This is an original work!

I'm acting as the lead writer, with my good friend Fstar.14 acting as lead artist, but I'd be remiss to not mention that the initial spark of the story and its characters all belong and started with him.

I'm merely helping direct the word flow, since we are always in contact when it comes to the story. I write chapters based on a few ideas we share prior, he gives his opinions and then we rewrite if needed. After all is said and done we move on to his main part, which is the art that he makes. If you are interested, check out his instagram and twitter. He also does commissions of all kinds (don't be too weird guys, I trust you).

Let's see how this small trial work goes.

Hell Gates

Prologue: [The Explorer of the Wastes]

[Coastal Plain, Florida]
[About 32 Km near Tallahasse – Wasteland Road]

There is something rather beautiful about sightseeing. One could take in the sight in front of them and fantasize just about anything. Each person would take something different from their experience and there wasn't necessarily a right answer if asked about it.

Philosophical ramblings aside, Noah scowled as he watched the sunrise from a high vantage point, unwilling to ever be caught again in an ambush.

The twenty-one years old young adult observed through his binoculars the coast road, trying to spot any anomalies. Who would have thought that two years ago the world would turn into a shit storm of epic proportions?

Just about every major power in the world had banded together after the sudden discovery of a supposed cure for every type of cancer. Some sort of secret research had been shared and (strangely) instead of trying to hoard the information, the world powers had decided to work towards the good of humanity. Fat load of bullshit that was, but then again, the media always did try to spin falsehoods into sounding good.

Putos mal-parridos (sons of bitches), all of them.

In the new years' eve from 2019 to 2020, the so-miraculous research turned out to be a fucking hoax, the reality being that the cancer research was nothing more than bioweapon that turned the first trial patients into god-dammed zombies. Wasn't that funny? In the year of our lord and savior 2020, the world turned into a fucking R*sident Evil videogame plotline, except it was reality and there was nothing nice about being mauled to death by flesh-eating zombies.

As if that wasn't the cherry to top of the cake, something truly weird happened. Magic was real.

Yep, that's right.

Spooky scary skeletons and all that good stuff. The supernatural was real.

Well, at least for Noah it was damned real, since he could see it. No, he wasn't out of psycho meds since he never had need of them.

His family (mostly grandma) had always told him that the demonio (devil) was real and that he should never doubt the existence of other supernatural things, but he was never into that religious stuff. He always carried his cross-necklace, but that was mostly due to Mama's nagging. At some point carrying that cross around his neck became a habit that he couldn't fix. In his 19 years of living experience, he never crossed any sort of supernatural event; that was before Zero Day.

After Zero Day, the world seemed a tad different. At first when he began seeing them, he thought that he was going insane due to trauma. Dios (God) knew that he had gone through some of it, but it was something else entirely. Noah was still skeptical, but one day he had talked with a priest back in Jacksonville that almost expelled him from the rundown church once due to him being "possessed" by something evil.

Whatever the case be, Noah followed with life. The US became a fucking mess, but all things considered it wasn't all that bad; the government lost a bunch of its power as various factions and groups declared their claim over the land. Coupled with the damn zombie-plague (and some supernatural fuckery), there was very little that the old suits could do to secure their claims. And that was what he knew about; no doubt other countries were having their own set of problems, but global communications were a thing of the past.

Luckily the world didn't bomb itself back to the stone-age with nuclear fire, but then again with the state of things that would not accomplish much besides M.A.A.D (mutually assured atomic destruction). Humanity always found a way to survive, but it was fair to call most of the civilized world a wasteland.

The zombie plague caused heavy devastation, and coupled with the supernatural becoming more active, Noah prided himself in having survived this long with only the loss of sight in his left eye.

He sighed. Here he was, remembering the past once again. Scouting the wasteland to scavenge and explore had been his "job" ever since that day and honestly suited him far too much. He wasn't anti-social since he could be among people just fine, but there was just something about being by himself out here, exploring the world on his own that simply drove him out. However, he couldn't deny that sometimes it got really lonely out here.

Him, his weapons and his skills. That's about all he had with him these days.

He took another look around him, finally seeing something other than decayed buildings and messy streets. Not that it was actually better than destruction, but it was something other than the dull scenery around him.

A group of survivors, most likely newbies from Jacksonville. It was one of the closest still living cities nearby, or what one could call city. People were weak and weak people banded together. When that happens enough times, you'd get a city.

Noah only went to cities when he wanted to barter for supplies or exchange goods he managed to scavenge. Believe it or not, he was making more "bread" these days than when he was working in a 9-to-5 job. Talk about weird, huh?

He continued observing the situation, seeing the newbies get cornered and battered by the infected. He wondered if they were carrying anything good. Now don't get him wrong; he was not a monster, but out here things weren't so kind that one could simply jump into the fire recklessly. If he were to help these people, it could backfire terribly on him. Still, it wasn't exactly nice seeing people get torn to shreds by the infected.

"I hope those pendejos (bastards) are carrying some good loot." He muttered under his breath, putting away his binocular and grabbing a hold of his rifle, peering through the scope. He had gotten used to shooting with one eye, considering his left orb barely worked.

I'm only seeing low-level infected. What are those idiots doing there? He wondered, bracing his weapon and taking a deep breath. His sights were on top of one of the infected, the creature just about ready to take a nasty bite out from one of the 7-people group. Bullets are expensive, you better be packed to the brim with rations.


The shot covered the distance in a short while, exploding the head of the infected almost like it was confetti. Gore splashed over the newbie, Noah deepening his frown in concentration as he switched targets, once more pulling the trigger and hearing the roar of gunfire.


He managed to hit the infected in their torso, wounding them enough to give the scavenger newbies some breathing room. He hoped the idiots took the grace for what it was and scrammed from the area. He scanned his surroundings, making sure that he was not surrounded. Gunfire was loud and attracted more infected, but considering the options he'd say four bullets were a good investment.

He let his rifle hang on and picked up his backpack, tightening the straps to make sure it wouldn't bounce around as he ran away. Pulling out his kukri machete and his hatchet, Noah began to make his way away from his current vantage point (a run-down five-story building) to follow the scavengers. The moment he helped them, they became paying customers, so it would only be fair for him to make sure they made it out alive and well.

That was one of the few types of relationships in this damn wasteland that would not become complicated.

He was careful enough to avoid needless encounters with some of the roaming infected, staying in the group's tail with enough distance to avoid getting spotted. They were most likely returning to the city now, so Noah planned on following along. He had some things he wanted to cash out, and this was an opportunity to do so.

The group took the known and less dangerous routes, but they still found themselves dealing with some infected. Nothing absurd, but there was no place without danger out here. Thankfully they were only dealing with the infected, not with some supernatural stuff.

It took about three hours of walking and dealing with infected, Noah himself having to dispatch a few to avoid losing the group. Nothing that his sharp and well-maintained weapons couldn't handle.

Before they reached the city gates, he had to catch up to them. It wouldn't do for him to be without pay after all.

To avoid spooking them, Noah exited the alleyways he had been using and appeared on the main road, a few meters in front of them.

The group was immediately on high alert, finding the lone man in front of them. He lowered his weapons, not dumb to sheath them just because him and the group were close to the city. Robberies happened fairly frequently enough in the area to warrant caution and he had not survived this long by being reckless.

"You had a pretty lucky encounter back there, huh?" Noah grunted, not so subtly showing his blood-stained weapons to the group. A few murmurs echoed among them, then one person broke off and began to slowly approach; it was an adult for sure, maybe in his late thirties and showing some white staining his rough and grown beard, wearing similarly dirty and rough traveler's clothing.

"I take it you saw what happened back there?" It wasn't really a question, but it tested the waters for their conversation. You could not show weakness out here, that would get you pounced on real quick by some of the more…colorful folk out here.

Noah lightly nodded, making sure to keep the entire group in his line of sight.

"Then we must thank you for coming to the rescue. You must be quite the shot, we could not see you anywhere close. Your group must value your skills very much." The man began to talk and get closer, though he stopped once he noticed the blade of the kukri machete be raised at his shortening distance. His prodding questions were also left unanswered by the dark-skinned teen. The man tried to brush it off with a chuckle, but no amusement could be found in Noah's eyes.

"Three days' worth of rations…" Noah spoke to the man, his voice carried to the group behind him, immediately raising some complaints from them. Not that he cared. If they didn't value their lives and thought it was some steep price, then that would be on them. He was open to negotiations, and those bullets would not replenish themselves. Food wasn't all that he was willing to take, but very little mattered.

The leader echoed an awkward laugh, trying once more to get closer to him. This time Noah did not let the transgression unwarned. His hatchet buried itself in front of the men's feet, almost relieving the older adult of his limb.

Dirt and sand shifted, tension now being raised between the two groups. He hadn't seen anyone of them packing a firearm, but caution was never enough.

"Listen, kiddo! I appreciate for sure your help back there, but you are asking for a bit too much, aren't you?" The man spoke in a somewhat pleading tone. Noah merely let his bladed weapon switch from his right hand to his left, the young adult rapidly pulling his rifle from its hidden position, the sight of the weapon intimidating the group and earning a loud yelp from one of the females present in the group.

With his weapon trailed on the group (and directly at their leader), Noah was finally able to sheath his blade. "I did not come here to rob you; pay me what's fair and we call it even." Roughly came out the words, this time the leader man unable to do much but raise his hands up. "Unless you think the lives of your group aren't worth much." The dark-skinned youth spat the words out, his face beginning to frown into an expression of controlled anger.

The leader also had a bitter face, but he turned to his group and nodded. Noah observed their actions from his safe distance, ready to pop a round on anyone at the mere stray thought from any of them. The leader was about to drop his backpack to likely rummage through it when Noah grunted.

"Not you, get the pipsqueak there to go through your bag." Noah quickly pointed the barrel of his rifle to his target, the girl being responsible for the earlier bit of noise.

The leader did not drop his backpack, tension further being raised between the group and the sole hunter. Not that they were aware of his status, as for all they knew he could have more of his friends in the background, just waiting for the group to slip up. The girl took a deep breath and slowly began to approach the leader, small and thin hands slowly reaching towards the bag still on the older man's back.

"Easy does it," Noah stated, finger lightly curled around the trigger of his gun. "it wouldn't do for you to do anything stupid, right? I only want payment for my rescue of your group. Things don't need to get ugly and whatever you scavenged from the ruins must have been worth something." It was not a robbery after all. Mama would always get in his case to be an up-standing citizen (whatever its worth was these days), so Noah only wanted his fair share. It may look like a highway robbery, but if he had been truly intent on taking their shit he'd have done that much sooner. They had already cost him 4 bullets, a few more would have not set him back by that much.

Still, he had to maintain one last bit of his humanity in this hell on earth.

The girl slowly moved, opening the bag and sticking her hand inside it, slowly rummaging through the contents until she slowly pulled out the first item. It was a rectangular block wrapped in foil, which by the lack of safety warnings Noah took it for some homemade nutrient block. Two more of those and he was good to go. She wondered what to do with the item, presenting it to him with fearful eyes.

"Put it on the floor." His command was quick, the girl flinching at the tone of his voice. Were these peeps really the ones being allowed to explore the wastes these days? Were the safe zones running out of skilled people?

Whatever the case may be, Noah didn't want to linger on for too long.

The girl dropped the first nutrient block on the floor and stuck her hands in the leader's pack again, fishing out the other two items and once more presenting them to him.

"Drop those too and slowly walk back a few feet." He tried putting less edge on his voice, but it still came out almost as a threat. He'd always spoke in a rough manner – and that had netted him its fair share of fights with wannabe thugs – but there was nothing he could do about it.

The girl did as instructed, slowly moving all the while. Noah was getting a bit impatient, his gut telling him that he was skirting the edge of the acceptable time-table to be out and exposed like this. As the girl and the leader regrouped, Noah took a few steps forward to gather his reward; he first picked up his hatched, always maintaining his eyes on the group to avoid any funny business.

Taking the nutrient bars from the floor, Noah quickly threw them inside his own backpack and walked backwards while facing the group, quickly reaching the edge of a ruined building that would lead to an alley. Once his route was available, he dashed away, sure that the group would take the hint and enter the safe zone already.

The tanned man was quick with his sprint, weaving in between the wrecked buildings and available alleys with practiced ease. The priority was creating as much distance between him and the group as possible, which was certainly easy to achieve.

Cities could offer him more protection without having to worry about something attacking him in his sleep, but they also had their fair share of downsides too. He preferred his own hideout.

It took a while to reach his hidden house, but eventually after an hour of walking, he reached the suburban cluster of destroyed buildings that served his purposes. Not that he would risk climbing up there, the state of disrepair of those places would guarantee they were deadly height traps all on their own. Nah, his strategy was different.

Some buildings had solid basements (either meant for trash incinerators or the machinery of the building), which would not collapse this soon. Strangely it was the older stuff that was built to last generations. He had spend a fair bit making this place livable to his conditions, which meant that he had to haul stuff down here for a while. The joke of him now being a basement dweller wasn't missed, but he took it in stride.

You had to have some good (and rather dark) humor to avoid losing your mind in its entirety.

Dodging the stationary traps he planted around, Noah entered the basement that served as his own personal haven. Turning on the lights lit a medium-sized area, the place's aesthetics a bit grungy, but certainly livable. Most of the space that would be occupied by the machines held other things such as rickety shelves housing books, tools and other items meant for trading. Whatever was not of use was scrapped to serve as materials for other things, though the old furnace was still a staple of the place. It offered warmth and it was built in a manner to avoid filling the room with smog.

Settling his pack down, Noah immediately headed towards a desk with a few stationary tools. He began the boring part of survival work: the preparations and maintenance. Everyone wanted the novelty of traveling and being a "badass" survivor, but those were tales to fool idiots that would thoughtlessly risk their lives out in the wastes for some "clout". Reputation among safe-zones was important, but that could be acquired all sorts of ways.

He filled a small container with some bleach and washed his used bladed weapons, being careful to avoid touching too much of the infected fluid. Supposedly there were some people immune to it out there, but he was not willing to try his luck. Clean up done there, he ran a whetstone on his blades and them let their rest while he took his rifle and began doing its necessary maintenance.

The work was monotonous, but that bit of calm was the best part of the work for him.

After that, he went to check on today's haul of goods. Before he helped that newbie group he was exploring the waste in search of some useful loot: tech, medicine, tools, the sort of thing that would fetch great bargaining power.

That had been his routine for the past six months since he found this place and cleared it out. It was something that he was used to do and hoped that it would continue like this, at least for a while.