Chapter two

Silence drifted through the grey streets along with the fog. The abandoned skyscrapers clustered together in impossible labyrinths of alleyways and empty streets. Shop windows were broken or boarded up. The parks were empty and the normally pristine grass was long, swaying faintly in a small breeze. Plants were beginning to poke up through some of the pavement, causing deep cracks and crevices - treacherous footing if one was not careful. There were no cars driving to deter the rapid growth. They sat parked at the sides of the street, or lined up at stoplights, never moving, even when the light turned green.

The city was frozen. As if all the people in it had just drifted away, up above the fog and the smog one day, finally leaving the world in peace. But that was not the case. He had seen it. He knew where the people had gone. He knew what had happened to them, and he knew it had been a long time coming. It was judgement time.

See, first, the people had begun to get sick. They'd turn pale. Grey-like. Get all feverish and hot. They'd slip into a coma. Some would die - just slip off into the darkness inside themselves, but others would sleep. Just sleep and sleep and sleep. His old man had gone into the sleep. He'd collapsed on the floor of that shit-house they'd been squatting in, and he just wouldn't wake up, no matter what you did to him. Then one day, while you're tending over your loved one like a good kid, they do wake up. Screaming. And all that's showing of their eyes is the whites, except they ain't white any more. Bloodshot and orange-y. Wrong.

The newspaper said it makes your brain swell up like a motherfucking melon, ready to burst. And that's what makes them mad. Flesh-hungry. And the longer you're sick, the worse it gets. And then the bone spurs start poppin' up outta your skull. That's how you could tell that a person was really far gone. They get these big-ass horns-


Gamzee broke out of his reverie, popping up from his crouch by the end of the turned-over bus. He'd been staking out the park across the street for a good two hours now, watching the infected from across the street. When the virus first struck, so many people were dying that the city morgues just couldn't keep up. Mass graves had to be set up, like it was fucking Medieval England with the Black Plague and all that shit. This park held one such grave, but it was less a place of rest for the dead now and more like a great big feeding ground for the flesh-hungry infected that now ran the place. But if you were patient enough, and lucky enough to find the right timing, the hell-hole provided a unique opportunity. It was like this place - this world - had been made for him, rising up from the chaos of his anti-social dreams like a gift from the dark Messiah himself.

Gamzee slipped around behind the bus and crawled into it through a broken window, crawling across the ceiling to watch now. The pack had noticed something on the far side of the park, and they were beginning to move, staggering in that awkward half-dead run away from the hole at the centre of the park. "Fresh flesh is best," Gamzee chuckled to himself, tightening the bandana he wore over his mouth and nose. It was crude means of protection, but the white cloth had been the best he was able to find at the moment to protect him from the airborne strain of the virus. Gas masks were hard to come by and expensive, being in such high demand. He waited as long as he could before slipping back out of the bus - the infected appeared to have all moved away. He grabbed his long-handled shovel, just in case and took off, still crouched low.

He stopped, back pressed against a tree just by the edge of the grave. God, the stench of rotting flesh got him, even through his bandana, making his eyes water. He peeked around the tree with a grin - the coast was clear - and leapt down into the hole.

The drop was only six feet or so, but it made his knees smart when his feet hit the ground. But that hardly mattered. "Jackpot," he exclaimed to himself. He pulled a pillowcase out of his baggy jeans and, like a greedy kid at Halloween, began to pick out his loot. The bodies were piled on top of each other, like some sick, horrific orgy, eyes peacefully shut, their skin torn and maimed by the ones who fed upon them. Gamzee went through pockets, digging out cash, change - anything of value. A nice pair of shoes went in, a pair of earrings, a wedding ring and some necklaces.

And then he saw it - up near the top of the pile - a gas mask. Some poor dead fucker had just made Gamzee's day. He stuck his shovel into the pile, using it to help haul himself up, like a hiker with a walking stick. It was disturbing - the feeling of soft, rotten flesh and brittle bones creaking and shifting under the thin soles of his shoes. He shook his head, footsteps making the smell waft up even worse. "Worth it," he reminded himself, crouching next to the cadaver with the gas mask. He glanced around, eyes on the alert for the sound of approaching infected. No sign of the hoard yet. He smirked, loosening the straps on the mask. The cadaver looked fresh, though a little grey, but he didn't want its head coming off with the mask. He grabbed and yanked it off, holding up his prize. The cadaver jerked and gasped, yellowed eyes wide. "SHIT!" Gamzee screamed with shock, falling backward.

He tumbled end over end to the bottom of the pile, world going black for a moment as his head bashed into the ground. "Uughh~" He moaned, vision slowly swimming back to him. He could hear the infected coming, slowly stumbling down toward its prey. Gamzee blinked, clearing his head with a shake. "Motherfuck!" He sat up and dove to the side, just as the monster pounced. It shrieked, enraged, and slashed out at him with dirty, overgrown fingernails. He scrambled back to his feet, the world reeling around him. He felt sick. "Bro, chill the fuck out. It's not like you need it!" He clung to the mask, backing away from the angry grey man. This didn't seem to calm him any. Again it charged him, this time much faster now that they had solid dirt footing. Gamzee cursed, booking it around the pile of bodies. The pit was deep - too deep for him to pull himself out of it without that asshole catching his legs. He hadn't thought this through at all. He giggled, then laughed, shaking his head at his own stupidity. It was all one big motherfucking joke at his own expense, wasn't it. He turned sharply, scrambling up the pile a quickly as he could. He sprinted, half running, half falling across the top of it. Muscles in his lanky legs bunched and he leapt.

He hit the grass and rolled, tumbling in a flail of long limbs once again. He flopped on to his back, giggling from the adrenaline rush, the gas mask still clutched triumphantly in his hand. His celebration was cut short by the angry screeching of a little girl. He sat up quick, in time to see the pack of infected returning, charging across the field at him. "Oh fucker..."

"John, no." Dave said cooly, red eyes focused on the bumpy road. Cars lined the streets of the abandoned city, making it a little difficult to navigate. More than once he'd had to change their route entirely to get around a blocked off intersection. It was frustrating, but a lot safer than walking around through an unfamiliar city. Who knew how many infected could be waiting, lurking just inside the darkness of those broken down shops. He had to keep John safe.

"But Dave..." The buck-tooth brunette persisted, voice muffled by his mask. "You've been driving for the past four days. You need a break. I can drive. It'll be fine."

"The last time you said that, we hit a dear and nearly got eaten," Dave pointed out. He didn't say it to be mean. It was just a fact. John was a terrible driver.

This seemed to silence John, but he crossed his arms, turning his head to look out the window and pout. "DAVE! LOOK OUT!"

Instinctively, Dave slammed on the breaks and braced for the collision. Nothing happened. He opened his eyes upon hearing peals of laughter coming from John and looked over at him - his friend was shaking with laughter, holding his sides as tears welled up.

"Y-Your face... Oh my god, Dave..." He wiped the tear from his eye and grinned at Dave. "Gotcha."

"J-John... FUCK! I nearly PISSED myself. Jesus! You are the worst fucking practical joker EVER!" Dave pounced on him, giving him a few solid smacks upside the head while John laughed and tried to block them, wrestling back. Dave couldn't help but smile a little, though it was hidden behind his gas mask. The little derp thought he was hilarious, and to be honest, now that the scare had worn off, he felt giddy from the adrenaline. He sat back, shaking his head, trying to regain some of his shattered cool. It wasn't often that he lost it like that, but John knew how to get to him. He cleared his throat. "Don't EVER do that again." He ignored John's giggling and took his foot off the break, easing back out on to the road.

The second he got back up to speed, John exploded again. "DAVE!"

Dave noticed the man in time to slam on the breaks, knocking him off his feet rather than killing him. The ginger could not even deal with this right now. He threw his hands up in the air in frustration. "Seriously." He looked over at John, shaking his head. "Well done."

"How is this my fault? I-" John squeaked as the man reappeared by his window. He was scraped up and bruised, and had a crazy look in his eyes. He banged on the glass, screaming for them to let him in. A second later, they knew why. A pack of infected - the biggest John or Dave had ever seen - came tearing around the corner. There had to be at least fifty of them, all shrieking and snarling, eyes wild, all at various stages of infection. "Dave... Dave we have to go!" John twisted, quickly unlocking the back seat door, letting the poor stranger in.

Dave would never have let this crazy fucker in, but it was too late now. He was in the backseat already, screaming at Dave to drive as well. Dave hit the gas and pulled the fastest u-turn the world of automotives had ever seen, then slammed his foot down to the floor, taking off down the road. He did NOT want those fuckers crawling all over his car. They left the monsters far behind, and soon Dave slowed down, back to a normal speed. He turned down a side street into a more residential area, pulling over and stopping the car. The houses were empty, their windows black - they'd been evacuated with the rest of the city. A few fall leaves skittered down the road like urban tumbleweeds, blowing through this ghost-town on the quiet wind. He doubted the pack would be able to catch up with them now. He pulled his gun. "You. Out of the car." He turned in his seat, unbuckling and gesturing at their unwanted guest with the muzzle of his weapon.


"Can it, Egbert." He was not in thee mood to deal with John right now. He was too nice for this kind of thing. "He doesn't even have a mask on. For all we know, he could already have the virus."

That shut John up. He looked at the man in the backseat with fear now, hand drifting to the shotgun that sat next to him. He looked this new man over. He was scrawny, ribs showing through his skin. He only had on a pair of beat up jeans and purple sneakers. He certainly could be in the primary stages of infection.

"I dropped my new mask," Gamzee panted, closing his eyes. "And I am not going anywhere," he groaned, covering his face with a hand. "You dumbass motherfuckers ran me over. Least you can do is give me a ride." He could feel the bruises blossoming on his back and thighs, and the scrapes up his back burned fiercely.

"I said get out of the car," Dave growled. "We gave you enough of a fucking ride now piss off."

Gamzee whined. "Come on, help a brother out." He looked at John pleadingly. "Just gimmie a ride back home..."

"Where's home?" John asked, curiosity piqued. Perhaps this man had someplace safe they could stay the night.

"Just on the edge of town. I mean, it's not MY home, but it's a safe place. We could all stay there. Plenty of canned food and drinking water. I think some crazy old vet' built it. Place is like a bunker. He's gone now though. Left when the city started falling apart. He was one of the smart ones. He saw the judgement coming and split."

Well that was... unsettling. Dave glanced over at John. He's never been the religious type and this guy... something about him felt off.

John did not seem bothered. He looked over at Dave and raised his eyebrows. His heart had lifted at the prospect of actual food and possibly a bed to sleep in. He and Dave both desperately needed proper rest, and some time spend NOT in a car would be amazing. Also, John realized, it had been several days since either of them had had a proper shower. But even considering all that, he needed Dave to agree. If his friend did not want to trust this stranger, John would stick by him. they'd just have to find someplace else to stay, or keep moving.

Dave sighed. He could tell just by John's face how badly he wanted a rest. Dave knew they both needed it. But he was hesitant. Infected were not the only dangerous things in this world. It's not like the survivors all banded together and formed a big happy family. People fought to survive. It was instinct. Nature and shit. And if killing off some poor defenceless fuck to steal his food, or their car, was what it took to survive, people would do it. Dave eyes Gamzee, sizing him up. He was skinny, and unarmed. He was also pretty badly beat up from getting hit by the car. Dave was not as tall as him, but he was muscular and well trained, thanks to Bro's rigorous schedules growing up. Sometimes Dave wondered if his bro had know that this was all coming, and had been preparing him for it all this time. Whatever the case was, Dave was confident he could overpower this man if it was necessary. "Sit up and put on a seat belt," Dave grumbled, shifting the car out of park and pulling away from the side of the road. He glanced in the rear-view mirror, making sure their new passenger obeyed. "You'll direct us there. John, keep an eye on him."

John nodded, hand on his shotgun, and turned to smile a little at Gamzee. His mask covered it, but like always, the smile reached his eyes. "Don't worry, we'll get you all patched up soon. I'm John, and this is Dave, by the way." He hoped their new friend was sociable - it would be nice if they could talk rather than sitting in uncomfortable silence - John hated that. It always wound up making him ramble.

"Name's Gamzee." He nodded his head. "Take a left up here and head for the highway." He smiled behind his handkerchief and leaned back in his seat. He may have lost the gas mask, but things seemed to be working out in his favour quite nicely today. His eyes slid over John appreciatively, and he leaned back in his seat, relaxing and tucking his hands behind his head. He'd been right all along. In the chaos always lay opportunity. If you were lucky enough to find it, follow it, the world would throw everything you needed into your lap. You only needed the ambition to reach out and take it. And take he would. He just needed to wait for the proper timing.

It was allllll in the timing.