Resident Evil: Outbreak
By Natasha Bennett

JULY 2002.
It was almost dusk in Racoon City.
She was near a park, holding a silver briefcase in her hand. It had been some time since she had been on the surface, and she could smell the beginnings of summer. She took it in for a moment, then opened her green eyes, watching the playground. There were at least five small children playing on the merry-go-round. Laughing. The adults were sitting on a bench. For a moment the girl, no older then seventeen, could do nothing but stare at all of them, her black hair lifting in a small breeze. Then, looking down, she shouldered her backpack and started to cross the road.
She never saw the car speeding towards her until it was a split-second too late. It crashed right into her, glass raining down on her body from the broken windshield. She was hurled to the ground, her head dripping with blood. The silver briefcase opened with a click...and something rolled out towards the open sewer grate.
The passenger door to the car opened, and a man dressed in a black suit scampered towards it. "Get the virus-get the virus!" the driver shouted from behind the wheel.
His associate made a desperate dive for the silver capsule, but it fell from his fingers and landed into the sewers with a plop. Around the vial dozens of rats scampered away from the unexpected intrusion.
The man went back to the car, stepping over the girl's body. After getting in, he twisted to face a third man, sitting in the backseat. "I'm sorry, Commander-we've lost the T-virus!" The man in the back seat said nothing for a moment. "Regrettable," he said with a distinct accent. He lifted his gun. "You know how this company does not tolerate mistakes." The man's eyes widened. A moment later he was dead.
The commander put away his weapon and turned his attention on the driver, who by now was looking very pale. "We are drawing a crowd. Drive."
Nodding, the driver accelerated the car. It sped away from the girl's bleeding body.
Meanwhile, in the sewer the rats continued around the capsule, or over it. With a flashing green light the capsule opened, releasing a sweet-smelling cloud into the sewers.

July 2004.

The car pulled up alongside the curb. George Damien shifted it to park, and turned off the ignition. He looked down the empty street, wondering, not for the first time, what he was doing here. He looked out the window. He wasn't even sure where 'here' was. He had only been to Racoon City once in his lifetime, and that had been for a funeral for a respected scientist. It was around 9 p.m, and aside from his car, and the small bag he had thrust in the backseat that had an extra set of clothes, he had taken nothing with him. He also had a generous amount of money-a small fortune, in fact. Certainly enough to secure him a place for the night. If he could find a place.
Through the windshield he could see a neon sign sparking on and off. It said, 'J's bar'. For a moment George debated it, then decided that a drink to calm his thoughts probably couldn't hurt. He exited the car and closed the door, being extra careful to lock it. No telling what was around here at this time of night.
He suddenly looked up, and turned around in surprise. He had the nagging suspicion that he was being...watched. He looked around one final time, frowning. He could see nothing. Jingling the keys in his hand, he stepped into the bar.
Completely unnoticed, something stepped out of the shadows.

George literally stepped through a wall of smoke as he entered J's bar. He waved away the smell of cigarettes without too much hope in succeeding. He sighed. There were quite a few people in the bar, most of them members of the Racoon City Police. His eyes spotted only one seated, a young muscular man with brown hair who apparently was the life of the party. Behind him a chubbier, older man with dark skin punched him on the back, roaring with laughter. There were several other officers around, but George also noticed one seated at the bar by himself-one who was considerably old, almost too elderly to be working for the force, yet there he was. George turned around, about to leave. Then he hesitated and turned back. '*What the hell*,' he thought.
He walked past a woman who was seated and typing frantically, ignoring him. Before he even made it to the bar he bumped into a young girl, wearing short black hair and large glasses. "Excuse me," George said when she didn't reply. Shaking his head, he settled onto a stool next to the bar.
A slender hand reached forwards and removed an empty glass. "It can really get packed in here," a voice remarked. George turned his head to see the waitress starring back at him. She had blond hair tied back, though a lock of it fell constantly over her blue eyes. She also had a shy smile. "What will it be?"
George decided to order the least extravagant thing he could think of and asked for a beer. The waitress clunked one down next to him. George tried really hard to return her smile, and couldn't. His mind was so very far away. It had only been two days since he had turned in everything-his ID card, his equipment, his notes-to his superiors and quietly resigned from the hospital. His fellow peers were astonished, to say the least. Why did he leave? Why drop everything and come here, of all places?
Why indeed, George pondered.
Drunken laugher broke George out of his thoughts. Some of the police slapped the young cop on the shoulder. The Racoon city police seemed to be having a rowdy time, George thought in disgust. He lifted the beer to his lips.
Something bumped his elbow. He started in surprise, to see the waitress spill her tray. The beer glasses fell to the ground and rolled away.
She looked up. "Rat," she explained with a nervous laugh.
George looked down, and saw one scurry away into the shadows. His disgust with the place grew even more. Before he could reply another sound distracted him-the sound of a body falling against the floor.
"Bob!" the chubby officer shouted, bending down. "He's hardly breathing." He slapped the older man's cheeks. "Bob? Kevin, help me."
The young cop, whose name was Kevin, pointed at George. "You! You're a doctor, right?"
George looked down at the stethoscope hanging from his shoulder. He completely forgotten that he still had it. He said nothing.
The young cop stared at him. "Well, are you going to help this man or what!?"
George finally stared at the young cop with his piercing blue eyes. He was quite sure that the old cop had more 'help' then he had been able to handle. Still, he couldn't very well ignore the situation either.
With a small, inward sigh he stood up from the bar, about to help them. As he did so the front door opened. A single figure emerged from the doorway. His booted feet shuffled along the splintered wood.
Willy, the owner looked up in surprise. George turned around. Kevin looked up.
What they saw would change their lives forever.

Blood dripped down the man's open white shirt. His hands were torn and dirty, and his entire body was convulsing. His filthy, matted hair hung from his face in lumps. In her fear and revulsion, Cindy, the waitress, raised a pale hand to her mouth. George stared at the figure, not without some confusion.
Willy moved in front of the man, ready to toss him back out if necessary. As a result, he was the first to see the man twitch in silent agony, to raise his head, and to stare at Willy with eyes that were completely yellow. Without a word the man walked right up to Willy and bit him right on the neck.
Willy screamed in horror and repulsion. Kevin and Mark jumped to their feet, taking out their handguns. "Stay back!" Kevin ordered.
The man-if it could be that, noisily gulped down the chunk of flesh he had bitten off and lunged forwards. Willy backed away slightly, his shirt blossoming with red.
Kevin moved to the left, his gun raised, but Willy beat him to it. Gathering his courage, he pushed the man out of the bar and slammed the door shut.
For a brief moment, there was silence.
"What the hell was that!?" Kevin shouted, breaking the silence.
"Rabies, maybe," Mark muttered.
George turned his head. He gasped. He could see at least half a dozen men and woman outside clawing at the glass, looking no better then the man who had entered half a second ago. The sight made him so astonished that he fell back into his stool.
The door burst open with an explosion of splintered wood. The same man that attacked Willy entered, lurching slightly. Now all the cops-five in all, jumped to their feet, firing their weapons. The man fell, only to be replaced by at least three more.
The massive window shattered a split-second later, and a woman crawled into the bar, cutting herself on broken shards. She had short blond hair, green eyes, and a large chunk missing from her right cheek. Her eyes were entirely fixated on George. She crawled clumsily to her feet and walked towards
him. George was too terrified out of his mind to do anything besides sit and stare.
Kevin noticed what was happening shoved him off the stool. George fell to the ground, smashing his arm. He gripped it in pain as he looked up. He watched as Kevin swung his arm around, shooting the woman in the neck. The woman fell beside George.
Wide-eyed, George reached with his hand towards the fallen woman. He recoiled as she suddenly jerked to life. George crawled away, stumbling to his feet. The woman's twisted body turned towards him, her teeth bared in a primal snarl. He could see her open vocal cords dripping along the floor.
George backed up towards the bar, behind the other cops.
Kevin was already issuing orders. "Everyone, out the back door, now! Doc, help the barkeep-" Willy pushed himself away from George. "I'm quite capable of taking care of myself, thank you!" Kevin stared at him. "Fine. Doc, help Bob. Is there a phone nearby?" he asked Willy, a faint note of sarcasm in his voice. "Yeah," Willy whispered, breathing hard. "Yeah. Second floor."
Kevin nodded. "Then that's where we'll go."
Cindy rushed to the door, a key dangling from her hands. "Here. You have to unlock it-" the key slipped from her fingers. "Oh no!" she bent downwards, trying to grab it from the cracks of the dead wood.
"No pressure here," Kevin said, still firing his weapon. He sounded slightly amused.
Cindy tried to grab the key, but it was held fast. She was shoved aside by Mark. "Here. Stand aside."With that, he kicked the door open.
At that exact moment the lights flickered and went out, casting the room in darkness. By this time George had slung Bob's arm around his shoulder. He stared in horror as another side-door gave one last pathetic attempt to hold together-and broke apart.
Two people had fallen along with the door. A woman with a black suit and short skirt stood onto her feet, her eerie yellow eyes glittering as she stumbled towards them. Long gashes had torn into her side.
Beside her an elderly man with thinning hair and glasses stood. He moved towards Kevin. Behind them, about twenty more.
With a hard swallow George moved Bob behind the bar, past Kevin where Cindy was. Cindy led the way out, followed by George and Bob.
"Hey, guys, get out of here!" Kevin shouted at the other cops, but the men were too terrified, too fixated on shooting that they didn't even register what he had said.
Mark punched Kevin on the shoulder. "Come on!" he ordered. "There's nothing we can do for them!"
Kevin retreated through the door after Mark. He slammed the door shut, the sounds of gunfire still being heard. Ahead of him Cindy stumbled on the wooden steps, and struggled to her feet. She reached the top of the stairs. Willy touched his bleeding wound, wincing. A shudder ran through his body.
A hand suddenly shot out of the window, breaking the glass. Cindy screamed, dropping her tray which fell to the ground with a clatter. The hand grabbed Cindy by the shirt. George reached forwards and grabbed her by the waist and tried to pull her away. Whoever it was must have been dangling from the second story ledge! Mark jumped up and twisted the man's arm off Cindy. He aimed his gun and shot the man in the forehead. The man fell.
Kevin brought up the front. "Let's go!" he ordered.
They entered to the second floor. It was apparently empty.
"Lock all the doors and windows!" Kevin ordered, shutting and bolting the door they had just entered.
George deposited Bob onto an empty couch and proceeded with the windows.
Cindy looked at the locked door and ran a hand through her blond hair. "That...that won't hold them for very long," she whispered.
Kevin turned and spotted something on the wooden table. "A phone!" He went over to it and lifted it to his ear. "Hello? Hello?" he shouted. He slammed the phone down on the receiver. "Gee, what a surprise-out of order!"
"Calm down," Mark demanded. "The power line's cut from the bar-I saw it out the window. We have to figure out what we're going to do, and what those things are!"
"I'll tell you what they are!" Kevin snapped. "They used to be people! Now they're not!"
"It's a disease," George said, speaking for all of them. He looked up. "An outbreak."
A long moment of silence.

They were currently in a dimly-lit and cold room above the bar that probably served as a longue. There was a dusty sofa, a small fridge, and doors leading to Willy's room and the cellar. Kevin was able to reinforce the door with a nail gun. It would hold, but not forever.
"All right," Mark began. "If this is an outbreak, we need information. How much has this spread? What are the areas infected?"
George stood. "Maybe it's just here," he suggested.
"Hey, can you tend to the wounded and leave us with the heavy thinking, please?" Kevin snapped.
"Excuse me, but this didn't start until I entered this crazy little town!" George retorted. "Maybe I should get some compensation-"
"Yeah? Well, tough shit-"
"Can we all please just stop shouting?" Cindy implored.
But George and Kevin didn't. In minutes, they were pointing fingers at each other and yelling, blaming the other for being here. Finally, with a roll of his eyes Mark took out his gun and fired it into the roof.
Everyone jumped. Kevin actually reached for his gun before he realized what had happened.
"Listen!" Mark implored. "Getting out of here is our first priority. Doctor, there's every reason to think that this situation is only happening here. If so, then this situation can be contained. Establishing contact with the outside world is our secondary objective." He holstered his gun. "We left a lot of dead people downstairs. Let's only hope that they stay that way-and we have to be together in this! Otherwise, we won't make it alive. Understand?"
Kevin glanced at George. Both nodded. Cindy was trembling openly.
"All right," Mark breathed. "The first thing we're going to need is more weapons. Is there any spare ones that you have?"
Willy nodded. "Through that door leads to...a cellar. There are more weapons down there."
Kevin said, "I'll get them."
Mark gave him a piercing look. "Be careful." He turned. "Doctor, you have patients. C-Cindy? That's your name, right?"
Cindy looked at him, her hands twisting her small white apron. She nodded.
He lay a gentle hand on her shoulder. "It's going to be okay. I need you to make me a map of this place. Everything. When we leave here, I intend to be ready."
George had found a medical kit and opened it. Mark walked over to Bob, who was sitting down on the floor next to a dartboard. "You haven't said much, old man."
Bob looked at him. "I'm not drunk, am I Mark?"
"'Fraid not," Mark said, sighing and looking up. "'Fraid not.'"

A few minutes later Cindy sat huddled on the couch. Her small uniform offered little protection against the cold. She had drawn a map. It wasn't perfect, but it would have to do.
George glanced at her, holding the medical kit. He sat down next to her, not without some concern.
"Are you injured?"
Cindy didn't reply.
George immediately began to rifle through his kit.
"I'm sorry," she said. She looked up. "It's just...this is my home. I guess it's not anymore. You know, it's funny-I worry about that more then what's happening with those things downstairs. I wonder what's happened with everyone else I know."
George looked away. "I guess I'm fortunate. I don't know anyone here," he said. "I just arrived tonight and...all of this happened." He looked up at her. "Is this town usually this crazy?"
Cindy smiled in spite of herself. "It has its moments." She looked down at the kit. "Will helpful?"

"I've bandaged up your friend as best as I could...but no, it can barely do anything." A pause from both of them. "So how long have you been a waitress?" George asked.
She smiled, a bit nervously. "Pretty much since I was six years old. I did that here. There was nothing I was really good at. I mean, I'm not a doctor. Not like you. I'm"
"Hey, Cindy! I'm only waiting to death over here!" Willy shouted sarcastically.
She lowered her head, a thin lock of hair falling in front of her face. "I'm sorry. I really shouldn't have bothered you." She stepped up and walked towards Willy, her high heels clicking.
George stared after her in astonishment.

Kevin kicked open the door to the cellar, his gun and flashlight raised. He looked to the left and right, but couldn't see anything. He stepped down the concrete steps, and finding nothing amiss, relaxed and holstered his gun. The weapons were stashed in a cupboard. One shot and he had access to them.
Kevin took them, and helped himself to a fine vintage of wine while he was at it. Chugging it down until it was all gone, he climbed up the steps.
And stopped half-way.
He lifted his flashlight. He saw something that should have ended in a wall but didn't. He moved back down the stairs. It was a passageway.

"So what's with this guy? Kevin?" George asked casually.
"Doc, you're really playing with fire on that one," Mark advised.
George stared at him, folding his arms. Mark glanced at his troubled face and sighed. "All right. I'll cut you some slack, since it seems like we're going to be stuck together for a while. Kevin's a fine officer, but he has a short fuse. Denied entry into S.T.A.R.S twice."
George shrugged in puzzlement. "S.T.A.R.S?"
"It's a special rescue operation service. One of the damn best. Once you hit S.T.A.R.S in Racoon City, you've hit gold. Kevin didn't make it."
"Disobedience of a direct order," Mark said. "Kevin keeps retrying, but he doesn't make it. Obedience just isn't in his blood."
"At least I can never be accused of talking behind someone's back," Kevin said, making George jump slightly. He dropped multiple guns on the ground, tied together so that they could be tossed over a shoulder. "Weapons," he said, and stepped away.
Mark sighed. "I should know," he added. "I'm his commanding officer."
"Found a passageway leading to the outside," Kevin said, wiping his forehead. "But it's blocked in. It'll take us some time to clear it completely."
"How long?"
"About an hour, more or less."
"That's too long. We'll go for the roof, and find an exit that way," Mark said.

They were setting up to leave.
George was taking the medical kit despite its primitive uses. He was reflecting about the tunnel. It was only partially blocked in. He might be able to make it. About the others he frankly barely gave a damn.
If he could make it, he would be out of this forever. There was no other way to escape, save for the roof. And the roof is what Kevin wanted to try. At the moment Kevin was tying up the weapons tighter, but had stopped and looked up at George. "Doc. You worth anything?" he asked.
George sniffed. He could very well tell the man that he had graduated first in his respected field with honors, thank you very much. And that he has a job that paid three times more then a meager police officer's salary. George looked down. Well, *had* a job anyway. Kevin was starring at George with a hint of impatience, and doubt. George had to settle for glaring a lot and muttering, "maybe."
Kevin's eyes shifted to the doorway. "The barkeep. You say this might be a disease. Any chance he might be infected?"
At the moment, Willy was out of hearing range. George bent down. "It's too early to tell," he said.
"There's every chance that this disease is not transmitted through saliva-"
Kevin snorted. "Yeah. Well, if you've seen any zombie flicks in your lifetime then you know that's not the case, doc-"
"George. George Damien. That's my name," George interrupted.
"Yeah. Whatever. I don't care. When something happens, just be ready, all right? You think you can manage that?"

Kevin opened a trapdoor in Willy's room which led to the roof. He hauled himself up easily, and gave George a hand up. Willy was next after him.
George breathed in the cool, night air, not without some immeasurable relief. The sky was clouded and those clouds were dark. It looked as though it might rain soon. Frankly, at this point any form of weather would be a welcome relief. George went to the very edge of the rooftop. Once they had escaped, it would be a simple matter to warn the outside world. They could bring in a team to deal with the situation better, and they could find medical treatment for Willy. George's mind had already begun to race with plans. Perhaps, given his unique involvement they would allow him to study the virus in more detail, and perhaps he would be the one to find a cure! His spirits rose considerably at the thought. He would ensure that this never happened again, or, even better, find medical benefits from this. Maybe that's the reason, the purpose, that he had come to Racoon City. He looked down.
And blinked at what he saw.
There were at least thirty people trying to cram their way into the bar at the front. Kevin and Mark joined him. "We could shoot them from here," Mark suggested.
George straightened. "Shoot them? They're people!"
Kevin was still looking down. "Not anymore, doctor." He was frowning. There were just too many of them. Even with Willy's extended and obviously illegal arsenal. "We'll never be able to kill them all and proceed through the street. Not even with the extra hardware."
"So what do you suggest?" Mark demanded.
"This is a no-win solution. We have to go back."
"Back?" Willy demanded, holding a cloth to his neck. "Excuse me, did I just hear correctly?"
"Something wrong with your hearing?" Kevin asked, leaning against the railing casually.
"If you expect me to go back into that hell-infested place that used to be my bar-" Wily shouted, growing rapidly more angry.
"I expect all of us too," Kevin replied.
George paled at that.
Willy gestured. "Look! We've got a perfectly good escape route right here! I don't know about the rest of the you but I'm taking it!"
"You'd be swarmed alive before you'd make it. And then I'd have to rescue. I suppose. I guess," Kevin said with a yawn.
Willy threw the rag onto the ground. "God dammit!" He kicked the rag and headed back to the trapdoor. He turned back to Kevin and raised his finger. "When I get out of this, I'm going to sue you. You, and your department!" He slapped away Cindy's helping hand. "Get off me!"
Kevin, Mark, and George looked at each other uneasily. "We might have less time," Mark said.
"Especially the way his heart's pumping," Kevin remarked.
Mark nodded. "Be ready. For anything."

In the longue area again.
Cindy pressed the wet cloth against the side of his neck. "You know, they really mean to help us," she said.
Willy glanced at her, and sighed and took the cloth. "Yeah-I guess you're right." He swallowed and nodded. "Everything will be all right, Cin-there's every chance that they won't mess up the bar too much. We can start over."
"Oh, Willy," Cindy sighed, and wiped the dust off her skirt.. "It's always the same with you. The tax men come, and you say we'll pick up. We get attacked by zombies, and you say business will pick up!"

"Well, it would if you would wear that costume I bought for you!" Willy interrupted, not without some amusement. Cindy smiled. Wily might have been an asshole at times but he always had a soft spot for her. He was the only person she had.
The reinforced door suddenly gave away.
"Shit!" Kevin exclaimed, taking out his gun. "Everyone get back!"
George backed up against the wall in fear. Cindy stood.
"Not again," Willy moaned, then suddenly convulsed in pain. Holding his hands to his bloodied head, he screamed in silent agony on the couch.
No one had noticed.
Kevin aimed carefully. With a hesitant glance at George, Kevin turned back to the woman stumbling forwards with her bleeding palm reaching towards him. "Don't move!" he shouted at the woman. "Stay where you are!"
The woman ignored him completely, so Kevin fired his gun. The woman fell.
Ignoring the other people heading towards them through the doorway George scrambled to the fallen woman and felt her neck for a pulse. "She's dead!" he said. And yet...she wasn't. Her blue eyes rimmed with yellow were moving slightly. George didn't hesitate and took out a vial he had in his pocket. He got a blood sample. The woman jerked to life as George stepped back. Kevin shot her in the head.
Kevin was now rapidly firing. Mark covered him as he reloaded. "We've got to get to the cellar, now! It's our only hope!"
Cindy moved to tap Willy on the shoulder, whose back was turned to her. The cellar might have automatically locked when Kevin left it. It did that roughly half the time. "Willy, we need your set of keys...I lost mine..."
Willy turned around.
What stared back at her was not Willy.
His face was too pale, his teeth were bared, and his yellow eyes stared at him with no recognition. He lunged right at her, trying to bite her neck.
Cindy screamed in revulsion. She had a lot of muscle and could always put up a good fight (she had tossed out one or two drunks in her lifetime) but Willy seemed to be possessed by supernatural strength. She was slowly losing inch by inch...Cindy whimpered in fear as his teeth brushed against her neck....
Another second and her life might have been lost. But at that moment, Willy's head suddenly jerked upwards and he howled, a completely unnatural sound. It altered Kevin to their plight and he turned around. Willy fell slowly to the ground, gripping Cindy's barmaid dress before he hit the floor and pulling her along with him.
George stood behind where Willy had fallen. He was holding a bloodied lead pipe and his face had a queasy look as though to say-Oh my God did I just do that?
Trembling, Cindy reached forwards and snatched the keys from a chain off Willy's belt. Willy did not get up again, but he was still alive.
Kevin was right by the cellar door. "Here, give me!" he said. Cindy tossed him the keys. He unlocked the door as Mark covered him. They were only inches from Kevin as he worked.
"He's still alive!" Cindy called out pleadingly.
Mark shot Willy in the head, once. "Now he's not," Mark said grimly.
George helped Cindy onto her feet. "Are you all right?" he asked.
Swallowing, Cindy could only nod.
Kevin pulled open the door and gestured. "Come on!" he shouted. George and Cindy ran through, followed by Mark and more slowly Bob. Kevin was last and closed the door behind him. He put the key in the keyhole to lock it.
The door pounded with such force that Kevin was hurled backwards down the small steps. The keys fell to the ground. George ran forwards and slammed his body against the door before it could open.
But with the zombies gathering on the other side he was barely able to hold on against them. Mark lifted his guns in case George couldn't hold it closed.
Cindy turned.
And screamed, an ear-shattering sound.
There were other people headed towards them. They must worked their way through the broken passageway. From his spare weapons Kevin took out a shotgun, and fired at them. There were at least five of them.
George spied the keys on the ground next to his shoe. He bent down to try and pick them up. The door pounded again, almost throwing George clear. He resumed his place against the door, but in the process his foot had lashed out. The keys sailed next to Kevin.
"Cindy!" Kevin shouted. "CINDY, GRAB A WEAPON!"
Shaking from head to toe, Cindy stepped backwards, clapping her hands over her ears. She burst into tears.
The door slammed open, smacking George in the head and almost knocking him senseless. He closed it again, but not before he caught sight of a man-what used to be a man with half of his face peeled away.
Reaching to get through. George threw all of his effort in keeping it closed, but he couldn't last much longer.
Pumping his shotgun, Kevin fired again and again. "Cindy! Get the keys! *Cindy*!?"
Cindy dimly heard Kevin's voice in the back of her mind, but somehow couldn't process it. All she could see, over and over again, was Willy reaching for her...trying to kill her. And now he was dead.
Dead like they would all be soon. Tears rolled from her blue eyes.
With a grunt of frustration Kevin sharply elbowed one of the zombies in the head, and reached down to snatch the keys from the stone floor. He tossed them at George. George snatched them out of the air with his blood-stained hand just as the door burst open again, slamming against George's shoulder.
George cried out in pain. Biting his lip, he threw the rest of his strength into closing the door, one last time. He inserted the key and turned it. The door locked. He slid to the ground, exhausted.
A minute later Kevin and Mark finished off the rest of the zombies. None followed after that. For a moment, there was blissful silence in the cellar.
Brushing away a lock of brown hair, Kevin angrily turned around and advanced on Cindy. "What is wrong with you!? The next time I give you an order I expect you to follow it!"
Cindy was near hysterics. She was babbling incoherently. Kevin lowered his head, his hands gripping her shoulders like claws. "Just...just stop it! *Stop it!*"
George pushed himself up. "Leave her alone."
Kevin turned on him. "Or you'll what?" he demanded. "Huh? What'll you'll do!?"
George said nothing, but his blue eyes said it all.
Mark put a hand on Kevin's shoulder. "Calm down. We're still alive."
Breathing hard, Kevin eventually nodded. George looked around. Yes, they certainly were. And that was something.
Completely forgotten in the shadows, Bob gripped his side painfully. His face slowly became consumed with horror as his hand came away with blood.

For the next hour Mark, Kevin, and George had spent the time clearing out the passageway of rock. It was a wonder how the zombies had gotten through to them in the first place. Despite their efforts, they had made little progress and had reluctantly decided to take break for now. The area of space they were trapped in was actually two rooms-a small wine storage room and a small attic above. Currently Mark and Kevin were alone in the attic. After spilling alcohol on the wound, Kevin was bandaging a nasty gash around Mark's arm.
"I don't think it's anything serious," Mark said, looking up. "I don't think it came from *them*. It was probably an accident from the glass window."
"It better be," Kevin said. "Because if you turn out to be a zombie then I'm going to have to kick your ass a new one."
Mark grinned, then his face became serious. "Listen kid, if I don't make it out of here I expect you to get them out."
"That's the new mission, is it?" Kevin asked. He shook his head. "I don't even like them. They're in way over their heads."
"And zombie killing was part of our everyday training?" Mark asked.
Kevin sighed. "Sometimes I feel like it's going to be us or them. Us or them, and sooner or later we're going to have to make that choice. You know what I'm saying? We can only carry them so far. Then, at some point, we have to leave them behind and just walk away."
"They have the makings of soldiers, if you give them enough time."
"What!? You've gotta be kidding me, Mark. A woman who's good for pushing drinks and getting her ass pinched? A doctor who doesn't even know what the hell we've got here?' Give me an f-ing break.
They're dead baggage, and we both know it."
From just outside the doorway George stood with his arms crossed. Listening to every word.
"Them or us," Kevin continued, and nodded. "Them or us."

As George walked down the stairs of the cellar he heard glass shattering, followed by a sharp cry. He hurried down.
He saw Cindy on the floor. She had arranged her hair in a nice ponytail. In front of her was shattered glass from a picture. Willy's picture. She sniffed, and her eyes were red. "I'm sorry. I was trying to take it with me and it broke." She tried to snatch the photo out of the broken frame and cut her fingers.
"Useless...I just can't....I know that everyone thinks I'm useless...but I can't help being afraid! And all that fear, all that terror clouds me and...I just can't think." She was rocking back and forth. "Why did this have to happen? *Why did this have to happen to us*!?"She struggled again to try and get the photo, but her hands were trembling far too much.
"Cindy!" George exclaimed. He bent down and picked it up for her, his hands around hers.
Cindy looked up and tried to smile. She folded the picture away in a pocket of her dress. "Thank you."
George hesitated. "Look...I think you have the wrong impression about me," he said. He met her eyes.
"I'm not a doctor. Not...anymore, anyway. I'm just some guy. I came to Racoon city because...well, I'm not even sure why now. And yes, I am afraid too. Just as much as you are. The only difference between us is have more to lose, I guess. I don't have anything to hang onto here. No reason to feel attached."
A moment of silence. George folded his arms and looked up. "It was a nice place," he said. "Decent food. Good service. Rats and zombies give me a bit of a problem, but-"
Cindy chuckled through her tears.
George smiled. He helped her stand up-gently. "Come on. We're getting out of here. Now."
Cindy looked up at him. "What? I thought-what about the others?"
"Us 'civilians' will have to make it out on our own," George replied, his voice heating up with anger.
Quickly he related what he had overheard.
The light in Cindy's eyes dimmed a little. "Oh," she said. She brushed aside a lock of blond hair. "Well...if that's how they feel..."
"We don't need them," George answered. "We can do this on our own." He nodded, now more sure of himself. "We can get out of here."

Cindy crawled through a small hole in the collapsed rocks without too much of a problem. George took a bit more time but eventually joined her. Cindy brushed the dust off her small skirt, and both stared at the very long, empty narrow tunnel which lay ahead. In the distance they could hear a dripping sound. It was unnerving.
"Where are they?" Cindy whispered to George, referring to the zombies.
George shook his head. He had no idea. "Come on," he said, and gently took her hand. He led the way. Their footsteps echoed back to them in the small tunnel.
"Beyond this tunnel is the storage area for the beer and wine," Cindy said, desperate to escape the silence. "There's a door as well. It leads outside."
"All right," George said. They reached the end of the hall which had a small, closed chain-link gate. It was unlocked. George pushed it open.
It was Cindy who noticed someone move out of the shadows first-a man. "George!" she warned.
George half-turned in surprise, but by then it was too late. The man (he was massive! Cindy observed with growing fear) grabbed George by the neck and shoulder (though not with nails, thank goodness) and hurled him forwards. Cindy saw him connect with something, probably wood. George didn't get up.
Cindy stared at him, her hands trembling. But the man, who had broad shoulders, arms as thick as tree trunks, and the familiar eyes rimmed with yellow, merely hissed at Cindy and trailed after George.
George still didn't wake up.
"No!" Cindy whispered, taking a step forwards. Before she could help George, a feat that she had no idea how to accomplish, someone *literally* brushed past her from behind and slammed the metal gate shut.
The newcomer was a woman with short brown hair and piercing blue eyes. "We can't let those things get us!" the woman said, her voice quivering. She locked the gate. She only gave Cindy a brief glance.
"I don't suppose you have any idea what's happening here?"
"No," Cindy said weakly. "Please, my friend..."
"My daughter," the woman continued, ignoring Cindy. "She was so beautiful when I left her. And now I won't be coming back. Ever." She turned to Cindy, displaying her arm.
Cindy gaped in horror. Half her arm had literally been chewed away.
"It hurts," the woman admitted. "But it's not the worst of it, is it?"
When Cindy didn't respond, the woman's eyes widened, and she literally grabbed Cindy by the throat and shoved her against the wall. "*Is it!*?"

"Ugh..." George whispered to himself, as he opened his eyes. He was out less then thirty seconds and still wasn't sure what had hit him until he looked up. A massive bear of a man was heading towards him, not arms raised like in a classic zombie pose, or with eyes glazed over vacantly. No, the piercing green eyes of this man were very sharp, and very intelligent. And stared at George with profound hate.
George did the automatic thing as he straightened onto one knee. He went for his gun.
It was missing.
Dazed, George looked at the ground, but couldn't see it anywhere.
The next instant the zombie was right on top of him.

Mark looked up from the pile of weapons. One of them was missing. "Where are the others?"
"Who cares?" Kevin replied, lighting up a smoke.

George scrambled out of the way as the man lurched towards him. If he got trapped, even for a moment, he would be in serious trouble. George scrambled to his feet as the zombie clumsily lurched his arm at George. George could just hear the distinct sound of fingernails scraping against stone in the space where he had been.
Without needing to think George backed away and knocked over a portable multi-shelved stand containing dozens of cardboard boxes, and within them bottles. The zombie was showered with glass which cut through his face and hands. He still continued towards George, unhindered.
Blinking, George wiped away blood from a cut under his eye. Some of the glass had landed on him too. He needed time to think, and he didn't have anyway. The zombie grabbed him by his shoulders and hurled him against a massive wooden casket.
The breath slammed out of George as he landed. The next moment George felt the zombie's fist pound against his side. George crumpled under the blow. Whatever strength this man once had, his condition only seemed to improve on it. The zombie grabbed George and slammed him against the wood of a casket. Then, before George could fully recover, the zombie raised his fist again, this time aiming for George's face.
George wasn't entirely sure how he ducked that, but he somehow did so. The zombie's fist punched straight through wood, and the next minute George and the mutant were literally showered with gushing red wine. George coughed. He had inhaled some of the stuff. The man made a grab for him with his free arm but George stepped back. He automatically tensed, waiting for another attack.
The zombie lunged at George, but couldn't due to his arm still in the casket. He was stuck! He flailed his arm at George wildly. George narrowly missed having his throat being scratched. He looked around desperately for some kind of weapon, *anything.*
He spotted a lighter on one of the crates.
George looked back at the man. He was still stuck in the casket, wine pouring down on him. George took the silver lighter and flicked it on. He knew that on some level he had to do this, but the very act appalled him. He wasn't a murderer.
But when he did do it, there was absolutely no hesitation. It was unavoidable.
He flung the lighter at the open cask. It immediately caught and rained fire. For a moment all George could do was watch as the man became a living torch, despite the very real danger because he was soaked himself. He watched as the man disappeared into ash. It was only then did he remember.
"Cindy," he whispered, and ran back the way he came down the tunnel.

Cindy stared at the woman who was sobbing, huddled in the corner. She was married, Cindy could tell by the gold ring on her finger. The woman suddenly stopped moving entirely.
Cindy knew that it would have been smart to leave, and find George. But part of her...just couldn't. She looked down at the woman in pity, wondering if there was some way she could help her. She reached with her hand, to touch the woman's brown hair.
The woman lunged, her teeth snapping. Cindy pulled her hand away only just in time.
Slowly, the woman stood on two unsteady legs. Drool ran from her red lips and she looked at Cindy eagerly, looking for blood. With growing horror Cindy backed away. She had to find something, anything to help her. Cindy searched tot he left and right. She didn't find anything...or did she? Her eyes spotted a silver canister of something on the topmost shelf, almost too high for her to reach it. But she tried, at least. She reached upwards and it slipped into her hands. Cindy looked at it briefly. It was a pesticide killer.
The woman was almost in biting-distance. There was only one thing to do. Cindy shook it briefly, aimed it at the woman's face, and sprayed the pesticide. The woman gave a startled shriek and fell, her hands beating against her face. She looked up at Cindy, eyes filled with hatred, tears trickling furiously down on her face. She grabbed at Cindy's leg, making her trip. Cindy hit the ground hard with a shriek.
Crying out in rage and pain, the woman lunged forwards, her teeth grazing against Cindy's leg.
Desperately Cindy crawled backwards, but the woman held on fast.
Cindy kicked the woman with her high-heeled shoes. The woman's head snapped back, her teeth slicing her lip. She faced Cindy.
Too terrified to even scream, Cindy grabbed a bottle on a shelf above her and slammed it into the woman's head. And another. And another.
But no matter what she did, it didn't seem to be enough.

Even though the gate was locked, it was very weak. One good kick and it was open. George ran through it and stopped dead in his tracks, shocked at what he saw.
Cindy's hands that were holding the handgun were trembling. The nameless woman fell to the ground, several bullet holes in her head that soaked through her brown hair. Cindy's trembling continued from her hand to her entire body. George rushed forwards and caught her just before she fell to the ground.
They both just sat for a moment, contemplating the acts that they had done.
They were both killers. It had to be done, George told himself over and over again. Kevin had showed not even the slightest hesitation, but he was a police officer. It wasn't so easy for George. He wondered how many more he would have to kill before this day was out. Or would he change into one of those things himself first? The thought made George shiver to the core. He was quite certain he would kill himself first.
George closed his eyes. No. He had to hang onto the belief that the entire city wasn't contaminated. It was the only thing he had now.

It was one o'clock in the morning.
The street was empty, but they could see evidence of destruction. Broken shops, and gathering fire from other buildings. George, who had only been in the city for one night, stared at it all with newcomer's eyes. Cindy looked down, refusing to acknowledge it. Refusing to acknowledge that everything-her home, had been destroyed. George gripped her waist, looking carefully around for any danger.
They passed by a police car. George found the door unlocked. On the seat was a small handgun.
George took it and stashed it in his belt. Swallowing, noticing how everything was so quiet, he proceeded with Cindy down the street.

"Argh!" George grunted as his foot broke apart the wooden boards nailed to the window. He went in, followed by Cindy. The house looked empty. George immediately spotted a telephone and picked it up. He dialed 911. "It's ringing!" he said. He paused. It kept ringing...and ringing...
George waited, until he finally slammed the phone down on the receiver. "They're just...busy..." he explained. He looked up. "A radio!"
There was one on the small table. George fell to his knees and went left to right with the red needle. But no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't actually pick up a radio station. Once he heard a distinct scream on one of the channels.
"No," George whispered. His hands gripped the radio in a grip of death. He slammed it against the table. "I refuse to believe that this is happening *everywhere*!"
Cindy lowered her eyes, so George couldn't see the tears start to form. "I'll just go..and pack us some food," she said, and headed for the kitchen.
George leaned heavily against the radio.

Cindy looked around the kitchen and started to rummage through the cupboards. Packing food was something she was always good at, she thought with a sigh. She realized that she still had the handgun in her pocket. She put it on the table, as far away from her as possible.
She didn't notice the hand that reached to touch her shoulder until it was too late.

Breathing hard, George struggled to regain control of himself. It wasn't easy. His lungs couldn't seem to draw enough air. He closed his eyes.
Suddenly, he heard...crying. George looked up in surprise. He lifted himself up. Yes, it was definitely weeping, coming from one of the rooms in the hall. George walked across the carpeted floor, noticing for the first time pictures hanging on the wall. They displayed photographs of a proud family-a man with glasses, a woman. Two children, a boy and a girl. He turned away from the pictures in surprise. The sound came more strongly. With a puzzled look he gently pushed open the door. It led to an adult bedroom.
There was a six year old-child laying in the bed, clutching a child. It was the same girl in the photo, with blond hair and blue eyes now rimmed with red. Tears ran unchecked down her cheeks.
George sat next to her on the bed. "Hi," he said with a smile. "It's all right. I'm not going to hurt you. My name's George. What's yours?"
"Sandra," the girl replied hesitantly. Silent tears continued to trickle down her face. It was then that George noticed the teddy bear she was clutching-it was covered in blood.
George looked up, disturbed. "Where are your parents, Sandra?"
"Dead." No hesitation. "They told me not to leave the room. My mommy said that she'd come back for me. She's gone now."
"You did the right thing by staying here," George assured her. He reached forwards.
The girl recoiled.
"I'm a doctor," George explained. "I just want to have a look at you."
The girl bit her lip and nodded.
George lifted her blond hair and examined her neck and shoulders. "How long have you been staying here?"
"Days," the girl whispered. She clutched her teddy bear tighter. "Can I go with you?"
George was about to speak, when he lifted her shirt sleeve. He paused, and looked down. "Where'd you get this bite mark, Sandra?"
"I don't know," Sandra replied.
George examined it again. The wound was bleeding freely. The marking was consistant with that of a small child. "So do you have any brothers or sisters, Sandra?"
"One. My brother. He's not here now."
"Where is he?" George said.
The girl shrugged. "I dunno. Is it bad?"
For the last time George forced himself to examine the wound. The veins around it had gone jet-black, and that was spreading. Yes, it was bad. Very bad. George kept his hands away from touching her more then he had. '*I'm treating her like a plague victim,*' George thought, and flushed with shame.
Well, in a way, wasn't she? Aloud, he said. "No. Not really. Why don't you wait here and I'll...dress the wound." With that, he stepped outside. He closed the door gently and sighed.
George felt a gentle hand on his shoulder. "There's nothing more you can do for it," Kevin said quietly.
"Except one thing." He looked up. "She's infected, right?"
George nodded. There wasn't any doubt.
Then Kevin did something George would never forget. He unstrapped his handgun, and put it in George's confused hand. "So end it for her," he said.
George stared at him, wondering if Kevin was joking. He wasn't. "Why?" he demanded. "She's not a threat to us if we lock her in-"
"It'll be a mercy. To her. Maybe to whoever she potentially bites next," Kevin replied.
"Are you seriously asking me to kill a child?"
"She's not a child!" Kevin snapped impatiently. "In a few minutes maybe she'll be a thing, one that won't hesitate to crawl up your legs and bite your face off if and when she had the chance. Something that has no concept of right or wrong and only thinks about where her next meal is!"
"But...maybe if we stay here, we can study her condition, see if there's any way we can prevent it-"
"We don't have the medical facilities to do that, and you know it!" Kevin snapped. George shoved the gun back in his hands. "You do it, then!"
Kevin considered that briefly, and shook his head. "I could, but I won't. Doc, I need to know if you're able to do this or not. Because if you can't, it means that you won't be able to turn on any of us if we become those things. It means that you're not interested in surviving this. It means that you won'tsurvive. You'll be dead weight to carry around, and I don't see any other choice but to leave you here."
"This hasn't happened to the rest of the city!"
"Doc," Kevin said patiently, but also with pain in his eyes. "It's spreading."
A long moment of silence between the two. Kevin lifted his handgun. George stared at it.
"It's your choice," Kevin said.
It was with sweating hands that George took the gun. He felt dizzy. He felt sick.
He couldn't do this.
It was ridiculous. There was no reason to shoot this girl.
(*This was an epidemic*)
If that was true, then he would have to leave Racoon city. Perhaps having to go through hundreds of people either half-dying or zombies themselves. Thousands. If that was also true, then he would have to learn how to kill. But what gave him the right to live more so then anyone else, besides the right of being more ruthless? What if he killed people who could eventually be saved?
He didn't think he had it in him to do this. He didn't know.
And yet....he did know. He could do this, and a great many things. He knew, deep within himself, that he was that ruthless, that devoid of compassion. Compassion had no place in Racoon City. What mattered was survival. George looked up at Kevin. Yes, everything was about survival. And if he cared anything about surviving Racoon City, he would have to be capable of murdering another. Or else, he would go no further.
All of these thoughts processed through George's mind in less then a second. He looked down.
(...*I'm a doctor*...)
And opened the door to the bedroom.
(...*I swore an oath never to harm anyone*...)
The girl looked up at him, puzzled. Still clutching the teddy bear.
(*This is for her own good as well*)
(*It's your choice*)
(*My decision to make*)
And, in the next few moments, he had made that decision. He lifted the gun, hating himself forever.
The girl shrieked.
George looked away and pulled the trigger. The gun exploded in his hands. Silence after that.
After five seconds later George had to look up.
And looked down again. He sighed.
And he dropped the gun to the carpet. He sat on the bed.
Kevin entered the room. He looked at the body and raised his eyebrow. "Nice."

Five minutes later found George and Kevin sitting at the dining room table while Cindy and Mark were making food.
Cindy watched as Mark packaged a sandwich with precise skill. "You can cook?" she asked.
Mark grinned. "I'm a family man."
"Have you ever used one of these things before today?" Kevin asked, holding his gun.
George shook his head.
"Thought not. It's easy-point, click and shoot," Kevin did so to demonstrate. The gun clicked empty.
"Reload," Kevin said, showing him the steps.
As he did so George noticed the gun in Kevin's hoister. It looked considerably different from most type of standard guns. He looked up. "What is that?"
"This?" Kevin took out his gun. "My own prized possession. A magnum .47. It shoots more accurately and has a lot more firepower. The only way you'll get it is through my cold dead fingers. Understand?"
George nodded. "Got it."
"We're ready," Mark said.
"Then let's go," Kevin said.

They had broken into a small hospital just around the corner of the street. With a grunt Kevin slammed his elbow into a glass container, grabbing medical kits and shoving them into a red duffel bag. Kevin had spent the last half an hour cleaning out the place for supplies they would undoubtably need.
He walked out of the room into a science lab down the hall. "Doc, this isn't a pleasure cruise," he reminded George, slamming the medical bag on the counter. Kevin looked at the security cameras, not for the first time. When they had entered through the lobby, it was empty. A few minutes later two or three people entered, infected by the t-virus and obviously looking for medical help. More had soon followed. Soon they attacked one another, making the area a deathtrap. It had escalated to a point where the entire lobby was now swarmed with zombies. They wouldn't be going out that way. Not without a high casualty list. It was only a matter of time before the back way would be useless too.
George gave him only the briefest of glances before returning to the microscope. Kevin silently noted how calm the doctor's eyes were, how businesslike. And why not? Here was a place where the guy was completely in his element, a place where he could excel whereas anyone else would be of little use. Kevin personally hated hospitals. They smelled funny.
"The virus is artificial," George stated, looking up from the microscope. "It was created in a lab."
Kevin blinked and straightened. "What? Where?"
George raised his hands in a 'who knows?' gesture. Nor, would they ever probably find out. "It had to be somewhere in Racoon City, presumably."
"What about the virus itself?" Mark asked.
"The notes here told me more then I learned from the blood sample. It is transferred through blood and saliva at a fast rate, affecting bodily functions-eyes, muscle, reaction time-the brain comes last. Highly spreadable. Wounding someone in the body will only work for a short time before the body reanimates.
Shooting them in the brain or spine permanently kills them."
"Okay," Kevin noted. "The six-million dollar question is, can you make a cure to this?"
George said nothing, starring at the computer screen. "No," he finally said. "I don't think a cure was ever made. Maybe if I had a few days-"
Kevin shook his head. "No. We've got no more time. We have to leave now."
George and Cindy looked up. "Why?" Cindy asked.
"Because the zombies have just left the lobby."

The sky was starting to spit rain.
Kevin opened the glass doors and proceeded down the concrete steps. He looked to the left and stopped suddenly. The others soon followed.
In the far alleyway dozens of zombies were moving towards them, and moving fast. They would be on the group in only a minute or so.
Kevin took out his handgun and aimed very carefully. One aspect of him that Mark failed to mention to George was that he was an incredibly damned good shot. He squeezed off a bullet, and watched with grim satisfaction as it went straight through a woman's head. Trouble was, he couldn't take them all down before he became zombie food.
The door they had just exited through suddenly burst open. Kevin swore. They had been followed! George, who was nearest to the door, was instantly grabbed from behind. Kevin twisted around and shot the zombie in the head. George instinctively ducked, blood splatter on his face. He was too numb to do anything.
Kevin and Mark were instantly on the move, Kevin shooting back and forth between the zombies approaching them from the alleyway and the zombies behind them before they could get too close to either George or Cindy. Mark had an assault rifle and was firing into the crowd.
The rain grew into a downpour. They were trapped and rapidly losing ammo. Wiping wet hair out of his face, Kevin glanced to the right and noticed a car parked alongside the curb. They could make it in time. He hoped. "Everyone, pile into the car, now!"
All four of the group rushed to do so. Kevin fired a few more shots before his gun clicked empty. The zombies were running now, trying to catch them. Kevin holstered his gun and ran to the car. George sat in the passenger side, and Mark, Cindy, and Bob were in the back. Kevin jumped into the driver's seat and yanked out a handful of wires. He sparked two together, and the car turned on. Kevin wasted no time and accelerated sharply. The car spun in a wide circle, going past the zombies.
And leaving them behind.

'*The government has issued a quarantine around the entire city until we can discover the cause of the flu virus-'*
"Flu virus my ass," Kevin muttered. They had been driving for about twenty minutes through the empty streets.
"Maybe we should slow down," George recommended.
Kevin ignored him as he shifted gears. "We've got to get out of this city," he said, snapping off the radio. "Somehow."
"Forget it," Mark replied. "They'll have tanks and helicopters waiting-"
"Well, if you think I'm just going to just sit on my ass and wait for a rescue-"
"Look out!"
The headlights picked up, through the rain, another crowd of approaching zombies that they were driving straight towards. Kevin veered sharply to the left and ran into a telephone pole.
Cindy shrieked. The car crashed and seemed to fold into itself, glass raining down on all of them. Cindy was hurled forwards.....
....and her next clear memory was waking up to the smell of smoke. She lifted herself up, brushing away a lock of blond hair. George was able to get his door open and fell heavily to the ground. Kevin's door was stuck and he kicked it open. Mark helped Bob out of the window.
George struggled against the wave of nausea and looked up, the rain pounding against his face. All of them seemed okay, but the zombies were gaining ground with incredible speed. They would be on them within a minute. George stood and walked over to Cindy. "Cindy, are you all right?"
Cindy nodded, her face pale.
George lifted his gun at the zombies.
"Save the ammo. There's too many of them," Kevin snapped.
"So what do you suggest we do!?"
Kevin shook his head. He had smacked his head when they had crashed, and he couldn't think properly. He took in his surroundings. All exits were blocked by even more approaching zombies to the left and right. The whole city must be full of them. They had crashed right by a building, some sort of abandoned guitar store. His blue eyes focused in on a small, rusted ladder leading up to the roof. He turned. "George! Have you ever soon one of those things climb a ladder?"
George shook a negative.
"Mark, Cindy-have you?"
"What's your point?" Mark demanded.
"I don't think they have the smarts to do so!"
"So?" George asked.
"So *come on*!"

It was now a drenching rain.
They were crossing from one rooftop to another, by a long, narrow steel beam that held a sparking neon sign. Below them on the streets were hundreds of zombies that were attracting more by the second. Kevin went first on the beam, walking with amazing speed and balance. George followed much more slowly, hugging the sign. The width of the beam being pounded with rain was roughly half the size of his shoe. Eventually, though, he made it to the other side. Kevin grabbed his arm and pulled him along the rooftop.
Cindy was next, clasping her hands nervously. She made it half-way, then stopped, her face paralyzed with fear.
"Come on, Cindy, you can do it!" Kevin shouted.
"Come on!" George encouraged.
Cindy looked at them both, swallowed, and nodded. She took another step with her high heels.
And slipped.
George peered over the ledge, his breath catching in his throat. At the last second Cindy had grabbed the steel beam with her tiny hands. Her shoes fell from her feet into the crowd.
"*Cindy*!" George called out, but Kevin was already in motion. He stood onto the beam and in two steps he was by her side. He grabbed her wrist, and with an inconceivable mount of strength, pulled her up. Gripping her waist, he reached the other side with her.
Mark helped Bob to stand up on the railing, and it seemed for him to take forever to reach the other side. Finally, only Mark was left. He stood on the railing.
"Come on Mark-don't let those donuts weigh you down!" Kevin cheered.
"Shut up!" Mark snapped.
"Well, hurry then. We don't have all day!" Kevin said, folding his muscular arms. Mark took a step forwards. "I can make it. I just-"
Kevin didn't know what had happened. One minute, Mark was there. The next he was gone.
"NO!" Kevin screamed, leaning forwards. He couldn't even see Mark among the zombies, but he could hear shots being fired into the crowd. Still in shock, Kevin took out his own gun.
A calm hand on his arm stopped him. "Unless you've got a hundred bullets I don't know about, I strongly recommend against doing that," George said, his face pale.
Kevin hesitated, but knew the doctor was right. He slowly put the gun away.
But he waited until he heard the last bullet fired.

All the strength seemed to leave Kevin in an instant. He collapsed to the cement, starring a long time at nothing. He didn't know how long he had been that way, except when his eyes finally focused the rain had let up, as quickly as it had started.
"Sorry to hear about Mark," Bob muttered thickly, also sitting down. "He was a good officer."
His face pale, Kevin only nodded.
"Maybe your goading got him killed. I don't know. I'm sorry this had to happen to him. And I'm sorry to tell you that you're about to loose one more," Bod added.
Kevin looked up, blinking.
Bob shook his head. "I can't go on like this. Not any further. I can barely walk. I'll only slow you down."
"W-what?" Kevin said, not comprehending. "No, wait a minute-"
"I never liked you, Kevin. You have a smart mouth and an attitude. Personally, I don't think you'll last the night. But if you don't, it won't be because you tried to protect me. I'll never be anyone's burden,"
Not to you. Especially not now, when you've gotta keep moving, kid. Especially not when I'm going to turn into one of them."
Kevin stared at him, not comprehending.
Bob turned slightly, revealing a nasty wound. "Had it since the bar. I can feel it inside of me, and you have no idea what that's like."
By this time George and Cindy had joined them. George stared at Bob.
Bob chuckled. "You wanna know why I didn't retire? I had the money to do it. But after all this time I still wanted to be useful. It's nice to know that I'll go out being useful." He lifted his old-style pistol. "So this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to stay and watch your backs. One last time. You're going to keep going and not look behind you, not even once."
"No," Kevin said in disbelief. "That's not going to happen."
"Oh, yes it is. Take that snooty young feller and that barmaid with you. They're your charge now. So go on, go. And survive."
"Come on," George said, shouldering the medical bag.
"But-" Kevin whispered.
"Go, before I shoot you myself," Bob whispered.
"GET OUT OF HERE!" Bob yelled.
Cindy and George were already walking. Kevin stood, looking down. He finally met Bob's eyes. "Thank you."
Bob nodded, once, and took the gun.
Kevin joined the others, not looking back as Bob wanted.
"We'll never make it out of here alive," George remarked casually.
Kevin's eyes were hard. "We'll see."

They struggled from one rooftop to another, none of them saying a word. Kevin immediately noted battle-fatigue on both George and Cindy's faces. Hell, on himself, too. He checked his watch. Three o'clock. Only two and a half more hours until sunrise. Something about that seemed to imply sanity.
Until then, they would have to keep fighting. And surviving. "Okay, stop a minute. Let's just sit down for a sec and try to catch our breath."
The other two obliged. Gratefully.
"So what'cha plan to do?" Kevin asked, reloading his gun. "When this is all over?"
"Tell everyone," George answered.
Kevin smiled. "No shit. I mean after that, genius. Any plans?"
George blinked. The thought hadn't really occurred to him. He glanced at Cindy, and saw the same look etched on her face. Then, without quite knowing why, he reached over and took Cindy's and. "Rest," he said. "That's a good start."
A ghost of a smile appeared on Cindy's lips.
George glanced at Kevin. "What about you?"
"What am I going to do?" Kevin stood. "I'm going to get the sons of bitches who started all this, that's what I'm going to do." He folded his arms. "I don't have a family. Nothing to tie me down, or anything.
If I go out avenging a few lives along the way, then I will die one very happy man."

Four o'clock found them in deadly trouble.
They had proceeded along the rooftops until they were forced to go back onto the streets.
Unfortunately, there were zombies waiting for them.
Kevin shot three in the head just as they advanced within striking distance of him. The fourth lunged towards him, hissing. George shot him before he could do much damage. George exchanged a grim look with Kevin. The three of them were surrounded by at least a hundred zombies and backed up against a wall. There were no exits that they could see. And to add to it all, they were running fast out of ammo.
And, Kevin realized, the damn rain was starting up once again. "I only have a few bullets left!" he warned. So far they had kept the zombies at bay, but they were forming a tight circle around the three of them. They had a few more guns that they had found at the bar on the ground behind them, along with some explosives, but neither George or Cindy knew how to use an assault rifle or anything else in the pile. And Kevin didn't have time to get them.
A fist suddenly came out of nowhere and slugged Kevin across the face. He fell to the concrete with a grunt. George didn't notice. He was too preoccupied with firing as best as he could at the approaching faces and hitting about half. To his left Cindy shot wildly into the crowd, tears trickling down her cheeks.
Kevin groaned slightly, and just barely dodged the boot aimed for his head. He struggled to his feet, expertly blocking a few blows from the same zombie that had struck him. He launched one of his own at the thing's mouth. The male zombie literally roared at him in fury, blood trickling from his lips. Kevin booted him in the chest. The man slid into a puddle. It gave Kevin enough time to retrieve his gun and fire two times into his head. Kevin's gun clicked empty. He didn't have any time to reload.
The zombies were approaching in an endless crowd. Kevin could hear the unmistakable sound of teeth mashing together. He was certain that unless some miracle was going to happen, all three of them were soon going to be their next meal.
Instincts warned Kevin of danger. He took out his hunting knife and threw it at a zombie that was heading right for Cindy. It lodged right into the woman's throat and she fell, but probably not for long.
He didn't notice until too late the female that launched towards his neck with her teeth bared. He blocked desperately with his hand. The zombie instantly clamped down on Kevin's hand. Kevin screamed out in pain. George reacted instantly. He turned around and shot the zombie in the head. She landed at Kevin's feet.
Wincing, Kevin shook his hand and looked at it. The bite mark hadn't been strong enough to penetrate the leather glove overtop of his skin. But it had been a close one. If they relied on luck any longer, they wouldn't survive. Quickly he reloaded his gun.
Kevin half-turned. "What the hell-"
Kevin thought fast. His eyes noticed a sewer grating right in front of them. He bent down and lifted it.
He looked up. "Come on!"

With a twist of his hand Kevin activated a small flare (courtesy of the late Willy). "All right. We've got ten minutes to get out of this god-forsaken hell hole."
"Can we trust the police?" Cindy asked.
"We don't have a choice," Kevin answered, walking down the tunnel.
A sound made all three of them look up.
Kevin took out his gun. "You two stay here. I'll check ahead."
For a moment, George and Cindy were left alone in the empty tunnel, the only sounds being a constant dripping.
George stared at Cindy and was more then a little surprised to find how much he was actually starting to like her. The thought disturbed him, and he really didn't know why.
Feeling her eyes on him, George looked up. "Are you all right?" he asked, trying to keep his voice professional. He noted that her clothes were torn and bloodied. But, to be fair, he didn't really look that good himself. His clothes and hair were both drenched from vile-smelling wine and the rain.
"Yes," Cindy said. "'s obvious that we'll have to leave the city, won't we?"
"Yes, I think so."
Cindy gave him a half-shrug. "I don't have anywhere to go. I don't know anyone...well, maybe except you."
"I'm...afraid that I don't have anywhere," George replied. Which was true. "I sold off my apartment."
"Apartment? Someone like you only has an apartment?"
"I had a house. But I left when I divorced my wife." The thought made him feel more then a little uncomfortable. "It was recent."
"What happened?" Cindy asked.
George closed his eyes and looked down. "I was not a very good husband. Too busy in my work, I suppose." He swallowed. Now would come the judgements. He deserved them, he guessed. But he was surprised. "You're hurt," Cindy said softly.
George looked up, startled. He blinked.
Cindy stepped closer. She touched his cheek. "This cut. Under your eye."
So long as it didn't become infected, it was really the least of his problems. "It's nothing," George said.
"George," she asked, starring at him intently with her blue eyes. 'Do you think...that we'll make it out of here alive? Without infection?"
Smiling, George took her hand. "We have to," he replied.
Footsteps made both of them quickly drop their hands. "I found the exit," Kevin said. "But it's blocked. Probably have bodies piled on top of it. Do you still have the explosives?"
George nodded. "Yes-"
"May I have it, pretty please?" Kevin asked, his voice straining with impatience. "We only have three minutes left."

Kevin shoved up the half-destroyed grating upwards and climbed up onto the street, soon followed by George and Cindy. For the moment, it was empty. They ran down the road, Kevin leading the way.
Cindy pointed. "I know that bridge! Time Square is right below!" she said, panting. "Hurry!" Kevin shouted, running across the bridge. George followed close behind. Cindy glanced to the left and stopped suddenly. She looked over the edge of the bridge, and her breath caught in her throat.
Her hands trembled as she stared with wide eyes.
George realized that she wasn't following and turned back. He walked over to her. "Cindy-we have to keep-" He glanced down at what she was looking at, and he became very still. His hand, which was reaching up to touch her, dropped back to his side.
Kevin stopped, turned, and rolled his eyes. "Honestly, they're just like sheep sometimes." He joined them. "Come on, people, there's no time to look at the scenery-" he snapped, then abruptly said nothing. He couldn't say another word. Not after looking down below at Time Square.
The entire area, and the city blocks around it, were populated with zombies. There were not just hundreds. There were thousands. Most of them were crammed into Time Square. A police barricade had been set up to prevent them from going any further. Of the police that were supposed to evacuate them, there was no sign. Nor did George ever expect to see them again.
"Holy...shit, that's a lot," Kevin said, speaking for all of them. His eyes were starring at the fires that were growing out of control. "We can no longer worry about warning everyone in this city, doc. They already know."
George didn't reply, but he and Cindy locked hands. He held her close to him.
And, for the time being, all three of them could only stare in horror, contemplating the possibility that they were the only survivors left in the world.

Gunfire snapped Kevin out of his trance. He suddenly leaned over to the very edge and looked down. Almost too far for his vision, he could see people in a circle, firing. They were surrounded by waves and waves of zombies. His blue eyes widened. "Those are cops!" he shouted, and without even needing to think, he ran across the bridge.
George glanced at Cindy. She nodded. They both followed Kevin.
Kevin ran down the street, taking out his gun and firing at two zombies before they could react. It was only a short distance to reach the stairs that would take him down to Time Square-
Without thinking, Kevin dropped to the ground just as he felt the familiar sound of bullets flying right past him. He couldn't believe it! A zombie still had the smarts to fire a weapon! Kevin looked up. The zombie was looking down at him, a pistol in his hands.
It was Mark.
Kevin's breath stopped in his throat. "'s me..."
Before Kevin could move Mark grabbed hold of him by his back and hurled him against a wall. Mark was incredibly strong, and Kevin choked in pain. Mark lifted the gun and aimed at Kevin's head. Kevin pushed the gun away and screamed when the bullet lodged into his shoulder. Teeth bared, Mark dropped the gun and lunged right for Kevin. Kevin held him at bay with his hands. Mark punched him in the chest. Kevin doubled over, blood dripping from his lip. George and Cindy were still too far away to be of any help. Kevin looked up. Mark's eyes were blank. Empty. Mark aimed his fist again.
Kevin blocked. Mark tried to hit him again. And again. Every time Kevin blocked, but it was like blocking against solid steel and he knew that he couldn't keep it up forever. And he didn't.
Mark tossed him around, and the next hit went straight for his face. Kevin slid into a large puddle which soon ran crimson with his blood. That's when Kevin noticed Mark's gun. Quicker then he was even aware of, he crawled forwards, grabbed the gun and pointed it right at Mark. He pulled back the safety.
And hesitated.
He just couldn't do it. He couldn't kill Mark. Not after everything they had been through, even though he knew that the decision would certainly cost him his life. His entire body froze.
His blue eyes just caught George in the background, lifting his gun. He was waiting, and Kevin knew why. George was waiting for Kevin's signal. Kevin nodded. His eyes wide, George pulled back the trigger, praying that he wouldn't miss.
The bullet caught Mark in the back of the head. He fell to the ground with a wince stretched on his lips, falling beside Kevin.
Kevin turned him over, grief overcoming his features. He looked down.
"Kevin!" Cindy warned.
Kevin looked up. A dozen zombies, running towards them. Kevin stood. "Take them out!" he bellowed, firing his gun. Two zombies dropped.
George was about to reply, when a large explosion made all three of them look up.
It came from one of the rooftops. Chunks of plaster rained down on their heads, just barley missing them. George straightened and could see flames licking upwards on the roof.
And a sight he would never, ever, forget.
At the edge of the rooftop rose a figure. A man dressed in a cop's uniform. It took George half a minute to realize that it was Bob! He was sure of it. His face was bleeding and badly bruised. His body was wavering over the edge, almost drunkenly. There were other zombies around him....and George could have sworn that it was one of them that pushed the aged officer over the edge. "Oh God," George said.

Bob plummeted three stories before hitting the concrete ground and was still. Immediately his body was swarmed with zombies. George didn't even think. He moved to run towards the fallen cop, but was stopped with a strong hand to his shoulder. "*What are you doing*!?" Kevin shouted against the noise.

"*I'm going to help him*!" George shouted back.
Kevin shook his head, once.
George ignored him and was about to move forwards.
Kevin grabbed him by his jacket and slammed him against the wall. "Listen to me!" he shouted. "He was my partner for several years! He was my friend! And I'm not going after him because I know there's nothing we can do for him!"
Cindy screamed. A zombie had grabbed hold of her. At the same time, five zombies were running towards them from the street that descended down to the stairs. Kevin slapped a Uzi into his hand.
"Go! I'll take care of her!" he shouted at George.
Breathing hard, George ran down the street, meeting the zombies head-on. George stopped several paces before them. George knew that they wouldn't stop. They couldn't stop. He lifted the Uzi, aimed, and fired. He was not a very good shot and most of the bullets caught them in the chest. Nevertheless, they fell. George approached them, this time firing into each of their heads. George sighed slightly, and turned, about to rejoin the others.
He stopped.
Near a house, laying beside a trash can, was a man. George stepped closer. The fires only provided a dim resolution, but George could see that the man was infected by the T-virus. George could hear a woman screaming in the distant background, but didn't react to it. He could only concentrate on the dying man in front of him.
A thin trickle of blood fell from the man's mouth. "I'm changing. I've held it off for...days now, but no longer. Guess I won't see my wife and kids after all." A tear fell from his eyes. "You...I don't know who you are can help me. I don't wanna be like them! I want to own person. I think that you understand. Please...I'm begging you, will you help me?"
George looked down. He glanced at his gun, raised it, and fired once. The man died where he lay.
"George! Behind!" Kevin warned.
George whirled around just as a male zombie grabbed his shoulders, snarling. The Uzi tumbled to the ground. Kevin lifted his gun, but with a grunt of frustration he saw that he was too far away.
George acted out of pure desperation and hit the zombie with his fists again and again. The zombie lurched backwards in pain. George slugged him in the head.
Unknown to both of them at the time, something very bad was about to happen.

The unleashing the T-virus affected people in different ways. Most people choose to simply hide in their homes. Others took to the streets where they would at least have a fighting chance. But for one man, he choose a far more fatal path, especially considering that his daughter was now one of those things and from a bite in his leg he knew that he would soon follow.
The man knew that a lot of people that were infected were throwing themselves over a bridge overlooking Time Square, but he wanted his life to end in his own house. He had stolen a large quantity of explosives and placed them around his living room, then, without a single work, lit a stick of dynamite and tossed it into the center of the room.

At the very moment that George hit the zombie, the house exploded. They were both caught in the blast. The zombie, being closer, was instantly incinerated. George felt something hard connect with his head, and a sensation of being pitched forwards. His body hit the ground just before dust and rubble flew over him. He coughed, once, and was still.
>From across the street Cindy stared at the falling, burning piles of debris and rubble. "George!" she screamed. She ran towards him.
Kevin grabbed her hand and yanked her back. "No-there's nothing you can do for him!" he warned. Already three zombies were approaching from the corner of the block towards the house.
Cindy gave him a defiant look and broke free from his grasp. She ran towards the debris, her bare feet slapping against the concrete. She had the medical bag in her hand.
Kevin sighed. "Suit yourself."

Cindy didn't stop until she reached George's side. Quickly she cleared away the rocks off his chest. He was alive, and breathing. Blood trickled from his forehead. He didn't wake when Cindy touched him.
Concerned, Cindy bent down further to her knees in her short skirt. "G-George?" she whispered. She lifted his head into her lap. She shook him. "George!?"
He didn't wake up.
Quickly she unzipped the medical bag and dug through her, desperation bringing tears to her eyes. She found a small container, no larger then the palm of her hand. Within it were crushed herbs that she recognized from smelling it. She took out a handful and applied it to his bleeding forehead. "I don't know if this will help...but it should. I know a little about medicines, you see. I...I..never told anyone this...Willy would laugh...but I wanted to be a doctor too. All my life. But I never had the money or training to do so and well...look at me! I never finished high school! Honestly, I'm not even sure if I am smart enough to be a doctor but...I know a little bit. And that little bit has to be enough, George, for you to take up. Because, if not...if I'm not good enough...."
George's hand suddenly tightened around hers. "You do all right," he said, his voice choked.
Cindy gave a short, miraculous laugh. "Are you okay?"
"I have to be-"
Something approached. It was a woman, her mouth wide open in a silent scream. She approached them with her fingers circled. Behind her were two more zombies.
George and Cindy could only watch in horror. Neither of them had anymore weapons, or any strength left to try to run.
Kevin fired rapidly. "*GET THE HELL AWAY FROM THEM*!" he shouted. A few more bullets and the zombies fell to the concrete beside them.
Cindy released a deep breath as Kevin approached and looked up. "Thank you."
Kevin put away his weapon. "Whatever. Can we go now?"

They had reached the stairs.
Below Kevin knew that he would face thousands of the zombies. He reloaded his gun, perhaps for the last time. He stared at both George and Cindy, and for a rare moment, he smiled. "You two better stay here. This is my fight, not yours. could get ugly."
George nodded uncertainly. "Thanks," he said roughly.
"Thank you," Cindy repeated quietly.
Kevin looked at them again, and held out his hand. "I probably won't live through this, so...see you around. Try not to give me a messy end if you see me again."
George immediately took his hand. "I'll try," he promised.
Kevin nodded once more, and without wasting any further time, ran down the stairs to join the cops.

George and Cindy walked quietly past the bodies to the bridge overlooking Time Square. Before they crossed it, George broke off from Cindy and looked over the side, watching all the zombies trying to get through the barricade. He looked up at Cindy, the question on his face. After everything they had been through, they had been fighting only to save themselves. Now they had a chance to help others.
"Leaving Kevin behind just...doesn't seem right."
"There are so many of them," Cindy remarked.
"I know. We probably won't survive," George said. "I thought that maybe we could escape..but maybe, there is no escape. Perhaps we are all doomed to fail." He nodded. "If that's true, then I would rather be down there." He turned. "I can't ask you to-"
She kissed him then, surprising him. She broke off quickly, and smiled and took his hand. "For luck," she explained innocently.
A large smile broke across George's face, for the first time ever. He took out his handgun, and, with that, the two of them ran after Kevin.

Kevin ran down the small steps to where the band of twelve cops were stationed. The police were currently backed against the wall, fighting through at least thirty zombies. Even he had to pause at the sight of the thousands of zombies, trying to break through the police roadblocks. He took out his handgun and fired at a zombie aimed right for a cop. "What's the situation!?" he demanded.
The cop started in surprise. "Sir! Damn good to have another man here! We've set strategic explosives to take all of these bastards out. The explosives are connected to that detonator right over there! Glen has almost finished assembling it and we're going to cover him until he does! Take this!" he gave Kevin an assault rifle.
Kevin tested its weight, and looked up. Any second now the zombies would break through the barricade. Then they would really be dead. Kevin felt movement by his side as George joined him. "What!? I told you to stay out of it!"
"And you'd think I'd listen?" George asked, his voice calm in spite of the horror that lay in front of them. He joined in the fighting, and between all of them, the thirty zombies died. Glen, a cop with thick glasses, was still assembling the detonator, which was stationed just before the roadblock.
At that very moment the roadblock broke apart. Several zombies fell over from the motion.
"Okay, this is it, men!" the cop shouted. "Stand ready!"
All of them raised their guns, Kevin and George among them.
They did so. Kevin braced himself for the kickback of the assault rifle. George fired rapidly with his handgun. Ten zombies fell from the endless sea of walking corpses, but they would soon be overrun.
"Sir!" Glen shouted. "The detonator's ready!"
"Use it then! What are you waiting for!?" Kevin demanded.
"We're in the blast radius! It's not safe!"
"Oh, and we're safe now!?"
At that moment a zombie landed on top of Glen, biting his neck. Several more surrounded him.
"No!" Kevin shouted. He fired. The assault rifle jammed. "Shit!" Kevin took out two handguns and moved to the left, firing rapidly. He was able to take out all of them off Glenn, but by then he saw that it was too late. Glenn was dead, his eyes starring at nothing.
By this time the zombies had walked past Glen and was headed straight towards the group of remaining police. "You stay here and watch my back! I'm going after that detonator!" Kevin shouted in George's ear. George nodded his understanding, both knowing full well that even if Kevin managed to activate the detonator he probably wasn't coming back.
Kevin ran forwards, firing his guns, and dived towards the detonator. He shoved Glen's body out of the way and looked down. His hands beat against the pavement. "NO!" he shouted in horror. He looked up at George. "The damn handle's *missing*!"
"Kevin!" George shouted.
Kevin half-twisted to see a zombie leering down right towards him. No matter how fast he moved, it didn't seem to be fast enough. The zombie reached down-
-and his head literally exploded into a dozen pieces. Kevin looked back in astonishment.
Cindy pumped her shotgun once, and aimed at another one headed straight for Kevin. Kevin took the hint and struggled to his feet, his hand shooting wildly as he did so. He rejoined them. "Where's the detonator handle!?" he shouted at the cop.
"I-I don't know! I assumed it was there!"
Kevin looked around. "Anyone see it!?"
Desperate George and Cindy searched, but it was too dark to see much of anything. Meanwhile, the cops that were right in front of them had been killed. One of them screamed as he was literally chewed apart. The zombies were only seconds away from reaching them.
"It's too late to do anything now!" George said.
"So what do we do!?" Cindy demanded.
Kevin raised his gun. "What do you think? We fight."
George and Cindy instantly raised their weapons and fired. Again. And again. The three moved as one, standing back-to-back. Always turning. Always shooting, and never stopping. George exchanged a brief glance with Cindy, sorrow in his eyes. This was the last time they would ever spend together, determined by how much ammo they would have left.
George wasn't sure how long it was-maybe hours, perhaps even days. He was suddenly aware of the sun rising. His blue eyes looked up at it briefly as the light covered all three of them. Whatever came now, he had lived through the night to see the day, and that seemed important-more important then anything.
He looked down, and his eyes caught something glinting in the light. "Cover me!" he shouted, and dived straight for it. Behind him Kevin moved to comply, shooting two zombies that were reaching for George.
With blood-soaked hands he picked it up and stared in disbelief. It was the detonator handle. George didn't hesitate. He ran straight into the thickest part of the crowd, where the detonator was.
Kevin stared at him in astonishment. But only for a moment. He gave Cindy a shove. "Well, don't just stand there! Let's help him!" And with that, he ran after George.
George flew to the detonator, completely unmindful of what happened to him. At the edge of his perception he was aware of bodies falling to the ground around him. He stared at the detonator. He had never built anything like this in his life. But he had no choice but to try.
"Hurry!" Kevin shouted.
Desperately George tried to assemble it as best as he could. Bodies still fell around him.
"George!" Cindy screamed as zombies surrounded her. "*Help me*!"
Everything clicked into place. "Got it!" George shouted in triumph, and slammed down the handle. Around him zombies-what used to be ordinary people men, woman, and children-shrieked endlessly in the flames. It was a sound George would never forget, even as he himself breathed his last and surrendered to the waiting end.

(16 hours later)
Darkness all around him. A faint breeze shifted through his brown hair, now white with ash. He breathed in burning heat, and he was laying in a large pile of ash. He cracked open his blue eyes.
Through his fuzzy vision George could see something with flashlight lights. An ambulance. People were being moved into it. With a small groan he tried to move, but couldn't. Panic filled his mind. He had to get to them before they drove away- A hand pounded his shoulder. "Relax, doc," Kevin said calmly. He was sitting beside George and smoking. "They know we're here. I saw to that." He glanced down at George. "How are you?"
"Alive," George replied. "Though in considerable pain."
"Yeah, well, that's still quite a miracle, all things considered," Kevin said. He helped George stand up.
George winced. Nothing seemed broken. He looked around. The entire Time Square seemed to be covered with black streaks. "We did it."
"That was your first bomb-making, wasn't it?" Kevin asked.
George smiled. He couldn't help it. "Probably not my last, right?"
"Hey, we might make a soldier out of you yet," Kevin said. He pitched his cigarette. "Well, that's your ride. I'm going to stay here. The shelter will have to wait. I gotta help clean up this mess. And there is a lot of mess. But this is my town, you know. Seems to have sentimental value."
"So...I'll see you around, is that right?" George said.
"Yeah, sure," Kevin said, moving past him. "Preferably non-zombified."
George shook his head, still smiling. He turned to go.
"George," Kevin called. George turned back. "I know that the first impression is always the bitching one, and your impression of Racoon city can't be that great. But...I'll show you what's good about it sometime. What it's worth."
George nodded. "I'd like that."
Kevin smiled. "Go on. Find your girlfriend." He walked away from him, with George looking on in astonishment.
"She's girlfriend," George said lamely, and he smiled at himself. Yes, she was.

George moved past the ambulance, and past the crowds of sobbing survivors being loaded into it. His eyes were searching frantically.
And, towards the end of the crowd, he spotted her. She was standing by herself, hands clasped together with that shy smile on her face. Her blond hair, still in a ponytail, was very unkept, her face was smudged, and her blue eyes were filled with exhaustion. But she was still alive.
George struggled past the crowd of people until he stopped in front of her. He hesitated. "Hi," he said.
Cindy didn't hesitate and flung his arms around him. She hugged him very tightly. "I thought you were dead," she whispered through her tears.
George closed his eyes and embraced her, his hands leaving blood-stains on her blue blouse. "I thought you were too," George replied. "But we're both alive." He laughed in astonishment. "We're both okay."
"*Last call! Everyone into the ambulance, now*!" A police officer said through the intercom.
"Come on," George said, still hugging her. "Let's get out of this city. Then it'll be my turn to serve you a drink."

The two of them boarded the back of the ambulance. All in all, there were about fifteen people within it, including himself. Fifteen people that were saved in the entire city.
The ambulance started up, and moved forwards. George smiled at Cindy, and allowed himself to take a deep, relaxing breath. He was safe. He was going to be all right.
The ambulance suddenly jerked violently to the right, shaking George out of his sleep. The small window told him it was still nighttime. He held on as the ambulance lurched to a stop. There were angry mutterings as to what was going on.
The back doors opened, and a cop beckoned to George. "Get out."
Puzzled, George did so. The rest of them followed and they assembled into a small crowd. George noticed that a lot of them stared at the policeman with virtually no life in their eyes, only a dim hope that everything would be all right. George knew that they were the ones that would be picked off first.
Others, like himself, stared at the policeman blankly, ready to fight.
The cop spoke through an intercom. "All right-listen up. We've just got a report starting that the only road to the shelter has been swarmed by zombies. We're going to have to separate into equal groups of three. We've outlined different maps for you that will eventually lead you to the shelter. This way, we might all have a chance. Okay, when I call out your name, step by your respected group."
George turned to Cindy, but she was pushed roughly away. "G-George?" she said.
George shook his head. He had no idea what to do.
He was moved into a group with a woman with blond hair and a tape recorder, and a girl with glasses. None of them said anything. George stared pleadingly at Cindy, but she was already being led away.
"*All right-move out!*"
What would the future hold? George silently asked himself. What would the future hold?


If you have comment about this Fan Fiction, Please e-mail to Natasha Bennett

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