Okay, I've been hit with the Zombie bug! This is my first attempt at a horror/zombie type story so please be kind and review :)
Chapter One: Contagion:
Infection has been controlled by medication for hundreds of years - viruses, and disease almost eradicated by the scientific growth of the period; medical improvement and a better understanding of how contamination of biochemical illness and viral mutation work.
Yet in the end, it was because of the scientific development that dead came back to life as a plague of rotting, bleeding, flesh-eating monsters. Creatures which do not need to sleep, and do not need to rest and do not fear; creatures which have only one desire in their unnaturally restored lives: to feed.
With this, the Infected were born, and the end of humanity came to be save for small groups of survivors, always on the run; always hiding; always fearing for the next sweep of death and infection which would come their way.
Candles littered the table top, electric having long since faded as a distant memory since the beginning of the infection; six people sat around the table as a seventh handed out bowls of tomato and basil pasta before sitting among them; there was silence as the group broke bread and hungrily devoured the simple yet delectable meal before them, sharing furtive glances and understanding looks. Mealtimes were always the same, ever since their eighth comrade had disappeared while collecting firewood one night.
A young man with electric blue hair and azure eyes glanced at the empty chair beside him, empty since his friend's disappearance; he let out a sigh and swallowed a mouthful of food. He looked towards the head of the table where the man who had taken the position of their leader since they had melded into their small eight man cell.
"Aizen, how long do you think we can stay here for before we have to move on?" he asked quietly, knowing that it was a touchy subject for all of them.
The brunet looked up from his meal and looked considerate for a moment, "We shouldn't linger for too long, yet I think we should have a few more days before we have to move on." He responded, ensuring that there were no complaints before he returned to his pasta.
The blue haired male nodded once before he sighed, "And where will we go next?"
"I don't know Grimmjow," he answered without looking up, "I have been considering the idea of moving towards the city; we need to gather news of some kind and we won't find it all the way out here in the countryside."
Icy silence followed his statement before a black haired young man with bone white skin spoke, "I don't wish to seem ungrateful for the leadership you have shown; you have thus far kept us all safe with the exception of our missing ally, however, we all know that the cities are likely to be plagued with the Infected."
The brunet sighed and set down his fork, interlocking his fingers, "I am aware of that fact, and I know that it will be a highly dangerous task, however, we do need news. There is a chance that the infection might have died out, or that help might be at hand. Even more, there may be other survivors. Ulquiorra, I understand your concerns, and if you are all dead set against going into the city then of course, we won't go."
"I think we should have a final scout around the area for..." Grimmjow glanced at the empty seat beside him and faltered, "... Just one more look around..."
"Grimmjow," Aizen began gently, "W e all know... Ichigo went missing several nights ago, it is... Extremely unlikely that he is still alive, and if he is alive, it will be as an Infected."
The blue haired male tensed slightly and gritted his teeth, "We don't know that though! He could still be alive! He could be hiding somewhere for us to find him! We have to-"
Stop it Grimm." A petite woman said quietly from the seat opposite the blue haired man.
"R-Rukia..." he breathed and gritted his teeth, "Please don't tell me you've given up on him as well..."
"Of course not." She snapped, her large purple eyes narrowing slightly, "I will never give up on the hope I have that Ichigo is alive and well, he is my best friend; we were together since before the Infected arrived... Renji too."
Grimmjow looked at her, his cobalt eyes flicking to the redhead beside her before he hung his head, "I... I know... I'm sorry I guess I don't want to leave a man behind."
"That is your army training Grimmjow," Aizen sighed, "And it is alright, we all understand, Ichigo was a valued member of this group; he was a good friend to all of us. We will scout one more time for him in the morning, but if we do not find a trace of him then we do not do it again. Is that fair enough?"
His eyes lit up slightly and he nodded, "Yes, thanks." He smiled weakly before returning to his food, finishing his bowl several minutes later.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
Everyone froze in their seats, breath hitching, hearts founding; ears throbbing from the blood pulsing around their bodies. Slowly, the seven survivors looked around in the direction on the boarded up door, situated in the kitchen.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
They flinched at the repeated sound, fear palpitating through them; making their hearts skip a beat.
"I will go." Grimmjow said quietly, gradually getting to his feet, moving in complete silence as he picked up his handgun from under the table where he had put it so he could eat.
"I will accompany you." The black haired man named Ulquiorra rose to his feet as well, removing a dark green crossbow from his chair before the two men stalked from the dining room and into the kitchenette.
The blue haired male set his handgun on the counter and picked up a crowbar, prying the boards away from the door, his heart in his mouth and the weight of the others lives on his shoulders. Licking his lips, he hesitated for a moment and pulled away the final piece of thick wood; holding his breath and unbolted the door and gradually pulled it open.
He swallowed hard and glanced around, momentarily blinded by the afternoon sunlight, he peeked around and faltered as he saw no one around in the farm courtyard, "Whoever it was seems to have gone." He announced as he looked at Ulquiorra and pushed the door shut with a relieved sigh.
The black haired, green eyed male nodded and relaxed slightly, lowering his crossbow as he looked towards the dining room, "We can't see anyone around." He called through before looking back, "SHIT! Grimmjow!"
The blue haired man's head snapped around as Ulquiorra pointed, and his eyes widened at the sudden appearance of one of them right in front of him, holding the door open with bloodied, gnawed hands.
"SHIT!" Grimmjow swore loudly and reached for his handgun, gasping as his wrist was grabbed by the Infected and dragged outside, "SHIT!" he roared, wrestling against its inhuman strength.
"Grimmjow!" Ulquiorra lifted his crossbow, having been momentarily froze by shock, and he pulled the trigger and watched the arrow spear the Infected's shoulder, "God damnit!"
His blood was rushing through his veins with a mixture of adrenaline as he was thrown to the floor and set upon by the Infected former human again; his face scraped by the end of the arrow which had embedded in its shoulder as he reached up and shoved hard, forcing it to back off, holding it as far away from his neck or any part of his body as he could.
He reached out with one hand, feeling around the ground desperately for something to fight back with, but unable to find anything he let out a roar as the arm which had been holding the monster at bay was snapped to the side and the creature descended on his exposed bicep, tearing through the muscle with animalistic strength with already bloodied teeth and lips.
An arrow whistled through the air, lancing clean through the head of the Infected; the creature's jaw slacken and released Grimmjow, who kicked it away from him and staggered to his feet, holding his arm in devastation.
"Grimmjow!" Ulquiorra ran out of the house and grabbed the blue haired man, ignoring the blood seeping down his arm as he saw a group of seven or eight more Infected running down the path towards them, "Shit!" he hauled the man into the house and slammed the door shut, bolting it and hammering the barricade back up as fast as he could while Grimmjow sank into a kitchen chair and started rocking.
The others appeared at the dining room door, all armed and ready to fight whatever came next.
"How many Ulquiorra?" Aizen asked as he flicked the safety off the ranged rifle in his hands.
"Seven or eight coming up the path. A further larger group on the horizon." He responded; he finished boarding up the door before he hurried over to Grimmjow and yanked his hand away from his wound, "Shit... He's been bitten."
"What?" Aizen swept around the island counter in the middle of the room and crouched in front of Grimmjow who had gone pale from nausea, "Damnit... Grimmjow look at me."
When the blue haired man's eyes flicked to Aizen's they were calm and much unlike the shining golden eyes of the hunger driven monsters on their doorstep. Aizen gripped his chin a little roughly and glowered into his eyes, looking for any sign of immediate change.
"He isn't changing straight away..." he murmured after a moment, his head snapping around as there was an abrupt pounding of hands on the door, "He must have some level of minor immunity to the infection; we take him with us."
"Yes, sir." Ulquiorra moved forwards and hefted Grimmjow to his feet, pulling his good arm around his shoulders.
Aizen stood up again and lifted his rifle, training it on the door as one of the wooden beams shattered under the force of the battering on the other side, "Szayel, see if you can bandage the injury as we move, the last thing we need is for the scent of his blood to keep them on our train."
"Very well!" the flamboyant pink haired man who had been stood at the back of the group of seven scurried forward and pulled a wrap of bandages from the military utility belt around his waist.
They moved as a unit, slowly backing away from the kitchen as loud moans and snarls rampantly leapt through the cracks to their oversensitive and paranoid ears. They retreated into the hallway, intending to escape through the front door while the Infected lunged at the back one.
But as the banging suddenly emanated from behind them, they turned and realised that the house which had protected them for months, had finally turned into a war zone.
"Get upstairs!" Aizen ordered, "Once they break through the barricades we will not have much time. Get moving!"
Following his instructions they ran up the staircase two by two; Aizen brought up the rear of the group, keeping his rifle trained should the Infected break through without warning. The shattering of glass and wood alerted him that they had done so, and he instantly tensed, raising the scope to his eye to attain a better chance of taking them out in one hit.
His breath hitched as they appeared at the bottom of the stairs and began clambering up towards them; he opened fire, taking the first three out in quick succession before he nearly fell, steadied by the firm grip of Renji's hand who had come back down to assist him.
"Don't get overwhelmed." The redhead murmured, holding up a shotgun before he squeezed the trigger and blew the head clean off one of the moving corpses before them.
"Thanks." The brunet murmured as he regained his composure and joined him in shooting down their enemy as they moved after the rest of their group.
As they reached the landing, Renji glanced around and saw their friends opening the window at the end of the landing; there was a porch way just under the window that they could use to climb down to the ground below and maybe, just maybe they could escape.
Ulquiorra took Grimmjow out of the window first, half throwing the blue haired man to the ground before following himself; Szayel went next followed by Rukia and her older brother who was also with them, Byakuya.
"It's just us!" Renji yelled, hitting an Infected in the face with the butt of his gun as he got too close.
"We need to give them a few minutes to get safely away before we follow!" Aizen responded over the sound of his firing weapon, "You get going if it gets too much!"
"I ain't leaving you on your own!" the redhead snapped, shooting another Infected, "You're the leader of this troop; we'd all be dead by now if you hadn't assumed that role!"
"I appreciate your words Renji... But perhaps save them for a time when I can enjoy them." The man ground out as they slowly backed down the landing, shooting repeatedly at the growing number of rotting, stinking flesh-hungry un-dead.
"Of course." The redhead responded as he swiftly reloaded his shotgun and restarted his assault.
Aizen stole a quick glance out of the window, seeing the others had made it out of the yard but were being chased by a smaller group of Infected. Szayel and Rukia's brother were holding them off as they ran backwards, sticking with the group but keeping them shielded at the same time.
The brunet looked forwards again in time to see one of the Infected lunging for his legs; he leapt back and fell, holding the rifle out and pulling the trigger; his eyes widening as the gun refused to fire. He hadn't reloaded it.
"Shit." He breathed and kicked out instead, slamming the heel of his boot into the creature's face, before he fumbled and shoved magazines into the empty gun, he aimed and fired. Scrambling to his feet as the Infected fell to the floor dead, "Get ready to jump Renji!" he called, slowly pulling a stick of dynamite from the pocket of his rucksack.
He watched as the redhead and turned from the Infected and ran towards the window and everything seemed to slow down, his chestnut eyes remained fixed on the horde which was lumbering towards them, restricted by the slim width of the corridor and their massing numbers.
He pulled a match from his pocket and struck it down the side of his bullet proof jacket, lighting it before he held the flame to the fuse wire and ignited it. He glanced back and watched as Renji slipped under the open window and jumped down onto the porch; he smirked as he looked back at the group of corpses and hurled the stick into their midst before he turned and sprinted, diving out of the window as well; he grabbed Renji's arm and they jumped down to the ground below, not sparing a backwards glance as they raced after their group of friends, breath coming in gasps and pants.
Neither of them looking back as there was a sudden and deafening explosion from the house; they cringed as dismembered corpse parts dropped down around them, scattered by the force of the detonation.
Spattered with blood and weary from their combat, Aizen and Renji shot after the others, as they caught up they assisted in shooting down the last of the horde which had been in pursuit.
They jumped over the limp bodies of the Infected they had taken out and finally caught up to their other comrades.
"How is Grimmjow?!" Aizen asked urgently as he ran alongside Ulquiorra.
"Quiet," the black haired male responded, "But still showing minimal signs of Infection at the moment."
"Well that is something at least..." the brunet murmured, "Has he spoken?"
"Makes a change." He sighed before glancing back at the house which was in ruins, "We should get as far away as we can before more Infected are drawn by the sound of the explosion. The last thing we need is to be set upon a second time."
Quietly nodding in agreement, the group set off down the riverside which ran past the house they had been hiding in; they would follow it until they came to another residence which they were certain they could remain safe in for a short amount of time to heal Grimmjow.
In their haste, no one saw a pair of bloodthirsty golden eyes spying them from inside the trees which were on the other side of the river bank.