Flake City Friday: Volume One- Chapter Ten

Letter from the Narrator

“Don’t Forget Flake City” Short Story

Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five

Chapter Six Chapter Seven Chapter Eight Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

          

  It was dark again in Flake City before anyone began to see true recovery from their headaches. Chloe and Charles began to see recovery first, their heads were still tender and sensitive, but the low lights Chev had insisted upon made them able to move around. Chloe quietly made coffee, knowing that she would easily sleep with or without caffeine, but having some now would be a comfort. Chloe and Charlie sat next to each other at the counter, sipping heavily sweetened coffee, both of them wondering what had led to such a horrible headache.

            “The zombies felt it too.” Chev informed them, in a quiet voice, to not disturb Damien, who was trying to come out of the painful fog. “I would assume. Soon as you three went down, they started growling. Stopped hiding in the shelter of the buildings. I think some may have gotten smarter, hell maybe all of them did.”

            “You think?” Whispered Chloe as she muted the TV while turning it on, hopeful for any reports.  

            “I do. No real news, other than one report, Mark did, early this morning. Said the government had some scan to check for activity, and to be able to more accurately report areas of concentrations of zombies, as well as survivors.” Chev noted that they had not made any reports about what they would be able to do for those survivors once they identified them.

            “Chev, do you think Mark even knew about the scan?” Charles asked, eyeing Chloe, who was reading over her text history with Mark. 

            “No, no I do not.” Chev replied with a grimace. 

            “Why?” Asked Chloe as she took a sip of the sweet coffee.

            “No reason to think he could have known. They don’t have many people over there, running that operation, you can tell. Small group of people makes secrets easier to keep.”

            Chloe considered this, wondering what secrets were kept in her own small group, while the dull throbbing of her head slowly faded, but her thinking facilities still felt muddled and slow. Chloe had sent a text to both Mark and Moria, Mark replied that he was working on a report based on the scan information, Moria said nothing yet, Chloe assumed she was still down from the headache. 

            “Lissa, the girl in the morgue with that guy George- Moria worked with them both, she said George went down with the headaches too, had a fever and everything, was whimpering in his sleep.”

            Chev turned to Chloe, severity in his eyes. “Really?” Chev grabbed some coffee and joined them. “The prophecy has been true all along.” Chev whispered. 

            “Here we go…” Charlie muttered removing the rolling tobacco and papers from his pocket. Chloe, out of habit, took these from him and rolled one, while Charlie explained. “Chev has been telling me about this prophecy for a while now. I know I should be honored, not being from the tribe, but one grows tired of the same story.”

            “I never told you the entire prophecy, Charlie.” Chev said with a sad smile. “And I didn’t think it would go like this.” 

            “Well, are you going to tell us now?” Asked Chloe, looking into Chev’s eyes. 

            Chev’s yellow tinted eyes returned Chloe’s eyes. “I don’t know the entire prophecy, only this part of what is to come.” Chev shook his head, surprised at himself.

            Charlie chuckled, “that little power of yours seems stronger now, Chloe.” Charlie said with a laugh, eyeing the startled Chev. 

            “I always thought I did know most of the prophecy, but I don’t, do I?” Chev whispered, shocked. 

            “Why don’t you just tell us what you know? If Charlie is right, and my little truth skill is stronger, maybe we can get more information from the truth you are forced to tell. Same sort of trick we plan on using on the telepath, if I ever get him on the damn phone again.”

            Chev took a deep breath and began to tell them a story about an ancient being that was meant to awaken. 

            “There are many different takes on this legend, and with everything happening, that makes sense, but, I can tell you the legend as I was told, and as I told my children.”

            Chloe nodded and sipped her coffee. 

            “Legend says that a great war will come, and life and death will mean death and life, and when this happens, Komahtsu rises.”

            “What’s Komahtsu?” Asked Chloe. 

            Charlie rolled his eyes. “The Boogey man.” He chuckled, “a mountain tribe boogey man.”

            “There is a great war that has been going on forever, and when life turns to death and death turns to life, all is a part of what is to come. A great compromise is met, and hope is locked away. Truth and Consequences must stay alive, but only among the dead. The lost daughter saves the lost son, the hero to save us all.”

            “Funny, that sounds shorter than it usually does.” Snorted Charlie, lighting the cigarette Chloe had finished rolling for him and cracking the door to the balcony. 

            “Be careful, Charles.” Chev said with warning as Charlie opened the door. “They still seem pretty ramped up from…” 

            Charlie nodded, keeping his foot on the door, holding it open only enough to fit his hand out the door, and blow smoke outside. Charlie listened, now mostly ignoring Chev, having heard him drunkenly ramble about the entire prophecy enough times to no longer care, for any signs of zombies climbing or trying to get into the apartment, but mostly just heard the same growling shrieks. 

            “I think we need to fortify the place more, we can’t tell how safe we are, so we need to assume the worst.” Charlie said, listening to the growls and shrieks outside. To him, some of the zombies sounded as if they were communicating, and that alone scared Charlie. 

            “What happened to the storm?” Chloe asked curiously, noticing it was still not snowing. 

            “Still stalled,” Chev informed them, “I guess this snow is from the first leg of the storm. Weather reports have stayed pretty consistent, looks like it is stalled and brewing some more now. This storm has hit other parts of the country, it seems to just be being held up in the mountains, waiting.”

            “We could use it to hit, maybe it would slow them down, give us a chance to reinforce.” Chloe suggested, having been hoping the cold would slow their movements. 

            “What do you suggest we do?” Chloe asked.

            “Well, we never got to finish fortifying the top floor, we need to clear everything out, get more space, get the fire places sorted, make sure we have back up plans. If something gets in here, we need another place to retreat to.” 

            Chloe nodded, knowing Charlie was right. The group needed to fortify the apartment floor, and they needed to ensure another apartment was available for space. Charlie and Chev agreed to work on the apartment across the way, which was a larger apartment, while Chloe kept an eye on Damien and the news. 

            Chloe was hard at work scoring the internet for survival tips, having pushed the prophecy from her mind, and was hoping to find some tips for Moriah, when she woke up, as well as for the two people who had apparently made a safe area in the morgue, when the TV beeped a loud alert, drawing her attention. The TV was turned down low, so she turned it up, just a little, to not disturb Damien but also hear the information. 

            “This is Mark Wasserman, live from our base outside of Flake City. I have been informed that a government scan may have increased zombie activity. Please exercise increased caution and avoid contact at all times. We have heard of a few people having an immunity to bites. Now is not the time to test if you have this immunity. If you do not have this immunity you will die, and you will, 100% turn, if you become sick from the bite. Please exercise caution, do not go outside, secure where you are and do not leave under any condition except life or death, as you will be entering what can be considered, certain death.” Mark took a deep breath. “Our scan has shown much of Flake City has zombie activity, with some pockets of survivors. Some of our survivors have not reported in to me, and I understand this may be for security reasons. I have also received increased reports of robbery and vandalism.” Mark smiled. “Looting supplies is a necessary part of this process, but please do not break into or attack other survivors, in hopes of stealing their supplies. Our records indicate that food stores are actually fairly good inside the city, with many empty homes full of untouched groceries. When it is safer to pillage, please, only loot from abandoned places, and leave other survivors alone. Now is the time for us to all be our best.”

            Mark took a deep breath. “This scan has likely increased zombie activity, and these zombies may, also now possess more intelligence and reasoning skills, apparently, based on reports. Please record or observe anything you can from the safety of your shelter, and report back to us. Your location can be kept secure, and if you do not want me to leak your location, I won’t, but we need any and all information pertaining to how these zombies work and hunt, as well as any adaptions or mutations they may exhibit. While my team is small here, we have some of the best scientists in the world, and we are regularly sending them files to assess, so any information to assist their quest for knowledge will help us keep you all alive until we can sort it out.”

            Chloe snorted. Charlie grimaced. “Sort this out, he says.” Charlie rolled his eyes. “I would love to see that.”

            “Them actually sort this mess out?” Chloe asked. 

            “Yeah. This isn’t something that gets sorted out. I am surprised they haven’t bombed us already, with as fast as they locked us up and secured the boundaries of the city.” 

            Chloe looked at the screen, and noticed behind Mark, a boat. 

            “Wait…” Chloe grabbed her DVR remote and hit record, to record the segment they were watching. “Look!” Chloe said, once the TV was recording, pointing at the TV. 

            Chev squinted at the screen while Charlie limped closer. “Boats. Patrol. Looks vaguely military…but not quite…” Charlie squinted. “Can we enlarge the writing on the boat?” 

            “Maybe. I know I can download recorded programs to my phone or laptop, so in theory, yes.”  Chloe moved towards her laptop. 

            “Patrol. Military esque, sure, but those are F class contracted agents, I would bet money on it.” Chev said. 

            “How do you know?”

            “They look like the same folks who came into the mountains.” Chev spat out. “Those people. F class is the worst. The entire way that agency, and the magical people behind them, run that whole world, is evil and wrong. Trying to govern things we have no place attempting to govern. Ruling over things we have no dominion over. This is all a part of what is to come, you can bet on that.” Chev was red in the face, angry, at these people. 

            Chloe put the kettle on, reaching into a wooden box she kept full of tea for a calming lemon balm tea, and wordlessly made a calming cup of tea for Chev while he and Charlie ranted about these government people. Eventually they began to talk about the research facility, and Chloe wondered how the two were really related, so she made the mistake of asking. 

            While Chloe made tea and regretting asking the two older men to unload their theories, Moria woke in her office. 

Moria woke from her headache induced slumber, the pain in her head long forgotten, replaced by a new pain, one that other survivors of Flake City had not experienced. 

  Moria had slept deeply while the headache that tormented many of the people in Flake City, and seemed to even affect the zombies, raged on, but now, she had woke in pain, in her abdominal area. 

“Oh, god!” Moria cried out, before clamping a hand over her mouth, remembering she had discovered the zombies were drawn to noise. 

Gingerly, Moria got up and checked the window, grateful to find no zombies clawing at the well barricaded door. 

Pain stabbed at Moria once more and her knees buckled. Moria quickly made her way back to her couch, wrapped a blanket around her shoulders to fight the shivers she had from the aggressively painful wake up, and leaned her head back to think. 

It wasn’t cramps, it hurt differently and Moria wasn’t due for her period. Another stab of pain and the room seem to spin. 

Moria breathed deeply, willing herself to think, calmly, about what could be wrong. The pains were deep, and shook her a bit. The pain seemed to radiate through her, making the back of her thighs hurt. 

Moria looked around, and spotted a first aid kid she had grabbed in her raiding of the hospital floor, and she crawled over to the red box. Inside, Moria found some medicines, namely some anti inflammatory and mild pain reliever. Moria ripped open both and tossed the pills into her mouth while she crawled back to her couch, where a bottle of water sat. 

Moria felt another stab of pain, and felt certain the pains were getting worse, but tried to ignore it. 

Truth be told, the pains were on par with cramps, but with a greater intensity, but Moria feared the pain would increase, so she needed to get ahead of any problems.

Moria considered what could be causing the pain, and hoped for something simple. 

“So many things would be devastating.” Moria considered, as another throb of pain pulsated through her body. Any number of organs needing attention, conditions, or surgeries…There was no way to really know from her place in the office, and even if she could run tests and find out, how could she fix any of it?

Sure, she was in a hospital, but it was totally overrun by zombies, and who knew what condition any of the equipment was in, or if Moria could work any of it properly if it was in working condition. All of this would depend on Moria somehow clearing out the area so nothing could break in while she ran a test…and then reading the results, then treating it. 

  Moria breathed deeply, knowing if she needed surgery everyone who was able to perform such a surgery was currently trying to eat any human survivor they could get their hands on. Moria had seen many of the doctors in the hospital fall to the hands of the zombies, and everyone had been called in to work the crisis before they knew what it was. 

  Moria had suspected that some may have already been sick and therefore didn’t come in, but that hardly kept them safe enough to come to the hospital now to sort out Moria. 

  If the doctors that didn’t come in were simply refusing to help in crisis, Moria assumed they wouldn’t come now, in this crisis, either. 

All in all, Moria realized, she was largely alone. She had a nice girl on her phone she could text, and even call, if cell signal held out. The reporter, Mark, couldn’t do anything, and the government had already made it clear they wouldn’t be providing any aid, other than “not exploding your city.” Even Krista, a fellow doctor who was technically in Flake City, was so far from where Moria was, separated by so many zombies, wouldn’t be much help, being a general practitioner, she could maybe help diagnose, but that would likely be it. 

  Moria took a deep breath and grabbed her mobile phone, eyeing her messages from Chloe. Chloe had sent a few, and Moria responded. 

Moria leaned her head back and wondered what the pain was, and how to treat it. Deciding that there were healthy things she could do to better her situation, Moria grabbed a large bottle of water and began to drink, knowing being fully hydrated would help.

The junk food options of her food supplies turned her stomach, so Moria pulled out a packet of oatmeal for her to eat, to prevent any medicines from hurting her stomach. 

Chloe explained that Mark had told them that the scan had been done by the government to, according to them, check for pockets of survivors and zombies, but by accident, may have also angered the zombies, as it seemed to have agitated them. 

  “Do we know they didn’t want to do that?” Moria asked, not entitrely sarcastically. 

  “That’s what Charlie said too.” Chloe had responded. “I don’t think Mark knew either way.”

  “No, it is obvious they aren’t telling Mark everything, hell if anything at all. Investigative reporter who probably can’t find out anything.”

  “Damian still hasn’t woke up.” Chloe told Moria. “He seems fine, just…very deeply sleeping.”

  “The scan could have affected us all a little differently, tons of factors to consider when you consider a single wave over all the body types, different backgrounds…” Moria explained. 

 “Sure.” Chloe texted back. “How are you?”

“Well, I actually woke up with a bunch of abdominal pain. I took some stuff, but I don’t know what it is.” 

“Guess it’s a good thing you know some medicine and are in a hospital.”

  “That’s the thing though, isn’t it?” Moria replied, “I am here, but zombies are everywhere, no one can work the machines for me, and if I need surgery, no one can do it for me.” 

The blinking dots that indicated Chloe typing a response seemed to hesitate, as if Chloe had started to respond before realizing how dire the circumstances were. “Fuck.” 

Moria laughed, wincing slightly in the pain from an oncoming throb. “Exactly. So, I hope it’s nothing. No way to know for sure.”

“We need to get…help?” Chloe replied. Moria could tell Chloe had no idea how to sort this problem out. 

Moria breathed deep, hoping this was nothing major, maybe some how, an affect of the scan, and nothing worse. Nothing that required surgery, or major medicine. 

  Another stab of pain told Moria that she would have a long evening ahead of her. 

  Chloe told Moria she would let her know when Damian woke up, and to keep her posted on her abdominal pain. 

  Moria ate some oatmeal and waited for the pain reliever to kick in. The pain was still there, but she was able to put some hot water in a bottle and use that as a warm compress to help the pain, and found a position that was comfortable enough to read some of the documents Mark had been able to get to her from the research lab. 

 Moria wanted to know more about the brain scan radio wave thing that had happened. 

  Everything in Moria’s mind told her that the scan had to have something more to it. Why else would so many people have had such nasty headaches? Moria shot a text message to George and Lissa to see if they were doing okay, and discovered that Lissa had been fine, with no headache, but George had been sweating, feverish all night, the headache blinding him, he mostly slept and whimpered all night. 

Moria felt bad for the poor guy, knowing he was trying to impress Lissa, but also wondered why he had been so affected, and yet Lissa not at all.  “Considering how close to each other they have been….and they have been in the same areas.” Moria recorded these notes in the notebook she had started when the research arrived. 

“It is likely more about their own differences, not the air they are breathing or anything environmental…” Moria mused out loud. 

Moria made a list of possible identifiers to ask the survivors she had access to. Things like medical backgrounds, where they were from, diets, and any conditions they may have. Moria answered the questions for herself, and sent some to Chloe and Lissa. 

“Hey, get these answered, and text me back. I am going to go over this information, try and learn whatever I can with what they will give us.” Moria sent in a text before turning back to her research. 

After an hour or so, Lissa told Moria that George had woke up, and was still feeling unwell, but better than he had during the night. His head was tender, like Chloe and Charles, so Moria logged this in her notebook, and asked Lissa to keep her updated regarding any fever George had. It has spiked to 104, scaring Lissa, but had come back down nearly as fast, bouncing between 99 and 102. 

  Moria’s pain continued into the night, but she worked hard to ignore it for her research. 

  It was later in the night, when Damian finally woke up. 

Chloe was sipping coffee, when Damian sat straight up, face pale, eyes wide. 

  “It’s everywhere!” Damian said, panicked. “The key. Here. Everywhere. The key!” 

  Damian shot up, and the effects of the scan and the headaches made his knees buckle. Chloe quickly jumped up and helped Damian over to the counter, where he grabbed at her paper and a pen, sketching what looked like a key. 

  Chloe grabbed Damian some coffee and returned to her spot to watch him draw. 

  “I was dreaming. Deep, crazy, deep dreams. I…” Damian looked around. “I can’t explain it, but it was weird…” 

  “Just tell us, we won’t make fun of you.” Charlie said in a tone that told Damian the old man was being serious. 

  “I was dreaming…I was all over the city. I could see the city, I could travel, like on the wind, or something…This whole city…This was planned, I think this was always part of a plan. This place is…This place is the key. Look at our logo, the city logo, it’s all over the city, and I bet none of us ever noticed. I have lived here my whole life, wore a damn Letterman jacket with this logo for years, I never noticed it.”

  Chloe looked at the paper and saw the big F and the big C that formed the Flake City logo.

  “Wow.” Chloe said, seeing what Damian meant. Chev limped over to the counter and joined them. 

  “It’s a key.” Damian said. “Flake City is a key.”  Damian said, “I kept hearing this voice, this whisper, ‘Flake City is the Key’ But I know that voice, and she isn’t from here.”

  “Who’s the voice?” Asked Chev.

  “Uhhh my dealer?” Damian replied.

  “Your dealer?” Chev asked. 

  “Yeah. She flies an airplane, to the small airfield by the university, and sells me weed. That is how we keep this town supplied in weed.”

  “Why would her voice be in your dreams, you got a little crush?” Charlie asked. 

  “Sure, on her and Chloe, two women who are ostensibly completely unreachable.” Damian said, his eyes growing wide. “Damn, Chloe, can you not turn off the truth-thing your eyes do?” 

  Chloe’s face was now red. “I think the scan made it worse. Normally people just have to tell me the truth, not volunteer it to anyone if I am in the room.” Chloe sighed, concerned at how freely they were all discussing her weird truth abilities, and with how much more amplified they seemed to be since the scan. 

  “How the fuck do I report that to Moria?” Chloe wondered as she eyed the sketch Damian had made. 

  “This logo is everywhere in the city.” Damian said. “In my dream, it was like I was riding on a breeze. I went all over the city. This logo is everywhere. The hospital, the research lab, the power plant, the air port, the college, the radio station, everywhere. It’s a key. Hell, it’s on some houses-”

  A loud, terrifying screech cut Damian off. It sounded nearly animalistic, and horrible. 

  “What the fuck was that?” As Chloe as she went towards the door. 

  “I think that may be the thing I saw at the end of my dream.” Damian said, face even paler. 

“What?” Asked Chev, searching for weapons. 

  “I don’t know…She was…a zombie for sure, but…her eyes weren’t blank…she knew things. She was scary.”

  “What color were her eyes?” Asked Charlie, holding a hand up to Chev. 

  “Red, with a weird yellow black look to them.” 

  “Komahtsu. Komahtsu has risen!” Chev said, picking up an ax.

“Then save your energy, she isn’t here yet.” Charlie snapped. “Chloe, get ready to call Mark, and we probably need to record some of this stuff, Damian, can you record on your phone?”

Damian nodded, and took a sip of his coffee, and pulling his phone from his pocket. 

The air outside had filled with shrieks, and Charlie’s fear that the zombies were communicating was confirmed. The terrifying screech they had all heard, however, seemed to be leading the screams.

  “This isn’t good.” Chloe stated, as the group of four stood outside. 

“No, that isn’t good.” Damian said, pointing his free hand towards a zombie that was pointing to them. 

“Fuck.” Chloe, Chev, inside. Damian, get a weapon.” Charlie instructed.

A large group of zombies was moving toward the building now, and Charlie quickly eyed the wall. There wasn’t much for them to climb on, it seemed, but the building had been full of zombies before, so there was no telling what could happen, Charlie knew. 

  Chloe quickly grabbed her gun and holster and slid them on, before searching out melee weapons. The sounds of guns would bring more, so they needed to try and defend themselves with the least amount of noise possible. 

  “Don’t shoot!” Chloe urged as she handed Damian his gun and he handed her his phone to record. 

  “Yeah, the noise’ll bring more.” Charlie murmured as he checked the guns to ensure they were fully loaded, before holstering. 

  “Make sure Moria is okay. Report this to Mark. He needs to know the scan isn’t as innocent as they told us it is.” Chloe told herself as Charlie surveyed the area. 

Chev was sharpening his knife and looking out to the mountains from the window. 

  Chloe typed quickly, sending messages to both Moria and Mark, and sent off the bit of video she had for Mark. 

  “Should we turn the lights off? They may not have much intelligence.” Damian suggested, turning off the lamps. Chloe turned the only other lamp off, and wondered if she should turn off the TV, or even put the fire out. 

  “I can do the music distraction again, with no one outside it should be safe.” Suggested Mark. 

  Chloe relayed this message to Charlie and Damian, who were watching the zombies closely. 

“Not yet.” Damian whispered, holding up his hand, and taking his phone back to record more footage. 

The zombies were close, sure, but they were unable to climb. Some had entered the building, others were shrieking and growling with each other, and some had broken off from the group at the apartment building and moved towards other parts of the city. 

“I think they may be communicating.” Damian whispered. “Some inside are communicating that nothing is in there, others saying ‘hey let’s get out of here’ that kind of thing.”

  “Oh, but saying it in zombie?” Charlie whispered half sarcastically. 

“Yeah, maybe. Seems like it, right?” Damian said. 

  Charlie nodded, knowing Damian was probably right, because they sure did seem like they were communicating in some capacity. 

  Chloe returned to inside the apartment and checked out her peephole to ensure the hallway was still clear. From her view, she couldn’t see any zombies, yet, but they had no way of knowing how many were on other floors, in the hallways, or the stairwells. 

  They had managed to clean out the stairway that connected their floor to the roof, and had secured off the doorway below and created a barricade on the stairs leading down, to deter anything from coming up, but there was no way to know if this was even still clear. 

Chloe was irritated. They had made a plan. Use the storm time to clear out the floor, secure more of the building, guarantee their survival for a long period of time. Then the stupid scan had put them all out of commission, and clearly had lingering effects. Chloe was mad, and found herself thinking, not for the first time in her life, how much she wish she knew what her “art” was, so she could pour her emotions into it. 

Chloe had moved to Flake City to work on her art, she had assumed, boldy, that she could maybe discover what kind of art that would be, but she had been here a while, and still didn’t know what it was. 

Now, she could hardly get to an arts supply store. 

  Chloe stared at the door to her apartment. “Finally paid ahead on bills. Got groceries.” Chloe grumbled to herself. She had finally gotten ahead, to where she could think about more than survival, and now Chloe was in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, frustrated, still, with no idea what kind of art she wanted to do. 

  Chloe shook her head, angry at herself now for wallowing, and began to search through their supplies. Chloe grabbed some bags and began putting together some “go” bags for if they were overrun, with supplies to help them survive. 

  Chloe emptied her own bag that her parents had insisted she keep, laying out the items in front of her own bag. Using this as a template, and also to see what she was missing, Chloe began to assemble bags for the small group she had in her apartment. With the zombies acting as they were, they had to have a back up plan that involved fleeing, which would mean having bags ready for them to grab and run. 

Chloe first grabbed some sleeping and shelter supplies for each bag, trying to keep it simple and light in case they had to move quickly and travel light. Each bag got a sleeping bag and a couple tarps with tie cord, but they had some tents Chloe had placed to the side. 

Chloe packed a small reserve of ammo in each of the bags, as well as a first aid kit and some water, including a couple of cans of food for each bag. Chloe hesitated to add more than one or two cans of food to each bag, however, fearing the overall weight, and decided to try and use more dry and dehydrated foods for the bags, so she added some jerky, trail mix, and other assorted foods into each bags pile. 

Chloe made quick work of sorting out some nice bags for if they had to run, so each of them would have what was needed to survive, separately if needed. 

In Chloe’s bag, she had extra clothing, but her guests, other than Charlie, didn’t have any extra’s really, but they had plans to go through apartments so they could have a few more changes of clothing, Chev had none at all, so Chloe made a mental note to try and get them some extra clothing, or at least socks, as soon as possible. 

Chev saw what Chloe was doing and smiled appreciatively. “That is smart, just in case.” He said when she began to assemble the completed packs. Chloe kept cross checking her own bag and the list in her survival book, to make sure everyone had a few supplies to survive the situation in front of them, namely terrifying zombies and a looming snow storm. 

  Chloe finished up the bags, and realized the guys must be cold outside, so she went to the door to make sure all was okay. Damian and Charlie were hunched over, shivering against the cold as Damian recorded and Charlie kept himself armed. 

  “You guys could get sick, you should come in.” Chloe whispered. 

  “We are trying to test some things. We will be in soon.” Charlie whispered back, nearly silently. 

  Chloe returned inside and made a fresh pot of coffee and turned on the stove to make some soup. They had some leftover turkey from the meat they had cooked, as well as bread, so Chloe decided this would be a nice meal, and got to work. 

  Outside, the zombies crept into the apartment building, but seemed to forget about the people on the balcony. A few zombies would occasionally see them, but not many kept their attention on them for long.

  While the guys outside continued investigating the zombies, Chloe cooked them all some food, and prepared for what she knew in her bones would be a long night. 

  Chloe had to soup on a low temperature on the stove, and had made up some sandwiches and put them on a large plate, before returning to the backpacks to finish them off and close them up. Chloe had added some packets of dried meat and sachets of tuna fish, and all in all, each back pack had stuff to sleep, make a camp, make fire, purify water, fight zombies and eat, plus some extras like bottles of water, a compass, ammo, and even some toiletries for each of them to maintain a semblance of clean if on the run. 

  Chloe stood back and surveyed her work, wondering where she would put the bags. If they had to run, they would likely use the roof access, so Chloe decided having them near the front door, by the closet her bag had originally been stored in, would be best for the supplies, and stashed the bags there before returning to the kitchen and checking on the still heating up soup. 

Damian and Charles came in from the balcony, looking cold but encouraged. 

“Tell Mark we are sending him some information, a video. Everyone needs to be more careful; these zombies aren’t so stupid now.” Charlie said, gesturing to the phone in Damian’s hand. 

  “Do you have a computer I can transfer this to? No way it will send as big as it is. I took a few videos too.” 

  “Yeah, here.” Chloe said, moving towards her charged laptop. 

  Damian got to work transferring the videos to Chloe’s laptop and sending the files to Mark, while Charlie filled her and Chev in with the details. Chloe typed a few key highlights to Moria, who was bundled up in her office, terrified with what she was reading. 

Moria’s phone buzzed, informing her of a few messages from Chloe, and she read them with growing fear. The zombies were in some way or another more knowledgeable of how to hunt humans, and a few were even pointing to the balcony where Chloe and her friends had stood, able to identify survivors. Thankfully, they did seem to struggle with short term memory conversion, but the zombies, it seemed, were getting much smarter, much more able to find them. 

  Moria checked, carefully, the area she could see outside the hospital and saw that yes, several more zombies were out there, but they were, it seemed, communicating, and working together to try and gain access to buildings. Some used windows, others clawed at doors and even door handles. 

  Moria forwarded this information to George and Lissa, wondering how they had been doing in the morgue, and if those zombies had increased their own knowledge. 

  Moria made her way back to the couch and wondered what this all meant. The zombies were hardly great thinkers, but they were clearly more reactive then they had been. 

Moria’s computer lit up with an alert about an upcoming news cast, so Moria opted to heat up some water in the microwave and make some tea while she waited. 

  Outside, the growls and shrieks seem to grow. 

Charlie and Chev helped themselves to some soup and sandwiches, and Chloe grabbed herself and Damian some as well, sliding his soup and sandwich across the counter to where he worked. 

The news lit up the TV, and Chloe saw there was another newscast coming soon, she assumed this was to announce all the information they had given Mark about the scan and the zombies, but the delay would be due to the wait in the videos. 

Damian informed the group that he had sent a few videos in, and was waiting on the rest to send off. 

  The internet wasn’t moving too slowly, but it also was very obviously throttled, in a way that Damian couldn’t quite figure out. Damian had checked the internet, which showed full connectivity, but the dark angry clouds that marked the inky black night sky, indicated that maybe the signal would be temperamental. 

  Damien queued up the next couple of videos to send to Mark, and spotted the bags Chloe had packed. 

  “What are those for?” He asked as he watched the progress bar. 

  “In case we have to run.” Chloe said, passing out napkins. 

  “Smart” Damian said, shuddering from watching a zombie break down a door down below on a balcony far below them. 

  Damian had recorded the zombie, climbing over the balcony’s fence, and banging on the door, banging and pushing, growling for help from other zombies. After ten minutes, the zombie, with help from others, had broken a door down. 

  If they kept up that pace, there was no telling how safe they would stay in the apartment building, so they had to be ready. “I think we should block off the doors. Or have round the clock watches.” Damian finally said. 

  Charlie nodded. “Yeah, the doors are problematic. I don’t think any of them would be able to get up to this balcony, or even to the front door, but an hour ago I didn’t think they could break down a door, either.” He had been sure the locks on the doors would hold, but that didn’t seem to be the case.

  “We also need to make sure we can get out, if needed, so blocking things off may not be our best play.” Damian observed. 

  Chloe thought about this. “Well, like you said, we had originally planned on cleaning out the other apartment. I think we need to return to that plan as soon as possible. If one apartment is overran, we could also run to another. If that storm hits, we may not have “running outside” as an option.” 

  Charlie nodded. Outside, the temperature has held strong at nearly freezing temperatures, and Charlie was fairly certain he had seen some of the zombies communicating in their rudimentary way, moving away from the storm that was definitely coming. 

  It may have been paused for a few days, but the storm, was coming. The first leg had only been one part of it, and so much more was coming. 

Moria was trying to ration her pain relievers, but she had also found a nice rotation of stacking the medicines to be semi helpful in pain management. 

The night wore on, and Moria found herself trying to control the pain she found herself in, while also fighting the growing panic with all the screams and growls she heard elsewhere in the hospital. Sure, her floor was quiet, but she could hear noises from outside and from elsewhere in the hospital, and the noises coming from the stairwell were also growing, making Moria certain that it had only been her efforts in securing the floor that had kept her floor safe and zombie free for the time being. 

Moria was only staying awake for the coming news report from Mark, but the pain was bothering her and made her want to rest. Moria kept herself busy trying to make sense of the redacted files. 

Finally, after an hour, the news logo flashed, and a news report began. First, the weather, a few screens of the current holding pattern, showing a massive weather system coming with the storm. 

“Looks like we are in for a blizzard, folks, an early in the season blizzard, on top of everything else.” Said Mark as the screen came in on him in the makeshift studio in the motel they were stationed at outside Flake City. “So make sure you are ready for the long haul. Now, we have several updates from inside Flake City, and I want to remind everyone in the city, everyone watching this, please, call in, tell us anything you know, I swear, I am trying to help you. We have a small team here, and we want to see you live. The coming days, and weeks, will be hard, but we want to help you.”

Across the city, everyone took a breath, realizing that Mark had just admitted that it would be weeks, if not more, before they saw any help. Many people, like Charlie, knew that it would be years or never. 

  “We have reports that the brain scan may have agitated the zombies, I am going to have some footage play now of the zombies actually searching and seeking out survivors with skills that we can say are much more refined than previously. This footage comes to us from within the city, and we, as I have mentioned, would love to have any footage, so any pictures or video you can get, text or email them to the numbers or email address on the screen.” 

Moria watched the horrifying footage of zombies pointing at the group. On the footage, she was able  to hear Chloe’s familiar voice, and a flash of her face as she took the camera from Damian, as well as the voices and faces of a few others, an older white man and a dark skinned guy about Chloe and Moria’s age, maybe a few years younger. 

  “It is imperative that you secure your homes. The storm is upon us, so once you have ensured you have enough supplies to survive the storm, you must secure your home from the zombies and prepare to hunker down. These zombies seem capable of seeking out humans, but still do not have elevated thought processes that allow them to retain much memory. It seems that staying out of sight, and quiet, can help deter them. We do not know if they can hunt by smell or not. We do not know for sure how to stop them, but we have reports of destroying the head being essential.”

  Mark looked down at his notes. “Secure windows, barricade doors, and prepare for cold weather conditions.” Mark eyed the list. “In the past, Flake City has experienced power outages and sometimes burst pipes in extreme freezes. This being an early season freeze offers many dangers, including these ones. We have not yet made contact with anyone inside the power and electric facility, but we have a hotline, if anyone is there and alive, to call.” Mark eyed the camera. “Even if you don’t know how any of it works, and you just took shelter in the building. We can have someone talk you through…” Mark shook his head. “Don’t be afraid to reach out. We are doing the best we can, and can only help you if you know what help is needed.” 

  Mark continued with the cold weather tips. “Make sure you have blankets, if your heating goes out gather all people into one room, stay warm. Keep a stash of wood, as much as possible, inside. Avoid all contact with zombies when getting more fire wood. We have no way of knowing if the freezing temperatures and snow will slow down these zombies, but even if it does, please, exercise extreme caution.”  

  Mark continued with his report, informing the city that the brain wave had confirmed pockets of survivors, but then, a piece of information no one inside Flake City wanted to hear. “I have been told that another brain scan has been requested by the government agency in charge of Flake City.” Mark said, his face was pale, and he was obviously annoyed. “We have asked for at least a few days’ time, to let the storm settle in. It is my sincere hope that the snow slows or even stops the zombies for small period of time, so if this next scan agitates them further, none of you will be in danger. Please make sure you are secure and reach out to us if you need somewhere to hide or take shelter. We have no way of knowing if they will wait for the next scan, or how many they may do. We have no say in that.” 

  Mark finally wrapped up his report, reminding everyone to contact him, and finally closed the newscast. 

  Moria found herself irritated with the report, and terrified by the prospect of another scan, and in pain, so she dug out some sleep aid, more pain reliever, and more anti-inflammatory, and swallowed the fistful of pills with a sense of abandon. Moria burrowed herself down into her blankets after checking the door once more, and fell into a restive sleep, amid the stabs of pain in her abdomen. At a certain point, Moria told herself, you had to just take time for you. Being helpless at the will of some mysterious government agency and a clueless journalist, was tiring, and Moria decided to sleep. 

“Besides,” She told herself. “It’s Saturday night.”

Many floors below, in the morgue, Lissa rolled her eyes at the news report and stroked George’s hair. His head was in her lap, he was deep asleep, trying to sleep off whatever it was that had gone wrong with him when the brain scan had last went off. 

Lissa was mad, at the government and the way they were handling this, at the zombies who wouldn’t shut up outside in the morgue proper, locked up but hardly quiet about it, mad at so many things, and trying to hide it from George, who needed a strong team mate to survive the mess they had found themselves in. 

Lissa took a deep steadying breath and turned on the vlog camera they had rescued from George’s locker. “Hey guys, another update from inside Flake City. George is resting up, so I am on watch. We are still totally surrounded by zombies, but they are locked up, because we are in the morgue.” Lissa smiled. “And I am updating a vlog because…vlog content, baby or something…ugh” Lissa turned the camera off, thoroughly disgusted with herself, hating her voice on camera, hating herself for even trying to help George’s stupid desire to keep his channel going, and eyed her cigarette pack. Lissa had a few cartons, thanks to George’s dangerous, but fruitful, scavenging. 

  Lissa put a small blanket on George, his temperature was cooler, but he was shivering. Lissa and George had found a closet with some bedding in it, and when they began to secure themselves into the office, they had grabbed all the bedding from that closet to make the office a bit more comfortable. Lissa went to the small window in the bathroom and lit a cigarette, carefully cracking the small window, too small for even a person to crawl through, which allowed her to see at ground level. The small window gave her small view, and from it, she saw many sets of legs milling around with much more purpose than before. Lissa carefully watched as several zombies seemed to be looking for something, so Lissa watched to see what they were tracking.

  Lissa had been compiling information to cross check against the things George said about “zombie rules”. George was a fan of zombie culture and lore, so he had told Lissa plenty about the various movies and the many takes on the creatures known as zombies. From this, Lissa was comparing this information to the legends she had always heard her father go on and on about, wondering if he could have somehow been right. 

  Lissa finished her cigarette, not wanting to linger too long for fear of the smoke drawing the zombies close to them, and returned to the office where George lay. Lissa had made a little sleeping mat on the ground, nothing too comfortable, but with George being so unwell, Lissa knew he needed as good of rest as possible, so he got the couch.

  Lissa checked on George, his temperature at 102, and straightened the blanket on his body. They had grabbed their possessions from their lockers, which was just one change of clothes for each of them, plus some work out clothing George had, but Lissa had been forward thinking and grabbed stacks of scrubs from a supply closet as they scavenged for supplies. 

  Lissa settled herself into a semi comfortable sitting position, so she could keep a careful eye on George, letting her mind wander to when they began to secure themselves. 

  George had been worried about potential looters headed to the hospital, so the two made quick work of securing the supplies from the morgue into the office. The morgue was set up for disasters well, with the disaster relief certifications all held by Moria, the morgue, where she worked, was stocked with supplies to keep her and a small team surviving for a while. Lissa and George were able to gather all the extra medicines from the pharmacy that were left, hoping if they scavenged enough, it would keep people from wandering into the morgue. If people thought someone had already looted the morgue floor, they would move on to other floors, and with any luck, leave George and Lissa alone. 

  The scrubs, some bedding, and a decent surplus of medicines, made Lissa feel better about their situation, but their weapons were limited to a piece of pipe, an ax, and a baseball bat. They had grabbed some furniture, and the railings of beds, to help secure doors, and they barricaded every access point. Inside the morgue, they had hoped, no one would want to investigate further. 

  The dead were walking, so who would want to go into a morgue? 

It was with these thoughts, that Lissa fell into a light sleep, waking every few minutes to put an eye on the door, before dozing off again. George’s fever went down, breaking once again, and he began to sleep more peacefully. Lissa changed the washcloth on his head, and hoped he would feel better soon, before wrapping a blanket around her shoulders and returning to her spot on the floor. The two of them needed to find a place to go, after the storm, Lissa knew, so she let her mind wonder about the possibilities of where the two of them could go, and drifted off into her light sleeping pattern of watching the barricaded door, until morning. 

In the mountains, the storm that had been brewing, began to surge forward. Quietly, the tribe that lived in the mountains, felt the energy change, and knew, without a doubt, that the storm would now move, to blanket the city. 

  Doors closed, windows shut, and the people of the mountains prepared for a long haul. The mountain people knew this storm would keep the city frozen for a while, two weeks at least. This was all a part of what was to come. 

  The cold winds blew through the trees and snow began to fall from thick, angry, dark clouds. Lightening, blue, green, purple, and white shocks of bright lightening lit up the sky, blotted out by clouds that were impossible dense. Flurries of snow began to fall, visible in flashes of light before an impossible darkness consumed the light once more. 

  The storm poured out of the mountains with the force of a train, survivors on watch shifts saw the wall of snow, the bitter cold winds fueling the angry snow storm. The flashes of light were hard to see, but anyone fluent in magical ways knew this storm had more to it than snow. 

  Deep within the city, a storm of another variety was brewing. Snow fell, falling on the zombies, falling on buildings, it was a matter of minutes, and snow covered nearly every surface. Wind blew harder, and more snow began to dump onto the small town. 

  The outskirts of the town, including the motel where Mark was, began to also become covered in snow, and power began to flicker. Martin had already arranged for a generator, but the motel was soon just as involved with the blizzard, as the survivors inside Flake City. 

It was five days, after the zombies had broken out of the research lab, but finally the storm that had been stalled out over the mountains while zombies ate their way through the city, fell onto Flake City. 

And as Chev would say to anyone, as well as murmur as he fell asleep night, “this was all a part of what is to come”. 

Moria had fought through the pain in her stomach and forced herself to keep reading the documents she had been sent, slowly translating the medical documents into nomenclature she could explain to others, but also deciphering whatever codes seemed to be being used by the better lab reports. 

Sadly, much of the documents had been redacted, including the names and research methods used to create these zombies, but some lab tech, someone, seemed to have snuck in information using more approved language, or, hiding the facts in a swarm of misinformation. It had taken Moria some time to figure out that half of the reports were coded, but in a way meant to help Flake City. 

Moria kept trying to dig through the information, using her walls to hold pieces of paper up, forming a work space on her office walls, ignoring the pains in her stomach, and wishing for more information than what Mark was getting her. 

Even after the scan had worn off, Moria had been struggling with her stomach troubles, making her worry that perhaps it was something serious, but slowly, over the course of two days, Moria started to see relief, so she chalked it up to a cyst or something, and continued to work. 

This side of Flake City was falling into a pattern, as much as one could in a zombie apocalypse. 

Moria made the things that required a microwave first, in case the power went out. Moria had also been making plans for continuing her raid on the office floor, searching for supplies, and a bag to carry supplies in. The storm that was trying to hit Flake City would surely arrive soon, snow had already fallen, with more behind it. Outside, powerful winds occasionally gusting so hard that zombies were moved. Some turned and try to fight whatever pushed them, before being confused and continuing to search for survivors to eat. 

Of course, any semblance of normal, of safe, regular patterns, was about to be blown out of the water. 

Thank you so much for reading. Be sure to bookmark this page, or subscribe/follow the blog so you won’t miss the coming chapters. Feel free to catch up on the back catalogue of content on Flake City, or even some of my other creative writing stuff…You may not see it, but it all connects in the end.

Thanks for reading!

Abbi

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