Chapter 3: The Outsider
Disconnect and self destruct one bullet at a time
What's your rush now, everyone will have his day to die
If you choose to pull the trigger, should your drama prove sincere
Do it somewhere far away from here
Warner Robbins was surrounded in a thick smog of Walkers, their chorus of irritated hisses and hollowed moans echoing into the distilled air. Lilly and Lee crouched behind a stack of crates beside a building labeled Hanger 11. She motioned her fingers towards the building across the stretch of runway – Hanger 8. The dead were forming a cultivating mass around the structure's front wall.
"Someone must be alive in there," Lee uttered, peering around the corner cautiously.
The duo had arrived only minutes before to find the runways spotted with zombies. Lilly had hot-wired an abandoned SUV that was one of few with gas still left in its tank and they took the route as far as they could without drawing too much attention to themselves. They hadn't expected to see a mass of Walkers here of all places, but their inquiries were set aside for the mean time.
Lilly's grip on her rifle tensed. "That's also where the provisions are kept. Hopefully whoever's inside hasn't depleted the stocks too much." They shuffled by the dead and around the hind wall; Lee dispatched the closest one with his ax and Lilly cracked one in the face with the stock of her rifle. She scaled a stack of crates to the grate in the wall. "It's a ventilation shaft," she uttered, "I've practically memorized the blue prints by heart."
"That's useful," Lee replied quietly, praying the grate off. He boosted her up by the waist and climbed in after her, managing to squeeze his broad shoulders into the tight crawl space. "It's hard to breathe in here."
"Put a cork in it."
They crept along the tight passageway, their respective weapons scratching the hollowed metal path beneath them. There was a faint, deep moan reverberated off the walls, its echo magnified by the enclosed space.
"Careful," Lilly muttered, "these shafts weren't meant for holding more than one person at a time." The moaning – a creaking noise of sorts, like straining metal – seemed to intensify the further down the passage they went. Lee followed Lilly as she rounded the corner. She hissed about the lack of heat in the ducts. "Not too far now," she whispered, gesturing to the next fork in their path.
"Lilly, can I ask you a question?"
"Sure." She glanced left, then right, and decided on turning right. "What's up?"
"Well… I just want your opinion on our group. Do you think they're holdin' up alright?"
Lilly took several moments to drawl over his quizzical remark. Not only was it out of the clear blue and inappropriate for their situation, but she wasn't quite sure how her opinions applied. After another beat she finally responded, "I know Carley hasn't been sleeping well. I'm aware that Kenny is becoming more and more willing to trade logic for the safety of the his family. Obviously as a whole we're not all honky-dory if we're trapped in here." She grunted. "So long as everyone keeps their head screwed on right we'll all be fine until the winter comes knocking on our door."
"Right. Or bandits." They took a steep slope to the next passage. "I hope it doesn't come to that, though. The last thing we need are a group of self-righteous bastards destroying everything we've worked for." She brushed stray wisps of hair from her eyes. "Why do you ask? Has anyone been acting strange – er, than usual – lately?"
"Well, not really. But Kenny decided that he wanted to get the RV running so he could hit the road. He thinks staying in one place for too long is going to be the death of us."
Lilly's lips pressed into a thin line. "He mentioned it to me once. What do you think?"
I think we're not capable of lasting much longer no matter what we do. Lee opened his mouth to reply with something a little more positive but the sharp metallic echo of straining aluminum cut him off. The creaking was drowned out by a sudden snap of grinding bolts and weakened panels. He recognized the sound of collapsing framework all too late. "Shit."
The shaft dropped out from beneath them.
They plummeted into the room below a jumbled heap of twisting metal, startled screams and mangling limbs. The impact with the stack of cans knocked the wind out of both of them and the pyramids toppled, flooding the floor with assortments of unmarked and colorful items. Panels fell away from the ventilation system overheard until the structure met the wall, leaving behind a snake-like path of destruction that had a moment ago been their only hope of escaping.
Everything fell still.
Lilly groaned beneath Lee's weight. "G-Get off of me!"
Lee pushed himself up and slid to the floor in a landslide of cans, bumping harmlessly into the toppled vents. Seconds later the rifle dropped down and the stock smacked into the back of his head. "Ow, dammit!"
A shadow was cast over him almost ominously, like an eclipse of the lights overhead. Lee squinted to get a better look at who was peering down at him. "You scared me!" The voice exclaimed and a hand shot out to greet him. Rough finger tips skimmed his chest. "That looked like it hurt. Are you alright?"
"I'll let you know when the room stops spinning." Lee gripped the stranger's gesture and was promptly hauled to his feet.
The man was well built, probably from his training in boot camp. His glasses framed his face and complimented his crystallized blue eyes. His jet black hair seemed naturally spiked back, like a flattened hedgehog, and Lee assumed from his jacket that he was a pilot. "Name's Mark," the guy chirped, "I haven't seen other people in weeks! Well, people still with a pulse, that is. How'd you get in here?"
"Lilly used to work here so she knew her way around." Lee felt the back of his brain spike. "Speaking of…" He whirled around to face her. "Lilly, you OK?"
Lilly struggled to her feet, her expression contorted with pain, and Lee instantly noticed what was wrong. "I'll be fine once this damn axe is out of me…" His axe was embedded into her upper thigh, sending a stream of crimson warmth down her leg. Without a moment's hesitation she hammered the handle with her fist and the blade tore free, splattering blood across the unevenly tiled floor. "SON OF A-!"
"What the hell are you thinking?!" He gripped her by her shoulders and guided her over to a crate Mark quickly brought out for her. She sat down awkwardly, trying to shift all of her weight to one side. "OK, don't worry, I'll bandage it! Do you have something in your bag?"
"Nothing," Lilly hissed bitterly, gripping the gash in vain attempt to slow the bleeding.
Lee glanced at Mark for help. "Do you have something I can use to wrap this up with?"
"No, all we have is food in here…" Mark perked. "Wait, I have an idea!" He bolted across the room and slammed open the locker doors, rifled through the contents displayed like a store front window.
The door beside him was barricaded with boards and nailed planks of oak. From the other side Lee recognized the moan of the mass of Walkers he had seen on their way in. "You hear them too, don't you?" Lilly avowed quizzically, suffocating her injury as her features ebbed into a look of desperation. "This room is in the center of the Hanger, which means that they're getting inside. And we don't have much time…"
Mark returned with a strip of cloth. "Tore a rag. Don't worry, it's clean, but we need to get you out of here if we want to keep it from getting infected." He removed her hands to tie up the wound. "It doesn't look too deep, but deep enough to fret over."
The planks crossing the door snapped.
Mark glanced over at them. "Dammit! All this commotion is stirring them up again! At this rate we won't even have a chance to kiss our asses good bye!"
"Is there a way out?" Lee asked. "Other than the vents, I mean. We're obviously not going through the vents again; they're a wreck."
Mark bit the inside of his cheek. "This room is a dead end." He bit his cheek harder and the bitter taste of copper flooded his senses. "There's one way in and no way out. You guys are stuck with me now… for an hour, at the most. I've known all along that that door was going to give at any time… perhaps sooner is better than later. At this rate death is inevitable, don't you think?"
Lee cursed silently under his breath and rebound his attention to Lilly. She seemed to have receded into her own thoughts – maybe even her own memories – by the stoic, blank expression now plastered on her face. Lee briefly wondered about Clementine. I have to protect her! She needs me! He examined Lilly again. Her grip had come loose from her thigh, almost like she knew keeping herself from bleeding to death was pointless.
Mark exhaled an exasperated, defeated sigh. "Sorry you guys had to get stuck here. If you're hungry I have a year's worth of provisions… not that it'll do us any good or anything. So… yeah, sorry." He trekked over to the locker and emptied its innards out onto the floor. Amongst the items were two rifles and taped boxes of ammunition. Not enough to get them out, but it was still impressive.
Lee left Lilly to her thoughts – erm, flashbacks, maybe? – and tromped over to the vents. He examined the damage. "There's no way we're crawling back through there…"
Mark made his way back over to Lilly again. He wound another strip of the rage around her thigh and tied it snugly around the wound. "There," he muttered, still retaining a small smile, "that's better. So, you're Lilly? Lilly Caul? I recognize you from around here. You fixed up my plane once – last year, actually! Remember? The mechanic was out and you filled in for him."
Lilly spared him a glance. "I kind of remember. You also hit the wrong button on the control panel and almost took off my hand with your jet's blades."
Mark blinked. "I'll go… do something… over there now." He briskly paced over to the cans scattered across the floor and started to stack them up.
The undead scratched at the door outside.
After twenty whole minutes of their irritating racket Lee decided to investigate every inch of the room. He found an arched doorway that led into a bathroom. The plumbing seemed fine and there was clean water from the sink. Just no way out. There wasn't a vent in this room, either, which was an instant downer.
"Wanna know what this situation reminds me of?" He mused, circling back into the main room. Mark stared at him intently. "Those movies where the people have those secret passages hidden behind a wall. And they use them to escape."
"That's wishful thinking on your part," Mark told him matter-of-factly. "No secrets here."
Lee glanced at Lilly who was gazing around. "What's up Lil? You look like you know something we don't."
"I know a way out."
Lilly forced herself to her feet and limped over to the wall beside the row of lockers. Her knuckles rapped against the metal, and then the surrounding area. Finally she pushed her back against the side of object and it slid along the tile with ease. Gradually it uncovered a hall – lined with white tiles and walls like an asylum corridor. "Back exit!" She announced.
Mark hollered something incoherent in French before switching back to English. "That's fantastic! We can get out of here!"
"Blue prints," Lilly said before Lee could even think to question how she figured that out. She removed the backpack and tossed it at him. "Fit whatever you can into it! Hurry!"
Mark brightened. "I have two duffle bags! I'll fill them!"
Lilly snatched up the weapons and waited at the entrance for several minutes before they returned, bags in hand… just as the door lurched forwards and the smell of death of mold-devoured decay filled the room before the Walkers did. "GO!" Lilly snapped, limping down the hall in their wake. The hall was narrow, only allowing two walkers to fit at a time. That was still more than enough to catch up to them and gut them like a fish.
A door leading to another storage room had been left open. As Mark passed by a Walker lunged from the darkness, raking its claws for his face. Lilly instinctively shoved Mark to the floor and the Walker pinned her against the wall, sinking its razor-edged teeth into her forearm.
The weapons clattered to the floor, and time itself seemed to grind to a halt.
Carley knew there was something wrong. And apparently she wasn't the only one contracting that vibe.
It started when she noticed that Lilly was no where to be found. Her room was vacant, the lookout point was void of life. That was also when she noticed that Lee was gone as well. He had walked off to check on Lilly when... well, he never came back. Even Clementine didn't know where he went.
By the time the sun started to dip out of the sky Larry was arguing with Kenny about the mysterious whereabouts of their missing group members. The older adult was accusing Kenny of keeping secrets, but Kenny had a valid alibi: he had been with Kat and Duck this whole time, monitoring their son's condition. Carley, despite her attempts at breaking them apart, had to admit that even she was worried now. And Lee told Ken everything… so why wouldn't Kenny know where his friend currently was?
And then she heard the chorus of screeching tires and grinding gears.
"I've got nothing to do with this!"
"If I find out you did have something to do with my daughter's disappearance I'll make you fucking regret the day you were born!"
Carley knew full-well they couldn't hear it like she could. "SUV," she announced. They kept ranting, ignorant to her remark. "I SAID SUV! There's a car coming!" Finally they fell silent. "It's heading this way! That means other survivors!"
"Let's stop them!" Kenny exclaimed, heading with Carley for the barrier walls.
Larry snarled. "They could be dangerous!"
"And they could be Lee and Lilly!" Kenny rebounded, shoving the gate open.
"But what if they're not?!"
The trio barely made it outside the perimeter when the black vehicle splatter-painted with zombie guts came rolling down the road, sliding to a halt just before the sidewalk.
The driver's seat was thrown open and Lee emerged. "No time to explain!" He snapped, drowning out Larry's abrupt accusations and Kenny's bombardment of questions. Mark appeared from the passenger's side and tossed Larry the duffle bags and Kenny the backpack. He greeted Carley before shoving the weapons into her arms. Lee slammed the back door open and lifted Lilly out of the seat bridal-style. "Ken, Duck's meds are in the bag! And get Kat out here!"
"What the fuck did you do?!" Larry roared, almost swinging a punch at Lee had it not been for the girl in his grasp.
Lee set Lilly down on the bed of the truck, patting her cheek to keep her awake. "Lilly, look at me!" Her eyelids fluttered as she registered his voice. "Lilly, I need you to stay with me, OK? Everything will be alright. Just stay with me! Katjaa's gonna fix you up!"
"Will someone tell me what the fuck is going on?!" Larry snapped, dazed from the sudden excitement.
"We had problems getting back to town," Mark answered, "there were zombies everywhere. She lost a lot of blood on the way over."
"Who the hell are you?" Carley retorted.
"Oh, I'm Mark. Lee and Lilly saved my life!"
Carley rolled her eyes skyward. "Good for you."
Kat shoved them all aside and she set a roll of gauze on the trunk. She briskly worked to patch up the wound with what supplies she had left over in her room – some antibiotic ointment and gauze. "What happened to her?" She asked after a minute of tense silence.
"We fell from a ventilation shaft," Lee explained carefully, expecting to get sucker-punched by Larry at any moment. "My axe impaled her leg. Also make sure you check her right arm"—Kat finished wrapping the injury and glanced at the alignment of marks along her forearm—"she was bitten."
Lee glanced back at Larry… and was thoroughly shocked to find that the old man wasn't even phased. "Larry, I'm sorry she-"
"She's not bitten."
The group fell quiet. Clementine peered around the corner of the RV to observe them, too afraid to approach and get involved in this argument teetering on the edge of a civil war. Kenny passed by her and approached them from behind, his eyebrows knitted together to form his typically agitated expression. "You mean to tell me she was bitten? Now she's going to turn into another one of those things!"
"She's not bitten," Larry reiterated, folding his arms over his broad chest.
"Don't be a stubborn idiot!" Kenny hissed, "If you get bit you turn! That's all there is to it, dammit!"
Katjaa glanced over her shoulder. "No, Larry's right. There is no blood." There was a pause. "Her entire arm is fake."
"Fake?" Carley echoed. "Like… prosthetic?"
"Specifically… bionic." The reply seemed absurd for the moment, but as the situation sunk in confusion ebbed into relief. "Her skin is latex, meant to cover the arm from over exposure to the outside elements." Kat tore the false skin away at its broken seams, unraveling a network of wires masked beneath the silver-gleaming casings. Her upper arm, shoulder, forearm, and hand were encased with metal, leaving her joints as exposed wires. The flesh tore away up to her shoulder before it disconnected from the real thing.
"She lost her arm to a plane engine three years ago," Larry explained briefly, picking up the duffel bag from the ground and handing it to Carley. "But that's a story for some other day when it actually becomes your damn business!" Wordlessly he stormed towards his room and slammed the door shut.
Kenny glared accusingly at Lee and Mark. "You two have a lot of explaining to do."
Lee merely glanced over and met Clementine's perplexed stare.
"To be honest, Ken… I don't even know where to begin."
Next chapter: "You want to kiss me. And yes, I'll let you."
Please Review :3
Thanks for reading! And thanks for the all the reviews so far! You guys are awesome! ^_^ OK, so... I was going to post this in another two days but I wouldn't have time so I just threw this out there. More twists coming soon XD Because I like twists. Still checking for mistakes because I probably overlooked some. I was just tired while writing this. So, I was watching a game walkthrough and apparently Lilly used to work at Warner Robbins. Which is a real place. I didn't know that until after I wrote this o.o fascinating! If you ever want to know the full info of the chapter song themes just ask.