I've Just Seen a Face
Chapter One: The Future With the Lights On
Fairfield University, Dorm 4D, 08:48 AM
"B...b-boomer..." she muttered into the cardboard.
Zoey gave a little start and jerked up, eyes unfocused as she tried to get his bearings on what the hell had just happened. She reached up and pulled a glop of hardened cheese from a pizza box from her face. The PC whirred in front of her, the glaring screen making her eyes hurt.
In large letters flashed the words Game Over.
She took a deep, would-be settling breath, trying to work out why the hell she was so spooked. She had dreamed... about what? She could remember guns and rotting flesh and hats and bridges. They all floated around in her mind, puzzle pieces that didn't seem to slot in anywhere.
Zoey gave a little yawn, clenching her eyes closed before taking in the darkness of her dorm room. She'd fallen asleep whilst gaming. Again.
Her mouth opened slightly in a dopey way as she noticed the slit of daylight glaring from beneath her drawn curtains. It was... was it? No. Couldn't be.
She lunged across the room, almost toppling off of the wheelie chair as she made a grab for the small digital clock whose red numbers flared against the blackness. Her head still thumped dully from the nightmares, and even this faint light made her eyes burn.
08:48. That gave her, what? Twelve minutes to make it her lecture before she was deemed late (again) and her father called by to have serious words- again. She'd made it in seventeen minutes before- maybe she'd have time to set a personal best.
Zoey smirked vaguely at the idea and made to jump up. She had to stop for a moment, however. Her head still swam, and she felt a little queasy.
No time, no time, Zoey! She chastised mentally. Run like hell!
Run like hell...
It was official. There was no way she was going to make it across the campus on foot. Zoey darted out of the living facility, hitching her dark hair back into a ponytail as she went. She hadn't bothered to change out of the clothes she had fallen asleep in- a cherry red sweatshirt and worn jeans. They were rumpled, but given the time she had, they would do.
She hurried to small student parking lot to the side and quickly slammed open the door of her considerably beat-up car. She complained about the state of the old thing often to her parents. They, after all, had more than enough money to buy her a more functional model. Seemingly insistent on not spoiling her, though, they still refused.
This morning, she was just glad to have a car at all.
Pulling the door shut behind her with a snap, she thrust the keys into the ignition and was tearing through the small campus moments later, making short work of the street.
Somewhere just behind her eye sockets, the pain still thumped. It was almost to the point that she couldn't see entirely straight, and ever sound seemed to echo until the sounds were alien, unfamiliar...
I'm calling zombie bullshit on this!
I know how this movie ends.
Louis, your row isn't boarding yet.
Someone's still alive?
I ever tell you about the time my buddy Ellis stole a race car from the mall and ran over a bunch of-
The car skidded as Zoey slammed the breaks down with alarming speed. It jolted to a sharp halt, her seatbelt cutting tightly into her chest and keeping her still. The damage, however, was done. Zoey's eyes flooded with confusion and horror as the man slid off the bonnet of the car and onto the road, white shirt stark against the darkness of the ground.
She'd hallucinated. That was it.
And now she'd hit someone with her car.
With trembling fingers she undid her seatbelt and collapsed out of the vehicle, red Converse snubbing against the street as she rounded the bonnet.
'Oh my God.'
The man was in perhaps his thirties, tall and trim with dark skin and a smooth, bald head. His briefcase lay nearby, busted open. Papers fluttering away.
His left leg was twisted at a funny angle, like a bendy straw. The tie matched the flecks of red.
'I-I need to get someone. I didn't mean to... I'll call an ambulance. Stay awake,' she gibbered, speaking too fast and too low for the semi-conscious man to hear. 'Are you okay? Stay awake, please!' Her voice grew louder, shriller. The reality of what had happened was hitting her like... like a car.
She knelt by the man's motionless head as she dialed 911. His eyes were dimly alert, watering in pain. Widening as they took her face in.
If she hadn't been practically screaming down the cell at that stage, she might have heard him mutter her name before passing out.
Eyewitness 10 News Station, 09:14 AM
It was safe to assume that Rochelle's day was not getting off to the desired start.
She had woken that morning in a panicked state, still exhausted after a fitful night of obscure dreams, only snippets of which she could actually remember.
She didn't find this very fair- surely if they had robbed her of a solid slumber she deserved to remember the damn things. But no. Rochelle woke up that particular morning dizzy, head swarming with a hundred inhuman shrieks and the echoed calls of shadowy figures, the rattle of firearms and the warm, slick splatter of blood...
Not dreams, no. Nightmares.
If it had meant getting to stay in bed, she'd rather have faced the horrors.
And, interestingly enough, as the icing on the cake that was this grim, shitty morning, Rochelle's news station was held up by a gang of thugs that day.
So here she was. Standing amongst a crowd in which panic was slowly but surely setting in as three, four, five leather-clad, tatoo-bearing brutes entered the boardroom one at a time, each bigger than the next. Every biker held a small pistol- the kind Rochelle would have imagined men like this would be ashamed to use.
Her limbs felt heavy, tense, and her forehead prickled. It had pained her dully since last night with the misted-over quality dreams left, thick and distracting.
'Everyone down.' People hesitated, still unable to believe that this wasn't, in fact, a prank. 'I said DOWN!' the biker bellowed, long dirty-blond hair swinging forward as he gestured fiercely with the weapon. The gathered group dropped quickly, Rochelle included.
How did those security assholes manage to bungle this one?
'Do you know who we are?' the blond asked loudly, surveying the trembling news crew. There was a general murmur of response.
Another thug, nearer Rochelle this time, clicked his tongue disapprovingly. 'Didn't your mama ever teach you not to mutter?' he asked, voice booming. She glanced up riskily from her spot by the table leg. He was big; all rippling muscles contained beneath a vest, powerful arms inked up and down in intricate tattoos.
'Hell's Legion,' she whispered in understanding as she read the most prominent one.
The man nearer her noticed her in a split-second. 'Something you wanna share with the class, little lady?'
A deadly hush fell across the board room. The news crew looked on, some wincing.
Rochelle took a small breath. 'Hell's Legion. It's- just- you're Hell's Legion.' She was vaguely proud of the way her voice didn't tremble, even under the huge man's stare and the gun's gleam.
'Girl here is right. She's a bright student, Francis,' the blond man chuckled to him. 'Well, Channel 10? Know why we're here yet? Caught on?'
Everyone knew, of course. It was a well-known fact within the station that the owner, a disgustingly rich man by the name of Matthew Marks, was in some way affiliated with the gang. No one knew exactly how. There were suspicions, of course- rumors of the paying of protection money and more outlandish ideas, such as Marks actually being a functioning member.
'But Marks isn't here,' whispered Rochelle.
Goddamnit. Her head was spinning, pounding. She couldn't think straight. She felt like she was high or something. Her head, oh God, her head...
'You got more to say, doll?' the blond hissed, obviously aggravated. He crossed over to her and grabbed the hot pink fabric of her shirt, hitching her upwards to her feet. He smelled of grease and sweat.
'Little vixen could do with a little shutting up, eh Harvey?' another biker snickered.
'All I'm saying,' Rochelle continued quietly, calmly, 'is that if it's Marks you're lookin' for, you ain't gonna find him here. Not today. And if you think he'll come here to save us... well, you're wrong, buddy.'
One or two people in the room nodded minutely.
'Shut it, tiny, now.'
'There's no point in scaring the shit out of innocent people whe-'
The slap resounded around the room. Dazed, Rochelle raised a hand to her stinging cheek. Did that bastard really just have the nerve to-
'I hate when they don't cooperate.' The man near her, Francis, said testily. Harvey turned to him suddenly, jerking his slimy head in Rochelle's direction. She leaned a hand on the table. Francis nodded seriously and pushed the gun forward, prodding her in the shoulder with it. 'Out.'
A few dozen frightened eyes watched as she made her way out of the room, the imposing man by her side. He lead her to one of the small, darkened kitchen areas and closed the door behind him, turning to raise his eyebrows at her and fold his arms as he stood before the exit.
'So what?' she snapped, heart beating quickly. 'Is this the part where you beat the shit out of me to make an example for the others out there with a hint of backbone?' Rochelle snorted. 'Cos I'll let you know right now- there are none.'
There was a pause in which he just looked at her with some surprise, taking in her clenched jaw and tensed shoulders. 'Nope. You're just lucky you're not a dude. Or a less-hot woman.'
She gave a bitter chuckle. 'Marks won't come, you know. You should just go. Nobody needs to get hurt- we can bargain.' She didn't dare hope. Hell's Legion was infamous for it's ruthlessness.
'Psh- it doesn't work that way, sweetheart.'
'I said we can bargain.'
Francis boomed a short laugh. 'I have kicked serious ass for being irritated way less. Got a name?'
She breathed deeply. Maybe if she could keep him talking long enough, help would arrive. Kept one more thug away from the news crew, in any case. 'Rochelle.'
'Gorgeous,' he responded with a faintly goofy wink. She guessed he wasn't talking about the name.
'Those are decent people out there- Francis, right? They're spinless, but they're good. They don't deserve to be put through this.'
'You mentioned bargaining.'
Rochelle blinked. Was he humoring her? Either way, she felt less afraid of him than she had been outside. He had a strange way about him, though- something simultaneously intimidating and benevolent that told her he could flirt with her one second and snap her neck like a toothpick the next.
She took the risk.
Rochelle leaned in, tilting her face up to almost meet his. He raise an eyebrow, clearly enjoying it. A sweet smile crept across her full lips- and she grabbed the pistol he'd placed in his jean pocket and pushed him backwards.
Francis gave a startled grunt as he pushed himself away from the door, taking in the short and now armed woman. He smirked.
Rochelle and the biker dude, sittin' in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G...
'So let's bargain,' she said sardonically.
'Well, that was impressive... now gimme that- you can't even work it.'
Rochelle responded by quickly taking the safety off the pistol and pointing it in his face.
Francis looked a little fearful for the first time. He quickly mastered it however, ever the man. 'Where'd a nice lady like you learn to handle a pistol?'
'I... I don't know.' Rochelle glanced at the gun in her hand. She held it so steady, as though she'd done this a million times before. How had she done that?
Anyone who survives this shit is going to be in great shape...
This is not happening... this is not happing...
She snapped out of her daze at the yell, her face snapping up to take in the biker above her. His face still hovered above hers, the gun held firmly in place. His eyes had seemed almost vacant for a moment also, brow furrowed in thought. He raised a gloved hand, knocking on his temple a few times as he tried to kick himself into alertness.
Harvey's roar came again, closer in the hallway outside, making her jump. Her cheek still stung. 'Francis, man, the place is swarmin' with cops outside! We gotta bail, man!'
Francis batted the gun aside deftly, and she didn't resist. He pulled the door behind him open, before turning around with narrowed eyes. 'What kind of freaky voodoo shit WAS that?' He was confused, looking at her with bewilderment and only a flicker of recognition.
She shook her head, speechless, and the door slammed in his wake. The sounds of escaping criminals echoed through the building, and she vaguely wondered if everyone outside was alright. Her legs were trembling. Not from fear, no. From the utter awareness of it all.
The hotel. The infection. Coach, Ellis, the gambler in the white suit. People on the bridge.
It had all been real. Hadn't it? Her nightmare... it couldn't be.
Rochelle slid to the linoleum tiles of the kitchen floor, trying hard to think. She remembered. She remembered everything.
She let the pistol fall.
A/N: Well well well. Our surviving eight have all awoken from a curious dream- some recalling things, some not. What will this lead to? ;o This fic is rather spur of the moment, but I myself kind of like the idea. Next chapter will feature other characters, as well as what's going on with Francis, Louis, Zoey and Rochelle (who, incidentally, was the first person to realize that some freaky stuff is going down).
Feel free to share any thoughts you had about this chapter- I got pretty caught up in writing it. :3