Author's Note: And we're up.
Chapter Four: Adam – Mistakes
"Look, I said I was sorry."
"Yeah, well, that doesn't fix the crack in my skull, now does it?"
"And you shouldn't be shuffling around at a time like this!" Adam snapped, glaring at David while Erin finished bandaging the really quite small crack in his skull. Luckily for him, Adam had managed to pull back most of his blow, having only the tip of the wooden sword tap the other boy's head. Unfortunately, that had been enough to set David's ears ringing, and now Adam was receiving the brunt of his anger.
Luckily for the students, it had turned out that McCarty was completely deserted, of both people and infected. In order to keep it that way, the group had been barricading all the windows in sight, and destroying most of the electronic locks on the doors. It would be bad for anyone trying to get in, but it would also keep people from accidentally letting in a cannibal, and Adam had decided that it was a sacrifice they would have to make. He'd still asked people to stay near the most common entry points so uninfected could be let in if needed. After walling up the windows, the main group had assembled down at Ian's Café, looking over the generous supplies they now had.
"If we're out of complaints from that corner, I'd like to get on with this." Adam stood, getting the attention of the assembled students. "Look, we have almost no idea what's going on. So, for now, the best thing to do is to hunker down. There are backup keys in the main office. Use those, and pick a room. If anyone happens to actually live here . . ." a few hands were raised, "then you can obviously take your own rooms. I'd like to keep us all as close together as possible, that way, we'll have more people together if we need to run. In the meantime, we need to count how much food we have, so we can ration it appropriately. We still have running water, so anyone who wants a shower, now would be a good time to get one."
Turning back to Erin, Adam continued. "Erin, I'd like you to take a couple people and go through the food. Check for expiration dates – we need to eat the stuff that'll go bad first."
David nodded, then grimaced. "We should check the news, try to get a handle on what's going on.
"Not a bad idea. You take care of it."
"Wait, what are you gonna do?"
Adam smiled satisfactorily. "Take my own advice. I need a shower."
Ignoring David's curses, Adam took the stairs up to the main floor two at a time, before heading down the hall into the room that actually belonged to him. Grabbing a towel, Adam immediately headed to the floor showers, slamming the water to hot before thrusting his head under the spray. Shaking strands of blond hair out of his eyes, he leaned back against the wall of the shower, letting the tension that had caused him to nearly debilitate one of his best friends drain out of him. He'd seen the movies, as soon as people started panicking, that was when they turned on one another. If he could just keep everyone calm and relaxed, maybe they could wait out whatever this was in peace. Plus, with all the food, maybe they could last longer than most. With several vending machines, a small store, and who knows how many refrigerators stocked with who-knows-what, they'd probably be able to outlast a quick siege, if they had to.
Plus, if they are zombies, then all we have to do is wait till winter. Frost hits, they freeze, and we go zombie-hunting. Course, if they're just crazy, then we'll just have to hope they starve. Wonder if they'd eat each other if it came to it. Shaking his head to get rid of such morbid thoughts, Adam tried to think back, reaching for something, anything that could tell him what might happen. As long as he could anticipate problems before they happened, they would be fine.
Rubbing the shampoo into his hair, Adam was startled to find that the first thing to mind was tenth grade English. Lord of the Flies. So wait, if that makes the zombies the Beast, what's the Lord? Course, most of what he could remember from the novel was that people went cabin crazy, even on island that could be called paradise, and that fear was a powerful motivator. Maybe if I'd had a better teacher I would have cared enough to actually pay attention to the book. Those boys . . . that's it. The group on the island was all boys. So, what, having girls in our group will make us less likely to go crazy and worship a pig carcass?
Course, add the normal college proclivity towards sex and the adrenaline and desperation inherent in their situation, and Adam would be surprised if there weren't a couple people 'getting lucky' tonight. And if they go too far? Add in a pregnant woman on top of everything else we have to deal with, and I might just prefer the zombies. He wished David hadn't called them that. Now even he was doing it. At least Ian's has a supply of condoms, and with luck, they'll all realize that we're not likely to have access to any medication beyond Advil and cough syrup. On that note, we should see what medical supplies we have. Bandages, and stuff.
Scrubbing the day's worth of sweat from his face, he stood under the pulsing water, letting his mind go blank for the first time since they'd left the IMA. Breathing slowly, he felt his heart slow from the breakneck pace it had been keeping. If we still have TV or the internet, we should see if we can get some movies or shows. May not be the best time, but it'll relax people a bit. The more normalcy we have, the better. Suddenly he remembered the copy of Shaun of the Dead currently sitting on his dorm room shelf. Unable to control himself, he burst out laughing, a combination of macabre humor and hysteria making the coincidence much funnier than it would otherwise be. Gasping for air, Adam clawed at the shower knob, cutting off the flow of water. Still chuckling, he toweled himself off before shrugging his clothes back on. If the water lasts long enough, we really should see about doing some laundry.
Emerging from the bathroom, he nearly slammed into Erin and Shaun as they bolted down the hall.
"You need to see this," Erin said, oddly unnerved. For a girl who could beat most of the guys in the building in a fair fight, it was odd to see her so disturbed. Following the two, Adam continued toweling his hair dry, letting the damp towel rest on his head rather than soak his clothes. Climbing the outer staircase, they came up to one of the now-disabled side doors to McCarty South tower. Looking out through the small window, Adam was surprised to find a young man leaning heavily on the door, clearly out of energy from running. Sweat pooled around his eyes and neck, his hair was plastered to his forehead. Seeing Adam, he began to hammer incessantly on the heavy metal door.
"Oh, god, let me in dammit, let me in!"
"I assume you saw the . . ." Adam stalled, unsure of what to say. Trying to remain calm, he changed what he was about to say. "You've seen the infected."
"Of course I saw them! There a swarm of those things over on the Quad."
Breathing steadily, Adam forced his heart rate down. Wouldn't do to let the others see him panic. "Did they touch you?"
The young man slammed his fists against the door, leaving stains where his knuckles bled against the glass. "No, I got away from them. Please, I'm begging you, just let me in."
Adam took one final look at the boy. He couldn't leave a person out there to die, and if he did, his credit with the group would be shot. He would be the cold monster who left a kid to the mercy of those things. Course, if he let the kid in, and he was infected, they could all go down. Swearing, Adam slammed the door's latch bar open, letting the cold fall air flood the stairwell. The kid scampered into the relative safety of the building before collapsing against the wall. Panting, he leaned his head back, exhaustion finally winning out over fear and adrenaline.
"Erin, patch him up. Then lock him in a room with a window. It'll be temporary – call it a necessary quarantine. We can't afford to take any chances right now. A few days oughta tell us if he's infected or not."
"And if he is?" she asked, a hint of anxiety creeping into her voice.
"I don't know. We don't know enough about what we're facing. If he's fine, then we just need to fix the ration schedule. If not, then . . . we'll do what we have to."
"You'd kill him?" she asked, unable to connect the barbarity of necessity to life before.
"Eventually, we'd have to." And with that, Adam left. Hoping that this would be the last time he'd have to decide who would live, and who would die.