he and Jennifer shared) down the street towards their cheap, one-bedroom rental home. It sat within a few blocks of the high school he'd spent his teenage years in, and was only a block away from the library (something Jennifer was quite happy about).

The truck itself was a green shortbed, and was of similar age as Thomas's red thing. Bill had a slight knack for mechanics though, which had saved them (and the bank account - God only knows how they would make it with an extra bill) from repair bills numerous times.

He had clocked out from the Conoco on the corner of Main and 54th five minutes earlier, and still had his work clothes on.

He pulled the car into the driveway, putting it in park. He turned it off the engine and took the keys out of the ignition, breathing a sigh of relief.

He was home.

He hopped out of the vehicle and yawned, walking to the front door. He fidgeted with his key ring until he had his house key, and unlocked the door. He stepped inside and closed the door behind him.

"Baby, I'm home!" he said, his lack of sleep showing in his eyes. Bill still hadn't quite adjusted to working graveyard, but it paid better than the day shift.

Jennifer came into the entryway dressed in sweatpants and a tank top as he was taking off his shoes, setting them on the tile. He looked up and smiled, happy to see his sweetheart again, even if they would only have twenty minutes before she had to take the truck and go to the diner to start her shift. Today's hairdo was a pair of buns reminiscent of Princess Leia. They kissed, then held each other in a warm embrace.

She was the first to speak, breaking the silence "I love you Billy."

She was the only one he let call him Billy, "I love you too baby girl." he noticed something, and sniffed the air, "What's that smell?" he asked with a smile.

"My breakfast, your dinner: pancakes." she said while taking a small step back, their hug having run it's course. "I've already eaten, so have as many as you want."

"With blueberries?" he inquired, brushing a stray strand of hair out of her face.

"With blueberries." she answered.

"You're a blessing." he told her, moving to the kitchen.

"How was work?" she asked as he grabbed a plate from one of the overhead cabinets.

"Rough. The manager stayed a little later than she normally does. Said we needed to have a talk." he told her, putting three large pancakes on his plate

"About what, dear?" she asked, despite knowing what answer she was going to hear.

"About James." he confirmed, sitting down and grabbing the artificial maple syrup. Their table was small, but fitting for just the two of them.

"You knew this was coming." she said with a sigh.

"I did. It still didn't go well."

"You didn't loose the job, did you?"

"No. Almost did, but we worked it out."

"If I got into it with someone from another shift, I'd be fired. You've got to watch your temper, Bill."

"That little bastard needed to be put in his place. You know I don't take kindly to people talking about you like that."

"Oh I don't blame you. I get why you did it. I just want you to be careful is all. I'd better get dressed." she told him, walking down the short hall to the bedroom.

"I will baby..." he assured her. He watched through the open bedroom door as she took her tanktop off. "How's that draft coming?" he then asked.

"I'm about halfway through I think." she told him, pulling her sweatpants down, "Fixed that damn motorcycle scene I told you about."

"Good, glad I was able to help." he said, watching as she grabbed her work shirt, "Can I see it yet?" he asked with 'the grin', the one that he'd used to persuade her so many times before.

"Not yet," she said with a laugh, "Jesus, I've turned you down what, six times already?"

"Doesn't hurt to keep asking."

"They say the definition of insanity is repeating the same action and expecting a different result." she told him, putting on her skirt.

"Come on, please? Just a chapter."

"Y'know I won't show it to you." she replied, shaking her head with a smile, "Not until
Last edited by RingWraithsAnonymous on Thu Apr 30, 2020 4:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
If you think about it everybody lives in the same place: somewhere between the Empire of the Penguins, and the Kingdom of the Elves.

My Fiction on ZS:
a Price for Every Head
Conspiracy
Dead Memories
Into the Darkness
Japanese Red (Ongoing)
the Bigger Monster
the Flesh Eaters (Hiatus)
the Watcher

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Location: Ozarks Region

Re: Japanese Red (Ongoing)

Post by RingWraithsAnonymous » Wed Apr 29, 2020 6:17 pm

3.
it's finished." Bill whispered, tears streaming down his face as they passed the Utah city limit sign. The farmland had been replaced with trees, most of them bare except for some blossoms.

A dozen or so seconds later, the traintracks burst out of the tree line, turning to run parallel to the road. Freight cars sat motionless as the four friends rushed ever forward. Graffitti adorned most of the cars - most were crude words, names, and penises.

"Tommy, lighten up man." Eddie told him, watching at his grim faced friend steer the car around a bend in the road, "We're almost there."

Thomas didn't hear a word he said, lost in a reverie of his own and in his driving.
If you think about it everybody lives in the same place: somewhere between the Empire of the Penguins, and the Kingdom of the Elves.

My Fiction on ZS:
a Price for Every Head
Conspiracy
Dead Memories
Into the Darkness
Japanese Red (Ongoing)
the Bigger Monster
the Flesh Eaters (Hiatus)
the Watcher

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Re: Japanese Red (Ongoing)

Post by 91Eunozs » Wed Apr 29, 2020 9:45 pm

Nice...

The only recommendations I have is to change the line re: mechanics bills to “repair” bills...mechanics and mechanics in the same line is slightly awkward.



And maybe tie the two chapters together a bit better by showing her trailing off her dialogue “until...”. And then him showing the opposite “...until it’s finished” at the opening of the next chapter. Or something to that effect.

Regardless, good hook and personal insights into your characters...a pretty good picture painted in very little space. Nice start.
Molon Latte...come & take our coffee order
Doctorr Fabulous wrote:... It's fun to play pretend, but this is the internet, and it's time to be serious.
zengunfighter wrote:... you don't want to blow a tranny in the middle of a pursuit...
woodsghost wrote:... A defensive gun without training is basically a talisman. It might ward off evil, but I wouldn't count on it.

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Re: Japanese Red (Ongoing)

Post by FlashDaddy » Thu Apr 30, 2020 12:27 pm

Oh, I like this story. Please, may we have MOAR!
- Flash

Browncoat, food & H2O storing Dad. "I don't care, I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me."
"Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other people or the majority, it's a right that belongs to all of us."

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Re: Japanese Red (Ongoing)

Post by DAVE KI » Sat May 02, 2020 5:36 pm

I think I know what 91Eunozs means. Ah end of ch.2 start of ch.3 :wink: As long as the ch. are separated I'm good to go. :D
"We'll Fight Them, Sir!, Until Hell Freezes Over, And Then We'll Fight Them On The Ice! Sir!

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Re: Japanese Red (Ongoing)

Post by RingWraithsAnonymous » Wed May 06, 2020 9:55 pm

to 91Eunozs: Lets just say that looked better in the WordPad document than it did in the forum :| Ah well. If nothing else, it serves in an experiment in formatting.
to Flash Daddy: don't worry, there will be that precious moar that you're searching for (Oh crap, an unintentional rhyme!)

So for today we just have one section. I almost forgot it, but this is one of those situations when almost doesn't count, because I'm delivering this week's update on time. Next week due to length, I'm planning on having another double feature. We'll see. I might just decide to add some stuff to it, who knows.

This week features another flashback, this time from the perspective of the driver of our protangonists' little red car. I think I've made this long enough, so here goes.

As always, I hope you enjoy, let me know what you think, and as always: thank you for reading.

***

4.

Thomas walked up the steps of his neighbor's porch. The house in front of him was two stories, and was painted powder blue. The neighbor's rocking chair sat next to the front door. He usually sat in it everyday, but so far he hadn't been seen all week. His car hadn't left the driveway in that time either.

Thomas and the other neighbors were concerned. Somehow the responsibility of checking on the seventy-something year old John Brown had fallen on his shoulders. He knocked on the door.

"John!" he called, "It's me, Thomas! You okay in there!?"

Nothing. He knocked harder.

"John!!!" he shouted.

Nothing but the early spring breeze greeted him. He adjusted the collar of his jacket, then tried the door knob. It was unlocked. He took a deep breath and slowly opened it.

"I'm coming inside!" he declared, slowly making his way into the entryway.

All the curtains were closed, and the lights were off, leaving the inside of the house gloomy and dim. A feeling of undeniable dread was building in the pit of his gut, and he didn't have any idea why until he smelled it. The air smelled bad, toxic almost. He gagged, and pulled his t-shirt collar up over his mouth and nose. His eyes stung a little behind his glasses (he had gotten them at the store the day prior, and was rather proud of them).

"John!?"

He walked into the living room and gasped, unnerved. Wrappers and papers were left discarded on the floor, and dirty dishes were stacked haphazardly on the coffee table. From what he could see of the kitchen, it was in similar condition.

What startled him the most was the blood. He could see it splattered lightly over multiple surfaces in the kitchen, and there was a bloody handprint on the doorway in between it and the living room.

"John! Where are you?!"

There was a dull thud upstairs.

I need to get the hell out of here, some part of his mind screamed. The good neighbor in him shut such thoughts down though, determined to make sure everything was okay.
He began to walk across the beige carpet toward the stairs, the bottom step sitting next to the doorway to the kitchen. He felt his shoes stick to something and looked down, his throat closing up. He'd stepped in a large red stain about a foot across (though how he had missed it until he was standing on top of it was beyond him.

He went from unnerved to downright terrified. He had heard the rumors online, the ones that had been slowly circulating around certain corners of Reddit for the past month (though he felt quite sure other sites had similar tales to be found), the ones about people finding themselves in situations like this. About the what Japanese Red really was. They almost never ended well. Most were overseas though....

Then he remembered that John Brown had just gotten back from a vacation in Europe with some golfing buddies the last time he'd seen him.

That's it. he told himself, Time to call the authorities.

He pulled out his phone and dialed 911.

"Our operators are busy at this time. Please stand by." the automated message told him.

He swallowed painfully, and despite his better judgement and instincts, walked toward the stairs. He got to the foot of them and looked up. All he saw was darkness, before noticing drops of blood on the stairs.

He heard another thud upstairs, this time followed by the creaking of a door hinge.

"Juh-John?" he asked, his voice cracking, "You okay up there?"

He knew damn well John wasn't okay. He also knew that he should leave, right-fucking-now.

Foot steps. Shuffling, footsteps. An occasional thud as well.

Thomas took a few steps back from the stairs. He looked up once more, and in the darkness he managed to make out a silhouette. It was John - he could tell that much by his short, thin build - and though he couldn't tell for sure, he appeared to be naked.

And Thomas was more fearful then than he had ever been before.

"Suh-say something damn it!" he stuttered, gripped by the cold hands of terror.

Instead of speaking, John groaned, then took a step downward. Thomas watched his ankle roll, then almost pissed his pants when the indeed unclothed man started to fall, a hair away from literally flying down the stairs at Thomas. Tom screamed and ran out of the way of the bloody, naked old man descending upon him. He heard a few snaps and a thud of what he assumed was Mr. John Brown hitting the carpet at the bottom, but didn't stop. In fact, Thomas kept right on running, not looking back until his shoe caught on the doormat and he tripped into the door.

By all rights, the old fart should've been immobile from the pain of his obviously broken body. Thomas watched in horror as the man began to crawl toward him however, with a broken toothed, bloody faced snarl.

He didn't even bother trying to call the cops again. He tore the door open and ran out. So desperate was he to escape that he didn't even bother with the stairs, simply vaulting over the porch railing and falling onto the lawn.

Thomas picked himself up and ran down the middle of the road, screaming at the top of his lungs the whole way to his house at the end of the dead end street.
If you think about it everybody lives in the same place: somewhere between the Empire of the Penguins, and the Kingdom of the Elves.

My Fiction on ZS:
a Price for Every Head
Conspiracy
Dead Memories
Into the Darkness
Japanese Red (Ongoing)
the Bigger Monster
the Flesh Eaters (Hiatus)
the Watcher

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Re: Japanese Red (Ongoing)

Post by 91Eunozs » Wed May 06, 2020 11:02 pm

Nice! Thanks for another glimpse into this world you’re building.
Molon Latte...come & take our coffee order
Doctorr Fabulous wrote:... It's fun to play pretend, but this is the internet, and it's time to be serious.
zengunfighter wrote:... you don't want to blow a tranny in the middle of a pursuit...
woodsghost wrote:... A defensive gun without training is basically a talisman. It might ward off evil, but I wouldn't count on it.

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Re: Japanese Red (Ongoing)

Post by idahobob » Thu May 07, 2020 8:46 am

Ooooooooo, zombie. :clap:
People who are rather more than six feet tall and nearly as broad across the shoulders often have uneventful journeys. People jump out at them from behind rocks then say things like, "Oh. Sorry. I thought you were someone else."

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Re: Japanese Red (Ongoing)

Post by bodyparts » Tue May 12, 2020 12:35 pm

off to a very good start !!!

MOAR!!!!!!!

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Re: Japanese Red (Ongoing)

Post by RingWraithsAnonymous » Wed May 13, 2020 8:24 pm

I've got three parts for this week's update. One's only a sentence though. Guess that's what happens when you write something without originally intending of it seeing the light of day: you end up with some weird structure. Don't really have much to say about this one folks, so get to reading! Onward!

As always, I hope you enjoy, let me know what you think, and as always: thank you for reading.

***

5.

Thomas could still see that broken toothed face, and it gave him shudders as the Utah memorial airport came within sight. It was a little hanger with a few strips for small aircraft, and it held airshows every summer. Eddie doubted they'd ever get another chance to see one of those.

Car rides lacking in conversation are often places of reflection and thought. As such (much like Bill and Thomas) Eddie was mulling over some memories.
If you think about it everybody lives in the same place: somewhere between the Empire of the Penguins, and the Kingdom of the Elves.

My Fiction on ZS:
a Price for Every Head
Conspiracy
Dead Memories
Into the Darkness
Japanese Red (Ongoing)
the Bigger Monster
the Flesh Eaters (Hiatus)
the Watcher

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Favorite Zombie Movies: 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead, World War Z
Location: Ozarks Region

Re: Japanese Red (Ongoing)

Post by RingWraithsAnonymous » Wed May 13, 2020 8:25 pm

6.
The band known as Fungus Apple was jamming out in Michael Owens's garage on the last day of February. Mike and Eddie had formed the band shortly after high school. The current lineup consisted of Edward and Michael on guitars, Mike's friends Harry on bass and Rob on drums, and a newcomer on vocals, some dipshit named Chuck.

Their old singer had left, some family related bullshit out west in Colorado. They still hadn't found a new percussionist yet. Bill had actually been the original one, and had been jamming with them since shortly after the band's formation. He had beaten on buckets, barrels, anything really that he wasn't likely to ruin a pair of drumsticks on. He had always had his focus on other things though, and after falling on hard times it was either more time working or more time with the band. Eddie and Mike understood, and Bill wished them the best at his last practice, a week before he had started that gas station job.

The sound proofing was mediocre, Chuck's voice was a little too abrasive for their taste (and truth be told Harry and Rob kinda stunk), and they had no idea where they'd get a new percussionist - they'd grown rather attached to the idea of having one - but by God, Eddie and Mike had some plans for this band. The two of them had talked for months about finding a cheap apartment suitable for the two of them and moving to Kansas City. Get into a fresher music scene, (hell, a music scene period) get some fresh talent. There were more job opportunities up there, and there was
certainly more opportunity for the band up there than there was in Silver Springs.

They finished a song and Eddie shot a glance over to Mike. Mike looked pissed. That didn't bode well for Chuck - Eddie didn't figure he'd last much longer. Eddie then heard a wet splash preceded by some heaving, and turned to Harry, who stood to just past Mike. The bassist was leaned over a large pile of vomit. Mostly intact chunks of ramen noodles and some more fully digested pieces of chicken were it's main mixture, but there was a highly substaintial amount of red fluid, some of it in clotted chunks.

"What the fuck!?" Mike shouted, clenching his jaw, "What!? Couldn't make it to the damn bathroom!?"

"I-I think that's-" Chuck started.

Harry vomited some more, this time almost entirely comprised of the red shit. It splattered all over his and Mike's shoes, a lot of it ending up down the front of Harry's jeans as well.

"Jesus shit! That's fucking blood!" Eddie shouted.

"Huh-Harry?" Mike asked, taking a few nervous steps back as the bloody man fell to his knees. He then fell to his side, his bass guitar clattering to the ground and him landing on top of it.

Nothing.

"He's got the fucking sickness!" Rob shouted, getting up and backing himself into the corner, "The shit I was-"

"Enough of your damn conspiracies! He needs a fucking ambulance!" Mike yelled, crouching down next to a motionless Harry (no way in hell was he getting on his knees in that bloody shit).

"On it!" Chuck said, pulling his phone out of his pocket with a shaking hand.

He began to dial 911, and Eddie felt sick to his stomach. He suddenly an extreme nausea, as if he was breathing in something toxic that needed to be purged from his system.

"The line's busy!" Chuck told them.

"Don't bother with it." Mike said quietly, his fingers resting on an artery. "Harry's dead."
If you think about it everybody lives in the same place: somewhere between the Empire of the Penguins, and the Kingdom of the Elves.

My Fiction on ZS:
a Price for Every Head
Conspiracy
Dead Memories
Into the Darkness
Japanese Red (Ongoing)
the Bigger Monster
the Flesh Eaters (Hiatus)
the Watcher

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Favorite Zombie Movies: 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead, World War Z
Location: Ozarks Region

Re: Japanese Red (Ongoing)

Post by RingWraithsAnonymous » Wed May 13, 2020 8:25 pm

7.
Mike had turned up dead as well by the end of the week.
If you think about it everybody lives in the same place: somewhere between the Empire of the Penguins, and the Kingdom of the Elves.

My Fiction on ZS:
a Price for Every Head
Conspiracy
Dead Memories
Into the Darkness
Japanese Red (Ongoing)
the Bigger Monster
the Flesh Eaters (Hiatus)
the Watcher

User avatar
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Re: Japanese Red (Ongoing)

Post by 91Eunozs » Thu May 14, 2020 9:18 am

Pretty rapid onset/death... Next questions are when, if, and how do they turn?

Thanks for the tasty morsels of moar!
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Re: Japanese Red (Ongoing)

Post by RingWraithsAnonymous » Wed May 20, 2020 7:45 pm

To 91Eunozs: Such questions will be answered eventually.

I'm doing a little something different with the formatting this time. This week's update will all be in one post, despite being multiple parts. Not sure why, it just felt like something I should try. We'll see if I decide I like it or not.

I feel like some these updates are too short, even ones like this where I'm posting multiple "parts" at a time. I've been writing some other stuff while working on this one though, so work has been a bit slower than expected. Regardless, I'll try to keep my update a week schedule without making them too short. This one is almost too short for my liking, but this is the section slated for this week, so here it is.

Regardless of any of that, here's this week's update. We're getting close to the end of "Chapter 1", folks. As always, I hope you enjoy, let me know what you think, and as always thanks for reading despite some of the updates being rather breif.

***

8.
One last turn, and they would see the truck stop and gas station that sat at the very edge of town, next to the interstate. The first sign of Utah, a town surrounded by forests and cornfields. As it was, they were about to break through one of the forest roads.

"Dammit!" Thomas shouted as the made the turn. Up ahead was a long line of stagnant cars.

Still doing triple digit speeds, he panicked, slamming on the brakes. They came to a screeching halt, the driver and three passengers inside flying forward hard enough the seatbelts jerked to a stop.

"Damn..." Eddie said, running a shaky hand through his hair, "That was intense."

"That's one way to put it." Bill said, once more brought out of his daze. He paused his music and took his earbuds out, stuffing them in his pocket.

"Now what?" Eddie asked.

Thomas sighed.

"I don't know," Bill said, "Anybody got any ideas."

"David, you ran track." Thomas stated, "Your the fastest out of all of us. Would you go up ahead, see what's up?"

David tossed his phone in the floor and shook his head, taking a deep breath, "Sure, why not?"

"You good man?" Eddie asked.

"Fucking peachy." David snapped. He hopped out of the car and slammed the door shut, running down the road.

"Jesus..." Bill said, wiping his brow.

9.
David hadn't had a good run in some time. As he sprinted on past still cars, he ignored the bewildered looks of some of their passengers.

Olivia hadn't answered any of his calls.

He had other things on his mind.

10.
"Are you sure about this?" David asked, standing in their driveway.

"I have to go see them, Dave." Olivia told him, standing next to her blue car, her brown hair cascading down her shoulders.

"But that's where-"

-the outbreak first came the states, he was going to say. Olivia interjected.

"I'm done arguing over this. I'll be fine."

"But-"

"I said I'm done, David. You're overreacting. Besides, I'm gonna be on the other side of the state. I know you're worried, but my family needs me."

'...my family needs me.' The engagement ring in his pocket (which she hadn't been given yet) felt ice cold. The time hadn't been right yet, and it certainly wasn't the right time now.

He couldn't let her go, he felt it. If she went, she might never come back.

He leaned in and gave her kiss, clearing such thoughts from his mind. She was right, he was being irrational "I love you, and please


11.
be safe, Liv." he whispered as he ran down the road.
If you think about it everybody lives in the same place: somewhere between the Empire of the Penguins, and the Kingdom of the Elves.

My Fiction on ZS:
a Price for Every Head
Conspiracy
Dead Memories
Into the Darkness
Japanese Red (Ongoing)
the Bigger Monster
the Flesh Eaters (Hiatus)
the Watcher

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Re: Japanese Red (Ongoing)

Post by RingWraithsAnonymous » Thu May 28, 2020 9:32 pm

So before I say anything else, I want to offer an apology. The posting format I've been using thus far is garbage.

It was a bit of an experiment on my part. I wasn't sure how I should post something as (at least somewhat) oddly formatted as this story is. The one that sounded the best at the time was posting it the way I have been until today: one part or a few parts at a time. After doing this for a few weeks, I have come to this conclusion:

It fucking sucks.

I hate it. My proofreader didn't really think it was that good of an idea, and probably hated it. The people I know in real life that read it complained that the sections were too short, and hated it too. Quote: "It feels like I'm being cheated each time I read it." You, the readers on the internet, probably hated it (I can't say for certain obviously, but I wouldn't be surprised. All in all, everybody hated it and it took me way too long to figure it out.

Because of this, I will no longer be posting on a set schedule with small parts, instead posting whole chapters at a time at the cost of a little less frequency. Hopefully this method turns out okay and more enjoyable to read.

So for today, the last section of chapter one and all of chapter two. Chapter two is shorter than chapter one, but still of decent length. Thank you for reading, let me know what you think, and I apologize for a shitty posting method on my part (I'm a writer, not a good organizer, but that's still no excuse.)

***
12.
"We're not gonna make it." Bill told Eddie and Thomas. David hadn't returned yet.

"Sure we will..." Eddie said,"Speaking of which, where did Aaron say that he and Mary would be waiting at?"

"He told me they'd be going to their church." Bill told them, "I've been there a couple times, so I'll know where to go."

"Then swap me spots once David gets back." Thomas told him.

"Sure thing." Bill replied, "So what the hell's the plan after this."

Thomas said "I don't fucking know, either of you got any ideas?"

"We could go up north. To Canada or Alaska or the Yukon or something." Eddie suggested.

"What?" Thomas spat, squinting at him.

"Yeah. Its cold up there..." Eddie defended, "Nobody else would wanna be up there. World's ending and you're cold...? Fuck that, y'know?"

"How high are you?" Bill asked.

"Pretty fucking baked." He admited, chuckling a little, "Good thing you're not wanting me to drive."

Thomas scoffed, "Never did see the point in wasting money on that shit."

"Don't knock it til you try it. I feel pretty good at the moment... probably be back to depression land after though." he paused, staring through the windshield, "He's coming back." He rolled his window down and poked his head out, "Well!? What's the haps?"

"Those sons of bitches!" David hollered back.

"Well that doesn't sound good." Eddie muttered.

David fell silent, finishing his run next to Eddie's window, his breathing labored.

"Well?" Thomas asked.

David held up a finger, taking some ragged breaths before answering, "Out of shape." he heaved, "Damn. A bunch of troops - probably from that damn camp - have blockaded the road. Some shit about enforcing 'travel restrictions'.

"Well now what?" Bill asked.

The four of them were silent. Nobody knew what to do. Thomas suddenly had an epiphany.

"We sneak in." Thomas said.

"How?" David asked.

"Spill the beans." Eddie told him, "What's your plan?"

"Hey Bill, remember that time we went fishing down at Fly Creek?" Thomas asked

"Yeah, but what does - I think I know what you're getting at."

"What?" Eddie asked.

"Fly creek." Thomas answered "We crossed over it a couple of miles back. Bill and I followed it all day one summer, trying to find a good spot to fish. Turns out Fly Creek hasn't got anything but frogs and crawdads. Anyway, we followed it from that bridge a few miles back, and eventually led us past the trailer park at the edge of town. What I'm getting at here is that they might have all the roads blocked up - actually I guarantee you that they do - but I'll bet you this whole car that they aren't guarding Fly Creek."

"That might work." David said, nodding.

"We all in agreement then?" Thomas asked.

"Let's go for it." Eddie said.

"I'll message Aaron, let them know we'll be late." Bill said, grabbing his phone.

"Alright then." Thomas said, "David, hop in the damn car. We've gotta head over to Fly Creek."


Chapter 2: the Church

1.
Many had come to the church seeking refuge once things had gone from bad to really bad. The vast majority were people who had worshiped there, either regularly or in the past. Most were elderly and small families. Aaron and Mary Clarke - longtime friends of Bill, David, Eddie, and Thomas - had gone there as well.

Most sat in the pews, praying or sitting quietly. Others were scattered throughout the building, with small groups of people gathered in different areas. Aaron and Mary were in the church's basement with a family of strangers. The pastor, a man in his sixties, was standing by the front doors - all of the other exits had been locked from the inside, with notes taped onto them reading 'Do NOT Open!'.

The basement served as a lounge and game room of sorts for the youth groups. It had brown carpet, two comfy sofas facing a low table, a book-and-boardgame shelf, and a watercooler. A foozeball and a billiards table sat to the far left. Close to the right wall, a set of stairs led upward to a hallway, which led to the rest of the holy building. On the opposite side was a door that led to an outdoor flight of stairs, which in turn led to the parking lot.

The family sheltering with them in that basement had four members. Dad was standing next to the pool cues, and was on his phone trying to call somebody. Mom was busy dealing with their two daughters, the oldest of them no older than eight or nine, and the other four or five years younger. The children were climbing around on one of the sofas. Mom was also in the later stages of pregnancy.

Aaron was sitting on the free sofa, ignoring the children. His raven haired wife was sitting next to him, trying not to cry. Her brother had just called her to tell her that her parents were dead. He had ended the call telling her he was going to hang himself. Aaron had attempted to console her when the phone rang. It had been Bill, and after some brief greetings, they had gotten to the meat of the matter.

"We're gonna be a little late." Bill said.

Aaron sighed, "What's the hold up?"

"The Army's got all the traffic stopped up. No one in, no one out."

Aaron swallowed before asking "What? How are we getting out then?"

"We're gonna follow Fly Creek down a ways to get past the soldiers. We'll be on foot though, so it'll take us a while to get there. We'll get you out though."

"Okay, good. When are you gonna be here?"

There was silence on the other end, and Aaron waited. Mary swallowed, sniffling. She grabbed Aaron's free hand, and he gently squeezed hers. "One of the guys?" she asked. Aaron nodded.

"God, uh, we think a few of hours at least. I'll call ya back when we get there."

"No, wait!" Aaron exclaimed, worried Bill was about to hang up, "What part of town is it close to? We could meet you there way."

"Uh, it's close to the trailer park."

"Crap, okay. That's on the other side of town."

"Yeah. Another problem, one I just thought of, is what we're gonna do with you guys. Without your wife's truck since they've got the roads blocked, all we've got's Thomas' car."

"I don't know." Aaron admited, worries coming back again, "What about your truck, or David's car?"

"That's actually not a bad idea, hang on."

Silence once more, and once more Aaron waited. Mary laid her head down on his shoulder, wiping some wetness from her eyes and cheeks.

"My truck's out of the game." Bill told him, "Fucked up spark plugs and some other shit. Anyway, David said his car could work. That changes things though, hang another minute." He was back much quicker this time, "Okay. So it'll be only me and Thomas coming. David and Eddie are going to go to David's and get his car. They should be done by the time we all get back to the road. Where out by the trailers do you want to meet ?"

"Give me a sec." Aaron told him, setting the phone down.

"What is it?" Mary asked.

"The Army's got the roads shut down. They know a way around though, and Bill and Thomas will be coming to us on foot. He said it'd be a few hours, but want's to know where we want to meet up with him."

"Let's just stay here for now. It's safe here."

"Well, yeah, but, where are we going to meet them when the time comes?"

"I dunno." she said.

"Uh... how do you feel about that old playground that sits next to there?"

"Sounds good with me. Just have him call us when he gets there and we'll drive over."

He picked the phone back up, "The playground over there."

"Okay. I think I know what you're talking about. Just uh... yeah. Thomas or I one will call ya guys once we get there. Stay safe in the meantime."

"You too." Aaron told him, hanging up.

2.
The pastor's wife was busy in the kitchen, on the opposite side of the building from Aaron and Mary. She was collecting ingredients for stew, in an effort to lift people's spirits. Her husband had been wary of leaving her out of his sight, but she had convinced him that she would be fine.

Besides, the people taking shelter there would get hungry eventually.

There was a loud banging on the back door.

She froze, unsure of what to do. Her husband had explicitly said to make sure people
only came in through the front, even going so far as to tape notes to the doors saying that very thing and keeping them locked. She found it to be ridiculous, but understood at least partially what he was worried about. He was afraid one of the sick would sneak in.

"The doors are open at the front!" she said, going back to her cooking.

"Help me..." a man's ragged voice said, followed by more banging.

"Sir, please go around to the front." she said, worried. She began to walk slowly toward the door.

"I can't! I fucked up my leg, please help. I barely made it this far!"

"I'm afraid I have to insist." she told him, though she was beginning to question whether or not she should just open the door. One wouldn't hurt, especially when she'd be there to make sure it wasn't one of the ill.

"Please! They're coming."

"Who's coming?" she asked, standing next to the door.

"The fucking zombies! Let me in!!!" he screamed, slamming something (his fists, probably) into the door.

"I-"

"Please! If Jesus exists and there is a God you'll let me in! I'm about to be eaten!!!"

She already knew there was both a God, and that Jesus was the savior, without this man's cries.

She quickly unlocked and opened the door.

The man stumbled into the doorway. His mouth and front were caked in his dried blood. He was close to turning, at the final stage before death: delerium.

"Nonono!" she yelled, trying to push him back.

"I need help!" he pleaded, grabbing onto her. One of them stumbled and they fell outside, into the alley in between the church and a defunct grocery store. He maintained his grip.

Unfortunately for her, the very sick man had been right about something; there were six zombies. She felt multiple hands grab at her and screamed as she tried to get up. The sick man had a death grip, and was in tears.

"Stay with me Mom!!!" he shrieked, "Don't go! I'm scared, Mom, please! Stay with me!!!"

The teeth began to sink into her back and arms, and her screams turned to wails and her blood began to run down her torso and drip rapidly onto the man beneath her, her wet blood mixing his own dried blood. A good bite to the neck from one of the half dozen ended her ability to vocalize, and her wails turned to gurgles.

One of the six, the only one that hadn't reached the now dead woman, heard voices
coming from inside. Intrigued at an instinctual level by the sound, it turned toward the now unlocked, open doorway, and staggered into the church.

3.
"What was that sound?" the oldest of the two girls cried.

Aaron, Mary, and the others in the basement had heard them. The screams. All the adults had tried to push it away, be thankful that God had allowed them to find refuge in here and not die out there.

"We're gonna die!" the other wailed.

"No we won't sweety." the mother said.

"What if the monsters got inside!?" the older daughter asked.

Aaron stood up from the sofa, "Don't worry, I'll go check, make sure it's all safe. Your dad could come with me if he wants."

"Aaron." Mary whispered through clenched teeth, "What are you doing?"

"Helping." he replied.

"Sure, yeah." the man said, "I'll go with him, girls. To keep him safe."

That got them to laugh a little, even if it was at someone's expense, "Okay daddy. Be careful." the younger one told him.

"I will." he assured her, grabbing a baseball bat he had been keeping next to him. "Let's go."

Aaron nodded, grabbing his own improvised weapon - a large wrench, about two feet long. Bill had once asked what he would ever need such a thing for, since he'd moved from his parent's farm.

'Moved from your parent's farm.' Aaron guessed that Bill would've felt uncomfortable saying 'Y'know, that time when you dad kicked your ass out the door in a blind rage over stupid bullshit. Remember that?' so Aaron let the delibrate error slide.

At the time Aaron had replied, "I don't know. I guess at this point in case the neighbor's tractor breaks down and he needs to borrow it."

Really he had kept it because despite the rift between him and his parents, he still couldn't let go of the wrench his father had given him all those years ago. Maybe it was nostalgia, memories of the happy times, back before his parents had kicked him out of the house. Maybe some part of him hoped they would reconcile, that Aaron could go back and joke with his sister at Christmas dinner, or that they could all drive down to Grandma's for Easter, or that he and his dad could shoot the breeze while working on the tractor or the four-wheeler.

"How big are the cars you're working on?" the father joked as he started the climb up the stairs, just ahead of Aaron.

"It's for tractors."

"Oh, okay then. You a farmer?"

"Not for some time. My folks were."

"Yeah?" he said, reaching the ground floor, "Why not you?"

Aaron reached the top as well, "Let's just make sure all's good. Where did it sound like it was coming from to you? I'm thinking close to the kitchen."

"Same here." the parent replied. Before continuing he stopped, grabbing Aaron by the shoulder. "What's you're problem, volunteering me for something like this?" he asked quietly.

Aaron took his hand off his shoulder and started walking. "You're not a coward or something, are you?"

That shut him up quick. They entered the sanctuary. Many were gathered there, together in prayer. A few of them were by themselves, praying on their own. Most were women over the age of sixty. The pastor looked to them.

"You two off to check on the screams?" the middle aged man asked.

"Yes sir." Aaron's companion told him, "I'm guessing you heard it too?"

"Yes... make sure my wife's okay, please. She's making some stew for us all."

"That's awful kind of her." Aaron said, "We'll tell her you said hi."

"Thank you." the pastor said as they continued on.

They walked down one of the hallways and entered the small cafeteria of the church's soup kitchen. Folding tables and chairs sat gathered in the otherwise featureless white room, a halfwall and a doorway dividing it from the kitchen. The front doors leading out to the sidewalk were locked, and had a table in front of them.

The pair looking over the halfwall into the kitchen and froze.

There were three zombies standing next to the boiling pot of water. Ingredients sat prepared on the counter next to them, never having been put in. From there Aaron and the other man could see blood on their faces.

"Oh no." The father of the two girls said "Go get some help, tell the pastor what happened!" he told Aaron, gaining a sudden wave of courage. He raised his bat as the three zombies noticed him, heading their direction.

"Okay!" Aaron told him, sprinting back down the hallway. He had a dreadful feeling in his stomach, one he couldn't shake no matter how much he told himself that it was just three. Just three of them, that's all.

Aaron made it back to the sanctuary and stopped, breathing hard. He hadn't realized just how out of shape he was. "The back door's open! Some of the sick got in!"

"My wife!?" the pastor exclaimed.

"We didn't see her, sorry. We need help. Where are some of the others?"

"I'll help." a man sitting in one of the pews said, standing up. He was younger than Aaron, probably a senior in high school.

"You got something to defend yourself with?" Aaron asked him.

"Yeah." he said, grabbing a hammer.

"Well come on then!" Aaron replied, starting the run back. He could hear the younger man's steps coming after his, their steps making a racket on the hardwood floor.

"Lord have mercy." Aaron said when they got back.

The father was on the floor of the small cafeteria, his throat bitten out and four of the undead were kneeling down over his corpse. Aaron's help leaned over and vomited, saying "Oh dear lord." under his breath. Five zombies were now in the kitchen in addition to the four eating the corpse, approaching them. Another was shambling inside as they watched.

"We've got to get out of here." Aaron whispered as yet another came in right behind the sixth.

4.
Aaron and Mary were driving back from church. Her dark blue truck was a new purchase, and a definte step up from the Aaron's beater shortbed the two had been driving around previously. Neither one of them wanted the debt and subsequent monthly payment that came with a vehicle, but the old red truck just couldn't take it anymore. After a series of one mechanical failure after another, the transmission had finally quit a week ago in a grocery store parking lot in the town of Utah (down the street from the very Church they'd be hiding in a month later). The new truck was nice though. Even had that new car (or in this case, new truck) smell.

"I think he's wrong." Mary said, steering the new truck around a bend.

"Who? The pastor?" Aaron asked. "What about?"

"The virus."


The Japanese Red.

"How so, hon?"

"I don't think this'll blow over. I'm worried."

"Why? God-"

"-always has a plan, I know, I know... it's just... what if that plan doesn't end well for us?"

"I don't understand." Aaron said.

"I'm not saying he didn't mean well - the pastor I mean - I just think he's wrong. I think things are about to get bad. Very bad. Do you remember what my mother used to always say, back when we were just friends?"

"Yeah...."


'If you're in a flood, and a boat comes to rescue you, you can't say no just because 'God will take care of me.' The boat is Him taking care of you; he's tossing you a lifeline.' was her mother's famous line there for a few months. Aaron had been grateful when he realized she'd quit saying it, having heard it more than a few times too many.

"All I'm saying," Mary said, "Is that maybe we should be careful. Make sure we don't ignore His warnings just on the belief that we'll be taken care of."

Aaron nodded, "Perhaps dear, perhaps... For now though, let's just focus on getting this truck back home without wrecking it."

"Does it make you nervous?" she asked.

"Nervous? Why would I be nervous? The thing only cost us twenty grand." he told her with a nervous laugh.


5.
The zombies in the cafeteria were making their way towards the pews. There was already a great commotion in there, and none of the undead had even gotten there yet. As they stumbled down the hall, they passed a flier tapped to the wall.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Do YOU know the signs of JAPANESE RED?


The parasitic infection commonly known as Japanese Red can arrive unexpectedly, and without much warning. To help keep yourself and others safe, look for these common symptoms in yourself and in those around you:

1.) Fever
2.) Headache
3.) Coughing
4.) Nausea/Vomiting
5.) Blood with items #3 and #4.
6.) Delirium (believing things very obviously and uncharacteristically untrue)
7.) Hallucinations (most commonly seeing others that aren't there)

Also take notice of:

8.) ANY BITE/TEETH MARKS; ANY SUSPICIOUS WOUNDS

In addition, if you see any individual or individuals that have advanced symptoms, contact your local Health Department, or the JAPANESE RED HOTLINE. For more details as well as how to tell the difference between someone with initial and advanced symptoms, visit the CDC or WHO website, or that of your local health department. If you have been bitten or suspect that you have contracted Japanese Red, visit your doctor hospital immediately.

Also remember, that Japanese Red can be transmitted both through bite and through breathing infected air. To keep yourself and others safe, please follow national, state, and local curfews and restrictions, and wear a face mask whenever you venture out into the public.

Your local JAPANESE RED HOTLINE number is:
417-555-2786

And remember, we're all in this together. Do your part to stop the spread of Japanese Red.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

6.
Mary sighed, sitting on the sofa she and her husband had been sitting on. She looked over to the mom, "When are you due?"

"In a month." she said with a smile, "Do you have any kids."

"No. Not yet, anyway."

"How long have you been married?"

"A year. You?"

"Ten. My oldest is nine, the soon-to-be middle daughter's four."

"And a half! You forgot the half!" the child protested.

"I'm sorry, sweety."

"Maryyy!" Aaron's voice shouted from upstairs.

She stood up, "What's wrong!?"

He came rushing down the stairs. He was sweaty, and stooped over, hands on his thighs as he caught his breath. The wrench was in between his right hand and his jeans.

"The sick have gotten in! We need to leave!" he told her, heaving.

"My husband! Is Joseph okay? Where is he!?"

Aaron shook his head, and she fell to her knees, sobbing.

"What's wrong mommy?" the oldest asked her.

"Where will we go?" Mary asked, ignoring the children and the sobbing woman.

"Where we were going to begin with, the playground. We'll just have to wait for a bit's all. C'mon, let's get out of here!"

In their rush to leave, they left behind the pregnant woman and her two daughters. The last thing Mary heard as she ran after Aaron was the four year old saying "Why are you crying!? Mommy I'm scared!"
If you think about it everybody lives in the same place: somewhere between the Empire of the Penguins, and the Kingdom of the Elves.

My Fiction on ZS:
a Price for Every Head
Conspiracy
Dead Memories
Into the Darkness
Japanese Red (Ongoing)
the Bigger Monster
the Flesh Eaters (Hiatus)
the Watcher

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Re: Japanese Red (Ongoing)

Post by 91Eunozs » Sat May 30, 2020 9:23 pm

Nice update ... A short header like “2 weeks ago” or something before the time jumps would help...

A lot of names to keep up with too; maybe just use terms like ‘the father of the girls’ or something to that effect for characters who will only be in the story a brief time.

Regardless, nice pace and development. Keep it coming!
Molon Latte...come & take our coffee order
Doctorr Fabulous wrote:... It's fun to play pretend, but this is the internet, and it's time to be serious.
zengunfighter wrote:... you don't want to blow a tranny in the middle of a pursuit...
woodsghost wrote:... A defensive gun without training is basically a talisman. It might ward off evil, but I wouldn't count on it.

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Re: Japanese Red (Ongoing)

Post by bodyparts » Sat Jun 13, 2020 5:09 pm

thanks for the update ! :clap: really liking the larger update! :clap: please keep them coming . :clap:

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Re: Japanese Red (Ongoing)

Post by RingWraithsAnonymous » Fri Jun 19, 2020 9:52 pm

Not much to say about this one, except perhaps sorry for the wait. This one primarily follows David and Eddie after Bill and Thomas begin their trek down Fly Creek. Thank you for reading, let me know what you think, and as always, thanks for reading.

***

Chapter 3: David and Eddie's Drive

1.
Thomas's car was pulled over at the side of the road, just past the bridge, it's windows cracked open. There were no fields nearby, just a trees (a few of which were in bloom) and undergrowth. The ten foot wide Fly Creek flowing just a short distance behind them, swollen and close to overflowing it's banks from rain. The four friends were standing next to it, on the slope next to the road.

"Are you guys sure you know where you're going?" David asked.

"Don't worry, we've got this." Thomas answered.

"Yeah, just make sure you come back for us." Bill said, "Also, how long is it to where you live these days?"

"I live out by Olive Grove now. Probably an hour and half, two hours tops round trip." David told him.

Bill nodded, "Alright. Be safe you two."

"We'll do our best." Eddie told him, getting back in the car.

"Same goes for you idiots, alright?" David said, standing there with his hand on the door handle.

"Yeah, of course." Thomas said. He ran across the road, with Bill following as he descended down the slope on the other side.

"Hop in already. Show me your new place." Eddie said through the windows.

"Alright alright give me a minute."

Thomas had left the keys in the ignition, so all David had to do once he got inside was turn them and go. After a short period of acceleration, they were heading down the road back in the direction of Silver Springs.

"Dude, you're going like, sixty. Come on, we can get there faster."

"We can." David admitted, "But A), I'm not comfortable going that fast; and B), we don't really need to. It'll take them hours to get back to us. Hell, it'll probably be after lunchtime by the time they show up at the bridge. We'll be there way before them. Even if we stopped and watched a fucking episode of Cops, we'd still get there in time."

Eddie merely nodded, staring out the window

"You worried about Liv?" Eddie asked after a few minutes.

David took a deep breath, "Trying not to think about it."

"Sorry...."

2.
The quickest way from Fly Creek to Olive Grove was through Silver Springs. It took them a little over twenty five minutes to return to Silver Springs If they had simply drove straight through, it would've only been another fifteen or so to Olive Grove, and another two or so to David's. David and Eddie didn't drive straight through Silver Springs however.

"Since we'll have time to burn anyway, any chance we could stop by my place real quick?" Eddie asked.

"Why?" David asked as they drove past the Ford dealership at the western edge of town.

"Let's face it, neither one of us knows what the hell's gonna happen. Hell, today might be our last time here... or we could come back tomorrow. Point is, I've got some shit I want to take care of at my place in case I never get back. Some stuff I didn't get done before we had to go.

"Like what." David asked as they cruised into town.

It looked deserted. Deserted and robbed. There were no cars on the road, though a few were pulled over next to the sidewalk. At least one window was broken on at least half of the houses they saw. Businesses had been hit worse.

"Mostly just a thing or two I don't want to leave behind forever."

David sighed, "Quit beating around the damn bush. What the hell do you want."

"My weed and my acoustic."

"What?" David said, taking his eyes of the road briefly to give Eddie a look.

"Yeah. I didn't realize I hadn't grabbed my pot until after we were barreling down the road. So I want that."

"I get that, that makes sense, but where the hell would we keep your guitar?"

"I helped you move. Your car's got a sizable trunk on her. Hell, even in it's case the damn thing will still leave plenty of room for whatever other shit you or the others wanna throw back there."

"Ugghhh... Fine, I guess."

"You still remember the way to my place?" Eddie asked.

"Yeah. I haven't been in a while but I know where I'm going."

3.
David sat in the driver's seat of Thomas's car in front of the rental home Eddie lived in, waiting. There was a zombie at the end of the street slowly approaching, and David didn't like it very much.

His cell phone started to ring, startling him. He hoped to God it was Liv. When he checked, the caller ID said it was Aaron. He let it ring once more before answering, disappointed.

"Hey Aaron, is something going on?" He finally said.

"Yeah... I tried to get a hold of Bill, then Thomas, but I guess neither one of them have service. At least, I hope that's what it... nevermind. Look, I figured somebody should know that we had to leave the church."

"What? What happened?"

"Some of the sick got in. Mary and I have been at the meet up spot for a little bit, just waiting around."

"Okay. Glad you guys are okay."

"Me too. Driving across town was a nightmare. You were right, the Army does seem to have been mobilizing here. A convoy drove down mainstreet, cutting us off for a bit. Crap, I gotta go. I'll call Bill or Tom again later."

"Wait, whats-?"

Aaron hung up on him.

"Dammit...." he muttered. After a brief pause he opened his contacts, and hit the call button next to Liv's name.

4.
He was sitting on his bed with the bedroom door open, his guitar case sitting on the old mattress. The curtains were open, letting sunlight into the gray carpeted room.

Eddie brought his baseball bat inside with him, just in case something had gotten in. The lights were off, and when he tried to turn them on they stayed dark. The Power must've finally gone out.

The lighting hadn't really been a problem, since it was noon, and the acoustic guitar hadn't been a problem to find either, since he kept both it and the electric under his bed. The issue he was facing was related to his weed, or rather his lack of it. He always kept a quarter in a plastic sandwich bag, which he kept stowed under his socks and underwear.

It wasn't there.

He had searched the other drawers of his dresser to make sure he hadn't misplaced it. Nothing. He had turned his room over looking for it, knowing he had put it somewhere, but couldn't find it. What disturbed him the most about it wasn't the fact that he couldn't find it (he'd misplaced plenty of things before, though was usually better with his weed), it was the fact that he remembered putting it back. Quite clearly.

What if somebody took it? the paranoid section of his mind inquired.

Only Mike had ever been around when he'd put up his weed. Hell, Mike had made fun of him for his hiding it.

"What have you got to worry about?" Mike had asked him once, "Not like the cops are gonna be searching the joint without you letting them in, unless they have a warrant. Besides, what the hell would you ever do to get them to get a warrant?"

"Where in the hell?" he asked himself, standing up.

"Eddie? When did you get here?" A voice asked from the kitchen.

Eddie froze. Nobody had been in the kitchen when he'd first entered the house. He stood up and quietly moved next to the doorframe, standing hidden behind the partially open door.

"It's my damn house! Who the hell are you?" he asked, his bat in hand.

"Its me dipshit! It's Rob!"

"Rob? What in the hell are you doing here?"

"I was staying with Mike until... look, you know what happened. I tried calling you but you didn't pick up."

"Shit, yeah, sorry about that. I completely forgot to call you back."

"Why are we shouting at each other from different rooms?"

"I don't know... think we should change it?

"Perhaps. I found some weed sitting on your nightstand. I'm guessing it's yours?"

So that's what happened to it.

"Yeah it's mine you thief!" Eddie said as he began to make his way out of his room and down the hall to the kitchen, "Now hand over the green!"

He stopped at the entrance to the kitchen. It was Rob alright, wearing his blue beanie and in need of a shave. He appeared to be in his usual state known as 'lookin rough there, Rob'. The baggie was sitting on the counter top next to where he was standing, a bag of chips in hand.

"Toss it to me." Eddie said, holding out the hand that wasn't holding his bat. Rob did as asked, and Eddie caught it successfully (much to his surprise). "So where the hell were you when I came in?"

"The bathroom takin a piss. I thought one of them had come inside, so I hid for a while. I decided 'fuck it' after a bit though and grabbed my knife. Then, well, you talked."

"Good thing too, I'd've been pissed if you stabbed me in the back of the head.

Rob laughed a little too hard and coughed. He put his fist up to his mouth in an effort to cover it. It came away with flecks of red.

"You okay Rob?" Eddie asked, gripping his bat a little tighter.

"Yeah, yeah. One of them fuckers at the liquor store working the counter was sick as a dog. This girl had given me the cash and told me to get her some vodka, and I wasn't about to disappoint: she had a rack on her, dude."

"Always told you being a man whore wouldn't get you anywhere good." Eddie commented, "You sure you didn't catch something?"

Y'know, like the Red?

"Nah, I'm clean." he told him, before hacking some more, "God I've got a cough though - at least it's just a cold, and I'm not turning into one of them, right?"

"Yeah." Eddie said, putting on a fake smile. "Give me a sec." He walked back to his room, very concerned. At least the bag was still sealed. He'd have to douse the damn thing in some Germ-X though before he could open it... hell, he'd have to douse his hands in the stuff too.
What about the guitar? Would it be safe? Yeah, it would, the question was would the case be clean? Probably, it was under the bed, and he probably hadn't been in Eddie's room for very long. Besides, a decent chunk of the people that got sick from the airborne shit recovered.

Well, some recovered.

A few recovered....

Eddie shut the door behind him and grabbed the hand sanitizer he'd made a habit of keeping on the night stand. It was a new addition, having been added after things started getting iffy. He squirted some of the magic, germ-slaying goop on his hands and rubbed them together until they were dry. He gave the bag the same treatment, then stuffed both it and the sanitizer in his jeans pocket. As he grabbed the guitar case by its handle he heard Rob started coughing again, making Eddie feel a little pale.

"Hey, where you off too?" Rob asked as he re-entered the kitchen.

"I'm leaving, Bobby. Take care. Head back to your place though, if you would. You can take the Doritos with you."

"Well where you going?" Rob asked, stepping forward to stand between Eddie and the doorway to the living room. "Why you taking the guitar?"

"Going out of town. Might not be back for a while."

Bobby nodded, then coughed. This time some of the red came up in little chunks, "God damn...." he sputtered, "Oh Jesus. Can I come with?"

"No. There's barely gonna be room for me in the damn car once we get everybody picked up." He lied.

"That ain't fair! Come on, take me with you."

They stared at each other, Rob with his now closed bag of chips and his rather sizable kitchen knife, and Eddie with his guitar case and baseball bat.

"No. Any chance I could squeeze by ya?"

Rob ignored the question, "C'mon man." he said, taking a step forward, "I need to get outta here."

"Take you're own damn car." Eddie told him, "Now I need to get going. Seriously, David's gonna be worried."

"Oh I see how it is!" Rob yelled, "You're gonna run with that little bitch but not you're fucking bandmate? Well fuck you Eddie! Fuck you! I thought we were friends!"

Eddie didn't like the way he was waving that knife around, "Hey man, it isn't like that, honest. David? He don't mean shit. He's just my ride outta here, ya know? I'm gonna be running with Bill and Tommy. You remember Bill, don't ya?"

"Yeah... he sucked ass. Little shit thought he could drum, all he was good at was beating a bucket."

"C'mon man, please. I really gotta get going."

"Not without me you're not!" Rob said, pointing the knife at him. From Eddie's estimate the thing had to be ten inches long, maybe even a foot. Eddie set the guitar case down on the kitchen table.

Rob must've been further along than Eddie first thought. If you were bit you died quick, before you had much chance to start losing your mind. If Rob got sick from somebody at the liquor store though... things were different then. Might take a while for him to die. More time for him to lose his fucking marbles.

More time for him to try and stab Eddie if old Edward didn't do what Robert wanted.

"Yo, what the fuck man!" Eddie told him, "Whatchya waving that damn thing around for? Huh? We're bandmates man, we're pals."

"No we're not. You'd rather leave me behind and smoke some damn green with fucking queers!" Rob sneered, his blade shaking in his outstretched hand.

"Robert, man, please. Put it-."

Rob rushed him thrusting the kitchen implement at his stomach.

"-down! David help!!!" Eddie roared, twisting sideways out of the blades path. He switched to a two handed grip on his bat and swung at Rob, hitting him hard in the left shoulder. Rob stumbled into the kitchen table.

"Motherfucker! Imma fucking gut you queer!"

"Fuck that!" Eddie told him, taking another swing.

He missed, and Rob took advantage of it, stepping forward and taking a slice at him He missed his flesh, but cut the arm of Eddie's hoodie pretty good.

"DAVID!!!!!" Eddie barked, making a downward swing upon Rob. The wooden club slammed into Rob's shoulder, this time his right, causing him to drop the knife. Rob was left dazed and started coughing some more, spewing some shit onto Eddie's jeans. Eddie made a final attack, slamming his bat into the left side of Rob's jaw. Rob collapsed, landing sprawled out on the tile, his mouth bloody and a couple of teeth on the ground.

"Oh shit." Eddie mumbled, his legs feeling weak as he stared down at his unresponsive friend.

The front door flew open, "Eddie!? What's wrong!?"

"Rob was here. Motherfucker... he tried to kill me I think." Eddie said. He still couldn't quite wrap his head around it, "Oh God, bastard tried to kill me..."

"Jesus Christ." David said, seeing Rob on the floor, "You didn't kill him, did you?"

"I don't know." Eddie replied, his throat feeling like it was about to close up, "Put my guitar case in the trunk. Be careful with it. I need to get new jeans, I'll be out of my room in a second. We need to get the hell out of here."

5.
They were almost to David's house, and were out in the countryside. Eddie was wearing a new pair of jeans. Both had taken a liberal dose of the anti-germ. The ride out of Silver Springs had been much quieter than the one to it.

Rob still lay motionless in his kitchen floor, though Eddie thought he saw breathing right as they left.

If he was being honest though, he didn't give two shits what happened to that asshole. He'd tried to murder him, and Eddie wasn't too keen on that. While he had been changing pants he felt the adrenaline rush ease down, and for a minute there thought he was gonna pass out, he was trembling so bad.

"How much longer? I gotta piss." Eddie said.

"Just a couple of minutes. If it's bad I can go ahead and pull over."

"No, its fine. I'm not that bad off."

David was silent for a while, before asking, "You good, man? After what happened."

"I'm fine."

"You sure?"

"Yes. I- I'm sure. I'm fine. It's all good. Let's not talk about it, okay?"

"Okay."

David slowed the car down and flipped on his turn signal before turning down a dirt road that went up a hill that the paved road went around. It was more mud than dirt though, if one was being honest.

"Didn't know you lived out in the sticks. Thought you said you lived by Olive Grove?"

"I don't 'live in the sticks', not really. Had I kept going another minute we would've been in Olive Grove. My house is the first one down this road. At the top of the hill."

"How much land you got?"

"Not much. Most of it's woods. About twenty acres."

Eddie nodded like he knew what an acre was (he didn't), then said, "Nice... y'know, depending on what the others say, we could just stay at your place for a bit. Y'know, if that's cool with you, obviously."

"No, it wouldn't work." David told him, "It's such a small house. There were times it seemed too small just having her parents over. That was only four people, and there'd be six of us. Where the hell would you guys sleep?"

"It was just a thought...."

"Well you maybe you shoulda harder!" David said.

Eddie fell silent.

"Sorry, didn't mean to snap." David said.

"Don't worry about it. I know you got a lot on your mind." Eddie murmured, staring out the window at the oaks and the occasional sycamore.

They got to the flat part at the top of the hill, and Eddie saw David's house. It was a single story white house with a chimney. It had a separate, open air garage with enough space for two cars, David's on the left closest to the house.

"Damn, you really are turning into a hick." Eddie laughed, looking at the barbed wire fence that closed in the yard.

"Heh, yeah. The fence was already up when I bought the place. The rest of the property's fenced in too. There's a little gate in the back, takes you out into a small little pasture type thing that opens up to the rest of the woods."

"Nice. Quaint. Reminds me of my grandma's." Eddie told him.

"Unlike your grandma I don't have any damn edibles though, sorry."

Eddie laughed, "Yeah... she was a bit of a pothead."

"Like you aren't?"

"That's fair. You should try a bit of it sometime, before I run out."

"I'm good."

"C'mon, why not?" Eddie asked as David parked the car, "You might never get the chance ever again here soon."

"Ugghhh." David replied, "Fine... maybe. We'll have to see I guess. You should ask Bill. I'm sure he'd probably be down."

"He's already tried it."

"Really? When?" David asked as they both got out of Thomas's car.

"God, I dunno, a year ago maybe. It was back when he was still with the band, I remember that much. He said it was alright."

"Damn. Is he a smoker too then?"

"No, not really." Eddie said, walking over to the fence to take a leak. "To be honest with you, I think that's the only time he's tried it. He didn't seem that interested really, after he'd tried it. Hell I think the only reason he even tried it was curiosity more than anything. You know how he is."

"Yeah," David said, unlocking his front door, "I know what you mean."

"What are you going inside for?" Eddie asked, hearing the door's squeaky hinges.

"I've got a few things I need to take care of myself before we leave."

"Fair enough. I'll wait out here I guess. Am I gonna be driving your car back or Tommy's?"

"Tom's." David said as he closed the door.

6.
David hoped the note would be sufficient. He'd left it stuck to the refrigerator with one of those souvenir magnets Liv had (the one from when her family went to California when she was sixteen.)

He stepped out onto the front porch and looked around, the awful truth hitting him that that might very well be the last time he ever got to saw his home. He started to drift off, thinking about how many other things he had done for the last time without knowing it.

"David! You ready to go?" Eddie asked, sitting on the trunk of the red car.

"Yuh-yeah. Catch." he said, tossing him the keys.

Eddie's hand missed, and the fell in the gravel of the driveway. He shook his head, hopped down, and picked them up.

"You suck." David said.

"Never was much of an athlete."

"Yeah well..." David replied, finding himself drifting again. He cleared his head, and his throat, "Let's get going. I know we've got time to burn but I'd rather get there as soon as we can. You sure you're gonna be good to drive."

"What? Yeah... the shit's mostly out of my system. I didn't take more than a couple hits this morning. The end's here, gotta conserve, y'know?"

7.
Liv,

This is Dave. You never called me back, or answered my texts. I hope you're okay. If you ever come home and read this note, then I'm not here, and might not ever come back. I pray to God you're okay. What kills me the most is that you might never read this, that I might never see you again. If we never see each other again, I just want you to know that the ring is in a box on the mantle. I hate the fact that I never had the chance to give it to you in person, that we never got to that stage in life. Hopefully you would've said yes had I had the chance.

I love you Olivia Jade.
If you think about it everybody lives in the same place: somewhere between the Empire of the Penguins, and the Kingdom of the Elves.

My Fiction on ZS:
a Price for Every Head
Conspiracy
Dead Memories
Into the Darkness
Japanese Red (Ongoing)
the Bigger Monster
the Flesh Eaters (Hiatus)
the Watcher

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RingWraithsAnonymous
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Posts: 51
Joined: Fri Dec 28, 2018 3:23 pm
Favorite Zombie Movies: 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead, World War Z
Location: Ozarks Region

Re: Japanese Red (Ongoing)

Post by RingWraithsAnonymous » Sat Jul 25, 2020 7:23 pm

Jeez, I didn't realize it had been over a month :shock: . Apologies folks, but, if it's any consolation, this chapter is the longest thus far. I hope you appreciate it, even if I need to be posting more. Also, I thanked you for reading twice. Whoops. Let me know what you think, and as always, thanks for reading.

***

Chapter 4: Fly Creek

1.
Bill and Thomas had done a fairly good job of staying far enough on dry land to keep from getting wet. It was inevitable however that one of them had ended up stepping into a patch of wet, marshy ground. The unlucky one ended up being Thomas.

The trip was somewhat monotonous. After a while, Bill had gotten a short distance ahead, having charged forth with a sense of "get 'er done" to him. Thomas felt his phone vibrating in his pocket, and quickly pulled it out. He was surprised that he even had service out there.

"Hey Bill! Wait up!" he called, pulling out his phone, "It's Mary!"

"Please be good news please be good news." Bill muttered as Thomas answered the phone.

"Mary, what's going on?"

"There's a lot of sick around here, Tom. Lot of em. We decided to come meet you guys. Which way are you coming from, east or west?"

"Give me a minute." he said, taking the phone away from his ear, "Hey Bill! She said they're gonna come meet us. Are we gonna be coming at them from the east or the west? My sense of direction sucks ass."

Bill thought on it a moment, "Tell them to come east. And to look out for muddy spots."

"Ha-fucking-ha." Thomas replied. He brought the phone back to his ear, "Head east. Make sure you get whatever it is you're gonna bring. Just remember not to take too much. It's a long walk."

"Okay. Thank you." she said, hanging up.

"They on their way?" Bill asked.

"I'm guessing so. How far down do you figure we are?"

"About a third of the way maybe. Why?"

"Wanna just hit up halfway and then wait for em?"

"Depends. Where do you figure halfway would be?"

"I'd guess off by that damn haunted house."

"Fuck that shit." Bill said, feeling shivery "We're already playing with zombies, I don't wanna fuck around with no damn spirits."

"Figured you'd say that. You always were a puss when it came to such matters. Remember the Ouija board?" Thomas said with a grin.

"That shit was fucked. I wasn't about to be possessed by Zozo or some shit. Sorry, no thanks."

"Yeah, I know. That's exactly what you said when you ran out of the fucking house and drove home."

"Seriously though, if we're gonna wait for them halfway, can we find a better place to do it than at the bottom of the hill from that house? Place gives me the creeps."

2.
The first thing Aaron noticed about Fly Creek was that it was deep and muddy. He and Mary had been making their way alongside it for about fifteen minutes when they got spotted. Aaron heard footsteps behind them followed by a throat clear. He tensed up.

"Sir, ma'am, what are you doing out here?" a man's voice asked.

They turned, and saw a soldier standing behind them. He had a rifle in his hands, but kept it pointed to the side. He looked about their age, maybe older, mid twenties or so.

"Once again, just what in the hell are you doing out here?"

"Taking a walk." Mary said.

"Not many people going out for strolls these days." the soldier said, "I'm gonna have to insist that the two of you return to town."

"We have somewhere we've got to be." Aaron told him, "Some people we're meeting up with."

"Look, I have orders. Those orders tell me that we can't be having people sneaking out of town. No one in. No one out."

"Sir, please." Mary said, "We really-"

"Look." the man said. He glanced around, then stepped closer, lowering the volume, "To be honest, I don't give two shits. I get it. The place is going to hell. Just be careful not to run into any others. Hell, another ten minutes and you'll be past our patrols."

The couple stared at him for a minute, and he stared back.

"Thank you." Mary told him.

"You're welcome to come with us, if that suit's you." Aaron said.

The man in fatigues shook his head, "I've got other commitments. Now get going, before I decide to escort you back."

Aaron and Mary didn't waste any time. The soldier shook his head as they hurried off into the brush.

3.
Bill and Thomas were walking almost side-by-side, quietly reminiscing on their past. They had decided to call the halfway mark a little before the creepy, most likely haunted house they had visited as teens. The new halfway mark was at an old campsite, where the creek ran through some conservation ground.

Bill suddenly stopped dead, "Did you hear that?" he whispered, clutching his hatchet.

"No, what?" Thomas asked at a normal volume.

"Shhhh!" Bill hissed, his eyes darting around.

Thomas heard it the next time. It was distant, but there. The sound of crunching sticks and rustled leaf litter.

"You think it's a zombie?"

"I don't fuckin know." Bill whispered back, "Where is it even coming from?"

They both listened silently. It was growing louder.

"C'mon, let's get going." Thomas said, "I'm starting to get freaked."

"What if-?"

"Look, whatever it is, it couldn't hurt to put some distance between us and it. Besides, it sounds like it's coming from behind us." Thomas interrupted, marching forward.

Bill glanced around, taking a long look behind him. He turned back, and Thomas was already ten yards ahead of him. Bill jogged up next to his friend, closing the gap.

And the quiet sounds of pursuit continued to follow them.

4.
Aaron was beginning to feel paranoid. It had been roughly thirty minutes since their brush with The Man, and he was beginning to feel like a fugitive. He would think he saw something peeking at them from behind a tree up ahead, almost shout out a warning to his wife, then realize it was just large burls on the oak's surface. To him they looked like cancer--hell, for all he knew they might've been a form of plant cancer--which did little to help his intensifying feelings of anxiety.

That's why when his phone chimed in his pocket he about leapt out of his skin.

"What's wrong dear?" his wife asked, concern showing on her face.

He gave a sad little chuckle. "My phone went off. I'm just feeling skittish right now's all, hang on."

It was a text from Bill. Much like Thomas had been earlier, he was amazed that they had service out there in the sticks. When his wife had managed to call Thomas, he had been almost as amazed. The message was simple, but it did very little to ease his worry. In fact, it made it worse.

Stop at the campsite in the Katowah conservation area. Can't miss it, it's right at the edge of the water. Don't call or text. We think we're being watched.

"Oh fuck." he said.

"Aaron!" Mary was aghast. Her husband never used language like that, "What is it?"

He showed her the message, and he watched her face pale a little.

"That's what's wrong." he said. He realized they'd been standing in the same spot for a while. For all he knew, something might've noticed their presence and they very well might've been being watched. The thought made his skin crawl.

5.
Much like Aaron and Mary, Bill and Thomas had an encounter with someone in the woods.

"Slow down!" A male voice screamed behind them.

Bill yelped, and Thomas screamed. After the fact the two of them would deny such things, for they had bravely faced whatever dangers lay on the banks of Fly Creek.

Because you know, testosterone.

As a loud series of splashes sounded, Bill raised his hatchet. Thomas tightened his grip on his machete. They both turned around. A bloody mouthed man approached them, having fallen into the creek. With it flooded the way it was, he was chest deep in the brown, debris filled water.

"Slow down motherfuckers!" he shouted.

"Jesus!" Thomas shouted. The man was a good twenty yards away from them still.

"He's sick! He's one of the sick!" Bill shouted, having managed to stay away from most of them until that moment. He wasn't sure how to feel. He felt sad, he felt sickened, he felt scared. Most of all what he felt was an atavistic, instinctual sort of feeling: the feeling often referred to as fight or flight. And at that moment, Bill was torn.

"Slow down! I need to catch up!" the delirious man shouted at them.

"C'mon, let's go." Thomas said, turning to leave.

"What!?" Bill said, "What the hell are we gonna do about him!?"

"Motherfucker's probably gonna drown himself." Thomas said, turning to face Bill, "And if he doesn't, we'll have to take care of it I guess. If we hurry we should be able to gain a shitload of ground though."

"I don't-"

"Bill: c'mon, man. Y'know it's the best option."

"I-I-I-" Bill stammered. He then sighed, "Let's go."

"No!" the man shouted, "Wait up mother-" his head dipped underwater.

Bill and Thomas waited, expecting any second for the sick man's face to pop back up out of the current and start swearing at them once more. After a few moments of waiting, they left in silence.

His head didn't come back up.


6.
The campsite, which sat in the Katowah Conservation Area, was a small, out of the way spot. It all fit within a small clearing which sat at the edge of Fly Creek. A faintly moss greened picnic table sat in the middle. A rusted, charred old grill a decade too old sat at the edge, a sprig of virginia creeper beginning to climb up it's leg. An old sign on a fencepost, which sat less than a foot from the swelled waters, told visitors what days it was and wasn't legal to fish.

Bill and Thomas were waiting there, sitting at the picnic table. After the incident with the ill man, they were on edge. They talked little, merely gazing around into the trees, and listening for any sounds that weren't the flowing creek water or birdsong.

"Bill?" Thomas finally asked.

"Yeah?" his friend replied quietly.

"I feel so bad about what... look, I'm sorry. I tried so hard, believe me."

Bill was silent for a moment. He didn't want to talk about it. "I know you did. It still doesn't change what happened"

"Bill, I-"

"This isn't a fucking lost hat, Thomas!" he shouted. The birds fell silent, "She's fucking dead Thomas!!! She's dead!!! You can't fix that shit with a 'sorry' you bitch!!!"

It was Tom's turn to be silent, before saying "It's not my fault, Bill. I saw it happen, and there was nothing I could do! You think it was easy for me to sit there and watch her get torn to pieces!?"

Bill reached across the table and punched Thomas in the jaw. Thomas, caught completely off guard, fell over onto the bench.

"You fucking dick! You don't know what this feels like!"

Thomas leaned forward a bit and spit at him, "Oh fuck off! You think you're the only one to have lost!? Get over yourself you stupid bitch!"

Bill roared and threw himself over the bench at Thomas. They went sprawling into the short, stubby spring grass in a grapple. They rolled around in the dirt, cussing each other and throwing the occasional kick or punch the other's way. They began to roll closer and closer to the creek, until Bill slammed Tom's head into the fencepost. Tom grabbed Bill by the hair and slammed his head down into the dirt a few times. Bill let go of Thomas for a split second, dazed, winded, and still on the ground; and Thomas took advantage, shoving him away before hastily getting up and backing away a few steps.

His shove sent Bill rolling into the muddy creek, his upper half underwater. Bill pulled himself out of the water, coughing, his upper torso and head soaked, a few tiny pieces of flood debris stuck in his hair. His arms and shirt were muddy, and as he got up he wiped some of it onto his face.

The two men stood there glaring at each other, out of breath. They heard the crashing of underbrush coming from ahead, and ran over to the picnic table, grabbing their melee weapons.

Aaron and Mary came scrambling out of the trees.

"We heard yelling!" Aaron said, "So we came running, are you guys okay?"

"What happened, Bill?" Mary asked him.

Bill grimaced and spit out a small chunk of mud.

7.
David and Eddie were back at the bridge. On the return trip they hadn't made any stops in Silver Springs. In fact, they had rushed through it as fast as they could. They weren't chancing a repeat encounter with infected.

David's white car (an odd choice for living on a dirt road, Eddie thought) was pulled over on the shoulder just before the bridge. Thomas's car was parked right behind it. Both Eddie and David sat on the bridge railing, watching Fly Creek flow beneath them.

"This is gonna be boring as fuck." Eddie said, watching a piece of driftwood about the size of his arm come floating towards them. It wasn't until after the it had drifted underneath them that David spoke.

"Ah well. Boredom's better than the alternative."

"What? Having a good time?"

"No. It's better than having a bad one though, and lately that shit seems to crop up more than the good times...." he said.

They sat in silence for a long time after that, staring down into the creek below, having no idea how long it would take for the group to get back for sure. They heard a car coming towards them eventually, and got a little nervous. When it came within sight, they simply waved at the blue farm truck that appeared, and it's occupants waved back. The dog sitting in the bed, a black lab, panted as it's head turned to watch them until it was out of sight.

"You okay, Dave?" Eddie asked.

"No, not really...."

"Do you wanna talk about it?"

"Nope."

"Okay.... you mind if I talk? Fill the silence?"

"Sure. Go ahead I guess. I'll try to listen. No promises."

"Okay." Eddie cleared his throat, not too sure just what the hell he was going to say until he started talking. Truth be told, it wasn't something he had ever wanted to talk about. "I've had a problem, it's been going on for a while now I guess. I didn't want to admit it. Made excuses about it. Told myself plenty of times that I wasn't an addict. Sad truth of the matter is that I am. It started innocently enough, freshman year of highschool. My parents, well, you knew how they were--always the sheltering type. First time I tried it... man, it was something else. Starting out it was an occasional, rare thing. Soon it got more frequent."

Eddie sighed, David staring at him. He hadn't been prepared for Eddie to spill his guts about something, but he'd told him he would listen, so listen he would.

"Here lately I've been feeding the addiction a lot. Like, twice, three times a day a lot. Quite the jump from once or twice a week, huh? Hell, nobody else I know had a problem with it. For the longest time I blamed myself, felt like I was the fuck up, y'know. Nobody else seemed to be so affected by it, so controlled by it, so why would I be unless I was fucked up in the head, weak, y'know? I tried to quit dozens of times. Most of the time I would last a day or two longer than the time before, but I'd always relapse. And afterward I would always feel like shit, y'know?" he admitted, his voice trembling a touch, "It wasn't until I admitted to myself that it was an addiction that I began to not hate myself so much. I learned about it some, that it wasn't just me. Plenty of people had similar issues, online at least. I have a suspicion that like me, they wouldn't admit it to you in person. I still kinda hate myself for it, but for some weird reason, I feel like this whole shit's a chance to start over, y'know? Like, because everything's going to hell, maybe it's a sign that I need to change, or that I'm supposed to change...." Eddie pulled out his phone. He didn't unlock it, didn't look at it, just held it, staring down at the creek all the while.

David put a hand on Eddie's shoulder, "Damn man, I didn't know weed gave you so much shit. I always thought it was an on occasion thing for you."

"Pot? Oh yeah, it is. I wasn't talking about the green though."

"Then what were you talking about?" David asked, confused.

Eddie ignored him, "It began to totally alter my life, totally fuck it up. At first it was fine, and I didn't think about it much. That all changed though, and looking back I can't believe I didn't start seeing it sooner. I quit making new relationships. Quit trying to talk to girls. My desire for a relationship just evaporated, but my desire for women didn't, no sir." he said with a bitter, solitary laugh. "I began to see everybody differently. Began to get jealous of my friends that had relationships. I began to see women completely differently, too. I began to see them more and more as shit I could fantasize over. Eventually I began to be a total creep, looking at innocent pictures of female friends, and imagining what they would look like if they were in a bikini. Or in their underwear. Or with no clothes on at all. It was toxic. I started to get almost incel like man--an incel mentality--it was terrible. The longer I tried to quit the more normal I got but... I never would've thought something that started out as just having a good time would ruin my fucking self-esteem, twist my life the way it did. Worst part is my parents never did find out. I never had the guts to tell them. They'll never know...."

David was a little concerned, "Eddie... I'm confused. What was it that did this, if it wasn't weed?"

He turned away from David to face the creek, and a sad smile blossomed on his lips, "I was completely fucked up by the one addiction they never teach you or warn you about in school: porn addiction."

With that, he lifted his phone up with his right hand, then chucked it as far and as hard upstream as he could.

8.
David was silent for a time after Eddie's confession. In all frankness, he didn't know what to say. Alcohol addiction? His dad was an alcoholic. Nicotine? Plenty of people he went to school with got fucked over by their vape pens. Drugs? Hell, that wasn't too unheard of. But porn? Please. Get real. Nobody got addicted to porn.

Right...?

9.
"Is he okay?" Aaron quietly asked Thomas.

They were halfway back to the bridge. Bill was up ahead of them a good ten, fifteen yards, hatchet in a deathgrip. The mud had dried mostly, and his clothes were merely damp by that point in the journey.

"Yeah, what's his deal?" Mary added.

Thomas sighed, "Nothin. He's just... I pissed him off, is all. He'll get over it eventually. I don't blame him, y'know. Jennifer...."

"What did you do?" Aaron asked.

"Look, I know you mean well, but I'd rather not talk about it." Thomas told him.

"Okay.... y'know, I'm glad we're making the trip back together."

"What? The trees give you the willies?" Thomas asked, a grin on his face.

"No." Aaron told him.

Mary scoffed, "You liar. I thought you were gonna have a panic attack before we got here."

Thomas chuckled, "Still a scaredy then I take it."

"Oh screw off." Aaron told him.

10.
Bill climbed up the slope. He wasn't sure how far behind him the others were. He also didn't really care. The bridge was in front of him, and as he clambered up the grassy slope next to it, he could hear Aaron and Eddie talking about old high school shit. Bill wasn't really paying attention. He reached the pavement and stopped to catch his breath.

Edward and David were sitting in the grass at the edge of the road, opposite to Bill, their backs turned to him.

"Hey, which one of you fuckers ended up driving Tom's car?"

David physically jumped a bit, and Eddie snapped his head around.

"Jesus Bill!" David declared.

"Yeah, man." Eddie said, standing up, "You look like you spent a tour in the ricefields. The hell happened to you? And where's the others?"

"Oh, Aaron and Mary? I ended up ahead of them a bit. They'll show up in a few minutes."

"Well what about Thomas?" David asked.

"Little bitch is with em."

"Damn, the hell'd he do to you?" Eddie inquired.

Bill waved his hand in a dismissive manner, "Oh he's just being a dick is all."

"That how you got muddy and shit?" Eddie continued.

Bill nodded, "It doesn't matter, really. Either of you got any ideas as to where we're gonna go?"

"Nope." David told him, "But if you are even thinking about getting in my car, clean that shit off ya. I'd rather have you in there wet than looking like you do now."

11.
Bill had taken his shirt off, letting the sun dry it as it sat on the pavement. His jeans had some mud on them still, but he'd scraped off most of the dry, caked on crap, enough for David to be happy anyway. He shivered, the air at that weird temperature where your skin felt warm but your core was left cold.

As Bill, Dave, and Eddie talked, they could hear gunshots in the distance. It was unnerving to be sure, but they tried to not be too concerned about it. The shots were, after all, coming from the opposite direction that Aaron, Mary, and Thomas were supposed to be coming from.

Roughly ten minutes after Bill had arrived, Aaron and Mary topped the slope, with Thomas right behind them.

"Welcome back. Slowpokes." Bill told them.

"You should've stuck with us." Mary said, "We were getting worried."

Bill chuckled, "I can take care of myself. I'm a big boy."

Thomas looked at David, "You guys didn't have too much trouble, did you."

"Nope." Eddie told him, "Smooth as silk."

David nodded. It seemed Eddie had decided to leave out the incident with Rob. "Yeah, worst part was the wait." he said with a smile, "What about you thr--four."

Thomas didn't acknowledge the slip, "Not bad. A little creepy there for a bit, some sick fuck was following us for a while. Return trip wasn't too bad though."

Bill had already told David and Eddie about the sick man.

"So," Aaron said, "Now what? What's the plan."

"There isn't one." Bill said, "Unless someone came up with one when I wasn't looking."

The others sort of him-hawed, nobody having really put much thought into it. It seemed they had all had the mentality of 'one of the others will figure it out.'

"Hey Aaron, why don't we go to your parents' place?" David asked.

"No." Aaron told him. "You remember what happened. They're still probably convinced that I'm going to Hell. That doesn't even speak for some of the shit they said about you guys...."

They remembered, all right. David felt bad for even having brought it up. He hadn't been thinking about that when he had asked, only remembering the sheer amount of time they spent hanging out at his parents' farm. He hadn't thought about the blow up he'd had with his parents... what had it even started over? He remembered it was something trivial... then it had escalated.

12.
Aaron couldn't believe it. Somehow it had gone from a simple argument over him not getting the pigs fed because he was hanging out with his girlfriend and her gay friend, to a bigoted argument against LGBTs and 'Why would anyone in their right mind choose to be gay... don't they know that gets people in Hell? Don't they know that God doesn't like homosexuals?'

"Dad, I highly doubt God cares that much about who people are attracted to."

"Do you not hear yourself?" his mother asked, "I don't think you're hanging out with the right people. Denying God's intention is-"

"I'm not 'denying God's intention!" he told her, getting a little fired up, "All I'm saying is I think it would be weird for God to be
that focused on, and care that much about who people wanted to have sex with!"

His dad shook his head, "Aaron, that's ridiculous. God cares about the sanctity of marriage and of-"

"What's so 'unsanct' about it, Dad? Well?"

"You need to stop interrupting us, before we have a real issue." his father told him, "Now if you actually have to
ask what is wrong with it, then you've spent way too much time with those weird friends of yours and not enough time in church. Remember the story of Sodom?"

"Dad, anyone that's read that part of the Bible and has a thinking brain sees that Sodom wasn't smited for being gay, Sodom was smited for wanting to rape angels!"

In retrospect, he really should've thought before saying the words 'thinking brain'. Especially when it came to Biblical matters, as contested as things are and as many different 'interpretations' of things as there are.

"I am done with the disrespect. Keep this up and I'm taking your truck keys." his dad warned.

"I'm sorry, that didn't come out right." Aaron told him.

"That's better." his dad replied.

Mom nodded, "Now, Aaron, please do your chores before going to hang out with your friends, okay?"

"Okay. I just forgot is all, sorry."

"Your mother's right," Dad said, "Now, let's also stop this nonsense of hanging out with homos. Mary shouldn't be friends with any of them either, she's a good girl. Her parent's must not have taught her right."

Aaron hadn't ever realized just how bigoted his family was until that argument. His mom left the living room to go the kitchen, and his dad began to go to the garage to work on his truck.

Aaron saw the cross on the wall and looked at it as his dad got hallway across the living room. He just couldn't reconcile how Jesus, someone who loved humanity so, would be okay with hatred against a people for any reason, especially for one Aaron didn't think was fully within their control. He took a deep breath.

"Dad...."

His dad stopped in front of the door to the garage, "What, Aaron?"

"I don't want to argue, I just... I guess I'm lost about something."

"What is it, son?"

"If it really was destroyed for the gay men there, Why would an entire city be destroyed for something beyond peoples control? Would an entire city be condemned for the color of their hair if it was something God didn't like?"

"You just don't understand, Aaron. You
need to start going to church more. Being gay just isn't right, it's wrong. Now, like I said earlier, you've obviously been in the company of these LGBTX or whatever they're called for too long. Seriously, why any good Christian in their right mind...." he started to walk away.

Aaron couldn't take it anymore. He had kept it a secret long enough. Mary had told him it probably wouldn't be a good idea to tell his parents, that her's had barely accepted it. She had still given him permission to tell them if he felt like it. He hadn't fully believed her until the argument, and in that moment he really didn't care. He took a deep breath, winced internally, then said the words that left his mother weeping at her poor little boy being corrupted and his dad demanding 'Why he wanted to go to Hell, why in God's name would a good young man like him want to spent eternity in Hell? If that's how you want to be, you can leave! You're eighteen, leave and never come back if you're gonna turn your back on God like that!'

"Dad...."

His dad stopped. "What?" he asked.

"Mary's bisexual."


13.
Aaron looked to his wife, who he was standing next to, and wrapped an arm around her waist. Her hand went towards his and grasped it, keeping his arm in place.

"Seriously though guys, where the hell are we gonna go? Silver Springs is a fucking wreck." Eddie said, "From my understanding Utah's not doing much better...."

"It isn't." Mary told him.

"Neither is Baron Lake." David told us, "I was there a week, week and a half ago, and it was pretty bad then. Liv and I...." he fell silent.

"I might know a place. I don't know why I didn't think about it till now." Bill said.

"Where?"

"There's an old church out by the place my grandparent's lived. Went there for some Easter shit as a little kid a few times. It's out by Bonfire Mills. Last I heard they were taking in people. Hell, even if it's abandoned now, it's better than nothing."

"Bonfire Mills... that's south of Olive Grove a ways, right?" David asked.

Bill nodded, "Yeah. One of those places that was already dead years before Japanese Red." He laughed internally. Hey, that shit rhymed.

"Sounds like a plan." Thomas said, "Unless any of you motherfuckers has got something better?" he finished with an uneasy laugh.

A groan drifted on the breeze. The six friends looked down the road, towards the town of Utah, and saw one of the infected approach from a distance, down at the bend.

"Let's hit the road." Aaron said, the tone growing less jovial, "We need to quit wasting time."
If you think about it everybody lives in the same place: somewhere between the Empire of the Penguins, and the Kingdom of the Elves.

My Fiction on ZS:
a Price for Every Head
Conspiracy
Dead Memories
Into the Darkness
Japanese Red (Ongoing)
the Bigger Monster
the Flesh Eaters (Hiatus)
the Watcher

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