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pappaskurtz
05-03-2011, 04:36 PM
lmao, oh i just wanted to say im enjoying your work very much, ive been reading a chapter every night now, and im up to chapter 6. i love the way the story is panning out and think you've done a superb job. I especially love all the small details youve hooked up on from the franchise, like the hunters eyes and the reference to the special infecteds individual music, (i think in the first chapter) where charlie mensions that "you listen hard enough…it starts to sound like music—when you hear them" genius :D. but as a big left 4 dead fan myself i can really visualise the world your are creating which makes it all the more enjoyable to read. i was a little iffy of the "friendly hunter" concept at first but it seems to have worked brilliantly as i understand he's not quite fully infected (weather he becomes so or nor i cant wait to find out) but overall just wanted to make sure you knew how much i love reading your work keep it up :)

Thanks for the comments. People don't usually post either way when I post a new section, but I've tried to emphasize throughout the thread I appreciate feedback even if I don't always acknowledge them directly. I've gotten great feedback through the months, though, and I'm thinking of replacing the links in the OP with links to highlights of the thread.

I'd also encourage people to report a certain someone's post if they keep posting in this thread. Sovery something, I think? :p At this point, it's simply spam. He is clearly intent on not contributing anything meaningful to these forums, so I'm sure one can argue that it's spam. If no one will call him out on the TF2 boards, there should be repercussions here, no?

Edit: Ah hah, post 1000. Yay!

Mr.White1
05-04-2011, 03:26 AM
Oh don't worry I know the difference I just wanted to see if you would even notice me doing that. Shows how much you care about my post. :)

LOOOOOOOOOOOOL U MAD BRAH?????????

Srsly, if u don't like it then don't read it.

But again, U MAD BRAH??????? :D:D:D

Left 2 B Happeh
05-05-2011, 12:42 PM
I read the whole thing in three days (but the forums were down for most of yesterday, so it took longer than I expected), and it inspired me to make my own L4D story... No, don't worry. It doesn't rip this off at all. Actually, I would like permission to make references to your characters and maybe even have a fight with them (don't worry, Buddy'll own my survivors!) or maybe some of my characters will cause things to happen in your story (I.E., one of my characters disables the magnet on the crane in your story, etc.). The name of the story will/would be "Left 4 3 Deaths". Just an idea :D

Please continue this series as soon as possible without putting too much stress on yourself. I've read some pretty good fan-made stories, and this beats 'em all. It's longer than all of them as well, since most of the authors are lazy and don't wanna keep writing. But you're dedicated and don't stop. I hope to see the next part soon! Oh, and I hope that people on these forums find my username amusing.

[EDIT] Um, did you ever draw that "Hunter kids clawing at buddy" thing? Well, I'm getting better at Adobe Illustrator, so... Maybe I could draw it for you! I usually draw stuff like Mario, so a realistic drawing would be good exercise much like your "first person view style" is for you. Think about it.

-A huge fan

Rusty Woud
05-05-2011, 02:51 PM
aww man im up to chapter 6 part 4 but its been removed, but no worries if your updating it then good on you ill just wait till its back up ... if you could let me know when its back up that would be great i cant wait to read more.

a side note: the charger attack seemed a little rushed, i mean when you described the smoker and boomer and tanks from the firts few chapters you didnt actualy use their names which i thought was very powerful as in my head i would peice together the description and go "omg thats a smoker" whereas with the charger you simply had her shout "Charger" which imo kinda made it a little lame, would have been nice to have more of a description fisrt so we can build our own picture and then have her say it to confirm our thoughts, like

"out of the nearby treeline came the huge lopsided hulk speeding toward andy like a bullet, with it came a resonating cry as it slamed a treetrunk like arm into him, "Charger" Sarah shouted as the thing plumeted into the water bellow taking andy with him"

lol just an idea :)

Left 2 B Happeh
05-05-2011, 02:58 PM
aww man im up to chapter 6 part 4 but its been removed, but no worries if your updating it then good on you ill just wait till its back up ... if you could let me know when its back up that would be great i cant wait to read more.

a side note: the charger attack seemed a little rushed, i mean when you described the smoker and boomer and tanks from the firts few chapters you didnt actualy use their names which i thought was very powerful as in my head i would peice together the description and go "omg thats a smoker" whereas with the charger you simply had her shout "Charger" which imo kinda made it a little lame, would have been nice to have more of a description fisrt so we can build our own picture and then have her say it to confirm our thoughts, like

"out of the nearby treeline came the huge lopsided hulk speeding toward andy like a bullet, with it came a resonating cry as it slamed a treetrunk like arm into him, "Charger" Sarah shouted as the thing plumeted into the water bellow taking andy with him"

lol just an idea :)

Umm... Actually, I saw that as well. Ignore them and skip a couple pages. You should find the next part in no time :)


Oh don't worry I know the difference I just wanted to see if you would even notice me doing that. Shows how much you care about my post. :)

If you stopped criticizing this person's work, you'd make a lot of us very happy. And you know my motto. It's my username. It pretty much means that I like trolls (like you) to leave me alone (and it's a funky L4D reference). But in this case, leave everyone alone and not just me.

Rusty Woud
05-06-2011, 03:30 PM
Umm... Actually, I saw that as well. Ignore them and skip a couple pages. You should find the next part in no time :).

oh thanks :)

SoVeryAnnoyed
05-08-2011, 05:13 AM
LOOOOOOOOOOOOL U MAD BRAH?????????

Srsly, if u don't like it then don't read it.

But again, U MAD BRAH??????? :D:D:D

I dunno, it seems you are obviously mad at my comments. Awwww... Whats wrong did I insult you and your bedtime story teller? Someones a little sad... Do you need to suck on his nippys for milk? Time for bed little one. :(

amazin grego
05-08-2011, 11:42 AM
I dunno, it seems you are obviously mad at my comments. Awwww... Whats wrong did I insult you and your bedtime story teller? Someones a little sad... Do you need to suck on his nippys for milk? Time for bed little one. :(

well done youve made your epeen grow now get the hell out of this thread

pappaskurtz
05-08-2011, 12:37 PM
[EDIT] Um, did you ever draw that "Hunter kids clawing at buddy" thing? Well, I'm getting better at Adobe Illustrator, so... Maybe I could draw it for you! I usually draw stuff like Mario, so a realistic drawing would be good exercise much like your "first person view style" is for you. Think about it.

-A huge fan

No, never got a chance to do so. I'm not much of a drawer anyway, so if you're feeling inspired, I'd say go for it! :cool:

Left 2 B Happeh
05-08-2011, 01:03 PM
No, never got a chance to do so. I'm not much of a drawer anyway, so if you're feeling inspired, I'd say go for it! :cool:

Yes, well...

Let's just say that it came out "wrong". Very, very "wrong". It looks like it's implying something very different. But I won't stop trying!

By the way, I am looking forward to the next part of the story!

[EDIT] Well, I kind of gave up. I am still not very good at Blender, so I had to make a 2D image which I can't say turned out well. When I am working with 2D images, they're usually pre-made sprites that I'm using to make an Adobe Flash video. So my drawing isn't what I hoped it would be... But at least the image has that "Noob Adobe" feel! Well, here it is (http://img202.imageshack.us/img202/8650/imagerequestownlooksrig.png).

pappaskurtz
05-09-2011, 05:19 PM
Desynchronized! Just kidding; here is part 1 of the chapter. I think gamingkiller made a guess earlier, but props to anyone who can identify the reference in the chapter title. I do love naming chapters...

Also, I hope everyone is aware that I do link to chapter parts in the OP...
_________________________

My instincts were hiding from me. Their presence had always been a discomforting feeling of paranoia, of being watched, but they were at least a guide—however twisted.

Now I felt nothing. It was a coldness I could not shake.

Such power I had never felt before—never thought I was capable of. I took in the heap of bodies I had created during my bloodlust, and they dwarfed the gory destruction Tommy’s pipe bomb had wreaked.

The intense smell of the bodies was now enough to nearly make me pass out, but the blood…there was so much blood. It oozed across the roof and seeped down to the streets below. Their pale, deoxygenated blood was as dark as the brick they were fast decomposing into.

But that strength—I knew where it came from—and it was now beyond my grasp. My instincts had claimed all the cards and they had receded into my subconscious.

No, not even there, but somewhere within the gaping holes of my memory. To scheme? To recuperate? I’d always had some idea of what my instincts were feeling; now—nothing.

As we continued onward, the guilt I felt over attacking Trevor was overtaken by angst. Not only were my instincts hiding from me—they had stripped me of my usefulness as a hunter. As far as I could tell, my senses remained the same, but I could no longer decipher smells as easily as before, if at all, and when I tried to ping, the images formed in my mind were flat and disorienting. If I closed my eyes, pings completely obliterated my sense of direction.

Worst of all, I was afraid to leap. My legs and arms weren’t any weaker; it was just that the part of me that my instincts had suppressed—the part of me that feared gravity and doubted my superhuman abilities, the logical part of me that knew I couldn’t leap twenty feet into the air—it was back.

At first I thought the guilt had managed to suppress my instincts, or the bloodlust had somehow drained them into dormancy, but now I realized they wanted me to come crawling back to them. They wanted me to know how much I relied on them, how utterly useless I’d be without them.

Yet if they could hear my thoughts now, why didn’t they return, or even respond? Our mutual survival depended on cooperation. Why pull a power play now?

Or…was I wrong, still? What if—what if my instincts were trying to tell me they were the ones that didn’t need me? What if, at any moment, they could seize control again and render me into a living paralysis, trapped in my own body with absolutely no control—only to watch as someone else made my decisions for me?

My shoulders knock Andy to the ground and my knees pin him to the concrete, while my hands meet his look of surprise by slicing across his face. As sweet blood bursts from his skin, his cries of agony are made more succulent by my claws carving into his stomach…

NO! I shriek, but I open my eyes and I am simply standing atop yet another rooftop. I have made no sound, yet there is laughter booming inside my head, laughter that is callous and petrifying like nails down a chalkboard.

Soon.

The word pops the laughter like a balloon, and just as quickly as they appear, my instincts pull back into nothingness.

I started to tremble as the coldness returned. Was I truly so weak? Will my instincts be able to turn the tables on me that easily?

No, no—if they could have done so, they would have already.

But—why now? Why start another fight for dominance?

Something nudged my leg, making me jolt. Charlie looked up at me and whined sympathetically; I realized Trevor and Tommy had not noticed me because they were busy finding where to go next. Tommy looked towards me after hearing his dog’s voice.

“Charlie, leave ‘im alone!” the boy ordered, and whistled for her to come to him. She obeyed, but looked back at me with surprisingly tender eyes. Could a dog really be so wise?

“We could really use your help here, Buddy,” Trevor said.

Truth was, they had noticed my unusually reticent behavior. I was no longer leading, making us lose precious time. Trevor took over as leader, but there was no way to be as efficient when you couldn’t see nearly every detail of an entire city block inside your head.

It may have hurt, but I forced myself to use my eyes. We’d come to a dead end of sorts—at least with our current method of travel: buildings ahead of us were too far for the others to jump, and they led away from the airport into more fire.

I turned towards the street Trevor and Tommy were overlooking. A police car seemed to be the highlight of the street, its flashing siren bashing my face, along with a handful of other abandoned cars. I forced myself to look past the glaring police car’s lights and made out what looked like a public storage place at the end of the street.

Though it lacked the telltale signs of hasty barricades and parked obstacles, the building wasn’t on fire and it looked mostly intact. If there wasn’t a safe house inside of it already, it would’ve been a good place to set one up.

I indicated the “SELF STORAGE” sign to Trevor, although it took a moment for him to understand what I was pointing at. “Sorry,” he said, “I can’t magically see through the smog as well as you can. Is that a public storage place just past the police car?”

I nodded; were my eyes better than I thought?

He furrowed his forehead at me. “You’re done with rooftops, then?”

“YES!” Tommy piped. “I’m sick of roofs, and so is Charlie. Let’s get the hell down from here.”

Getting down, of course, was the hard part. The building we stood on was heavily damaged by something big—a tank, or a bomb, perhaps—and I didn’t want to risk it collapsing on us should we decide to go through it. Backtracking wasn’t an option, either, since the plank bridge Trevor fashioned to get us across fell to the ground when a small chunk of the building collapsed.

pappaskurtz
05-09-2011, 05:23 PM
A nearby utility pole caught my eye, which made the chills running through me spike. The idea that came to me required acrobatics that I wasn’t sure I still possessed.

Trevor caught me eyeing the power line and turned to the streetlights below. “There may be current still running through the lines, but you should be able to use the phone lines. They’re the lowest ones on the pole below the transformer.”

I took a deep breath to steel my nerves, but the idea of leaping off the top of the building—hot damn, it almost made my knees buckle.

Trevor turned back to me. “What? It’s a good idea—I don’t see how else we’ll be able to get down.”

“He’s scared,” Tommy said. “Can’t you see him shaking?”

Charlie whined again as I realized my hands were, in fact, trembling. I balled them into fists as I glared at the boy, but he merely smirked back at me.

Trevor frowned at me. “What’s the matter?”

No, this was my role, and they needed me now. Instincts or not, I had to play my part. Ignoring Trevor, I crouched on the edge of the roof as a surge of fear coupled with the restless energy building in my legs.

Oh God, how the hell was I going to get down? We were very high off the ground, but—the distance to the building across the street was less than straight down to the ground. Perhaps I could leap to the other building and ricochet onto one of the cars on the street…

Just jump, I told myself. I’d done it before, hadn’t I? With my sights on the opposite building, I let the energy in my legs reach a boil—and sprung.

I aimed at the building’s midsection, but no—much too fast! Trying to swing my feet forward, I waited for the impact only to see that I was barreling towards a window instead and smashed into it, shattering the window and tumbling inside. Many sharp fragments cut through my clothes before I crashed into a wall.

“BUDDY!” Trevor shouted.

The room was spinning, but no matter—I flipped myself onto my feet and I was good to go. I needed a moment to steady myself, but after a short breather, I trotted back to the window. I ran into a desk, so I hopped over it, and then reached the windowsill. My head was throbbing; I probably had hit it on something.

“I’ll do it,” I insisted.

“Dude, no way! You were already in a car wreck. I’m not letting you climb that thing.”

Was that, Derek? Was that his voice? It was raspy and congested, but it still sounded very much like him.

“Buddy!” Trevor shouted again. “Don’t—don’t! I’m coming down—just stay right there!”

I spotted the nearest car on the street below me and crouched again. This was a much shorter jump—should be a piece of cake.

“BUDDY! DON’T!”

I sprung again and I was right on target this time! I braced for the landing, but still—too fast! The wind got crushed from me as I slammed into the car’s roof and rolled off into the street.

“There isn’t any other way to get up there, and I do believe you wet your pants the last time you tried to do the climbing wall.”

Derek managed a smile. “First and last time. Your point, ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥?”

“My point is that we’ve only got ten minutes, and I’m not using five of them to argue with you. Or do you really think we can clear twenty feet of rubble in just a few minutes?”

I sprung back to my feet again. Wow, the ground was really soft. I glanced up to see Trevor lowering himself over the edge of the roof. What was he thinking? That fool! Did he really think he could climb down?

No time to waste though—I had to get up there fast. I ran towards the utility pole, caught it between my limbs, and started to climb.

“What are you doing?” Tommy shrieked; Charlie was barking.

“God damn it, Buddy, stop!”

Derek sighed. “Fine. Just—just please, please stay on the side where I can catch you. Or at least, land on me so I can break your fall.”

The power line really wasn’t so bad. I clawed into the wood with my left hand and had my knife in the other. The bottom two lines didn’t lead to a transformer, so I set my sights on them. I was getting higher and higher, slowly but surely.

I spotted Trevor in my peripheral vision. He was looking down and finding his footing between the windows and cracks in the building, letting himself drop short distances between floors.

Damn, Trevor really was climbing down the face of the building! At least he was a far better climber than Derek was.

Turning my attention back to my task, I was still several feet from the lowest line from the top of the clock tower. I focused on my breathing as my arms and legs burned. Breathe, just breathe. Slow and steady, but not too slow. I neared the line clock face, which would definitely be the trickiest part to navigate.

Hoisting myself over into the clock itself, I found my footing against the Roman numeral six and five. I jumped up to reach the center of the hands, which yanked another gasp from Derek.

“Oh ♥♥♥♥,” he exclaimed.

The transformer itself was quite bulky, but I managed to climb around and past it.

“What are you doing?” Trevor screamed. “You’re high enough! Stop climbing! Those are the electrical wires! STOP!”

He dropped to the ground and began sprinting towards me. Nonsense—I had to get to the top of the clock tower. That was where the bells were.

I climbed past the twelve onto the exterior of the clock face, but the bottom edges of the bell cabin were literally inches from my grasp. Bending my knees slightly as a breeze caught me, I jumped to reach the edge—and caught it!

I cried out as I hoisted myself upwards, my arms on fire, but I managed to ascend the banisters enclosing the cabin and rolled over onto solid ground inside the tower.

“Holy ♥♥♥♥, you made it! You made it!” Derek cheered.

As I lay on the floor to catch my breath, I stared up at the bells without a clue how to disable them. Menacing ticking below me reinforced the few precious minutes I had left.

Noticing several lines of rope against the wall behind me, I sat up and turned to them. They led from below and up into a series of pulleys and rods on which the bells were mounted.

Bingo. I pulled out my pocket knife and started to saw the ropes, one by one…

“For the love of God, don’t cut the top line!”

I glanced down to see Trevor below me, right beside Derek. They were aiming their pistols at me.

“That’s the grounding wire! You’ll get electrocuted, don’t!” Trevor screamed.

What the hell was he talking about? There was nothing electrical about these bells. Just rope. I was losing time, and there were so many ropes to cut! I reached to sever the line when I heard a bang—and something hot cut across my arm, yanking the knife from my grasp.

No, no…I’d lost the knife—I’ll never be able to stop the bells now… I failed them! Derek, Zack…Michelle—I failed them all.

The tower started spinning and the ground opened below me. As air began to rush past me, I realized—oh yes, I was falling…but I think my mind shut off before I hit the ground…

Brew78
05-09-2011, 05:58 PM
Oh bloody 'ell....

twipps
05-09-2011, 06:07 PM
Buddy's going insane! :o

Left 2 B Happeh
05-09-2011, 07:39 PM
Well, this is sort of... Never mind. Until now, I could read the next part right away since the story was so far along. But now, I have to wait for the next part. Heh, I was kind of spoiled. And I was sort of hoping for another action scene. But whatever, this story pwnz.

Gamingliker
05-10-2011, 11:40 PM
noooo,we should ve bumped them so they wont fall victim to the 1 year post :(

Nice story btw.
The next chapter title.......
Something tells me that the next chapter title that Buddy lost it again and they shot him a little,to which Buddy will whimper and goes off solo for a set amount of time.RIGHT?!

Its gamingliker :rolleyes:

SA_ChooChoo
05-11-2011, 03:39 AM
Well, now we get what 'Bang and a whimper' means. O:

I wonder what happens now. We know more of Buddy's past and his instincts trying to take control over him. I wonder if this shock was meant to regain control over him?

pappaskurtz
05-11-2011, 04:32 PM
Its gamingliker :rolleyes:

Whoops, pardon my selective dyslexia; darn auto correct! :eek:

The question remains: how much control does Buddy have?

SA_ChooChoo
05-11-2011, 08:09 PM
It seems he is losing it completely, seeing as he just crawled up and touched a power line... but the real question is, has he lost ALL control now?

Left 2 B Happeh
05-11-2011, 09:44 PM
Whoops, pardon my selective dyslexia; darn auto correct! :eek:

The question remains: how much control does Buddy have?

That's up to you, it's not as if we're making the story. But I hope he comes back to his senses soon, 'cuz this is hard to read.

SirPwntheGreat
05-15-2011, 08:57 AM
I believe we can all relate to the type of scenario that Buddy is going through. After watching something else take all the glory in a way that seems almost impossible for him [us], he goes through a state of depression that to him feels like he's incapable of doing that well (like the pipe-bomb) or any better than that.

He's starting to doubt himself, and though his instincts are a big part of it, I think that soon, Buddy will realize that he doesn't need his instincts to perform these hunter-like powers.

It's all a matter of self-confidence. After, say, being a nice, kind, and sympathetic person I watch someone else do something incredibly nice, I feel incapable of doing something as great as they did (just say they had a lot of money lol).

Come on Buddy! In the words of Peppy from Starfox, "Never give up! Trust your instincts!"

Oh wait....:(

Left 2 B Happeh
05-16-2011, 10:25 AM
I believe we can all relate to the type of scenario that Buddy is going through. After watching something else take all the glory in a way that seems almost impossible for him [us], he goes through a state of depression that to him feels like he's incapable of doing that well (like the pipe-bomb) or any better than that.

He's starting to doubt himself, and though his instincts are a big part of it, I think that soon, Buddy will realize that he doesn't need his instincts to perform these hunter-like powers.

It's all a matter of self-confidence. After, say, being a nice, kind, and sympathetic person I watch someone else do something incredibly nice, I feel incapable of doing something as great as they did (just say they had a lot of money lol).

Come on Buddy! In the words of Peppy from Starfox, "Never give up! Trust your instincts!"

Oh wait....:(

Mister "Do a barrel roll!" isn't exactly the wisest character ever. But I agree.

By the way, StarFox 64 is my fav N64 game. :D

[EDIT] Is this story dead?

ronin235
05-20-2011, 10:20 AM
its hopefully not dead, its a decent read

Left 2 B Happeh
05-20-2011, 12:07 PM
its hopefully not dead, its a decent read

I know... it's awesome...

pappaskurtz
05-20-2011, 12:15 PM
Nope, not dead. I know there have only been one installment per month, but I am looking to change that despite all the things I have going on. At least two per month is my goal--and to finish this chapter by the end of the month.

Left 2 B Happeh
05-20-2011, 04:37 PM
Nope, not dead. I know there have only been one installment per month, but I am looking to change that despite all the things I have going on. At least two per month is my goal--and to finish this chapter by the end of the month.

Thanks for responding so quickly!

I had no idea it was one/two per month. Thank you for informing us. According to the original comments (near the start) it was about 1 per week. That would have been amazingly fast. And for the quality of these newer installments, one/two a month is still very good. Please take your time with the next one. All I wanna know is if Buddy is gonna have some permanent effects from this and when he'll regain his sanity.

amazin grego
05-25-2011, 08:09 AM
eta? please :)

pappaskurtz
05-26-2011, 02:25 PM
If all goes well, I should have part 2 up by tomorrow evening. I will edit this post with content as long as no one replies in the meantime. :p

SA_ChooChoo
05-26-2011, 03:32 PM
O:!!!!

Edit: Oh crap, this counts as a reply, doesn't it? Nuuuuuuuuuuu!! >o<

pappaskurtz
05-27-2011, 05:48 PM
I get carried away sometimes, but alas; my editor did not believe Michelle was a real person. She was right in a way, and since I love having multiple story threads going at once, I thought I'd give Michelle more of a voice. Can you count how many threads there are?
_________________________________________

Daylight was fading fast into the horizon as the bench I waited upon started digging into my jeans. Her words had feigned nonchalance over the phone, but the abruptness of her call and her insistence on meeting squelched her assurances that everything was all right. Now she was late, too, and that only stirred the anxiety festering in my stomach.

My idleness gave me time to think, though. With graduation a week away, and just two short months of summer after that, I’d soon be saying goodbye to a lot of people—sad in most cases, but not all.

That included Michelle. As daylight continued to fade into dusk, I couldn’t help but reminisce about our time together.

Back in grade school, I’d known her only as the girl with the red pigtails for the longest time. It wasn’t until we happened to be walking towards each other on the sidewalk that I finally learned her name: she was walking her dog, and when the feisty daschund slipped away from her, I ran after it and managed to snag its leash before it could dash into the street.

She thanked me profusely and gave me her name as a reward before continuing on her way. She didn’t even ask for mine, though I did whisper it to her after she was long out of earshot. I promised myself then that I’d give her my name, too, and that she’d remember it as sweetly as the way it rolled off my tongue; I also remember chanting her name to myself all the way home right after that.

Couple that with what felt like a lifetime of experiences in only a few years, it was utterly astonishing to me that she thought we’d break up when we both left for college. Sure, we were going to separate universities in completely different regions, but we weren’t saying goodbye—not for good. Distance would only be an obstacle, not a barrier.

We may’ve only known each other since grade school, but it felt like we’d grown up together. I’d finally mustered enough courage to talk to her by middle school, and after a sufficient series of mishaps that thoroughly humiliated me before her (a few involving the class hamster), we became good friends.

I wanted more, of course, but I’d waited years to talk to her. I was certain I could get her to like me back in due time.

That time came when we started high school. After weeks of psyching myself up, I asked her to the freshman semiformal. Despite the fact that high school seemed to bring about a shift of friendships and alliances—and so she and I hadn’t been as close as we had been—I was certain that I’d had in the bag.

She said no, naturally. Why? She’d already had a date.

Luckily, fate was on my side, bestowing tonsillitis to my competitor the day before the semiformal. Of course, I didn’t find out until Michelle appeared on my doorstep a few hours before the dance, saying she was already sick of all the prep work other girls were doing for it, and thought it’d be nice for us to catch up.

“Skip the dance entirely?” I’d said, flabbergasted (she knew I wasn’t going).

“Sure, why not?” she replied, a sly smile crawling up her cheeks. “We’ve got plenty of other dances to go to before us.”

That’s when she kissed me.

Thinking about that moment now still gives me tingles, and so I wanted to believe this meeting would bring something good. Michelle was awful at surprises (which was why she always got her mother to plan my “surprise” birthday parties), and so maybe that’s why she’d sounded so nervous over the phone.

I tried not to think about all of the horrible possibilities that cycled through my head, but when dusk turned to night, I couldn’t convince myself that we were meeting to discuss something other than our inevitable breakup.

We’d discussed it twice; the first time was heated and emotional and so we put the issue on hold, but when I pressed for another talk, we came to an amicable decision to part ways when I left for Emory.

That had been a compromise, really. I promised her that it would be the best summer of our lives, and at the end of it, I was secretly hoping that I’d be able to sway her into continuing our relationship long-distance. We’d shared so much together already. She was the woman I was going to marry someday. Surely it would have to take more than distance to keep us apart?

Michelle finally appeared down the walkway. I’d been the only person in this park for almost two hours now. She had her hair down and her hands in her pockets as she gazed at the gravel before her. I stood as she approached, but she didn’t meet my eyes until she was right before me.

So much for this being a happy meeting.

“Hey,” she greeted simply, a sad smile thinning her lips.

“Hey.”

“I’m sorry I kept you waiting.”

“What happened? Did you get my texts?”

She nodded. “I did. I would’ve responded…I just—it was hard enough just getting here.”

I held my breath. “So…what—what did you want to talk about?”

Crossing her arms, she turned from me as she started to tremble, her lips quivering. “Oh, God…” she gasped.

I reached to embrace her, but she held me back. “No, no…I can’t…”

“You can’t what?” I demanded. Seeing her like this was like a punch in the gut.

She coughed and cleared her throat, sniffling. “I can’t put off the inevitable,” she wept, wiping tears from her eyes.

“I don’t understand.”

She sniffed again. “It hurts too much. There’s no sense in it, postponing it. If it’s going to happen, it should happen now—not two-and-a-half months from now.”

I swallowed as a prickling started to chip at the back of my throat. “Does it have to happen at all?”

Turning to me, she said, “Yes.”

“Why?”

“I don’t,” she started, wiping more tears from her eyes, “I don’t want us to hate each other, for our relationship to atrophy into a rotten shell of what it used to be. That’s what the distance will do to us—not just that, but time, too. Four years is a long time to wait.”

“Not four consecutive years,” I corrected. “There are breaks, and the summers in between. And it’s not like it’ll be hard to reach other!”

I stepped before her and grasped her shoulders. “Michelle, I love you. I promise you, we’ll make this work.”

“I don’t think love will be enough,” she whispered, pulling away from me.

I held my breath for a moment. “Do you love me?”

“Yes,” she answered, her back to me.

“Isn’t that enough?”

She turned to face me again. “Not when…not when you love me more than I love you. We both have to be willing to put up with late nights talking to each other on the phone, pining over each other during the day, missing each other every moment. I don’t think I love you enough to be able to withstand that.”

“It won’t be that bad,” I insisted as I reached for her hand. “It’ll be hard, yeah, but not impossible. We’ll be going through so much to miss each other, and we’ll have so much to share every time! We can get through not being able to see each other every day.”

pappaskurtz
05-27-2011, 05:50 PM
She sniffled. “Maybe you can, but I can’t,” she breathed, withdrawing her hand. “The mere thought just tears me up inside…” She swallowed a sob. “No, I’d miss you too much. Maybe…maybe you’re strong enough to withstand that each day, but I’m not.

“I’m sorry, I can’t have that—weighing down on me. It’s too much. It’ll be too much.”

The lump in my throat grew thorns as I felt my eyes well. “I’d do anything for you. I’ve never asked you for much, but this, you can’t do?”

Shaking her head, she cried, “No, I can’t. I’m sorry.”

She stepped towards the bench and sat. “Don’t you know where we are? Where we grew up? The nearest mall is like twenty miles away, and the nearest Walmart is almost fifty.”

She gazed towards her lap. “Half our class isn’t even going to college, let alone a big name university like Emory. This is our one shot to finally escape it all.”

I’d hesitated, but finally sat beside her. “I know you have big dreams. I know this place wasn’t always your favorite; once, you told me that I was the one thing that made growing up in the middle of ‘bum-♥♥♥♥ nowhere’ worth it. Are you saying now that you want to escape from me, too?”

She sniffed and sighed deeply as she looked up at me. “I guess I am.”

Another punch in the gut. I looked away from her, and we sat in silence.

“So why now?” I asked, my voice trembling. “Why not at least make the most of the time we have left?”

“Because it’s only going to get harder the longer we put it off!” she snapped, standing. “Can’t you see that? It will only be torture for us both! I love you too much…it hurts too much…”

When she drifted off, I cleared my throat. “So you don’t love me enough to spend a few months at a time away from each other, but you love me too much spend our last summer together?”

The words slipped past my lips more harshly than I wanted them to, and my bitterness only seemed to worsen her trembling.

“At least this way, we’ll have that time to mourn,” she sobbed, then turned to sprint away from me.

“Michelle!” I called after her as I started to chase her. “Wait!”

But I couldn’t keep running. The weight bearing down on my stomach was too much—I couldn’t breathe. I slowed to a stop by the road to vomit as my insides turned themselves inside-out.

I awoke to see Tommy’s face staring down at me.

“Holy ♥♥♥♥,” he gasped, and pulled away from me as he hugged his shotgun.

I sat up and realized my face was wet—I’d been crying. As I took in the dull aching pulsing through my muscles and bones, I realized there were several bandages around my arms, head, and legs from crashing into that window and falling from the power line—and from Trevor shooting me.

I rubbed the bandages around my forearm, but the gunshot wound was superficial and didn’t hurt nearly as badly as the emotions I was reeling from. This latest dream had been the most vivid yet, and it was so disorienting to find myself in yet another safe room. It felt like another lifetime—could it really have been mine?

“I really hate it when people cry,” Tommy said. “It’s bad enough when the little kids did it, but yeesh.”

An assortment of boxes rested on the shelves around us. As I looked towards the entrance, which had been barred with a wooden plank, I realized Trevor and Charlie were not inside the safe room.

When I looked towards Tommy, he said, “Trev finished what you started and cut down the rest of the line—after letting you crash on top of him, of course. He tied it into a harness for Charlie to lower her and I used it as a rope to get down.

“While you got some shuteye, Trev is scouting ahead. It rained for a little while, so it cleared up some of the smoke and fire. He’s gonna send Charlie back to come get us once he finds a way to the airport, or when he runs into trouble, either way.”

A gentle patter of raindrops continued to fall outside. Nearly all of the boxes around us had been cut into already, exposing an assortment of clothes, books, and other junk people didn’t want in their houses anymore. I was astonished this place hadn’t been raided already.

“There wasn’t anything that useful in the boxes,” Tommy went on, “but you weren’t out long. Trev and Charlie left some twenty minutes ago after he finished patching you up.”

The boy kept his shotgun close. He might not have been aiming it at me, but I could see through the darkness that he was one sudden movement away from pulling the trigger.

“He kept arguing that we couldn’t leave you by yourself, and he wouldn’t go alone. I woulda said no for sure, but Charlie just looked at me and whimpered and I just couldn’t. So thank her, not me. I’d a just left you behind after that stupid ♥♥♥ ♥♥♥♥ you pulled. What the hell was the matter with you, anyway?”

My head throbbed, and Tommy’s voice did nothing to help the migraine. I shook my head, regardless.

“Well, are you OK now, at least?”

Taking the moment to shake out my limbs, I stood slowly. With no onset of vertigo, I nodded.

The boy stood. “Good, then. There is at least some dried fruit and ♥♥♥♥ in one of the boxes over here,” he said, walking towards the back of the storage room, “but Trev put it at the very top so I wouldn’t eat them all. Little ♥♥♥♥♥. Go eat something that isn’t me.”

When he indicated the box, I noticed a section of the shelf beside it had collapsed. I looked towards Tommy, who said, “Yeah, yeah, I tried to climb it, and it broke. I’m stronger than I look!”

Letting a brief smile shape my lips, I pulled the box from the shelf and forced myself to eat one of the packages of trail mix. The assortment of nuts and dried fruit only seemed to make my stomach growl, but since the raisins were mildly sweet, I convinced myself they were better than nothing.

Tommy watched me eat. At first I thought it was because he was still hungry; then I realized my brief slip into a walking-dream state must’ve increased his curious fascination of me. His eyes brimmed with questions, but he was either too afraid to ask, or had no idea where to start first.

“Do you think I could ever be like you?”

I froze and turned to stare at him. Of all the things to ask, that was the one thing I didn’t expect.

“I mean…” he began, and let go of his shotgun to rub the back of his neck, “I don’t want to go all zombie… Minus the crazy, you might actually be really useful to have around. The stuff you can do is pretty cool.”

He didn’t seem to mind the eye contact this time, but forfeited first in our staring contest. “Maybe if I was like you, my dad wouldn’t ‘ve had to work so hard; maybe he might even still be around. I’d be able to do so much more for people…”

I pulled up the sleeve on my scarred arm to indicate it to him. Tommy smirked. “I dunno, maybe some armor wouldn’t be so bad either if it’ll keep the zombies from bitin’ ya.”

Setting down the bag of trail mix, I pointed towards his shotgun, which prompted him to open it and check the barrels. “Bullets run out, and there’s only so much that guns will do for you.

“What I mean is, you can protect the people you care about—really protect them. If it means Charlie won’t have to chase away another zombie, I’d gladly give up all my guns.

“I wouldn’t mind not talkin’ either. I mean, not being able to, I guess. Charlie can talk for me anyhows.”

Tommy didn’t say anything else for a while, leaving me to finish the rest of the trail mix. He’d provided a potent admission, yet I wasn’t sure how to respond. I guess he was warming up to me, but to actually want to be like me? I wouldn’t wish the kind of hunger or pain I’ve had to face on anyone, though I’m sure my instincts would jump at the opportunity—even if I couldn’t feel them right now.

He clearly missed his father. I empathized with his grief, despite not knowing what happened to my own father. This recent flashback of Michelle triggered vague inklings about my parents within the deepest recesses of my memory: I think I lost my father when I was very young, but how or why, that was still locked from me.

All I had to go on were flashes of my mother sobbing at the dinner table, and how she’d always perk up and try to hide her crying whenever I caught her like that…

“That’s what my mom and dad would always say,” Tommy said, as if there hadn’t been a long moment of silence at all, “talkin’ for each other. I’d ask Mom for somethin’ and she’d say no, so I’d ask Dad, and then he’d ask ‘what did Mom say?’” He let a small laugh escape. “I tried to lie once, but I just got in trouble. He’d always know what she would say, and she knew the same for him, too.

pappaskurtz
05-27-2011, 05:52 PM
“I always heard him talk with Hudson ‘bout how he wished he could’ve done more for my mom when the zombies hit. How he wished he could’ve just had one more bullet in his mag, or how he could’ve taken the bite himself. I never got what he meant until now.”

I felt for the marker in my pockets; I didn’t think I’d find it, but I did, so I pulled it out to write on the wall.

SURVIVAL.

Tommy took a moment to gaze at the word. “My dad was the same way. ‘Survival was everything,’ he’d say all the time. But there was something my mom said after the zombie got her, something she said to him: he was trying to get her to hang on, but she said something like, ‘Survival isn’t everything,’ but we...we never had a chance to figure out what she meant. At least, I didn’t…”

After a pause, he went on, “What do you think she meant?”

I wrote the first thing that came to my mind, and I’m not sure I didn’t completely disbelieve it: LOVE.

He snorted a laugh. “That’s just gay.” I shrugged.

“You know,” he went on, “Trev kinda reminds me of my mom. He’s real bossy sometimes.”

I heard a pattering of rapid footsteps in the distance—and then the telltale panting of a small, furry beast coming our way. I shot up and made for the door just as Charlie barked to announce her presence.

“Charlie!” Tommy squealed and sprung up, too, nearly beating me to the door. As I unbarred it, Charlie pawed against and whined anxiously on the other side of the door.

“Hurry up!” the boy squawked, even though I had the door open not a second later. Charlie sprung past the door and leapt on top of Tommy, licking his face like an overexcited puppy.

“Aww, cut it out!” he whined, laughing. “Hell, who’s a good girl? You are! Who’s a good dog? You are!”

They went on like that for a short while before I noticed something strapped to her. I reached to examine it when Tommy snatched it from me.

“Hold on, hold your horses,” he said to me, stilling Charlie. Once she stopped jostling around, I realized she had on a walkie talkie. Tommy unstrapped it and clasped it in his hand—igniting a bright LED on its side and a brief fuzz of static.

“Do you see the stairs?” He spoke into the radio.

“Is Buddy awake?” Trevor responded immediately.

Tommy made a disapproving buzzing noise. “You didn’t verify your identity. Access denied.”

Trevor’s response cut into the middle of an exasperated sigh. “I am protected! Now answer the damn question. Over.”

“Affirmative.”

“Well, get moving then!” Trevor said, and Charlie barked.

“Where did you find these?” Tommy asked into the radio.

“Doesn’t matter. Don’t know how much juice they’ve got left. You’ve still got the extra pistol, right?”

“Affirmative.”

“Give it to him, then. Make sure he doesn’t overexert himself. You copy that, Buddy?”

When Tommy stared at me, I nodded. He didn’t really expect me to respond to Trevor, did he?

“He looks somewhat jarateed,” Tommy responded over the radio. “But since he always looks like that, I think you can take that as an affirmative.”

Charlie barked again, wagging her tail as she paced around Tommy.

“OK, OK, girl.” Tommy clipped the radio to his belt and tossed me a pistol, which I caught in spite of the dull aching in my muscles. “No need for you to get all fancy just yet,” he said to me. “Charlie’ll lead us just fine.”

Once Tommy had his shotgun, Charlie broke from the safe room in a full sprint.

amazin grego
05-28-2011, 02:20 AM
YAAAAAY!!! :):):)

Left 2 B Happeh
05-28-2011, 06:24 AM
Great job on getting two parts out in the same month (not sarcastic)! That was your goal, right?

I was really excited when I saw a "Part 2" in the index after I checked back to see if there was an update (I check back every day). Though I didn't like that huge love story part, I enjoy the fact that you're still updating this. I know a few authors that give up when they get into parts like this. "I don't like the way this story is going, so I'm gonna stop updating".

Second comment BTW!

pappaskurtz
06-02-2011, 04:03 PM
Anyone confused by the time line of the flashbacks?

Left 2 B Happeh
06-02-2011, 07:56 PM
Anyone confused by the time line of the flashbacks?

Nah. I can usually figure it out. I always reread these. :D

It's hard not to when you check every day.

ALL YOU FANS SHOULD IF YOU DON'T!

Neonwarrior
06-06-2011, 03:14 PM
Anyone confused by the time line of the flashbacks?

I know that there are three sets; one with Buddy and Derek, one with Michelle and Buddy as adults, and one as Buddy and Michelle as kids and teens.

Also, if you ever get the chance, do NOT reveal Buddy's name. Both as a personal request and to enhance the story.

One last thing. I am kind of having a hard time determining where in each map of Dead Air you're placing the characters, or if they're in any of the maps at all. I recognize some of your definitions of the saferooms, but the one Buddy and Tommy was in is a bit confusing. Was it the one before the construction site crescendo?

pappaskurtz
06-06-2011, 10:23 PM
Hmm, it might be awfully hard and awkward to keep Buddy's name hidden with the plan I have so far...

As for the locales, I'm not really trying to use specific areas, but again, physical settings are my weak point, especially when my memory is fuzzy and I have to constantly replay the game (and don't always have time to). Tommy and Buddy are somewhere near the construction site crescendo, but I don't necessarily intend for them to follow the exact same path...

SA_ChooChoo
06-06-2011, 11:58 PM
Of course I am confused about the timelines, which is why I am just reading the story as we go along. :)

Left 2 B Happeh
06-07-2011, 02:50 PM
Hmm, it might be awfully hard and awkward to keep Buddy's name hidden with the plan I have so far...

I'm okay with having his true name shown, but please don't do anything cheesy like saying his name actually was Buddy, and please make it a good one. I'm okay with it being a bit silly though, like it being "Kyle" (Andy said he "looks like a Kyle" in Chapter 4, Part 2 before deciding on "Buddy", just so all you people with a life know). But as much as I enjoy the fact that you allow your fans to make suggestions, you should make this call, especially if most of us can't agree on the same thing.

|nDH|ICE
06-07-2011, 06:01 PM
I only found your story by accident while looking for something else... Possibly the best accident EVER.:D

Left 2 B Happeh
06-07-2011, 07:07 PM
I only found your story by accident while looking for something else... Possibly the best accident EVER.:D

Well, this is... ironic...

The same for me :eek:

[EDIT] I wonder when it'll update...

SA_ChooChoo
06-12-2011, 07:14 PM
I'm getting antsy. :D

amazin grego
06-13-2011, 03:49 PM
will we have a part this month?

Scars Tropics
06-13-2011, 06:25 PM
I haven't been by in a while but I'm glad to see the story is still going on. I'm really enjoying buddy's internal battle, with the inner hunter messing with his head. Hopefully that is explored more in the coming chapters. The writing got very ambitious when buddy climbed towards the powerlines, a little confusing but I think that added to the mania of what was happening. .

pappaskurtz
06-15-2011, 11:27 AM
will we have a part this month?

Yes. I'm sure some of you have noticed, but I like to alternate projects: post a section, release a model, post another section... Since I released Zoey this week, expect part 3 shortly.

amazin grego
06-16-2011, 08:45 AM
Yes. I'm sure some of you have noticed, but I like to alternate projects: post a section, release a model, post another section... Since I released Zoey this week, expect part 3 shortly.

awsome
by the way this is the best fan fiction ive ever read just saying

Left 2 B Happeh
06-16-2011, 09:54 AM
awsome
by the way this is the best fan fiction ive ever read just saying

Agreed.

stellerman7
06-22-2011, 09:54 AM
You're quite the brilliant writer, have you considered making a career out of it?

lordofnosgoth
06-24-2011, 01:47 PM
Haven't had the time to finish Chapters 11 & 12 yet, but so far so good.

As far as the naysayers and haters? They're rampant on these forums, period. Anyone who posts work of any sort here is bound to catch flak from some hater or another. Don't sweat them. As for me, I've been chided on various occaisions by forum moderators (and recieved several points against me) for responding poorly to inflammatory posts by people being ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥s. I'm glad to see you've found the self control to respond better than I. Even if some folks don't like it, you definitely got some serious cahones posting work here.

I like it.

Anyway, I've got a few questions:

1) Regarding your models: Did you cold create these in a program like 3D Studio Max or Maya? Or were they simply models from the L4D series that were edited/cobbled together using Hammer editor? I'm not trying to be insulting; just curious is all.

2) Once you finish this story, have you considered submitting it to Valve? (This may have been answered in the forums, but I'm not sifting through 70 pages of posts + story; sorry.)

3) If you're not a modeler, would you consider accepting some assistance? Perhaps working with someone else on a project? PM me and I'll send you some links to my work.

Keep it up.

pappaskurtz
06-24-2011, 03:03 PM
You're quite the brilliant writer, have you considered making a career out of it?

Yeah, definitely thinking about it. There's a big cost to entry, though, and I haven't really invested very much into it. I've done ghostwriting for some stuff, but not much else.

Haven't had the time to finish Chapters 11 & 12 yet, but so far so good.

As far as the naysayers and haters? They're rampant on these forums, period. Anyone who posts work of any sort here is bound to catch flak from some hater or another. Don't sweat them. As for me, I've been chided on various occaisions by forum moderators (and recieved several points against me) for responding poorly to inflammatory posts by people being ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥s. I'm glad to see you've found the self control to respond better than I. Even if some folks don't like it, you definitely got some serious cahones posting work here.

I like it.

Anyway, I've got a few questions:

1) Regarding your models: Did you cold create these in a program like 3D Studio Max or Maya? Or were they simply models from the L4D series that were edited/cobbled together using Hammer editor? I'm not trying to be insulting; just curious is all.

2) Once you finish this story, have you considered submitting it to Valve? (This may have been answered in the forums, but I'm not sifting through 70 pages of posts + story; sorry.)

3) If you're not a modeler, would you consider accepting some assistance? Perhaps working with someone else on a project? PM me and I'll send you some links to my work.

Keep it up.

Thanks for the comments! With the next part, I intend to clean up the OP some more with highlights of the thread.

1) I use 3Ds Max and Poser to stitch the models together (and more recently zbrush). The shots that have been posted in this thread are largely ports from L4D and a few other games. I'm working to recreate them from scratch, though, as well as a few other models I hope to surprise people with...

2) No; I'm sure Valve is aware of it somehow, but I'm not really looking to get it noticed by them.

3) Accepting assistance? As in someone helping me, or me helping you? Sure, send me a PM and I'd be happy to lend a hand if I can.

lordofnosgoth
06-25-2011, 01:47 PM
Yeah, definitely thinking about it. There's a big cost to entry, though, and I haven't really invested very much into it. I've done ghostwriting for some stuff, but not much else.



Thanks for the comments! With the next part, I intend to clean up the OP some more with highlights of the thread.

1) I use 3Ds Max and Poser to stitch the models together (and more recently zbrush). The shots that have been posted in this thread are largely ports from L4D and a few other games. I'm working to recreate them from scratch, though, as well as a few other models I hope to surprise people with...

2) No; I'm sure Valve is aware of it somehow, but I'm not really looking to get it noticed by them.

3) Accepting assistance? As in someone helping me, or me helping you? Sure, send me a PM and I'd be happy to lend a hand if I can.

PM sent, explanation therein. Hope you like what you see and we can work together. If you do decide in that direction, I have an FTP set up so we can exchange files.

pappaskurtz
06-26-2011, 05:50 PM
I've been waiting to post part 4 of this chapter for a very long time, and now I'm one part closer to it.
____________________________________

Though Tommy set off after her immediately, I lingered for a moment to make sure the safe room was left open behind us. I felt the pistol in my hand, noticed how it was heavier than the ones I’d used before, and an image of Derek flashed in my mind: You ready? he asks.

This wasn’t just a pistol; it was a hand cannon—a .44 magnum. Zach had had one just like it, the gun nut that he was. I could remember the first time I’d used it: it had kicked like a horse, but had blown the lungs out of the zombie I’d targeted.

As another smile crept towards my cheeks, I fastened the gun to my belt and ran to follow Tommy and Charlie. Derek had given me the gun to use because it had “too much ♥♥♥♥♥-slap” for him, and this was after we’d deactivated the clock tower. He’d found it after we scoured the roof of Complex for more supplies, but where had Tommy found the gun?

Charlie moved fast, leading us through another construction site. Thanks to the rain, the weather had improved slightly, making it much easier to breathe. My attempts to ping still resulted in a garbled mess of images in my head and my nose was still trumped by many unfamiliar scents within the city, but I at least managed to keep up with Charlie as we trotted across the streets. Fear still hampered my temptation to crouch and leap, so for now, I stuck with running. Running was familiar, safe, and it was just fine—for now.

For now. My instincts peeked from behind the blinds to echo the phrase within my head. What was I going to do when we faced something more dangerous than the stray common infected? The next tank or, God forbid, the next hunter, or—hunters?

I instinctively reached for the magnum against my belt. I might’ve only had one magazine’s worth of ammo for it, but it was a reminder that I’d done this all before—fought tanks, climbed towers, survived hordes—all before I’d turned. If my instincts weren’t going to help me, I would just have to help myself.

Charlie slowed to a stop as we neared a narrow alley leading out of the construction site. She barked at Tommy, who stopped to look around. When he found what he was looking for, he ran towards it, picking up an empty gas can.

“Find some more of these, will ya?” Tommy said to me. When I gave him an odd look, he went on, “Look, Trev said we needed another way to slow down the other survivors thanks to your little episode, and I think I just found a way.”

He indicated a generator just before the alley. “Find some more gas cans and we’ll siphon out the gas from ‘em. Hopefully some of the cans’ll already have gas in ‘em.”

Charlie was already hunting for more gas cans as Tommy spoke. Locking onto the image of the gas can between the boy’s hands, I sent out another ping. This time, amongst the chaotic surge of data that filled my brain, the one thing that made sense above it all was that image of the gas can—and where seven of them were located.

I ran and beat Charlie to the nearest one, which was located by some scaffolding. The dog whined when I picked it up, clearly annoyed that I stole her can, so she trotted off to find another. I brought the can to Tommy, who was already sucking on a tube he’d stuck inside the generator. He recoiled and spat as the gas started flowing through the plastic tube before hastily sticking it into the gas can.

“We don’t need a lot,” he said, wiping his mouth, “just a few, and some wire to tie ‘em all together.”

Charlie and I found four more gas cans together, and Tommy poured some gas he’d siphoned from the generator into all of the cans. After I found him some stray cables to secure all the cans together, Tommy stood and looked towards a pile of wood near the center of the construction site.

It looked like a few people had already tried to take the wood and form makeshift barricades out of the beams. Large chunks of the plywood walls were missing—sawed out hastily, or even just ripped off—from the walls of the building in construction. No doubt people were looking for ways to safeguard their homes.

A sizeable chunk of the plywood had been reinforced by some of the wooden beams—a project someone had hastily abandoned. Tommy walked up to it, knelt down to examine it, and looked towards the alley.

“Buddy,” he said, “take this wall right here, jam it up against the entrance to the alley, pile some of this wooden junk against it, and stack the gas cans by it. When the other survivors get here, they’ll have to shoot the cans, which’ll start a fire and make the jenny explode. Boom, horde, as they gotta wait for the wood to burn away.”

I was impressed and disturbed by how quickly he’d come up with the plan. Then again, if I hadn’t slowed us down, we wouldn’t have needed to do this in the first place.

“Or do you have a better idea?” Tommy challenged.

Shaking my head, I knelt to lift the barricade off the ground. It was quite heavy, but not impossible to lift. As I hauled it above me behind my shoulders, Tommy and Charlie walked down the alley. It was a very slow fifteen steps to the alley’s entrance, and my muscles had caught fire by the time I dropped the barricade in front of the alley.

Bracing my shoulder against it, I jammed the barricade into place.

“Work fast,” Tommy called. “We’re almost there.”

I gathered a bunch of construction debris and planks to pile against the barricade. It wore me out fast, but by the time I’d finished, there was no way the other survivors were simply going to pull the barricade down. They’d have to burn it—or blow it up. Setting the gas cans against it as the final touch, I stood to catch my breath.

I couldn’t help admiring my handiwork somewhat, but the pride was quickly marred by another pang of guilt. Why were we working against these other survivors? Maybe—maybe there was a way they could help us.

“Now jump over!” Tommy yelled. “Hurry!”

Fear quickly displaced my guilt as the barricade seemed to grow a few extra feet in height. No—honestly, it was nothing…barely even taller than I was. I could hop over it easily enough—no fancy rebounding or anything. Just jump and land. That was all.

I crouched, letting the restlessness build up in my calves, but as adrenaline surged through my bloodstream, so did fear. Oh God, just climb over the damn thing…

No—I could do this. My restlessness reaching a boil, I sprang upwards—over the barricade—and landed—cleanly—way down the alleyway and several feet in front of Tommy and Charlie.

I exhaled a long sigh of relief as I stood. “Show off,” Tommy mumbled, which only made me smile. Charlie barked happily at me before setting off once more.

That wasn’t so bad. That wasn’t so bad at all. I still had a long way to go, but it was progress, nonetheless, and I had no snide retort from my instincts to discourage me.

pappaskurtz
06-26-2011, 05:52 PM
We came out of the alley to see a series of transformers across the street, but the street—it had been utterly destroyed, two huge craters making it otherwise impassable. Not even a tank could do such concentrated damage like this.

In fact, I realized that the closer we had gotten to the airport, the more damaged the city had become. The charred buildings around us confirmed this. The airport had been deliberately bombed—there could be no doubt about it, now.

Charlie led us through the transformers—signs warning of high voltage practically littering the place—until we came to what looked like the power plant itself. In spite of the rain, the pungent, dry quality of the air had worsened. We were nearing the airport, all right—the epicenter of the fiery smoke and smog.

Tommy whistled for Charlie to slow down as he brought the walkie-talkie to his face. “Trevor,” he spoke into the radio.

“Are you guys close?” Trevor responded.

“We just got to the power plant, I think. According to that map, we’re pretty much next-door to the airport, aren’t we?”

“Roger that. I’m out front, but getting in won’t be easy. I’ll explain when you get here. Over.”

Tommy looked at me. “I hope you’re ready to use that magnum if you aren’t gonna be hoppin’ and kickin’ all the zombies away.” Clipping the radio back onto his pants, he unclipped a set of magazines from his belt and handed them to me.

“These were my dad’s,” Tommy said, swallowing. “He’d hoped to see me big enough to use that gun one day, but yeah…”

Accepting the cartridges, I grasped his shoulder as Charlie twirled herself around Tommy’s legs, whining. The boy wiped his nose and broke away from me. “Come on, let’s go.”

Unlike the streets so far, there seemed to be quite a few stray common inside the power plant. Tommy pulled out his pistol to deal with them, while I used my knife and claws to keep them from doing much damage. They were quite lethargic, though, and slow to notice us, most likely because the smoggy air had dampened their sense of smell.

The power plant itself was mostly dark and nonoperational, unsurprisingly. Tommy was considerate enough to keep his flashlight directed away from me as we walked through the plant.

I spent most of the time working on deciphering the smells all around us, but it was hard to focus; on top of the common infected stench, the smog was giving me a headache. I tried to recall the smells of smokers, boomers, jockeys, spitters, tanks, and such, which helped me narrow down the dangers we were facing by process of elimination—there were no other special infected within the building.

Which was a relief, really, when I picked up a new smell that hadn’t been around for a while—Trevor’s scent. Charlie picked it up, too, which made her speed up. We came to what looked like a service hallway, at the end of which was a huge fire door. Tommy picked off the handful of common infected loitering in the hallway and we sprinted for the exit.

Tommy insisted on opening the door first. Giving me a short look, he grunted as he heaved himself against the handle.

“Whoa…”

The boy had been too distracted to open the door completely. When I pushed it further ajar to let me and Charlie slip through, I was similarly floored by what I saw.

A crashed passenger jet—right where one of the sky bridges used to be. The nose of the plane smoldered before us, and beyond an overturned bus within a huge crater lay another section of the cabin.

Planes don’t just disintegrate in midair. Could it—could it have been shot down?

Tommy and I both failed to notice Trevor standing right beside the door. He watched us gape at the wreckage as he leaned against the power plant.

“Quite the view, isn’t it?” he said.

“What the hell is a plane doing here?” Tommy exclaimed. “This ain’t the runway.”

“I guess that’s what happens when you don’t stay grounded.”

The disdain on Trevor’s face spread to Tommy’s, who looked back at the nose of the plane. “Bombing the airport is one thing, but to shoot down planes? With people on them? Do you really think…?”

Trevor shook his head and stepped off the wall. “I don’t think. I don’t want to. We have other problems ahead of us.”

Charlie sat and whined as Trevor knelt to pet her. “Is the way in blocked or something?” Tommy asked.

“You could say that. We can get in through the sky bridge over there,” Trevor replied, pointing, “but we’ll have to make our way up through the parking garage. The problem is we’ve got a couple of witches in our way.”

For the first time, I sensed a new emotion I had not felt from Tommy since I’d met him—terror. Sure, he’d been scared of me, but this fear was different: it radiated off his skin like a burst of heat, a sign of a fear that was much more powerful than any force of reason the mind could summon to contain it.

Tommy’s faced masked his fear very, very well, and his voice betrayed only the slightest quiver. “How many?”

“Three or four, if I were to guess.” Trevor turned his gaze to me. “You think one witch is bad? Could you imagine two feeding off each other’s misery, augmenting their psychic agony, let alone three or more?”

I shuddered at the thought—I couldn’t help it—and I think even my instincts faltered briefly in masking their presence from me.

“I thought,” Tommy began, “I thought witches avoided each other. Like they repelled each other, or something like that.”

Trevor shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ve only ever seen solitary witches, too, but maybe these—maybe they’re different somehow. Maybe they’re sisters, who knows?”

“Sister witches?” Tommy gasped.

“They’re linked somehow. I observed two of them for a while, and they seemed to react simultaneously to whatever horrible memory they were reliving. Maybe they were trapped somehow and they just couldn’t repel each other.”

Or maybe there had been so much death here that it had bound them together. Trevor kept his eyes on me, trying to read me; he knew I’d have the biggest problem with witches, and I could see an ugly thought brimming behind his eyes.

“Buddy, I think you should head back to the boat.”

Charlie barked as anger flared up into my chest. Tommy looked up at Trevor in surprise. “What, really?”

He sighed deeply, crossing his arms. “I think—I think it was a mistake to separate you from Andy. I can’t even imagine what you’re struggling with, but I think not having him around has made you less able to handle the—stress.”

“Who’s Andy?”

“His brother,” Trevor replied.

“Oh…”

Trevor’s expression grew sad. “Everyone has a breaking point. I’ve seen what those witches do to you—and I don’t really want to see if this might be it for you.”

Despite my anger, a gnawing part of me suspected that Trevor could’ve been right. Maybe that was why I was having problems with my instincts and my abilities lately—Andy was my anchor. He kept me grounded. Without him, I wouldn’t be here. I’d be…lost…

“Isn’t there another way around?” Tommy cut in, interrupting my thoughts. “There’s more than one way into an airport as big as this—there has to be.”

Trevor shook his head. “Not from here. Not if we want to backtrack, or wade through fire, or dig through debris. Or risk running into trouble with the survivors behind us.”

“Don’t send him away,” Tommy insisted. “We need him. Together we’re stronger than we could ever be apart. That’s what my dad said, Rusty, all of them. We need to stick together.”

pappaskurtz
06-26-2011, 05:54 PM
Trevor rubbed his neck. “I agree completely,” he said to Tommy, then turned back to me. “I just need to know if you can do this.”

Forcing myself to swallow the doubt crawling up my throat, I nodded.

Trevor patted my back. “All right, let’s go, then,” he said, making for the parking garage. “Just don’t jarate any of the witches off. I have a feeling if we trigger one of them, we’ll trigger them all…”

Charlie rose to her paws, though Tommy seemed hesitant to follow. I barely took a step when I was slapped by a whip of anguish as a woman’s sobs sounded faintly in the distance. Instinctively, I felt my face—the energy had been so potent, I was convinced it had bruised my cheeks.

I watched Trevor shudder as he entered the witches’ aura of influence. Managing another step forward, I braced myself for another psychic burst—only to recoil backwards. It was like touching the coil of a hot stove, and I leapt backwards before I could really feel the brunt of the impact.

Trevor turned to look at me, an unseen burden visibly weighing his shoulders down. Oh God—I really, really don’t think I could do this…

“Hey,” Tommy said, running up beside me. He took my hand and prompted me forward. “I won’t tell if you won’t.”

The boy took a step forward into the aura and flinched, but he kept his grip firm. I took a step forward into the aura myself—and despite a frigid cut slicing down my spine, I kept the urge to recoil in check.

Charlie ran up and into Trevor’s arms, and it seemed like she was the only one unaffected by the witches’ agony. Trevor hugged her tightly as he started to sob.

Unbelievable torment, regret, despair—a torrent of hopelessness flooded my mind: images of fire incinerating flesh, crushing realizations of imminent death, dashed hopes of ever seeing my wife, my brother, my husband, my best friend, ever again… The last moments of hundreds—maybe thousands—of people cycled through my head like a kaleidoscope, blurring and merging only to explode apart again, releasing the terrible emotions bottled within every memory.

Yet I pressed forward. The horror of these psychedelic attacks washed over me like a tsunami, but I had a lifeline, an anchor, keeping me from drowning—Tommy’s grip on my hand was the only warm thing in this arctic sea washing up around us—and every step he took, I took; every step I took, he took.

Somehow, the knowledge that he was suffering beside me kept me sane. I had to keep going for him, and he for me, because if either of us stopped, we’d be swept away and crushed by an avalanche of unimaginable suffering.

We crossed into the parking garage. My senses were all but broken, but I was able to see that the garage around us was devoid of another living thing, infected or otherwise. Just cars—lots and lots of abandoned cars.

“Oh God,” Trevor wept, “dear God…I’m so sorry… I’m so sorry…”

Tommy wept, too, as tears streamed down my face. So many words left unsaid, so many actions left undone, so many wrongs never made right: I wish I could’ve given Alex what she really wanted on her birthday, I wish I hadn’t been so mean to my dad, I wish I could’ve seen Drew perform, I wish I could’ve told Haley how special she really was, I wish I could’ve had just ten more minutes with him, I wish I could tell her I love her one last time…

Who will look after Kyle without me? Who will make sure Penny is safe? Who will read to Joel at night?

Who will remember me when I’m gone?

It wasn’t just like I was being strapped to a chair with my eyelids sewn open, and the chair was spinning me around to watch the wall of televisions surrounding me. It was like snapping through hundreds of consciousnesses and points of view every few seconds, reliving these awful memories like they were my own. There was no room for anger or outrage, frustration or indignation—there was only despair. Soul-crushing despair.

I could feel my instincts weeping, too. They gnawed me from the inside out, begging me to make pain stop. Anything but this, they screamed, anything but THIS!

“Daddy, I’m sorry… I’m so sorry!” Tommy cried. “Please don’t go, promise me!”

Tightening my grasp, Tommy responded in kind, and another surge of warmth shot through me. We’ll get through this, Tommy, I swear it!

Ahead of us, Trevor flung himself against the wall of the garage, still clutching Charlie against his chest. A witch appeared from around the corner as she stumbled forward and wept into her hands, her claws tangled in her hair.

Having a direct line of sight to her was enough for the chill around me to reach absolute zero. I managed a step towards the wall, but Tommy wouldn’t budge.

“I’m sorry,” he wept, “I’m sorry…” He reached for the pistol on his belt—and aimed it towards the witch.

Dear God, no!

“I’m sorry,” Tommy insisted, and fired.

The bullet struck the witch’s shoulder and she screamed. Then, a series of screams echoed throughout the garage and the psychic onslaught ceased. I lost my balance and Tommy slipped from my grasp, but the sight of the witch barreling towards us, her eyes ablaze, injected a stream of adrenaline into my blood.

“RUN!” Trevor shouted, lighting the Molotov in his hand. Charlie was galloping towards the witch, barking, but her warnings were no match for the witch’s screams.

Tommy was on his feet and started sprinting back towards the garage’s entrance. The witch had her claws fully extended and aimed directly at the boy, but before she could pass me, I leapt at her and tackled her to the ground.

She shoved me off without hesitation, slamming me against a car. She was back on her feet before I even landed, and Tommy only gained a few more feet before tripping. The witch raised her claws and loomed to strike.

I pulled the magnum from my belt and fired at the witch—I had no time to aim or think. Blood exploded from the witch’s side, stopping her just before she could complete her swipe. Her eyes turned to me, so I fired again, ripping a hole in her throat. Her eyes dimmed almost immediately and she fell to the asphalt beside Tommy.

Behind me, a blaze had ignited within the garage, bashing my eyes as another witch sprinted from around the corner. she ran straight into the fire, only to stop and scream again. Her shriek nearly deafened me as she turned and made a beeline for Trevor, but he was already far away from the fire with his shotgun in hand.

As the witch rushed towards him, vainly trying to pat the flames from her skin, Trevor blasted her with lead pellets again and again until she fell over and collapsed onto the ground, squealing one last scream before her claws stilled.

Another witch rounded the corner, but when she ran into the fire, I leapt off my stomach and onto my feet. Taking only a second to aim, I pulled the trigger on the magnum once more, cracking open the witch’s skull and spraying her brain matter into the blaze.

The garage finally silent, my limbs went limp and I fell back against the cement. Trevor did the same, and I would’ve stayed still had another sound not stirred me from resting. Tommy was sobbing, and I turned to see him clutching Charlie, who did her best to lick the tears from the boy’s face.

I was exhausted in every possible way, but I turned myself over and managed to lift myself off the ground. Stumbling towards Tommy, I knelt beside him, making sure he wasn’t physically hurt. He wasn’t, so I went to Trevor and helped him up, who went straight to Tommy and lifted him off the ground. He held the boy close.

“I’m sorry,” Tommy wept, “I couldn’t take it anymore…I just couldn’t take it…”

Trevor shushed him. “Don’t worry, it’s over now—it’s over. It’s OK, it’s over…”

We’d disturbed the witches contrary to all the wisdom we’d gained so far, but as I looked over their smoldering corpses—their anguish still reverberating through my mind—I had to think that we’d done the right thing. Nothing should ever have to suffer like that.

It took several moments for Tommy to regain himself. After the fourth “Are you sure?” from Trevor, Tommy finally got to his feet. He looked up at Trevor, saw how wet his cheeks were, and sniffled.

“Damn,” the boy said, his voice worn and nasally, “you’re a bigger crybaby than me.”

Trevor burst out laughing, patting Tommy on the shoulder. “I won’t tell if you won’t,” Trevor said.

scrubbypunk
06-26-2011, 06:18 PM
Nice update.

Been interesting since the first chapter and haven't lost a step.

+rep

Drewsko
06-26-2011, 07:23 PM
The way you've added this sort of mysticism to the the Witches is a bit odd, I will admit, but it does appear to work well for the purpose of the story and allows for some nice scenes.

Still a bit hard to see witches like that given the usual way I see players deal with them ingame.

lordofnosgoth
06-27-2011, 12:19 AM
Have a rep cookie!

Left 2 B Happeh
06-27-2011, 08:22 PM
Now this is what I wanna see! This is a good addition. I was afraid that for some strange reason, this story was permanently devoid of epic moments like getting attacked by four Witches at once! Forgive me for doubting you. I guess that while I've been learning how to script in Flash, I'd forgotten what this story was like!

After this, I'll tune in once a day again instead of once every few days.

By the way, I was listening to the Toy Time theme from Super Mario Galaxy while I read the crying Witch scene. Really unfitting. I do not recommend it. OH I just did it again!

Doesanyonecwutididthar???

pappaskurtz
06-29-2011, 10:54 AM
What do people make of Trevor trying to send Buddy away?

Also, how would you feel about part 4 going up before the holiday...?

Left 2 B Happeh
06-30-2011, 09:23 AM
What do people make of Trevor trying to send Buddy away?

Also, how would you feel about part 4 going up before the holiday...?

Question I~ Buddy should stay I think as he attempts to find out how to work best with the problem of not being with Andy. But maybe as he begins to walk back, he find himself in a little private adventure!

Question II~ I'd love that, but I understand that you have a life unlike most of us. You should feel free to take days off whenever ya like! As much as we love the story, I think we can survive a little longer before we die of boredom (as if L4D2 itself isn't enough to tide these people over!).

Oh and I'm bored so I'm gonna pretend I'm actually a decent person by giving you nerds a link to a Flash version of Portal! Here (http://www.addictinggames.com/adventure-games/portalflashversion.jsp)!

[EDIT] I hope Tommy tells :3

PinkPonies48
07-01-2011, 10:47 PM
lol they should've just walked right past her. Wandering witches are a joke :D

All jokes aside, i like how these recent chapters expand the story of Dead Air and how those random obstacles came to be. Makes me wonder why the L4d survivors dont just climb over the barricade

Picklepower9
07-02-2011, 04:10 PM
OMG, one of the best chapters yet. Can you actually have 2 tanks in hard Eight, just as an unrelated question? Ooh I wonder how Buddy will save them, unless it ends here with them all being killed. (Which I hope doesn't happen)

Heck, there have been 2 tanks WITHOUT hard eight, though i don't know if the same applies in that mutation.

An example of the 2 tanks?

Go play the finale of Swamp Fever. :p

Picklepower9
07-02-2011, 07:42 PM
What makes you think I care? However wanna know whats really embarrassing? This story. ;)




and you're a boring suck up. Next.

this is what i respond to your failure as.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FopyRHHlt3M

Picklepower9
07-02-2011, 07:52 PM
Mister "Do a barrel roll!" isn't exactly the wisest character ever. But I agree.

By the way, StarFox 64 is my fav N64 game. :D

[EDIT] Is this story dead?

Mister "DEW A BARREL ROLL" is PEPPY... actually...

God I play too many old games... :(

Picklepower9
07-02-2011, 08:11 PM
4-5 replies in a row?

i gotta just read and not reply to random comments here.

I LOVE everything about this story.

Everybody seems pretty scarred from the trip for what doesn't seem to end up being worth while.

With Buddy losing his mind and Tommy and Trevor tear-covered and low on supplies... this could be a interesting 4th part.

Can't wait for it.

Left 2 B Happeh
07-05-2011, 07:09 AM
Mister "DEW A BARREL ROLL" is PEPPY... actually...

God I play too many old games... :(
What makes you think I DIDN'T know it was Peppy?

Don't you think that I'm gonna play my favorite N64 game a lot?

pappaskurtz
07-05-2011, 03:54 PM
Good, we got to a new page; before I post part 4 later on, any takes on why Tommy shoots the witch?

bLark
07-05-2011, 05:41 PM
I wonder if maybe the Witch stirred up memories of the past.(duh) maybe those memories, though, were of his mother or siblings or a relation of some kind turning?

stellerman7
07-05-2011, 06:11 PM
This is what Left 4 Dead 3 should be.

stellerman7
07-05-2011, 06:12 PM
I wonder if maybe the Witch stirred up memories of the past.(duh) maybe those memories, though, were of his mother or siblings or a relation of some kind turning?

I don't think those memories were mutually exclusive to Buddy. Rather it was an amaglamation of mupltiple individuals and their history being expressed from the witches.

bLark
07-05-2011, 06:40 PM
Yes but I was trying to think of something that was exclusive to Tommy, not buddy, and Pappa asked me too...

pappaskurtz
07-06-2011, 09:54 PM
I know it's a coincidence, but I just think it's funny that I've been stuck at Dead Air for a while now, and that's the campaign Valve is going to release early. Alas...
___________________________

We started our trek to cover the rest of the parking garage. I felt utterly spent, and a haze clouded my mind, making it difficult to form coherent thoughts—or any thoughts at all. Trevor and Tommy also moved like they were dazed, like they’d been asleep for a very long time.

I realized they were both in shock—and I guess I was, too, as I tried in vain to shake off the heavy numbness dampening my consciousness. The combined agony of these witches had inflicted a punishment worse than death; who knows how many nightmares we’ll have after this, or how much damage the witches had really inflicted on us?

After walking through another level of abandoned cars, we reached the sky bridge, which gave us our first real view of the airport runway.

Trevor stopped to lean against the windows. “Yup,” he sighed, “they bombed the airport.”

Many of the runways were cratered and impassable, but the ones that remained relatively intact still had several smaller planes—along with several fuel trucks peppered along the different lanes. Even after the bombing, people still tried to escape—people still tried to fuel up their planes on the runway to leave. If the bombing hadn’t discouraged them, there was only one other thing that could’ve stopped them.

Tommy gazed down at the runways. “At least…looks like we hit the mother lode…if those tankers are full.”

“Can’t be sure from here, obviously,” Trevor said. He took a deep breath, then pushed himself off the window to continue walking.

After we cleared the sky bridge, we came to the airport terminal itself. Like the power plant had been, the terminal was dark and lifeless, but the walls and shattered glass told a different story: they were the only things that had survived the explosions and the flames.

The air here was not as contaminated by the infected stench as it had been on the sky bridge or the parking garage. As we walked around to find a way down to baggage claim and the ticket counters below, I realized this must’ve been where a lot of the people had tried to hold out.

Another sickening thought clamped down on my stomach as one of the witches’ nightmares flashed in my mind. There weren’t any bones or half-eaten corpses here because people managed to escape—there weren’t any signs of carnage because the fire had incinerated all of the evidence.

Well, perhaps not all of the evidence. Ashes coated almost every surface of the terminal, from the floors to the handrails to the collapsed escalators.

Trevor paused to look down over the glass railings. As I sensed heat emanating off his skin, he cried out and kicked the glass, shattering part of the panel. I was relieved to see his dazed numbness replaced by emotion, even if it was anger.

Charlie whined and Tommy stared at Trevor as the glass shards rained down to the first level. “What was that?” the boy asked, but without his usual cockiness.

Trevor exhaled, trying to still his trembling. “It just makes me so ♥♥♥♥ing angry,” he hissed, “and not just because of those witches. To think that you barricade yourself in here—with, who knows how many other people?—trying to wait out for help, trying to keep the infected at bay, and nope! The government, the military, whoever the ♥♥♥♥—they don’t give a damn! They just bombed the hell out of this place, survivors be damned.”

“So, so you really think they shot down that plane?”

“Yeah!” Trevor exclaimed, clapping his hands once. “They said, ♥♥♥♥ it, and napalmed the hell out of the city. Who cared if thousands of innocent people died if it meant the virus could be stopped?” He brandished his hands to indicate the terminal. “Well—look at how damn well that turned out!”

He spat on the floor. “Come on: the sooner we do this, the sooner we can get the hell out of this place.”

We found an escalator that hadn’t collapsed and made our way down to the baggage-claim carousel. The placed reeked of charcoal, of a smoldering dirty barbeque, but much more bitter. It was almost enough to overpower the infected stench entirely. Tommy coughed loudly and cleared his throat several times, clearly bothered by the smell.

The first level of the terminal fared much worse against the bombings. Debris from collapsed walls and floors made much of the area impassible. Trevor briefly clicked on his flashlight to look around, then turned to me.

“We’ve got to get to one of the loading docks,” he said. “Can you see a way through this mess?”

My eyes traced the baggage claim carousel into the wall. Given that it was relatively intact, I pointed it out to Trevor, who shined his flashlight towards the now defunct machine.

“It’s a start,” Trevor said, and we started walking.

“I’ve always wondered what was behind there,” Tommy remarked.

Charlie trotted ahead into one of the narrow openings for luggage to pass through. Tommy followed, slipping under it easily, but Trevor and I had to flatten ourselves on the conveyer belt to fit through the machine. Once behind the wall, I sent a ping out to get a general layout of the tunnels. I couldn’t be as sure as I had been before, but I pointed out a direction that should’ve led to a lot more breathing room for us.

Once more, Charlie ran ahead to confirm my guess and barked to hurry us along. After we extricated ourselves from the carousel, we found ourselves in a loading area of sorts.

“This must be where they separate the luggage,” Trevor said.

Clicking on his flashlight, Tommy pointed it across a set of stairs along the way. “That looks like the way out,” he said.

Crossing the stairs, we found an exit that opened to another large expanse of airport. Judging by the metal detectors, it looked like we were at the security checkpoint.

Tommy grinned at Trevor before running to one of the metal detectors. Flashing his shotgun, the boy called back, “How much you wanna bet it still works?”

Trevor grew livid. “Don’t you dare!” he yelled; even Charlie barked.

His shoulders slumping, Tommy said, “Fine,” and dejectedly backed away from the machine.

This part of the airport wasn’t as damaged as the terminal, but the crumbling walls and ashen floors still suggested past havoc in this area. Still, we shouldn’t have been far—

Maniacal laughter exploded in my head, dropping me to my knees. God damn, not here, not now…

“What?” Tommy asked; Trevor pulled out his shotgun as Charlie perked her ears.

Another burst of laughter, but this time, it echoed through the airport instead of just my head—I was sure of it.

“We’ve got a jockey,” Trevor answered.

I forced myself to stand when I caught another familiar—dangerous—scent. Bitter like the charcoal smell from the terminal, but mustier…or was that leathery quality part of another threat?

A raspy cry erupted, clarifying my indecision. Tommy spun around just as the smoker’s tongue whipped through the air and grappled his waist. He shrieked and dropped his shotgun as the smoker yanked him away.

“Tommy!”

Charlie and Trevor started sprinting towards him, but when I crouched to leap, another burst of laughter boomed in my head. I screamed to try to drown it out, but it didn’t help.

Trevor leaped to slice the tongue with Sarah’s machete while Charlie ran for the smoker, barking, only to be stopped by another moaning monstrosity—a charger. It met Charlie’s barks with a superior warning cry of its own just before it shot towards Tommy and Trevor.

They narrowly shoved each other out of the way of the charger when I realized it was coming straight towards me, too—and another burst of laughter paralyzed me.

Agony shredded me when the charger smashed into me, whitening my vision as I felt the air rush past me. More pain shook my bones when I hit the wall and crashed to the ground.

pappaskurtz
07-06-2011, 09:56 PM
“Buddy!”

I felt the ground shake when the charger slammed into something; the squealing of metal told me it must’ve been one of the security scanners. I tried to raise myself from the floor, but crippling pain kept me down.

My head was spinning, and my side was splitting in two, it seemed. I cried out, but all I knew was that I was thrown back, way back. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a bright glowing trail running through the air, dripping from the dangling jaw of a grotesquely tall figure. Squeaking like a rusty door, it stopped, shuddering, before hacking loudly and spewing a bright surge of acid from its throat.

“Goo!” Tommy screamed. “Look out!”

I shifted myself to see the charger still looming about, its giant arm swinging angrily as it hunched towards Trevor. The spitter’s goo spread across the security checkpoint at an alarming pace, splitting Tommy and Trevor even further apart.

Charlie was the furthest from me, and I realized she had her own threat to tackle as she barked menacingly at the crazed, laughing jockey trying to swipe at her as it ran circles around her. She dodged well and tried to bite back, but aside from head butts, I knew there wasn’t much else she could do.

All this time, she never bit any of the infected she fought—and it just now hit me that she was deliberately avoiding it. Could the infected blood make her sick?

Trevor rolled out of the way of the charger’s clumsy swings—only to roll towards the edge of the spitter’s acid. He screamed when his arm splashed in the goo and he recoiled right away, but his intense cries of pain left him vulnerable to the charger wailing above him. He was reaching for something in his health kit, but he had to dodge the charger again as it swung once more.

Trevor rolled away from the sizzling acid, but the action cost him the clear bottle of liquid in his grasp.

Tommy was trying to shoot the jockey harassing Charlie, but the mutated midget was too fast. He turned his attention to the charger and blasted it with his shotgun, making the ungainly monster stumble away from Trevor.

But the spitter was running towards the boy. Tommy blasted the charger again, but as his clip emptied, he became easy prey for the spitter. I reached for my magnum and shot the spitter—but missed, blowing a hole in the wall. I tried again, bringing both of my hands to grip the hand cannon, and fired again, ripping a new orifice above the creature’s thong.

The gangling infected collapsed in a heap of its own acid as Tommy managed to reload his shotgun. The charger turned its attention to Tommy, giving me time to aim at its large hide. I fired once more, ripping a significant hole in the leathery armor on its arm. It turned to me, bellowing angrily, before it started to trot towards me.

I aimed again at its lopsided, sunken head, and pulled the magnum’s trigger again. The bullet ripped into its good cheek, stopping the charger in its tracks. Tommy blasted the half-hulk from behind, making it collapse.

The spitter’s acid was finally evaporating—leaving only the jockey and the smoker. Charlie was exhausted now, and she was running towards Tommy to escape the jockey now that the spitter acid had cleared. But the smoker reappeared, crying a raspy scream—it was about to strike again.

It lashed its tongue towards the Border collie, catching her hind legs and making her trip.

“NO!” Tommy roared, and blasted the jockey before it could scratch Charlie as she was being dragged away. The jockey yelped and scurried away in retreat, but Tommy ignored it as he shot straight for the tongue and sliced it cleanly with his knife, soaking the boy in a gush of blood.

As the smoker groaned in agony, Tommy made a beeline for the smoker as it turned and tried to retreat and leapt on its shoulders, knocking the lanky infected to the ground. Recovering his balance, the boy spun his weapon and smashed the butt of the shotgun against the smoker’s skull once, twice—several times, screaming with every strike.

“Don’t—you—EVER—touch—her—ever—EVER. EVER!”

After one final blow, Tommy spun the shotgun’s barrel the right way around and blasted the smoker in the back, making it erupt in a haze of fog. Tommy leapt away, coughing, and ran back towards Charlie. He knelt beside his dog and hugged her desperately, cooing, “Are you all right girl? Are you all right?” Charlie licked him reassuringly.

The jockey’s laugh blared in my head again, but it was much weaker this time. I tried to lift myself off the ground again when I spotted the tiny creature buzzing towards me. I braced myself to knock it away when a gunshot filled the airport, dropping the jockey to the ground.

I looked to see Trevor with his pistol in hand, its barrel smoking. Tommy and Charlie were running towards him.

“Holy ♥♥♥♥,” Tommy gasped as he helped Trevor off the ground.

“I’m fine,” he spat.

Trevor ran towards me once he was on his feet. “Buddy, are you OK?” he asked frantically, shouldering me as we stood.

I tried to stand on my own, but nearly fell again when a jab struck my side. Trevor held me up, and I managed to remain upright on my own after I caught my breath. My head was still spinning slightly, but the sharpness of the pain rending my side was quickly dulling, at least.

“That charger came from a mile away!” Tommy lashed. “Why the hell didn’t you move?”

“Jockeys are his kryptonite, all right?” Trevor said, holding out his arm to push Tommy back. “Lay off.”

“Kryptonite? What?”

Trevor scoffed. “You know? Superman? Kryptonite?”

“No, I know, doofus!” the boy retorted. “But how?”

“I don’t know, OK? Just lay off.”

I could finally see just how injured Trevor’s arm really was—the acid had scarred his left arm from the elbow to the wrist, turning the affected area into a murky patch of scabs.

Trevor caught me staring at his injury. “It doesn’t hurt as badly as it looks. I mean, it does hurt, but I’ll live. I didn’t douse it in time, so the scar’ll probably be permanent.”

“Shouldn’t you wrap it, at least?” Tommy said.

“No,” Trevor replied, “it’d just be a waste of time. I’m not sure why we were just attacked like that, but we need to get moving.” He turned to me. “You never answered me—are you injured? Anything broken?”

I exhaled and shook my head. Rubbing my side, I nearly yelped from the pain. Yup, still raw.

Trevor reached gingerly to feel my ribcage. “You might’ve bruised a rib or two. Does it hurt when you breathe?” Only slightly, so I shook my head. “Well, good,” he went on, “at least nothing broke.” He turned to Tommy. “Is Charlie all right?”

When she barked, Tommy held up his hand dismissively. “Please, she’s faced tougher.”

Gathering our weapons, we started moving past the security checkpoint. As Tommy passed the corpse of the charger, he spat at it, muttering, “Fail charger.”

He and Charlie both looked fine, and aside from Trevor’s scarring, it looked like I’d borne the worst of the attack. My head stopped spinning once we cleared the checkpoint, but I had a feeling the aching in my side would linger until I had a chance to rest.

Trevor had merely glossed over it, but this attack had been unsettlingly well-coordinated. No advance warning—not much, at least—and they’d attacked almost…almost like a team. Could they really be learning? Could they really be working together?

Or had I just failed to pick up on all the warning signs? Could I’ve heard the smoker’s coughs, the charger’s moans, and the spitter’s squeals had I actually been listening for them? Or even caught wind of them earlier, had I been more focused?

You need me, my instincts taunted.

We need each other, I snapped. Why were they pulling this stunt now? If I hurt, they hurt—I knew it: pain was pain.

pappaskurtz
07-06-2011, 09:58 PM
Embrace the bloodlust, they demanded.

Never, I insisted, never again, and they vanished from my consciousness once more. God damn it.

“Is something wrong, Buddy?” Trevor asked. I shook my head.

“You were growling,” Tommy said. “Is there something ahead?”

When Charlie barked at me, I shook my head again and waved us forward. We’d finally reached one of the boarding zones, and luckily enough, it was intact enough that it gave us a clear path to the runway.

The seats around us were overturned—many dislodged and thrown about chaotically. This was no attempt to form a barricade; whatever happened here, it was ugly, and I wasn’t sure if the stale blood on the walls had been infected.

Trevor was also taking a moment to contemplate the scene, but said nothing. Just as he was about to start walking again, his and Tommy’s radios started fizzing.

“Hello? Hello?” a frantic voice called over the radios, “Is there anyone on this channel? Anyone at all?”

Trevor answered his radio immediately. “Yes, who is this?”

“Oh thank god!” the exhausted voice sighed, and the man’s relief practically dripped off the static. “Holy ♥♥♥♥—Tango Mikes! Can you believe it?” A faint voice in a background. “Are you at the control tower?” the man asked.

Trevor clicked the radio on again. “No, we’re just at one of the loading docks right now. Where are you?”

“Oh, good!” the voice went on. “That’s much better! Just where you need to be. Look, I am currently circling a military C-one-thirty outside of Newburg and I desperately need a place to land.” The pilot sighed. “Oh God, we were about to chance a highway landing when you finally answered!

“Listen, we’re running on empty now. The airport is the only real safe place for us to land, but still—those things—oh God, they’re gonna swarm us, no matter where we go!”

When the radio stopped, Trevor started transmitting: “Wait, are you military? Do you know what the ♥♥♥♥ happened to this place? Who are you with?”

There was a pause, and Tommy started shaking his head. “I don’t like where this is going.”

“I—look,” the pilot began, “we don’t…we didn’t have anything to do with that. We were trying to help, but we’re too late, and now we’re stuck up here. It’s just me and my co-pilot. Look, please—we need someone to clear one of the runways, give us space to land, and fight the Zeds. We can’t do that from up here. Please, I’m begging you, sir…”

“How do you expect us to clear the runway of all those planes?” Trevor demanded. “Blow them up?”

“Dear God, no! That’ll make everything worse. If you’ve driven a car, you can drive a plane off the runway. Just start up the engines and move ‘em out of the way—the fuel trucks too.”

“Hotwire planes?” Tommy remarked.

Trevor shook his head at Tommy as he responded, “We’ve gone through a lot of trouble to get here. The last thing we need another horde onslaught. What’s in it for us?”

“We’ve got supplies on this plane!” the pilot squeaked. “Not just weapons, ammo—but food, clothing, medicine, humanitarian supplies. Can’t expect you to take it all, but you help us, you’ll get your pick. The gas too, if that’s what you came for, but if you help fuel us up, I swear to you, we’ll take you where you need to go—wherever it is, we’ll take you.”

The lines on Trevor’s forehead deepened. “How did you get all these supplies? If you’re with the military, where are your reinforcements? Why don’t you get their help?”

The reply transmission cut into a frantic sigh. “We’re AWOL, all right? Deserters; call us what you want, but we didn’t think this was right—none of it. We hijacked this plane… We were just trying to help. Please—I don’t have much more time to explain—just help us land and I’ll tell you my life story if you want! Just please, help us!”

Trevor sighed and looked to Tommy and me. “What do you guys think?”

Charlie was the first to answer, barking rapidly and sternly a few times. Tommy shook his head. “I don’t know… If they’re legit, those supplies could really help—not just the weapons. Rusty had just been putting in tougher rations before we left—we could help a lot more people than with just the gas alone.”

Trevor looked at me. “But do we have the manpower to fight this horde, let alone the inevitable tank or two that’s gonna notice our operation?”

Another pang of the witches’ agony flowed through me: an old man looking at all the children and young people trapped around him, clinging to hope when there really was none. As I gazed back at Trevor, I nodded slowly; we couldn’t leave these pilots—abandon them—like the people who’d died at this airport had been.

We had to try.

“Still,” Trevor insisted, “we don’t have the ammo for it—least of all the weapons. We’d be sitting ducks on that runway.”

Tommy pointed at the jar full of vomit on Trevor’s belt. “What about that? We work fast, and when the horde gets too heavy, pop that sucker. If it works like you said it does, it should buy us enough time for the plane to land and get the firepower we need. Just gotta conserve our ammo and keep the zombies distracted as best we can.”

Trevor contemplated the idea, then clicked the radio. “How much time do you have?”

“Fifteen, maybe twenty minutes’ worth of fuel left. We hit our emergency reserves a while ago and we’re pretty much running on empty, but we can land fast and get help you fight those Zeds, I promise you.”

Trevor shook his head again as he gazed out towards the runways. “We’re not prepared for this at all,” he said to no one in particular as he stepped to look out of the window. I went to look at the runways with him.

One runway in particular had three small planes and a fuel tanker blocking a clear landing. The tarmac was slightly damaged, but it looked like our best shot.

As Tommy peeked through the window at the runway, Trevor turned to me. “Do you want to do this?”

Though the answer was no, I nodded. Trevor clicked on the radio. “Be ready to land. We’ll work as fast as we can.”

“Roger that!” the pilot exclaimed elatedly. “We’ll keep an eye out and start landing as soon as the runway is clear.”

Clipping the radio back to his belt, Trevor ran his hands through his hair, his eyes grim. “We need a miracle right now. We really do.”

SA_ChooChoo
07-07-2011, 08:26 PM
Dead Air 2 - It's Gonna Be A Rough Landing.

amazin grego
07-08-2011, 10:42 AM
they get more awesome each time

pappaskurtz
07-12-2011, 10:17 AM
Any reactions to this attack?

Left 2 B Happeh
07-12-2011, 07:40 PM
Okay, first of all: This story sure has a sense of humor! I laughed when I read the "fail charger" part. I mean, I really hear it a lot. Especially since I'm a fail charger.

Second, it makes me so ****ing angry (cwutididthere?) that I can't do this great! I can't work on a regular basis either. But at least this story inspires me to work harder! Also, I kind of abandoned the story we had a PM discussion about. I'm working on a Pokemon one instead... Which is about a trainer called "Magister" (which means "Trainer", in Latin) and his Eevee named "Saisei" (which means "play" in Japanese, even though he isn't playful at all) who travel through Hoenn to find the fabled Rayquaza!

I'm thinking of starting a TF2 one. I've never actually seen one before. I think because it's such a weird idea.

Oh and I have just one request: Please make Buddy surprise more people with his zombie-human state!

[EDIT] Recently, I had sort of a change of heart. Ya know that guy, SoVeryAnnoyed, who failed at trolling here? Well I sorta felt what I'm pretty sure he felt. A little while ago, I found a video on YouTube about some hackers on Terraria (An awesome game, sorta like Minecraft) that spammed Dynamite and blew the entire server world up. I argued with them. All of them. Not a single one took my side. Now, most of them were like "Ur the idiot". But it really ticked me off that they didn't realize that other people could have had a lot of fun there! And some of the comments really got me mad. I just delete all the E-mails that tell me that someone responded to my comment because I don't like fighting. Pretty much all I wanna say is... Remember that even when someone's in the wrong, it is NOT a good feeling to be ganged up on. Even when you know that the person is in the wrong. I know that SoVeryAnnoyed was an idiot. But I just think that we were all a little harsh on him.

If you wanna stand on my side in the Terraria video, you can find it here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuH5rgfgMMs&feature=email&email=comment_reply_received). Just remember that there are plenty of trolls ready to spam "Umad???", though.

raptor67
07-15-2011, 11:14 AM
Okay, first of all: This story sure has a sense of humor! I laughed when I read the "fail charger" part. I mean, I really hear it a lot. Especially since I'm a fail charger.

Second, it makes me so ****ing angry (cwutididthere?) that I can't do this great! I can't work on a regular basis either. But at least this story inspires me to work harder! Also, I kind of abandoned the story we had a PM discussion about. I'm working on a Pokemon one instead... Which is about a trainer called "Magister" (which means "Trainer", in Latin) and his Eevee named "Saisei" (which means "play" in Japanese, even though he isn't playful at all) who travel through Hoenn to find the fabled Rayquaza!

I'm thinking of starting a TF2 one. I've never actually seen one before. I think because it's such a weird idea.

Oh and I have just one request: Please make Buddy surprise more people with his zombie-human state!

[EDIT] Recently, I had sort of a change of heart. Ya know that guy, SoVeryAnnoyed, who failed at trolling here? Well I sorta felt what I'm pretty sure he felt. A little while ago, I found a video on YouTube about some hackers on Terraria (An awesome game, sorta like Minecraft) that spammed Dynamite and blew the entire server world up. I argued with them. All of them. Not a single one took my side. Now, most of them were like "Ur the idiot". But it really ticked me off that they didn't realize that other people could have had a lot of fun there! And some of the comments really got me mad. I just delete all the E-mails that tell me that someone responded to my comment because I don't like fighting. Pretty much all I wanna say is... Remember that even when someone's in the wrong, it is NOT a good feeling to be ganged up on. Even when you know that the person is in the wrong. I know that SoVeryAnnoyed was an idiot. But I just think that we were all a little harsh on him.

If you wanna stand on my side in the Terraria video, you can find it here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuH5rgfgMMs&feature=email&email=comment_reply_received). Just remember that there are plenty of trolls ready to spam "Umad???", though.

I would LOVE to see a Team Fortress 2 story of good quality, noone has ever done something like that before!

Back to the story: Do you remember the scientists from the sacrifice comic? Well what if our team met someone like that who could tell them more about Buddy's state?

Also: Great explanation on how some of the Dead Air features got there!

Left 2 B Happeh
07-17-2011, 09:37 PM
I would LOVE to see a Team Fortress 2 story of good quality, noone has ever done something like that before!

I'm glad you like the idea, I'll get going on it right away!

I guess a little encouragement was all I needed!

Well... I don't know about "good quality", but I'll put lots of work into it!

I just hope no one else tries it while I'm writing it :3

Oh, and I'd ask whether Tommy could become a main Survivor if there weren't already four. Or does Buddy not count?

amazin grego
07-18-2011, 02:58 PM
I'm glad you like the idea, I'll get going on it right away!

I guess a little encouragement was all I needed!

Well... I don't know about "good quality", but I'll put lots of work into it!

I just hope no one else tries it while I'm writing it :3

Oh, and I'd ask whether Tommy could become a main Survivor if there weren't already four. Or does Buddy not count?

its a fan fiction so it doesnt have to follow the rules of the game he could have 20 characters if he wanted too

pappaskurtz
07-18-2011, 06:17 PM
Hmm, I'm not sure. Does Buddy count? :eek:

And regarding the whole youtube thing, the main thing I see is that you didn't instigate trouble, so I sympathize. There just really isn't reasoning with a lot of youtube commenters, or news article commenters in general...

Also, I did allude to another popular TF2 fan fiction/comic in one of the earlier chapters. I wonder how many people caught it...

Scars Tropics
07-19-2011, 09:31 AM
Loving the suspense of the plane landing. Trevor is starting to turn in the deepest character in a way that even though buddy has more backstory I feel like trevor is more fleshed out through his dialouge and actions.

My only turnoff in this amazing story would be tommy and charlie. Here's hoping timmy and lassie wind up becoming fodder for the horde and buddy goes into a blind rage ssj4.

pappaskurtz
07-20-2011, 06:34 PM
Why do you dislike Tommy and Charlie?

Also, Buddy ponders it, but do we think the other SI are learning?

Left 2 B Happeh
07-20-2011, 10:30 PM
Hmm, I'm not sure. Does Buddy count? :eek:

And regarding the whole youtube thing, the main thing I see is that you didn't instigate trouble, so I sympathize. There just really isn't reasoning with a lot of youtube commenters, or news article commenters in general...

Also, I did allude to another popular TF2 fan fiction/comic in one of the earlier chapters. I wonder how many people caught it...

Well I thought you said that you wanted a fourth survivor, and Trevor took the place. Was I imagining that? :confused:

I am glad you sympathize. No one stood up for me, so I wanted to see what people thought here... I guess I was a bit selfish. Because deep down, I knew that I just mentioned the youtube video- and posted the link- for pure backup. I am sorry. And I also knew, deep down, that I was just raging because of friggin' spies backstabbin' me in TF2 after I got rid of my Razorback. Why, why, why?! :(

There is a TF2 comic? You mentioned it? Argh, I wish I payed attention! :eek: And if I misunderstood your explanation, I wish that I could comprehend advanced English better!

Oh and amazin grego, you cannot overcome the four survivor rule. Unless the story is modded. :p

Scars Tropics
07-21-2011, 02:04 PM
Why do you dislike Tommy and Charlie?

Also, Buddy ponders it, but do we think the other SI are learning?

I think its because tommy is a kid but he's written like an adult so it takes me out of the story a bit. Charlie originally had a purpose but mostly takes up space in the last chapter. Mostly its the negative attitude of tommy that just doesn't play right. It doesn't make sense that trevor and buddy constantly get pushed around by him. Doesn't seem like something a cop and a killing machine would put up wth.

-DarkSide-
07-22-2011, 05:47 PM
I just found this thread after I forgot about it since chapter 11 part 4.. I like it!

Neonwarrior
07-22-2011, 08:02 PM
I would LOVE to see a Team Fortress 2 story of good quality, noone has ever done something like that before!




Search for Cuanta Vida, and there's a TF2 Comic of great quality there.

stellerman7
07-23-2011, 05:54 PM
I'm really hoping this is gonna be what Left 4 Dead 3 is like.

-DarkSide-
07-24-2011, 12:21 AM
I'm really hoping this is gonna be what Left 4 Dead 3 is like.

don't be silly, valve can't count past 2.

Left 2 B Happeh
07-25-2011, 07:43 PM
don't be silly, valve can't count past 2.

...Har har.

[EDIT] Pappaskurtz, I feel ya in how hard it can be sometimes to think or a realistic way for someone that cannot speak to tell a person something. I've been attempting to make the Pyro in my TF2 story tell people things. But this is that's the least of my problems; I am making a Pokemon story, and everyone knows that Pokemon can only say their species name... So it is difficult to make a Pokemon tell their Trainer something...

It's a bit annoying. But it's coming along quite well.

SA_ChooChoo
07-30-2011, 02:18 AM
With the way the SI attacked, they are definitely organizing better. Some of them may have been friends towards each other before and after the infection, who knows?

Left 2 B Happeh
08-02-2011, 01:38 PM
I am working on another L4D2 story now! Why, you ask? Why can't I just be happy with the Pokemon story? Because I was inspired, that's why. By a game called Rebuild on Kongregate where you have to wipe out the zombie apocalypse from your town by rebuilding. It's mostly about making tough decisions (I.E., you must choose how many soldiers defend your ever growing town from stray zombies, how many clear zombies from a lot so you can build your walls around it, whether you want to risk it and send someone to scavenge an area for food, etc.). So I'm making a L4D2 story that is pretty much about life in a similar fortress.

But for some reason, the Rebuild game reminds me of this story. Can you guess why? :p

raptor67
08-04-2011, 06:13 AM
Uh-oh.

I just thought about the reason why the female hunter hasn't shown up in a while.

1: She sees Andy as a competitor for Buddy and attacked him.
2: She's been attacked by other survivors
3: She's pregnant

SA_ChooChoo
08-05-2011, 01:56 AM
The female hunter is... curious. Could it be Michelle?

bLark
08-05-2011, 11:18 PM
That seems WAY to obvious to me. Not to mention just a little uninspired.

SA_ChooChoo
08-05-2011, 11:55 PM
I just get the impression that buddy and this mysterious female hunter actually know each other... knew each other before the infection.

Jakeomaniac
08-07-2011, 11:11 AM
... Also, Buddy ponders it, but do we think the other SI are learning?

I think they're learning, but not to attack as a team. If you recall, the pack of three hunters tried to recruit Buddy so they could pull off a 4 Hunter death pounce. In fact, way at the beginning of the story, right after Buddy had turned into a Hunter, when he was on that roof with the Smoker, he had an almost overwhelming urge to pounce Andy, while Charlie was being Smoked. I think they're simply learning new tactics for working together to compensate for the L4D2 SI, not just working together in general.

TheDude212
08-07-2011, 12:59 PM
Rep worthy indeed, nice job.

Left 2 B Happeh
08-10-2011, 08:19 AM
I think they're learning, but not to attack as a team. If you recall, the pack of three hunters tried to recruit Buddy so they could pull off a 4 Hunter death pounce. In fact, way at the beginning of the story, right after Buddy had turned into a Hunter, when he was on that roof with the Smoker, he had an almost overwhelming urge to pounce Andy, while Charlie was being Smoked. I think they're simply learning new tactics for working together to compensate for the L4D2 SI, not just working together in general.

They're learning to attack- not like most people in Versus- but how Versus is supposed to be played.

Ya know, with a bit of strategy.

(Cwutididthere? I insulted versus players!)

*Karma Charger'd*

pappaskurtz
08-10-2011, 08:19 PM
Here is part 5, and I'm hoping part 6 by the end of the week depending on how well I'm able to revise it. It's been quite a journey trying to write the end of this chapter, and since it's turning out a little longer than Chapter 8 Karma part 5, I'm going to split it into two parts for a total of six parts. :eek:
__________________________________

“Oh, come on,” Tommy insisted. “Our odds aren’t that bad. And I can drive, too, so each of us can board one of those planes.”

“If they’re gassed up,” Trevor said.

Tommy and Charlie stepped into the boarding tunnel, which led to a moderate drop onto the runway. “Come on, let’s go!”

It was a tight fit getting into the jet bridge—the air extremely dank—but Trevor pressed ahead of Tommy and unsealed the bridge to spare us from unnecessary claustrophobia. The top of the boarding ramp had been blown off, opening the tunnel to the chilly night air.

Despite being outside, the air wasn’t very fresh, and as I gazed out into the skyline with much of Newburg still on fire, I started to feel very cold. It wasn’t so much that I was afraid, but more like—for the first time that I could remember—the weather was starting to get to me. Was it from the aching in my side? The sobbing of witches still echoing in the back of my mind?

As we walked down the jet bridge, my eyes drifted towards a river in the distance just past the edges of the airport’s runways. Unlike the city it flowed through, the huge body of water was an ideal mirror to reflect the full moon above us. Could it be a sign of things that endure, or—like the boathouse in Riverside—merely the calm before the storm?

Trevor caught me gazing at the river. “They’re too far,” he whispered.

“Who?” Tommy said.

“Nothing.”

Perhaps I really was transparent. I couldn’t help wondering if we could’ve been spared traveling through the city if we could’ve gotten here by boat, but hindsight wasn’t going to save us now.

When we reached the end of the jet bridge, Trevor peered down to the ground before turning to Tommy. “Think she’ll make that drop?” he asked the boy, gesturing his head towards Charlie.

It was probably a four- to five-foot drop, but Charlie answered him by bursting forward and leaping off the bridge before landing gracefully onto the tarmac. She ran around and barked up at us while Tommy smirked at Trevor.

“All right, well,” he said, chuckling, “no turning back now.”

After he and Tommy lowered themselves off the jet bridge and dropped to the ground, I took a moment to try to warm my body of the chills before attempting a modest leap onto the runway. Letting the restless energy build in my thighs, I sprung and caught the pavement with my hands and feet.

“Good,” Tommy remarked, “he didn’t crack his head open. We just upped our odds.” Charlie whined.

The tarmac immediately surrounding us probably suffered the worst damage. Bombs had raked the ground with plenty of craters, making it difficult to get across. Despite the chaos, though, a handful of fuel trucks managed to sit relatively unscathed in between the sunken patches of concrete. Tommy and Trevor ran to each truck to inspect them quickly, knocking on their vats.

The trucks they each tried all rang hallow, but a few farther down the runway caught my attention. There was definitely gas on the runways—I could smell it—and Charlie did, too, given that she started sprinting ahead towards the trucks.

“These are all empty,” Trevor said after knocking on the last truck. When he looked to me, I pointed towards the trucks farther down the runway.

Tommy was already running after Charlie. “Can you smell it?” the boy called out, coughing.

There were only three trucks where Charlie was going, a meager sum compared to the eight or so empty trucks closest to us, but there were still several more trucks scattered throughout the runways. We didn’t have time to check them all, so that prompted Trevor to run for the planes we needed to clear.

I followed him towards the three single-passenger planes that sat like they were ready for take off. With a fuel truck so close to them, it looked like the planes’ pilots were using that truck to fuel up.

No bodies lay beside the planes or inside of them; no trace of blood even to indicate a struggle. Trevor opened the doors to the planes one by one.

“Only this one isn’t fueled,” he said after inspecting the one farthest from the fuel truck. “I don’t get it. These Cessnas were ready and they were so close to getting away—what could’ve stopped them?”

I thought the answer had been obvious, but with the lack of infected remains, I wasn’t so sure anymore. Infected corpses rotted away quickly, sure, and even if the bombings had incinerated all the remains, the entire runway remained deserted. Not even a stray common in sight to contaminate the air.

Trevor stepped into the other plane and powered it on. “Yup, they even work, too. Whatever stopped these pilots…” He shook his head. “Jesus, I don’t even want to think about it.”

The special infected that had attacked us in the airport terminal flashed in my mind, but they couldn’t account for the eerie quiet on the runway…

Tommy had started up one of the fuel trucks somehow and began driving it off the runway. That’s when Charlie began barking intensely and hopped in frantic circles.

Tommy stopped the truck right away and peered out its window. “What is it, girl?”

That’s when I heard a rhythmic thumping in the distance. It was ever-so-faint, but it grew louder by the second. Trevor gaped at me in horror when the ground beneath us started to rumble.

With a low roar, the worst possible outcome for us manifested itself on the roof of the airport terminal.

“Oh ♥♥♥♥—tank!” Tommy cried.

As it towered above the runway, it looked enormous—even from a distance. Unleashing a core-shaking roar, the tank slammed its fists into the roof to dislodge a slab of concrete and had no trouble hauling it above its shoulders. It flung the improvised boulder across the runway—towards me and Trevor.

We leapt out of the way as the rock narrowly missed the fuel truck and smashed one of the Cessnas into the runway, leaving behind broken wings and a crumpled fuselage. The tank leapt off the terminal roof onto the tarmac and formed new craters with its landing before barreling towards us.

Tommy had jumped from the truck and started firing on the tank with his shotgun, but the tank ignored him. Trevor and I ran off to get away from the fuel truck while Charlie tried to chase down the tank, barking, but the beast ignored her as well. Clearly intent on reaching the Cessnas, the massive infected grabbed the tail of one of the planes and swung it towards the other, smashing them both in one swift movement.

Trevor activated his radio. “We need backup now! Start landing—it’s as clear as it’ll ever get!”

The tank roared again and beat the tarmac in angry triumph. Why had it been so intent on smashing the planes?

pappaskurtz
08-10-2011, 08:21 PM
F-16 bombers flashed into my head, followed by an all-encompassing fire—another remnant of the witches’ nightmares. Clearly, this tank was acting out of more than just blind rage. Perhaps it didn’t really care about us at all…

Not for long. Tommy did not stop firing his shotgun at the monstrosity, which caused it to start galloping towards the boy. Charlie vainly tried to get its attention, but when Tommy emptied his clip, he broke out into a sprint to escape the tank.

That gave Trevor time to ready his shotgun and began blasting the tank, too, which caused it to shift directions. It wasn’t the fastest tank I’d seen, but it was absolutely monstrous and shook the ground with every step. It barely even cried out in pain as Trevor shot it, and it stopped to yank another chunk of cement from the tarmac.

I leapt towards the tank to stumble it, my side splitting in pain, but I managed to rebound off it before it could retaliate. It dropped its boulder and fell to the ground, buying both Trevor and Tommy time to reload their shotguns. I leapt at it again to claw at its skin, but its hide was too thick to draw blood. I couldn’t be sure if the shotgun blasts were doing any damage at all!

And even with my adrenaline and blood pumping, the thought of trying more complicated acrobatic maneuvers to wear down the tank chilled my skin.

Trevor and Tommy fired at the tank as it righted itself—all while remaining seemingly impervious to their bullets.

“This isn’t working, Trev!” Tommy shouted. “Any ideas?”

When Trevor didn’t respond, I unclipped my magnum and stared down its sights towards one of the tank’s legs. I fired, ripping a sizeable hole just below its knee.

That drew an agonized bellow from the beast as it stumbled to the ground again, but with just seven bullets—all I had left—would that be enough to take it down?

I fired again at its other leg to keep it down longer and leapt ahead of it to aim the magnum at the tank’s head. It was barely visible in the midst of its grotesquely oversized muscles, but I fired anyway. I seemed to land my mark, the tank shuddering and standing dazed for a moment, only to be knocked back when the tank slammed the ground.

After raising both its fists, it slammed the cement again and propelled itself through the air to close the gap between us. Its huge form blocked out the moonlight as it landed just before me and it raised its fists to crush me.

I leapt without thinking and I crashed into the tarmac somewhere, but I rejoiced in the fact that I’d escaped. As I looked back to see it struggling to free its fists from the cement, I took the chance to fire on the tank’s legs again along with Trevor and Tommy.

They’d been blasting away at it the entire time, but they hardly seemed to scratch the monster’s armor.

“I’m out!” Tommy cried, dropping his shotgun to pull out his pistol.

We were only just making it angry.

When the tank freed itself, it punched the ground again to propel it upwards and slam the ground even harder, causing a miniature earthquake that stumbled us all to the ground. Tommy and Trevor moved to stand up, but when the tank galloped towards the boy, he fell back down, startled by the infected monster’s burst of speed.

“Tommy!” Trevor screamed, blasting his shotgun nonstop to get the tank’s attention.

But the tank was intent on smashing the boy like the planes. As it loomed closer to Tommy, it ignored Trevor and roared, taking a moment to punch its chest.

Yet the boy didn’t seem in a hurry to move. Did fear paralyze him?

I crouched to leap when Charlie sprinted past me, shooting straight for the tank’s legs. She jumped up and bit into the wound I’d opened up behind its shin, forcing the giant to cry out and drop to the ground.

“No!” Tommy cried as I leapt to pull him away from the tank. I couldn’t pick up any fear off the boy—why was he so ready to give up now?

Charlie ran off before the tank swung at her and kept barking at it to keep its attention. Trevor had fallen back on his pistol, but whether he was out of shotgun ammo or just trying to conserve it, I didn’t know.

“Lure it towards the gas truck!” Trevor ordered. “We don’t have a choice!”

Charlie began to do just that and Trevor ran to follow her. I picked up Tommy’s pistol off the ground and handed it to him, eyeing him intensely. Now was not the time to give up.

He looked back at me and nodded, stifling a cough.

When the tank took a wide arc to tail Charlie, Trevor circled around and fired at the tank with his pistol to catch its attention. The tank bellowed a roar that echoed through the night—the first time it seemed to loose its rage—and that made Trevor sprint right for the fuel truck. The tank followed him without hesitation.

“Buddy!” Trevor called. “Use the magnum when it gets close!”

With every step, the tank was nearing the gas truck by the yard, giving me only seconds to act. When Trevor passed the truck, I bucked my head towards Tommy to get him to back away, and with the tank now just a few feet behind the fuel truck, I pulled the trigger.

The explosion blinded me and knocked me to the ground, but I could feel a huge swell of heat vaporize any chill left in the air. I was on my back when I opened my eyes, and I could see a fiery cloud of smoke rise into the sky as the horizon howled and moaned in frustrated agony.

The horde was coming now, but when I sat up, I could see the tank flat on its side, its armored skin smoldering. A rush of panic filled me when I couldn’t spot Trevor or Charlie right away.

“Charlie!” Tommy shrieked. “Trevor!”

“We’re OK!” Trevor responded from somewhere in that cloud of smoke. Charlie sprung through the smoke straight for Tommy, and Trevor was not far behind.

“Holy ♥♥♥♥,” Tommy breathed as he knelt to embrace his dog, “I think that explosion burned off my eyebrows.”

Trevor cleared his throat through several coughs. “Don’t celebrate yet,” he said, reloading his pistol, “I don’t think they liked us blowing up that truck.”

Common infected were manifesting by the dozens in nearly all directions as they burst from the airport and even off the roofs of the terminal. Without the tank to keep them away now, their desperate hunger nearly suffocated me.

Tommy gazed up at the sky. “Where the hell is that plane?”

Sighing, Trevor handed the boy his shotgun. “How many bullets you got left?”

“Enough for the first wave, I guess. What about that puke jar?”

Trevor shook his head. “Only good for when we know the plane is about to land.”

There really wasn’t anywhere for us to go—no real chokepoints to exploit or high ground to move to. With the paltry amount of bullets we had between us, we were sitting ducks.

Trevor eyed the river. “Pull back towards the water,” he said with a wave. “Go!”

As he and the others ran towards the end of the runway, I held my ground. The infected were swarming the runway now and saturating the air with their frenzied rage. Their rabid snarls nearly deafened me, and I could see every one of their eyes glowing hotly as they sprinted towards us.

The sensation was still too fresh on my mind. I could either drown in their fury, or embrace it.

Do you want to survive?

Yes.

Do you want to feel powerful again? Strong?

The aching in my side forced the answer from me: Yes.

Embrace the bloodlust—and you might see her again…

pappaskurtz
08-10-2011, 08:22 PM
My vision whitened and then she was before me, her features obscured by the light, but there was no mistaking her glistening red curls. I felt the warmth of her embrace—and all was right with the world, with the heat of her body against mine…

And then she vanished, wiped away by the vile swarm of infected rushing past me. Raged coupled with the adrenaline pumping through my body, and I screamed a shriek that hardened my eardrums and stumbled the common infected right before me. As their eyes dimmed from fright, I think I spotted my reflection in the eyes of an infected man who stumbled before me.

My eyes were ablaze, and it wasn’t just because of the heat rising in my chest. These monsters had already taken everything from me—and now they were trying to do it again.

They won’t succeed this time. Not while I could still breathe.

I clutched the infected at my feet by the neck and ripped his jugular with my claws. Trevor and Tommy had opened fire behind me, but their assistance was unnecessary at this point. Be they a hundred or a thousand—these common were no match for me.

I shrieked again to warn them off, tripping a dozen more from their hectic sprints. After unsheathing my knife I leapt straight ahead to claw and knife as many infected as possible, knocking them over like bowling pins while drenching me in their blood. Their smell repulsed me, but the thrill of cutting through them with the air surging past me was too good to do just once.

As I crouched to bowl through another line of infected, I hopped up instead to launch myself off a passing infected, which sent us flying in opposite directions to knock down a longer line of zombies. With every landing I crunched bones, with every swing I cut flesh, and with every jump I toppled even more of these pawns to crush and slice their bodies.

But there was something missing this time, something preventing me from achieving that—euphoric—vengeance I was desperate for.

My attention drifted to Trevor, Tommy, and the dog at the end of the runway. Tommy was leveling common with his shotgun as they chased Charlie while Trevor hacked them away with his machete. They were infringing on my harvest and preventing the common from focusing on me.

What fun was there in mowing down targets that didn’t fight back? These infected feared me—and rightly so—but they largely ignored me. Though they seemed all too happy to have me execute them all, their frenzy was directed elsewhere.

I was their guillotine. I deserved more respect than this.

I leapt towards my intruders to stop their antics when something else stole my focus. No, these infected weren’t really targeting Trevor and the others. Above their ravenous tumult I heard a distinct rumbling, like an engine. I gazed up into the sky, but there was no plane.

Then a burst of light pierced through the fog above the river, nearly blinding me, yet I couldn’t look away: an overwhelming swell of joy and dread chilled me to my core.

“Holy ♥♥♥♥!” Tommy cried. “Holy ♥♥♥♥!”

Andy stood on the deck of the Saint Lydia, sniper rifle in hand, as it approached the levee. He was felling common with every shot, and when the boat was close enough, Sarah emerged from the cabin with an assault rifle.

Trevor had burst out laughing despite being winded. Sarah and Andy’s cover fire from the boat gave him a chance to catch his breath.

“God damn you guys,” Trevor shouted, “what impeccable timing!”

“We figured you could use a hand!” Sarah cried back.

Tommy hit Trevor’s leg to get his attention. “Look what else is here!” he yelled, pointing at the skyline behind me.

I turned to see an unmistakably-military aircraft circling around to line up a landing on the runway we’d managed to clear; well, improvised, really.

Trevor yanked the vomit jar from his belt and held it high above his head. “Bottoms up, ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥s!”

He hurled the grenade and it flew in a long arc above me to crash near the center of the runway. The sharp cracking of glass released a pungent gust of pheromones that halted all of the common infected in their tracks. Like ants, they turned and sprinted for the cloud of boomer bile.

The joy within me quickly displacing the dread in my stomach, I leapt to the very edge of the runway to jump onto the deck of the Saint Lydia. Andy was laughing and grinning as I landed on the deck, and I couldn’t help but hop towards him and embrace him shamelessly.

He laughed harder as he patted my back, and when we parted, Sarah seemed shy, so I hugged her too. I wasn’t sure if she didn’t mind.

“Yeah, yeah, we missed you too,” Andy chimed, “but you guys still have work to do, don’t you?” He handed me a pipe bomb.

Accepting it, I nodded and leapt back to the runway in front of Tommy, Trevor, and Charlie.

Tommy coughed and cleared his throat. “Is she your girlfriend?” he asked Trevor.

“Just focus on the zombies, will you?” Trevor spat, which made Charlie bark.

We watched as the common infected stampeded towards the boomer-bile cloud, and, once there, trampled each other to beat wildly against the air. Sometimes their swings landed punches on their colleagues, but if anything, they were beating each other senselessly. I could sense all their hatred and fury directed at that unremarkable patch of tarmac—and nothing would stop them as they beat themselves into the ground.

I shuddered as the pile of bodies seemed to grow by the second. They were their own undoing—wasted byproducts of their own bloodlust. As I thought back to my own craving for that bloodlust from not just a few moments ago, I grew so disturbed I wanted to leap out of my own skin. Like nails on a chalkboard, it was so bad, I couldn’t help shuddering again. How could I have lost myself so deeply?

Found yourself, my instincts corrected.

No—this was not who I was. I looked back at Trevor and Tommy—and Andy and Sarah on the boat—I knew this to be true.

Then who are you?

With no ready retort, I shifted my attention to the airplane above us. It was descending rapidly, and it wasn’t long before the sonic boom of its approach deafened me. As we covered our ears, a gush of wind picked up and surged all around us while the aircraft swept past our heads. When it touched down on the runway, it made a beeline for the swell of infected killing themselves on the cloud of boomer bile.

The plane dwarfed the infected, however, and it smashed through the common with relative ease, rending bodies and sending entrails flying.

Sarah tossed Trevor her assault rifle and waved us forward. “Go!”

-DarkSide-
08-11-2011, 12:21 AM
awesome :3

SA_ChooChoo
08-11-2011, 01:52 AM
Yay! The whole gang is here. Now all they gotta do is help the plane...

Scars Tropics
08-11-2011, 09:10 AM
I loved the part that went something like 'how could I have lost myself this deeply? 'Found yourself' my instincts corrected'
(Paraphrased)

Really powerful line. It gives a lot of insight into how tormented buddy is. Does this voice, or instinct invade every waking thought he has? That would be hellish, basically sharing your body with this other personality.

Left 2 B Happeh
08-15-2011, 10:14 AM
Omg.

My worst fears have NOT come true!

Buddy isn't weak, after all; in fact, he can activate his own personal "Ubercharge" to destroy everything!

But there's a price, oh yes. He could just harm allies in his fury, ripping them apart with awesome power before he realizes that they AREN'T the weakling CI he thought they were.

Now all he has to do is overcome his weakness. The Jockeys.

*You hear the coincidental crackling of lightning in the distance as I say "Jockeys"*

So, I guess that Tommy is joining the team, eh? Either I was right about Buddy not counting, or this is a modded story. :p

TheDude212
08-15-2011, 10:40 AM
Really good stuff, but aren't the infected a team instead of hating each other? But still, nice job.

pappaskurtz
08-15-2011, 07:48 PM
Hmmm, maybe...

Any predictions for the conclusion to this chapter? Also, any idea why Buddy stops his "ubercharge" when the boat arrives?

-DarkSide-
08-15-2011, 08:43 PM
Hmmm, maybe...

Any predictions for the conclusion to this chapter?

the plane crashes, everybody dies.

the end.

Jakeomaniac
08-16-2011, 03:11 PM
Any predictions for the conclusion to this chapter?

No clue, but I'd bet it will involve more SI teamwork, Buddy's lady friend, Tommy's gang, and a small cameo from one or more of the original Survivors.

Also, any idea why Buddy stops his "ubercharge" when the boat arrives?

Maybe Hunter part of Buddy realized during the SI teamwork attack and the Ubertank attack that it needs the help of the other Survivors, at least for a little while longer.

raptor67
08-17-2011, 10:24 AM
Search for Cuanta Vida, and there's a TF2 Comic of great quality there.

THAT WAS THE NAME OF THAT

Thanks I was reading a TF2 comic for a long time, but I forgot the name since I stopped for a while.

+rep

Also: Buddy stops his rage probably because of Andy. Andy is like an "anchor" for Buddy to hold onto before he drifts off....

the_pie_dude
08-17-2011, 11:40 AM
OMG 51 REPLY PAGES (O_O)

pappaskurtz
08-18-2011, 05:16 PM
If I Die Young... (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NJqUN9TClM&feature=related)

Well, the moment is finally here, as difficult as it has been to get here. This song has gotten a lot of radio play where I am, and I find it oddly appropriate. And of course, there is The Hollow Men (http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/784/), which the chapter title is derived.
______________________________

We started running after the plane, and when it came to a stop, the door to its cargo bay sent a click smashing through the airport as it started to open. The boomer bile was starting to wear off, and there didn’t seem to be a shortage of infected as they streamed from within and above the airport terminal.

I tossed the pipe bomb Andy had given me, buying us a clear path to the cargo bay. The bomb exploded when we reached the plane, and Trevor, Tommy, and I picked three directions to gun down the common as we waited for the bay to open. While Sarah and Andy covered our flanks, I relied more on my pistol than my claws or knife, as the smell of the infected repulsed me so much now that I could draw no enjoyment from killing them.

Our bullets rang out through the night, and when the cargo bay finally opened, we were met with two more sets of hands to combat the horde of infected.

“Get in!” one of the soldiers ordered, and I immediately recognized his voice from the radio. The other tossed us cartridges of ammo. They both wore gas masks and simple, unarmored uniforms, which made me think they probably didn’t spend much time planning their escape.

Regardless, we climbed into the plane and easily mowed down the infected as they tried to funnel into the cargo bay. Our gunfire deafened me in the tight space, only to be punctuated by the occasional shout of “Reloading!”—mainly from the soldiers. The infected bodies piled up outside the plane, which made it easier for us to gun them down as the infected tried to climb over the putrid mounds of flesh.

We burned through maybe a few dozen rounds of ammunition each, but when our breathing started to outlast our shots of gunfire, I stepped towards the pile of bodies and cleared a way out of the plane. A few stragglers were left on the runway, but Sarah and Andy took care of them—they were already off the boat and running towards us.

Trevor burst from the plane to meet them halfway while Tommy and Charlie stayed behind with the soldiers. The two men were so elated they didn’t seem to care that they were being brusquely interrogated by a twelve-year-old boy.

“Do you have a manifest of your supplies, soldier?” Tommy demanded, and Charlie barked for emphasis.

I followed Trevor as he approached Sarah and Andy. He held his hands up at them, a grin pushing up his cheeks. “How—on God’s green earth…?”

When they met, Trevor embraced Sarah, who was taken aback by the gesture, but they parted before she could decide what to do. Trevor looked toward Andy, smiled sheepishly at him, then patted him on the shoulder.

“We picked up the distress call from that plane,” Sarah answered, “but we didn’t get a chance to transmit anything back.”

“Then we picked up radio chatter about a group of survivors heading for the Newburg airport,” Andy explained. “When it took you guys so long to get back, we put two and two together.”

“We didn’t realize the chatter was talking about the other group of survivors,” Sarah said.

Trevor grew alarmed. “Did you see them?”

“When we docked here, yeah” Andy replied. “I don’t think they saw us, but they were just leaving this greenhouse on top of one of these weird buildings.”

“That’s when we saw the plane again,” Sarah added, “and I just had a hunch we were all going to the same place.” She pointed at the fuel trucks scattered about the runways. “Let me guess—that’s what you came here for, right?”

“You are correct,” Trevor answered, nodding, “and you two just filled the gaping hole in my plan.”

“What’s our next move?” Sarah asked.

As Trevor explained what happened at the bunker, Andy’s attention turned towards Tommy and the soldiers in the plane. His eyes lit up and he ran for the plane, obviously eager to exploit this newfound source of information.

I hung back, but tried to listen in as Andy interrupted the soldiers, who were detailing the contents of the plane to Tommy. In our rush to fight off the horde, I didn’t really notice the layers and stacks of boxes and bins lining the inside of the cargo bay.

“You guys are army, right?”

The two soldiers took note of Andy’s jacket and glanced at each other before nodding. “Yeah,” the pilot answered, “we were.”

“Brigadier General Polizos—George Polizos… You—you haven’t… Have you heard anything of him? Heard of him?”

The other soldier shook his head. “Sorry man, we haven’t. That name sounds familiar, but we couldn’t tell you anything about him.”

It only took one look for me to see that he was utterly crestfallen, but worse than the rush of hope that had swelled within him was how quickly it fled him, snuffed out like a candle. I was maybe a dozen feet from the plane, but I could sense the whiplash of his emotions as if I were right beside him.

Sarah and Trevor convened with Tommy, Andy, and the soldiers. I hung back to escape notice, and Charlie trotted up to keep me company. I knelt beside her, and she seemed eager to have me pet her.

“So where are we at, Tommy?” Trevor asked.

“We really did strike gold here,” the boy answered, coughing, then clearing his throat. “With your boat, we should be able to carry back enough to last us through the winter. I take it you aren’t looking to make a return trip, huh?”

“You’d be correct.”

“Well, your boat should be big enough to carry back what we need—if you don’t mind cramming yourselves between the crates.”

Trevor eyed the boy wearily. “Us? What about you?”

“I think I’mma stay here and just go back when the scout party comes for the rest of the supplies.”

“Wait, wait, hold on,” the pilot interjected, who’d introduced himself as Private First-Class Martin Brass earlier, “you guys can’t take everything.”

“That’s not what you told us on the radio,” Trevor corrected.

His partner in crime, PFC Ethan Brzinski, flushed, and rubbed his neck as he spoke. “We hijacked the plane in hopes of stopping the bombing of the airport, but that didn’t work. See, we didn’t think command would go through with the bombing if an active humanitarian effort was underway, but the higher ups just wrote us and the supplies we stole off as losses.

“The F-sixteens got to the airport before we did, and then tried to take us in. But they got called away for some reason, and then everything went to hell on the ground, which left us stranded.”

“There’s still a working evac outpost to the north,” Brass said, “outpost Echo. Last we heard, the northeast safe zone is still secure—we could get all of you to the outpost and properly evacuated.”

“No,” Sarah cut in, “our journey needs to take us south.”

pappaskurtz
08-18-2011, 05:18 PM
“Wait,” Andy interjected, “if there’s a northeast safe zone that’s still secure, my dad could be there!”

A shot of anxiety twisted Sarah’s expression as silence dampened the conversation.

“I’m not sure about that,” Brass finally said. “I think more of the heavy hitters were ordered south rather than north to stymie the infection. If your dad’s a BG, he’s more likely south of here to salvage infrastructure and manpower.”

“But then again,” Brzinski added, “the farther south you go, you ain’t gonna wanna come back.”

“Why don’t you decide later?” Tommy interrupted. “Trev and I still have a deal to finish, here.”

“And I can’t finish that without you coming back with me,” Trevor said. “This isn’t a negotiation—you aren’t staying here.”

“Well, there’s still the issue of gassing the plane,” Brass said. “To gas something this big, you need a powerful pump—and it’s loud. Really loud.”

“No,” Trevor replied firmly. “I think we’ve done enough for you already. If the other survivors are on their way here, maybe you can convince them to help. My friends and I need to get out of here, and we’re not looking to incite another tank.”

Brass held up his hands. “Fine, so be it.”

Sarah and Andy helped the soldiers unload supplies from the plane while I helped Trevor fuel up his boat. After checking through all the fuel trucks on the runway, we filled all the gas cans Trevor had and all the ones the soldiers could provide. Trevor assured me we’d gathered enough for the trip south.

“So, that thing that smashed the planes,” Brzinski asked Trevor while they were loading the Saint Lydia, “what the hell was that?”

“That’s the tank,” Trevor replied. “Eight to twelve feet tall, as strong as the manmade kind, and full of rage to boot.”

“Human?”

“Used to be.”

“♥♥♥♥, man,” Brzinski sighed, handing off his crate of food to Andy on the boat, “so it’s true. They are changing.”

Tommy was working with Brass to find a place to stash the rest of the supplies we couldn’t carry. They were for a separate return trip he said he’d let Rusty organize.

“You know, those don’t work,” Tommy said, indicating the Private’s gas mask.

“What do you mean?”

“They don’t stop you from changing,” he said, coughing. “If you’re gonna change, you’re gonna change. Just don’t get bit.”

“Well, ain’t that just gravy?”

Once the boat was filled to capacity, Brass entreated for help fueling the plane one last time, which Trevor flatly denied.

“Just don’t make too much noise,” he offered. “You should be getting some help soon enough.”

As we boarded the Saint Lydia, Brzinski called out to us. “Hey little man!” Both Andy and Tommy turned to respond, and then gave each other a look. “Uhh, bigger little man,” Brzinski went on, “have you decided which way you’re going?”

Andy turned to me, his face stoic, but I could still sense the excruciating indecision bubbling in his mind. He took a breath, then looked to Trevor and Sarah.

“I’m gonna go with my gut and stick with my friends,” he called back. “Thanks, though.”

When Trevor started the boat’s engine, the air didn’t shift and nothing seemed to notice. After virtually purging the entire area of infected, perhaps we’d earned a clean getaway.

“How long until we get back to the shelter?” Tommy asked.

“Not long,” Trevor said. “We’re actually very close now that we have a boat.”

Our cargo forced us all to squeeze into the captain’s cabin, but Tommy and Charlie still managed to find their own corner of the boat to isolate themselves from us. I half-expected Andy to be brimming with questions, but like Trevor and me, he seemed tired and just sat against the wall. Only Trevor and Sarah stood.

It was a quiet trip—a tired quiet—as we traveled southward. It hadn’t even been six hours, but I was exhausted. I shut my eyes to pass the time, and I was almost certain I’d fallen asleep, but the sound of Tommy coughing woke me up.

“We’re almost there,” the boy said.

“Yes, we are,” Trevor confirmed.

Sarah exhaled deeply. “So, what’s the plan? Do we have to dock and wait there again while you brief these people?”

“No,” Tommy answered, “you won’t have to stay on the boat. I will vouch for all of you.” He looked directly at me.

“I will drop Tommy and Charlie off,” Trevor said, “and then we’ll circle around to their dock and meet up there.”

“Just don’t forget where it is,” Tommy chided with a smirk.

Trevor smirked back. “I never would’ve guessed!”

We were actually nearing the very spot where we first set off, when Trevor and I split off from Sarah and Andy. Trevor pulled us close to the riverbank and let Tommy and Charlie off the boat.

Trevor dropped off the boat to retrieve the life raft he’d stashed beside the river. “Buddy,” he said, “would you mind retrieving that air pump I’d asked you hide before?”

I looked up, sent a ping—and found the pump exactly where I’d left it. I jumped up to grab it, but more importantly, my ping didn’t come back as a garbled mess. Had my instincts agreed to a détente?

After retrieving our items, we set off again. I couldn’t be sure where we were going, but it seemed like we were retreading traveled waters.

Andy had fallen asleep and he was still out, the log of a sleeper he was. Sarah noticed my anxiety.

“I think you were asleep when we talked about this, but yes, we’re going back. We’re going back to the dock in Riverside.”

She didn’t laugh. Trevor turned to me. “Believe me, I wish it was a joke—but according to Tommy, their usual dock north of here is out of commission. Riverside is our only other choice.”

I never wanted to see that dock again and was furious that we were going back, but I could sense they both shared in my frustration. I looked towards Andy and hoped he wouldn’t be too shocked to find us there again.

It didn’t take us long to reach the dock, and Rusty (with a cane), Tommy, and several members from their bunker were already there waiting for us. A tall, bald, and imposing man stood beside Rusty, and I guessed him to be Hudson. They had two pickup trucks and a hummer with them—an impressive feat.

Tommy stood ahead of the others and made a face at us as we docked. “What took you guys so long?”

Trevor stuck his tongue out at the boy. “A thousand pounds of supplies will do that to you.”

I hung back to bring my blindfold up to cover most of my face like a surgery mask. Fortunately, I could see some members of Rusty’s entourage with bandannas over their mouths as well, so at least I knew I wouldn’t stand out.

As Trevor and Sarah started to unload supplies, the commotion stirred Andy awake. With dawn only a few hours away, I wondered if Andy was hardwired to rise and fall with the sun.

“Oh my lord,” Andy groaned, stretching. “Tell me I’m dreaming—why the hell are we here again?”

“It’s a long story,” Trevor said.

pappaskurtz
08-18-2011, 05:19 PM
I could sense a spike in anxiety from Trevor when he met Rusty on the dock. “Don’t worry, Trev. John ain’t here. He and Amanda have gone to take care of unfinished business, and no, it don’t involve you.”

I thought back to Trevor’s reassurances right before we split off that John and Amanda would no longer be a problem, that they didn’t know how to reach the bunker on foot: could this mean that John had the final con?

Trevor didn’t say much at Rusty’s news and steered the subject towards working out an exchange ratio of food to fuel.

While several unknown figures loaded the trucks with supplies, I noticed Tommy slink behind the ruined boathouse. Then I heard him begin to cough. Despite all the activity and hushed conversation, his coughs dominated my hearing. When they persisted—an awful, crushing realization swept over me.

I sent a few pings to see the boy behind the house, and there was fluid dripping from his mouth.

Charlie was out and about trying to get Hudson’s attention when she stopped abruptly and turned to sprint towards Tommy. When she found him, she began barking madly.

“No, girl, no…” Tommy breathed between coughs.

Hudson approached the Border Collie. “Now what do you want, girl?” She led him to Tommy.

“Tommy!” he cried out, then gestured for one of the men on the docks. “Carter, come quick: bring the med kit!”

When Rusty and the others started to gather behind the boathouse, I stepped off the boat—resisting the urge to simply leap off so I could lay low. Andy and Sarah followed me.

Hudson knelt down and was trying to still the boy, who was resisting any aid from their medic. “No, don’t!” Tommy cried between coughs, “don’t waste it—don’t waste it on me!”

Rusty broke through the crowd and waved everyone back. “Give him room to breathe, will ya!” Setting his cane down, he knelt beside Tommy.

Even through my colorblindness I could tell how pale his skin had become. Charlie whined and desperately licked Tommy’s cheeks as he coughed uncontrollably, blood dripping from his chin.

“I just…I just wanted to do good…”

Rusty took the boy’s hand. “Believe me, my boy, you done more than good—way more good by all of us than we deserve. Your pop is so proud of you right now. That’s a ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ed fact.”

Tommy was clutching his shoulder, and Hudson pulled the boy’s shirt down to reveal the source of his infection—a pus-drenched bandage undoubtedly covering up a bite.

“You—you knew about this?” Hudson demanded from Rusty. “That’s why you let him do this?”

“Who would I be to deny someone their last wishes during what might be their final hours on this earth?”

I looked to Andy and Sarah, and the horror on their faces was reflected on every onlooker around us.

“Hudson, thank…thanks for always having my back,” Tommy breathed. Hudson began to sob.

“No, no no no,” he wept, “I made him a promise! You have too much more trouble to cause—you can’t go out like this!”

As Tommy started to shudder, he started to whisper something—a name. “T-T-T-Trev…Trev…”

Hudson looked up. “Trevor!” he called. “Where is he?”

He emerged from the crowd with anguish dripping down his cheeks. He dropped beside Tommy.

“Tommy,” he began.

The boy shook his head. “Thank you—thanks for g-giving me a chance…”

His coughs were quickly weakening, and Hudson held him in an attempt to keep the strength in the boy’s limbs.

“B-B-Bud—Buddy…”

I stepped forward and knelt beside Tommy as well. When he gazed up at me, he managed a small smile. “Thanks for being—the big brother I wish I had…”

A pang of sorrow burst within me, and it took all I had to keep from screaming. I looked back at Andy, who was still too shocked to cry, and Sarah, who wept as she held Andy.

Tommy closed his eyes and reached to pet Charlie. “Charlie…I love you, girl,” he whispered. “We did it, Pop… We did it…”

As his hand stilled, Hudson broke down in sobs as Charlie kept licking Tommy’s cheek. Rusty took off his hat and held it to his chest.

No one said a word.

For a while, the only other sounds to be heard were stifled sobs and elevated heartbeats, which all radiated so thickly with sorrow that I could not help but weep as well. After a period of silence, Rusty finally spoke.

“We will lay our fallen to rest and return him to our Mother. Lord forgive us, but we cannot afford to bring another body back with us.”

That meant constructing a funeral pyre out of the remains of the boathouse. As Hudson led several men to build it beside the riverbank, Trevor seemed troubled by the hasty cremation.

“That’s, that’s it? You’re just going to burn him here?”

Rusty gave him a kind look. “We’ll mourn him here, and the others will mourn him at the shelter, but we’ve faced too much death to let it suffocate us now.”

Once the pyre was constructed, Hudson laid Tommy’s body across it and covered it with tarp. When we all gathered around, Rusty ignited a match and set the pyre ablaze.

“They say fire destroys,” Rusty orated, “that fire kills and it scars. I say that’s wrong—all it does is transform us to our original selves. We were all born in fire because the sun birthed us from her flames—and sweet almighty Christ—was there a fire in Tommy. He burned with a fire so brightly that he outshined us all, but like any star that burns so hot and so bright, he burned out before we could really appreciate the light he brought to us all.”

Stoic until now, Rusty shuddered, beginning to sob. “You saved us all, my boy,” the old man wept. “We owe you a debt we’ll never be able to repay.

As the others watched the pyre burn, my vision started to whiten as the first rays of dawn sprung from the horizon. When Rusty regained himself, he ordered everyone to finish loading the trucks.

The pyre was still burning when the exchange was completed and Sarah, Andy, and I returned aboard the Saint Lydia. I spotted Charlie trotting behind Hudson as Trevor lingered to exchange a last few words with Rusty.

“We really do owe you a debt,” Rusty said. “These supplies and those still at the airport will get us through the winter, and I’m guessing beyond, too, if we play our cards right.”

“It’s going to be a really hard winter, isn’t it?”

The old man shook his head. “Like none other we’ve ever seen before.” He took Trevor’s shoulder. “Listen, I want you to remember one thing—should you choose to forget all the rest, never forget this:

“People say when war, disaster, or whatever the hell like that happens, honor is the very first casualty. That might be true if you don’t think about it, but when you do, you realize that’s wrong. You’d think it’d be the first thing people toss to the wind, but what I’ve seen here—believe me, that is not the case.

“You’ve proved it yourself, too, with what you’ve done for your friend.” Rusty looked straight up at me, and in my panic, I averted my eyes.

Trevor swallowed. “What do you mean?”

“Nothin’ gets past me, Trev. I have the utmost respect for your loyalty to him and your companions, and I’ll say this: John was wrong. He should not have forced your hand as he did. If anything, the four of you are living proof there’s hope for us all.

“Remember, if there’s one thing that will get us through this, it’s honor. We might or might not have everything else, but honor is what will save us all.”

Rusty patted Trevor’s shoulder. “Travel safe, brother.”

I knew Andy and Sarah overheard most of the conversation as well, and they said nothing as Trevor boarded. As we pulled out of the dock, Tommy’s pyre continued to burn.

As I looked back on my friends, I knew the hardest part was still ahead of us. We were facing a much bigger enemy now, and it dripped off the lines of Trevor’s face, drained Andy of his spirit, and crumpled Sarah’s form.

Not hordes of infected or tanks or hunters, but an inescapable enemy we’d all been trying to run from.

Grief.

SA_ChooChoo
08-18-2011, 06:04 PM
Aww, a sad end for Tommy. :(



So, back to Riverside they have to go. I wonder what awaits them.

Scars Tropics
08-19-2011, 09:25 AM
Sad chapter but what a great read. I've read published books that aren't as deep as this story. Briliant work.

Left 2 B Happeh
08-20-2011, 11:18 AM
I really do like how tragic, exciting, fun, and plainly awesome you can make a story! Such variety... Although I'm feeling a bit sad for Tommy, it's mostly how he could have been a main character that grieves me most. But I respect your choice that he dies and how he does. And I must say, he masked the fact he was gonna die pretty well when he was traveling with Trevor and Buddy. But I have one quick question. Actually, two. First of all, wouldn't Charlie get infected from licking Tommy's blood? And was Tommy gonna be a zombie if they didn't cremate him?

pappaskurtz
08-20-2011, 07:49 PM
Anyone have any theories before I pose my own?

SA_ChooChoo
08-21-2011, 12:07 PM
Go right ahead! It's your story! :)

-DarkSide-
08-22-2011, 04:34 PM
aww, he dieded :c

Cybercybex
08-22-2011, 05:28 PM
I really do like how tragic, exciting, fun, and plainly awesome you can make a story! Such variety... Although I'm feeling a bit sad for Tommy, it's mostly how he could have been a main character that grieves me most. But I respect your choice that he dies and how he does. And I must say, he masked the fact he was gonna die pretty well when he was traveling with Trevor and Buddy. But I have one quick question. Actually, two. First of all, wouldn't Charlie get infected from licking Tommy's blood? And was Tommy gonna be a zombie if they didn't cremate him?

For the first one, I think she will not get infected but either die or immune but I will go with the first one since we haven't seen any sort of infected animal in the L4D universe, well not yet.

As for the second one its a toughie since he did not show any signs of mutation when Tommy was traveling with them. What suprise me is how long it took for the virus to get to Tommy since he was already bit before the gang got there (or did he got bit when they are traveling?) so there was a chance the Zombification process was delayed for Tommy.
Well we never gonna know if he will turn or not but it would be cool if he would turn like Buddy and be the first "Child Special Infected" in the L4D universe.

pappaskurtz
08-23-2011, 10:34 PM
Do we think Buddy "died" before he became a hunter?

raptor67
08-27-2011, 09:48 AM
Do we think Buddy "died" before he became a hunter?

No. The L4D devs stated that they intentionally call them "infected" and not "zombies".

And I don't think Buddy died. Maybe he was in coma, but dying before turning is a bit more for the classic "occult" zombie stuff instead of the "infected by germs" zombie stuff.

I would love to see Buddy communicating with non-hunter specials, would that be... possible?

Left 2 B Happeh
08-27-2011, 09:59 AM
I would love to see Buddy communicating with non-hunter specials, would that be... possible?

...You, my friend, have just created not just a plot hole- but a BLACK HOLE- in my L4D2 story, because it is about a sort of infected group that help survivors without appearing to do so. Like Buddy did at the beginning. It stars a Hunter that was not a former person, but literally a new generation of Hunter. But these infected can speak to eachother. Maybe I'll change it so that different species sound a bit odd to eachother, but their own species hears them fine.

Sound good? I was gonna call it "The Unseen Infected"! ...But I'm still thinking on a better name :p

Lastly, Pappaskurtz, I just love how you ask people what they think of things in the story between parts.

Scars Tropics
08-27-2011, 10:32 AM
Do we think Buddy "died" before he became a hunter?

I didn't think of him as dying first. If he did, that would explain why his memory is so messed up depending on how long he was dead.

Left 2 B Happeh
08-27-2011, 01:57 PM
I didn't think of him as dying first. If he did, that would explain why his memory is so messed up depending on how long he was dead.

Good point.

+1 rep for no reason whatsoever.

What... IT DOESN'T LET ME D:

raptor67
08-29-2011, 03:02 AM
But a coma is just as bad for your memory as being dead

Well actually when you have been dead and are revived via, for example, a defibrillator, the medical term for the period is not dead.

SA_ChooChoo
08-29-2011, 03:27 AM
It's possible the infection causes some type of amnesia.

When Andy gave Buddy a hamburger, some old memories clicked. He loved hamburgers. A barbeque. His father. His father's name.

Left 2 B Happeh
08-29-2011, 11:26 AM
It's possible the infection causes some type of amnesia.

When Andy gave Buddy a hamburger, some old memories clicked. He loved hamburgers. A barbeque. His father. His father's name.

When you just said that, my memories clicked too.

Time to read the old parts of this amazing thread!

SA_ChooChoo
08-30-2011, 01:26 AM
When you just said that, my memories clicked too.

Time to read the old parts of this amazing thread!


Well, it's true. I mean, Buddy didn't seem to remember much at all, but as he has traveled with Andy, he has begun recovering memories.

Left 2 B Happeh
08-30-2011, 03:46 PM
Well, it's true. I mean, Buddy didn't seem to remember much at all, but as he has traveled with Andy, he has begun recovering memories.

I began recovering memories of first reading this thread when I re-read it just now :p

the_pie_dude
08-30-2011, 04:27 PM
WOW if only you could be a hunter on the suriviors team and help them :D lol that would be awesome

pappaskurtz
08-30-2011, 06:45 PM
On the topic of rereading, after going through the last two chapters straight trough, anyone able to pick up on Tommy's motivations?

Soulreaver934
08-30-2011, 07:26 PM
WOW if only you could be a hunter on the suriviors team and help them :D lol that would be awesome

That reminds me of Left 4 Dead where you could revive survivors as an SI in Versus lol. :D

SA_ChooChoo
08-31-2011, 05:05 PM
On the topic of rereading, after going through the last two chapters straight trough, anyone able to pick up on Tommy's motivations?

Didn't he just want to prove himself to be valuable and helpful?


WHERE IS PART 1? WE ARE ANTSY D:

Left 2 B Happeh
09-04-2011, 10:39 PM
Didn't he just want to prove himself to be valuable and helpful?


WHERE IS PART 1? WE ARE ANTSY D:

WUBUBUBUBUBU!

Anawayz, RANDOM STORY UPDATE THAT NO ONE CARES ABOUT!!1!

My story isn't gonna be what I thought it was gonna be like. At least, I'm not planning on it.

Nah, it's gonna be called "The Contaminated Guild". And it's gonna be a team of SI that (P)OWN survivors. Or should it be called "The Infected Group"?

And maybe, eventually, it'll be a whole community SI! Each with their own ranks, etc.

SA_ChooChoo
09-06-2011, 09:57 PM
No idea what the guy said above... but I am antsy still for chapter 13! :D

Salphen
09-07-2011, 04:01 AM
I'm looking forward to it as well. If he were to compile and complete a novel with this story, I'd happily buy it! :D

Left 2 B Happeh
09-08-2011, 08:49 PM
No idea what the guy said above... but I am antsy still for chapter 13! :D

No one in the right mind would understand a WORD of my mindless blabber.

I'm looking forward to it as well. If he were to compile and complete a novel with this story, I'd happily buy it! :D

Same here!

SA_ChooChoo
09-08-2011, 09:40 PM
Still antsy! D: Where is it?

Left 2 B Happeh
09-09-2011, 01:12 PM
Still antsy! D: Where is it?

Be patient. The sooner the next part gets here, the sooner the series ends.

Oh and by the way, is the series close to ending?

pappaskurtz
09-09-2011, 01:52 PM
Nope.

Salphen
09-09-2011, 07:12 PM
Nope.

You just made my night. :D

Despite a migraine, I might add.

SA_ChooChoo
09-09-2011, 10:58 PM
YAY :D

Left 2 B Happeh
09-10-2011, 09:24 AM
Nope.

No, no, no. You're doin' it wrong!

You gotts say "Nope! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvdf5n-zI14)".

Left 2 B Happeh
09-13-2011, 10:52 AM
This thread is getting buried under so many other threads! I shall not let this injustice continue!

I shall also note that my grammar depends on my mood. Which is why I am taking this more "intelligent" style of writing today.

Salphen
09-13-2011, 01:00 PM
Just subscribe to the thread. Won't matter how far down it is, then. When Pappa updates it, you'll know :)

pappaskurtz
09-13-2011, 04:51 PM
It's coming, although I will ask, what would you think if you were in Tommy's situation--being bitten, but not knowing if you'll turn or not? What would you do, knowing you might only have a few hours left? Would you be able to take the wait, not knowing, or would you speed things up?

Scars Tropics
09-13-2011, 08:24 PM
Sounds like tommy had a pretty good idea he was turning from all the coughing he was doing.

Itd be nice to think I'd be the hero and sacrifice myself to the horde since I'll probably turn soon. I'd probaby try to hold on til the fever, though if I were actually in such a situation, instead of valiantly fighting zombies after the first bite. There is a chance that the infection will turn you into a tank, after all.

SA_ChooChoo
09-13-2011, 08:30 PM
I'm not sure what I'd do. I'd probably keep waiting for chapter 13. :D

Left 2 B Happeh
09-15-2011, 02:57 PM
It's coming, although I will ask, what would you think if you were in Tommy's situation--being bitten, but not knowing if you'll turn or not? What would you do, knowing you might only have a few hours left? Would you be able to take the wait, not knowing, or would you speed things up?

I'd run out there, yell "LEROOOOOY JENKINS!!!" and own every zombie in the vicinity. If that seems too insane, then guess I'd rather see if I turned. You see, I want to experience EVERYTHING. I'd want to know what it felt like to turn. To have the urge of tearing everything alive to shreds. And to successfully do it.

I'd also be most happy becoming a Hunter. They seem to be the most intelligent. But since that idea's been used so much, I suppose I'd want to become a Tank... No wait a Smoker... No wait a Jock- Omg what am I thinking...

I'd want to become anything but a bottle of pillz. And if I had to be a bottle of pillz, then I'd want to be anywhere that Louis isn't.

SA_ChooChoo
09-15-2011, 03:10 PM
Hmm, I guess I wouldn't mind becoming a hunter either.

TREE HOPPING! :D Wee!

amazin grego
09-18-2011, 01:31 PM
not wanting to be pushy or anything but do you have an eta for the next part?

SA_ChooChoo
09-18-2011, 02:50 PM
We are all antsy. :D

Left 2 B Happeh
09-20-2011, 05:24 AM
I forgot what the next part will be about.

Brb checking...

Oyea they're back THERE :/

OoterDuder
09-20-2011, 06:06 AM
this freakin rocks man, and im not a big time reader AT ALL im 30y/o an have read only 2 books...i want more of this story...actually had me on the edge of my seat..Freakin awesome man freakin awesome

pappaskurtz
09-20-2011, 10:13 AM
No ETA, but I'm hoping before the month is up. My birthday is in less than a week and I've got a few things (that actually make me money) to prioritize first.

The gang is all at the dock right now, but weren't they leaving to go south?

maneaterhp
09-20-2011, 10:21 AM
Chapter 12 A Bang and a Whimper

I see what you did there ;)

Left 2 B Happeh
09-21-2011, 05:31 PM
No ETA, but I'm hoping before the month is up. My birthday is in less than a week and I've got a few things (that actually make me money) to prioritize first.

The gang is all at the dock right now, but weren't they leaving to go south?

Happy birthday ;)

Here is your present (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkmqSoi4NDs&feature=feedlik).

SA_ChooChoo
09-24-2011, 05:12 PM
ANTSY! D:

Left 2 B Happeh
09-26-2011, 08:43 PM
Waiting for the next part is just like waiting for Mr. Church Guy to finally die: Painful.

I'm Francis, this is Grandpaw Bill, AND THERE ARE ZOMBIES OUT HERE! OPEN THE GOD**** DOOR!

RadioKon
09-29-2011, 07:59 PM
I have stayed up past my "dead"time every night reading this. This is uberly better than any other fanfiction, and some books that I have ever read. I am tempted to copy/paste this all into a document and take it to school for all of my friends to read!:D

Cloymax
09-30-2011, 08:05 AM
gimme mah next part.
....plz?

the_pie_dude
09-30-2011, 08:21 AM
Anyone confused by the time line of the flashbacks?

Flashbacks-confusing

the_pie_dude
09-30-2011, 08:22 AM
I think you should publish this stuff man, having it in a novel any time i want would be EPIC you would also get money :)

RadioKon
09-30-2011, 06:42 PM
I think you should publish this stuff man, having it in a novel any time i want would be EPIC you would also get money :)

I second this!

Left 2 B Happeh
09-30-2011, 07:37 PM
I think you should publish this stuff man, having it in a novel any time i want would be EPIC you would also get money :)

I agree, but two words:

Copyright. Infringement.

VALVe would never let something like this be released! It doesn't matter how awesome it is, they'll ask for a cut of the money.

And I don't know how well this'd sell, to be honest. I mean, I absolutely love the story. So do you, and a lot of others. But if this story was released, I don't know how many people would buy it.

-DarkSide-
10-01-2011, 10:24 AM
awww... it's october now and the next part isnt out :(

the_pie_dude
10-01-2011, 10:28 AM
awww... it's october now and the next part isnt out :(

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-

stellerman7
10-01-2011, 08:51 PM
Can't believe Tommy died...he was just a little kid :'(. Moving past that; I'm looking forward to the next chapter given it's title "the passing" even though it wouldn't be canon; I'd love to see this group meet with either the original or L4D2 survivors. I assume you're keeping this as canon as possible so I'm not going to really have any hopes for that but a fan can dream!

Left 2 B Happeh
10-01-2011, 09:16 PM
Her use of I startled me (did my instincts translate correctly?), since it was her first use of it, but that was nothing compared to the jolt that hit me when she slipped down her blindfold—and winked at me.

She winked at me.

Buddy, you're out of high-school! I thought you were past the whole "desperate love" thing!

Bit Crusher
10-03-2011, 02:54 AM
Story is dead.

Zora-Link
10-03-2011, 09:35 AM
Story is dead.

Nope, it's not.

Left 2 B Happeh
10-03-2011, 04:43 PM
Story is dead.

Just because you're new to this thread doesn't mean you can't read Pappaskurtz' posts that aren't part of the story.

He has made us wait before, and now is nothing new!

Although he does have reasons for not releasing the next part for a long period of time. Have a little patience.

Zora-Link
10-03-2011, 05:02 PM
Just because you're new to this thread doesn't mean you can't read Pappaskurtz' posts that aren't part of the story.

He has made us wait before, and now is nothing new!

Although he does have reasons for not releasing the next part for a long period of time. Have a little patience.

Indeed he does, mostly pertaining to the story being longer, actually. So... yeah. Patience indeed.

Bit Crusher
10-04-2011, 02:36 AM
Just because you're new to this thread

I've been reading this thread since mid 2010

Maybe I should've worded that differently: I think Pappa has writer's block

Zora-Link
10-04-2011, 02:39 AM
I've been reading this thread since mid 2010

Maybe I should've worded that differently: I think Pappa has writer's block

You think incorrectly :)

Salphen
10-04-2011, 06:02 AM
Is it really necessary to bump this thread every damn day? I keep getting excited, and then inevitably disappointed.

ban3
10-04-2011, 06:26 AM
But all the other SI's and CI's do not eat either(no bite marks or hints that show they bite in game.)Why make the hunter the only exception?

wrong, in the first game Zoey remarks that she has toothmarks on her.

Left 2 B Happeh
10-04-2011, 10:10 PM
I've been reading this thread since mid 2010

Maybe I should've worded that differently: I think Pappa has writer's block

Sorry :eek:

But if you have been reading this thread since 2010, then surely you're aware of how long it takes for another part of this series to be released.

This make me wonder what makes you believe that it's dead if you've had to wait for another part of this story to be released for so long. What makes you think this now?

Left 2 B Happeh
10-07-2011, 07:57 PM
Bump-a-doodle.

Bit Crusher
10-10-2011, 07:21 AM
Sorry :eek:

But if you have been reading this thread since 2010, then surely you're aware of how long it takes for another part of this series to be released.

This make me wonder what makes you believe that it's dead if you've had to wait for another part of this story to be released for so long. What makes you think this now?

The conclusion of a part of the plot with no real leads onwards besides the major story points, the time it's taking to update alongside events in pappa's life getting in the way (birthday)

Although I'd love to be proved wrong

Have a free bump

Left 2 B Happeh
10-11-2011, 06:27 PM
This post won't reply to Bit Crusher so that there are no fights :D

Anyway, who else has had this thread bookmarked for months now and checks back pretty much every day to check for a new post of any kind?

Left 2 B Happeh
10-11-2011, 06:28 PM
WOAH WHAT THE

My post posted twice D:

So I've replaced it with this lol

pappaskurtz
10-11-2011, 07:15 PM
The next time I post in this thread, part 1 will be up. When will that be? Soon.

Left 2 B Happeh
10-13-2011, 06:17 AM
The next time I post in this thread, part 1 will be up. When will that be? Soon.

Me = Happeh.

My pizza = Sad because I eated it! :>

pappaskurtz
10-15-2011, 07:30 PM
Due to some strenuous circumstances, and because this chapter is turning out much longer than I wanted (as I expected), I'm cutting part 1 short into a more manageable chunk. Much more time has passed than I wanted between the end of the last chapter and now, so instead of holding it off any longer, I've decided to post something. I just won't be able to focus on this story as much as I need to for the next two weeks or so.
___________________________

We took turns steering the Saint Lydia. With such a long voyage ahead of us, it was a necessity. Trevor ran us through a brief, rudimentary tutorial on celestial navigation so that each of us would be able to follow the course he mapped out for us.

“Me and Sarah found the airport, didn’t we?” Andy said, miffed.

“This is different,” Trevor replied patiently. “We won’t always be able to see land, so we’ll need to be able to find our way in the dark.” He shot a smile my way.

Sarah was examining something in her hand that resembled a compass with a telescope. “I always wanted to use one of these.”

I found that I didn’t need the sextant. Once I’d committed Trevor’s plotted course to memory, I somehow developed an innate sense of whether we were on-course or not. If it was due to my instincts, or if I had managed to tap into my abilities without them, I couldn’t be sure. They did not gloat to assert their presence; they were just quiet, waiting.

I knew I wanted to go south—it was the only way I’d find answers—but the fact that my instincts might also want the same thing was a gnawing dread I could not shake. I thought that openly questioning myself would goad my instincts to react somehow, yet there wasn’t even a peep.

The idea that my instincts might actually know things I did not was another troubling thought. Could they actually hide things from me—or prevent me from remembering things? I tried to dismiss the idea immediately, but as my instincts kept mum, the thought spread through my mind like an ugly rumor.

Coupled with an unshakable sense of déjà vu, I began looking forward to my time as captain more and more. It was the only time I could get away from my thoughts or, worse, those of my companions. I was doing something again, but I had no idea what; going south, yes, but there was something else…

It also seemed like we took turns breaking down. After we discussed the voyage and all of its details, no one spoke for a very long time. The only thing to be heard was the constant whirring of the engine, the rushing of water beneath us, and the occasional gust of wind that would nudge us slightly off course. I realized I’d been trying not to keep track of the days passing, but after the second sunrise and sunset, I think my friends had all spoken a total of eight words.

When it was time to switch, Andy offered to take over for Trevor, who had steered the boat much longer than we’d agreed upon. I had sensed his tremors earlier, but now it was ready to rend his seams. Yet, his ability to remain stone-faced was incredible.

I could smell the ruse, but Sarah could see right through it, too, and she followed Trevor below deck. Glancing at Andy, I could see his demeanor hardening already; it wouldn’t be long before he’d find his own escape.

Inadvertently pinging, I resigned myself to eavesdropping when I saw Trevor plop himself onto a cot. Burying his face in his hands, he kept still. Sarah watched him from the steps.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Sarah eventually asked; it was code, really: Do you want to go first, or should I?

His tremors started again, and the break was quick. As Trevor began sobbing openly, Sarah knelt beside him on the cot and embraced him. She kept silent as Trevor wept, and he seemed to welcome her closeness—until he abruptly pulled away.

“You don’t—you don’t have to coddle me, really,” he whispered.

“I don’t mind; not at all,” Sarah corrected. “We can’t be strong all the time.”

Trevor hesitated for a moment. “I…I really think I could’ve loved that kid…”

“A lot can happen in a night.”

“It’s not just that. He…he reminds me—Tommy reminded me—so much of John when we were little.” A laugh escaped Trevor. “Somehow I got the rep as the good son and he was the naughty one.

“He was always butting heads with our parents, always pushing their buttons to see how far he could get, while I just watched and kept quiet, and he’d gladly cover up my wrongdoings or lie and say he did it. A lot of the time, he’d think of something and offer to take the fall for me just so we could share the spoils…

“This one time, I distinctly remember him stealing a candy bar for me after Mom said no when we were at the store; when we got back, he pulled it from his pocket when we were in our room and it was only slightly melted. It broke unevenly, but he gave me the bigger half…”

Another sob escaped Trevor. Sarah grasped his shoulder.

“He was always looking out for me. Until our parents died… When it happened, I just assumed… I thought he could keep it up. I honestly thought he was a machine, like nothing could faze him.

“But I realize now something I’ve been trying to deny for the past few years: it wasn’t John who failed to keep up his end of the bargain—it was me.”

“Bargain?” Sarah asked.

“I was the selfish one!” Trevor cried out. “He was always the one that gave and gave and gave, but never once did I think to give back. I took him for granted! When our parents died, and I didn’t try hard enough to help him, that pushed him to the breaking point. I destroyed our relationship, not him.”

“You honestly don’t blame yourself for your parents’ death—do you?”

“No,” Trevor coughed, “I don’t know…I don’t know anymore. I do know that I should have tried harder. I should’ve been there for him.”

“But you were both just kids, still, and put into foster care,” Sarah insisted. “You couldn’t control very much.”

Trevor sobbed again. “I could’ve given him a reason to fight,” he breathed. “I should have told him how much he meant to me, how thankful I was to still have him while our entire world was upended… I should’ve told him I needed him, that I’d be there for him, too, that no matter what, we’d fight for each other…

“Instead, I caved into my anger and became an ungrateful ♥♥♥♥head towards him. The person closest to me became the easiest to hurt. I vent all my anger and frustrations towards him when I should have had some compassion: I wasn’t the only brother who lost his parents!” He clawed his fingers into his hair. “God damn it!”

“No one should have to lose their parents so young,” Sarah said gently. “You were put into a very adult situation much too soon, and sometimes children don’t understand what their family does for them until they’re much older.”

“John knew, though,” Trevor sighed. “He knew, until I broke him.”

Sarah took his hand. “Trevor, you can’t blame yourself for mistakes you made as a child.”

“What about the mistake I made just a few days ago?”

She squeezed his hand. “You regret kicking John off the boat.”

Trevor was shaking his head. “No matter what I tell myself, there’s still that awful, horrible shame I felt back when we were snagged in the system. And after what Rusty said to me, it just made me relive my lowest days all over again.

“John was still trying to look out for me—and I didn’t see it. He was trying to give me an out: he must have thought I’d gotten in too deep, so he upped the stakes even higher so I could come out blameless. You see? He pushed us all to the brink, so he takes all the blame—while I get off scot-free.”

pappaskurtz
10-15-2011, 07:31 PM
Sarah continued to regard him sympathetically; she didn’t seem disturbed by this revelation. “You said the plan was to take our weapons. You needed a way to transport what you found and to make sure the dock was clear.”

“Yeah,” Trevor said, sniffling, “but having someone who was actually infected on the boat was never part of it. I honestly didn’t know if John would kill Buddy or not—I couldn’t take that chance.”

He rubbed his face. “But still, the sad thing is, whether he thought I was trying to get away from you, like I was running up the con—or if he just wanted to shift the blame away from me—he gets shafted, and history repeats itself.

“I should’ve been honest and admitted I was in on it from the beginning to you when we were on the boat—we could have cleared everything up, and not kick anyone off. I didn’t have the guts to come clean; I was trying to save face—and look how readily I scapegoated him!

“The worst part of it,” Trevor went on as another sob escaped him, “the worst part is knowing he still doesn’t blame me. It’s like he wanted me to kick him off.”

“To be fair,” Sarah said gently, “it was a tense situation made worse by all the guns. There’s no point, now, to dwell on that night. John is a survivor, and so are you. Perhaps you’ll be able to see him again one day.”

Trevor managed a slight smile. “So you mean I’ll get what’s coming to me?”

Sarah shook her head. “You must let go of your guilt. At this point, it won’t do you any good, or any of us for that matter.”

He looked at her for a moment, then buried his face in his hands again. “How can you trust me? After all the deception, I don’t even trust myself anymore.”

She made him look at her. “I trust you. Together, we’ll get through this, but only together will we survive. Will you keep fighting for us?”

Trevor smiled warmly. “To the end.”

They went on to talk about lighter things. For me, though, Trevor’s willingness to trust me and to defend me before Tommy now made more sense: I wasn’t simply his connection to Sarah and Andy; he knew what it was like to be alone and to have no one trust you. Sometimes the benefit of the doubt can be as vital to survival as food, shelter, and bullets.

I wanted to believe that Sarah’s confidence in him was a product of the same compassion that allowed her to trust me, but there was the scent of an unspoken attraction between them that had swelled since we returned from the airport. Before I could decide if this could free them both from dwelling on their anxieties, or further stress them as we traveled south, Andy’s time was up and it was Sarah’s turn to steer.

It was the middle of the night, the skies clear, and Trevor had already gone to sleep. Andy, yawning, indicated our position on Trevor’s map to Sarah before leaving the captain’s cabin. He nodded curtly at me when he passed me on the deck, an unusually macho gesture, before heading down; the air had gotten pretty chilly, and Sarah had donned another jacket from the supplies we’d salvaged from the airport.

I lingered on the deck, trying to decide whether to keep Sarah company or to go down with Andy. She saw my hesitation and smiled.

“I think he needs someone to talk to.”

Despite myself, I rolled my eyes, and that made her laugh. “Seriously. I’ve never seen him this quiet for so long.”

I nodded, then went below deck. Trevor was fast asleep on one of the cots and Andy had curled up on a sleeping bag in a corner facing the wall. I didn’t try to mask my steps, so Andy heard me coming down.

“I’m OK, really,” Andy whispered. “I don’t really want to talk about anything right now.”

Something stuck out to me as I listened to him speak: right before he said “I don’t” and a little during, his heart beat slightly faster, breaking its rhythm slightly. He was lying.

I stepped towards him, and as I approached, his restraint seemed to crack with every step. By the time I knelt beside him, he was flat-out sobbing, but maintained enough restraint to try to keep from waking Trevor. As I took his shoulder, Andy wept quietly but intensely.

“I don’t even—I don’t even know how long it’s been,” he wept, “a few days? A week? Feels like…feels like months…

“Sometimes, I…I hurt so bad, it’s like everything is closing in on me… It’s like, like something’s being ripped out of me, and at the same time, I’m far away, watching myself float…

“I still feel like he’s here sometimes, like I’m just on a long trip and I’ve got to go home soon and I’ll see him.” Andy curled into an even tighter ball as he pressed his face into his elbow. “I miss him so much,” he whispered, and an awful whine escaped his throat as another sob clutched him.

His grief—his agony—emanated so strongly from him that all of my senses were saturated with anguish. My eyes welled, and I surprised myself at how close I came to sobbing right along with him. I hated seeing him like this, to see him in so much pain, but worse still was knowing there wasn’t anything I could do for him.

He had not yet grieved for Charlie (and Willy, either?), and with nothing but time to kill, he couldn’t delay it any longer.

“I don’t—I don’t even know if my dad is out there,” he cried. “He could be anywhere, for all I know…”

Grief was natural, but despair—I couldn’t let that poison him. I turned him and made him look at me, and though I was taken aback by the immense sorrow flowing from his eyes, I stared back at him, willing him to read my thoughts: We’ll find him. He’s out there, and we’ll find him.

A smile barely shaped his lips before he leapt at me and held me like a life raft. “Thank you, Buddy,” he breathed, “thank you so much…”

Salphen
10-15-2011, 08:06 PM
Powerful chapter. When Buddy snaps, that's going to be very interesting!

SirPwntheGreat
10-15-2011, 11:30 PM
"it was then when buddy decided to pounce on andy and consume his flesh"...

Oh I'm just messing around, but yea powerful chapter. With all the action, it's hard to sometimes remember that these characters have gone through a lot, and as much fun as it is to kill zombies, reality sets in (so to speak) and can break a character apart so fast. Reminds me of "The Walking Dead" series.

Good job Pappaskurtz, you managed to develop character in a strong, emotional level :)

SA_ChooChoo
10-16-2011, 07:31 AM
Good first chapter. :)

Left 2 B Happeh
10-16-2011, 12:36 PM
...And then Virgil decided to steer far away from land and kick them off him.

He doesn't like it when people cry on him :3

stellerman7
10-17-2011, 12:02 AM
I'm still waiting for what makes this chapter "the passing" if you know what I mean. ;)

Tis a Mystery
10-17-2011, 06:19 PM
awsome reading so far, keep going

Cloymax
10-17-2011, 11:24 PM
next CHEAAPTUUUR!

duffyman01
10-24-2011, 12:09 AM
lol give an inch take a mile

amazin grego
10-31-2011, 06:12 AM
halloween special?

pappaskurtz
11-02-2011, 02:06 PM
Part 2 will be up soon. In the meantime, why might Buddy's instincts want him to go South?

Left 2 B Happeh
11-04-2011, 10:45 AM
Part 2 will be up soon. In the meantime, why might Buddy's instincts want him to go South?

Huh? Maybe Michelle's, there? A memory that his instincts remember, but he doesn't?

stellerman7
11-13-2011, 10:17 AM
Hard to believe the steam forums were silent for so long. That's practically history right there.

bLark
11-16-2011, 08:32 AM
Maybe it's just warmer in the south.

Cloymax
11-18-2011, 07:29 AM
Maybe it's just warmer in the south.

I don't think hunters are birds, bro.

raptor67
11-18-2011, 09:15 AM
Buddy's subconscious knows Michelle might be there.
Buddy's INSTINCTS know she is there.

pappaskurtz
11-18-2011, 06:09 PM
Any predictions on what might happen if Buddy ever finds Michelle?

amazin grego
11-18-2011, 10:31 PM
im thinking that either his instincts would completely take control and go nuts
or he would just completely devote himself to her doing anything she asks without thinking about it at all

Left 2 B Happeh
11-22-2011, 02:01 PM
Any predictions on what might happen if Buddy ever finds Michelle?

I think Buddy'll either not care as much (he'd have a better relationship with the female hunter than with her by then) or he'll devote all his energy into convincing her that it's him and not just some insane hunter.

Scars Tropics
11-22-2011, 05:39 PM
I think buddy would feel self concious about his change and try to let her know about him some other way than face to face. Plus he has a hard time communicating as it is.

Gamingliker
11-22-2011, 07:48 PM
I have a feeling the female hunter IS michelle....

Left 2 B Happeh
11-23-2011, 05:28 PM
I have a feeling the female hunter IS michelle....

That would be QUITE unoriginal, thank you.

Oh, and didn't Pappaskurtz list the female Hunter's name earlier?

pappaskurtz
11-27-2011, 10:50 PM
Here is part 2, finally. I had some rough goings this month but I hope to be back on track with things. I actually reveal something in this part that I did not want to reveal until much later, but the implications of withholding it any longer forced my hand.

It's also a lot longer than part 1. I just wanted to get most of the voyage done with before I went on with the rest of the chapter.
______________________

I held him for a moment, and when his crying eased, I urged him back on the cot to sleep. When I began to leave, Andy grabbed my arm. “No, stay. Please.”

I obliged, settling back beside the cot. Whether he meant until he fell asleep or the entire night, I didn’t have long to ponder; Andy was soon fast asleep in that heavy, sound sleep I knew he was capable of. I wagered that he wouldn’t have any nightmares tonight, so I stood and rejoined Sarah in the captain’s cabin.

When Sarah saw me, she seemed surprised. “Is he all right? He’s asleep?” When I nodded, she nodded approvingly in return. “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised you’re a miracle worker.” I shrugged.

“You should have seen him while you and Trevor were gone,” she went on. “Every two minutes, if that, he’d ask some variant of, ‘Do you think he’s OK?’ And by ‘he’, he meant you, naturally. I wasn’t sure if it would be a good idea, but I asked him about his family to keep him occupied; I didn’t know if it would be too painful for him to talk about. Luckily, it seemed to make him feel better.”

I sensed the boat drifting off course, but Sarah was already steering us back. I gazed at her, waiting for her to go on.

“He was full of stories, as I hoped. By the end of them, I admit I was a little more than jealous. It’s obvious he loves his family very, very much. I can’t say I know what’s it’s like; there’s only one person I can truly say that about, that has affected me so closely…”

Her expression remained firm as she focused on the compass before her; she still had a job to do.

Reaching for her shoulder, I squeezed it as she smiled at me. “I’m fine, really. Of course, it makes me sad, but it’s something I’ve come to accept a long time ago. Most people would think it’s strange that I was closer to my stepsister than my biological sister, but if you grew up with my parents, it’d make perfect sense.

“Looking back, I suppose the scrutiny of mama’s eyes and papa’s constant criticisms should have united us, and made us confide in each other, but that’s something our parents took away very early on. I never saw my baby sister as a sibling growing up, and neither she did me—we were rivals.”

When she saw my grimace, an exhausted laugh escaped her. “That was how you sought perfection in the Tahk household—comparing every major deed with that of your sister. Papa was much worse about that than mama, but she did nothing to discourage it. That’s how they kept us in line. Divided, so we would never rebel.”

The military metaphors made me think she came from a military family, but then I realized I had no memory of her ever saying that. Did I make it up?

“You can probably guess that she won out after I dropped out of med school. I’d say it was worth it, since our parents were much kinder to Kim after that. That’s all I can say, since…”

Since she hadn’t kept in touch with them; since—she has no idea if they’re still alive. I finished the thought for her, since cracks started to penetrate her stoic demeanor. Had they already been dead to her long before the outbreak?

After taking a deep breath, Sarah went on, “I do know what Andy is going through with his father, at least, and that is something I do not envy. I can’t help but think of this game my stepsister came up with when she last came to visit me. Naturally, that is when a freak snow storm pummels the South, and I accused Lily of bringing the bad weather with her.”

I grinned. Somehow, I remembered that it does snow in the South; it’s rare, but it does happen. How I knew that is still lost to me.

“She brought her fur-ball of a tabby cat with her, and when the electricity cut out, Lily turned on a flashlight and shined it at the wall.” Sarah stopped to laugh. “The light drove the cat crazy! It would use all of its acrobatic skills and exhaust itself chasing that light, and it provided Will and me with hours of entertainment.

“The thing I can’t forget—a few times, Lily would shine the light high on the wall, well out of the cat’s reach with no way for it to jump to reach it. Almost immediately, it would start moaning and whining and pace miserably, so Lily was quick to bring the light back down. But once, she just shut off the light, and that seemed to put the cat back at ease quicker.”

Sarah looked at me with remarkable strength steeling her face. “Sometimes I think we’re the cat—chasing that light. When it is close, within our grasp, we tolerate each slip because we think we still have another chance. When the light is gone, we know we can rest—we can have peace.

“But when that light is beyond our grasp, and we have no idea how to reach it, that is simply unbearable.” She looked back to the compass as we started gliding off course. “Not knowing. That’s more dangerous than anything those things out there can do.”

Sarah looked back up at me. “I’m not really helping, am I?” I squeezed her shoulder again to reassure her, but she didn’t smile. “I hate to ask about Michelle, but I have a strong feeling I won’t be so lucky this time.”

She was right. When I recalled Michelle’s image, a hollow pipe expanded through my insides, and a pang wrung my stomach as I realized how much I hadn’t thought of her, how I tried not to think of her—and how terribly I missed her. Then there was that soul-crushing guilt close behind. What would she think of me, now? Could she ever still love me—like this?

Swallowing, I forced the thoughts from my mind. Come on, Sarah, I thought I was helping you!

When she caught my gaze again, Sarah cleared her throat. “Well, I do remember this one time I was little—still young, thirteen or fourteen. A boy called my house and papa answered. I overhead him say over the phone that I was in Korea, and then, ‘How long?’” She dropped her voice low in an imitation of her father. “’How long will you be alive? That’s how long!’ and he hung up.”

We laughed. I was hungry for more stories, but when she looked back to the compass and fell silent, I realized that was either the extent of the good memories of her family, or trying to sift through all the bad ones to find good ones was too painful for her.

Her memories with Will—she can’t share those yet. Thinking back, I realized Andy hardly ever talked about his father, either. To talk about Charlie and Willy, that was one thing—when you knew they were gone—but to talk about someone you had no idea was still alive? I could see myself at the base of Mercy Hospital again, a tiny light at the top, with all the doors and windows barred and all the walls slick with blood.

When Sarah caught me staring at her, I came to and looked away. It was clear she wasn’t like Andy and couldn’t find solace in talking about her late stepsister. Not wanting to burden her any longer, I started to leave.

“Buddy, wait.” As I turned back to her, Sarah held up a small but thick book to me. “This was something that I found in one of the crates from the airport.”

I accepted the book and opened it to find its pages full of hand signs and words.

It was a sign-language dictionary.

Sarah started gesturing to me with her hands. “Lily, my stepsister, was deaf. I like to think this must be a gift from her.”

A flood of emotions swelled through me that I couldn’t begin to process. So I hugged Sarah as I blinked a few tears past my cheeks, a chill running through my body.

I dove into the dictionary right away, and it was just what I needed to occupy my time. It was more than just a dictionary though; it was nearly a complete guide to signing and full of shorthand to communicate common phrases. I had given up on my clawed hand, deeming it useless because of its painful inflexibility, but I found that the more I exercised it, the more limber it became.

Sarah became my tutor of sorts, and whenever Andy wasn’t steering the boat, he’d often watch us practice. Whenever Sarah was busy, I’d devote my attention back to the dictionary.

“Man, Sarah,” Andy complained one time during the day, “you stole Buddy away from me.”

“He’s learning to speak again,” Sarah responded. “He’ll be back.”

Andy and Trevor didn’t seem interested in learning sign language. It probably didn’t help that I never put the dictionary down, but I guessed that maybe they were counting on Sarah interpreting everything for them.

pappaskurtz
11-27-2011, 10:52 PM
Eventually, because it seemed like one of us was always being left out to steer the boat, we began using the buoys we passed as rest stops. After every twelve buoys, which translated to an average of five hours of sailing time, we would anchor the boat for an hour and use the opportunity to eat a meal together.

It became a ritual for us to all sit around the small table below deck and eat—as Andy would point out—like a family, although we had a hard time getting to that point. He didn’t say it aloud until after the first few meals, but I had a sense that we were all thinking it.

Sarah brought up the idea after Trevor mentioned that going full-stop without a break might be too much for the Saint Lydia. We all agreed to it, but despite that, the first meals were tense. Well, perhaps not as tense as they were—awkward.

With us all jammed together in a tight space, the boat wasn’t much different from the safe house outside of Riverside. We spent long periods of time in each other’s presence in comfortable silence, but when we were all around that table, something happened the first time we all sat beside each other and started to eat.

We were silent at first; everyone’s spirits seemed to improve after that night of catharsis, but outside of occasional small talk, we didn’t say much. I guessed we would continue to be silent, but Andy was so fidgety during that first meal, looking up at each of us every few seconds—trying to think of something to say—only to stuff a piece of jerky in his mouth and look back down at his ration of army bars.

Andy’s restlessness spread to Sarah, and even Trevor couldn’t help shifting his attention from his food every so often. I was the only one who didn’t give into the awkward energy and kept still, eating patiently, but I could almost hear all of their thoughts: Are we really doing this? Is it a big deal? Why does this feel weird?

After the first meal, I thought we would quietly abandon the group meals, but after we passed the next twelve buoys, we all gathered at the table again after Trevor anchored the boat. The meal was also silent and awkward, and I found myself becoming a little restless, too.

We could start up a conversation easily enough outside of the mealtimes, but when we were all together, it seemed like we were all asking ourselves the same question: what is there to talk about? We should talk, but about what?

The food we had to eat didn’t help very much. The military rations were mostly bars and bars of some vague, highly caloric blob of mud that tasted like cardboard and had to be washed down with water. Technically, the water was optional, but it was the only way I could choke it down.

The bars kept us from going hungry, but they didn’t satisfy our appetites. There were also a crate of dried fruits and vegetables, a few pounds of processed meat, and several jars of various nuts to spice things up, but even Sarah couldn’t conjure anything appealing from them.

So conversation was really the only thing that could’ve made mealtimes better. But what kept us quiet? It was easy enough to blame the food, since those army bars really were a mouthful, but the real reason didn’t manifest itself until the fifth meal.

Andy finished first, and after looking up at each of us, he said to Sarah, “May I be excused?”

I heard her heartbeat speed up for a few seconds—she was utterly floored by the question. As the three of us watched her, waiting for her answer, Trevor burst out laughing. Sarah caught his gaze, and then starting laughing with him as Andy began to grin.

As I thought through all the implications of the question, I started to laugh, too. The idea that we could form some familial group, with Sarah and Trevor as the parental units and Andy as the child and me as—what, the older brother? uncle?—the idea was so ridiculous because we had met no more than a week or so ago—and yet here we were, ready to embrace it, because it just made sense.

We were a family now, the four of us. But more than that, when we first sat down to eat together, that was the first time a sense of normalcy flowed between us. Yes, it was absurd to even use the word normal when we were it a boat on the ocean heading towards even more infected, but the feeling happened nonetheless.

It was hard to believe, impossible to analyze logically; I’d call it a phenomenon, but that would imply some rational basis behind it. No, it was a miracle.

And it gave us hope—hope that, one day, we might even be able to return to some sort of normal.

Sarah’s response clinched the epiphany: “Yes, Andy, you may be excused.”

That marked a turning point for our mealtime breaks. From then on, when we all sat around that table, the conversations began flowing like the butter we all desperately wished we had. Between Trevor and Andy, the first thing they talked about, of all things, was sports.

After deciding on a game, they picked teams, debated hypothetical match ups, and offered scenarios for different outcomes: who would be capable of what, whose defense or offense was lacking, what trade would be most valuable; it was almost as if they had it down to a science…

Over the course of several meals, they talked football primarily, then ventured into baseball and basketball before stumbling into soccer and even NASCAR. They dipped into almost every sport before cycling around back to football.

I can’t say that I had much to contribute. Trevor and Andy shared a memory bank of teams and players that I had no access to. Whether I ever knew who these teams or players were, I couldn’t be sure.

Sarah only seemed to jump in when the topic steered towards soccer, but everything she knew came from watching matches with Will. Her forte was talking about food, and as we slowly chewed our army rations, she transformed our meals with spectacular recipes that she detailed down to the most basic ingredient. From everyday meals to fine dishes to exotic feasts, the recipes Sarah knew stirred a sense of nirvana into our imaginations.

They would inevitably stray into their past lives every so often, but it hardly stifled the conversations. They weren’t pretending that things could go back to the way they were before, but they didn’t allow circumstances to wipe out every good thing that had ever happened to them. It made them feel good to talk about familiar things—especially after such long hours of silence.

The period between meals became time for quiet reflection. Spirits improved dramatically, and the boat was no longer saturated with anxious thoughts or anguished memories. For the first time since we started our voyage, the ocean air became pleasant.

By the time the others started running out of things to talk about, their attention turned to me, and it was clear I would no longer be able to coast silently through meals. I suppose I was prepared for it, but it didn’t stop the anxiety from dousing me when their eyes came my way.

“So, Buddy,” Trevor said, setting down his rations, “you’ve been awfully quiet this whole time.” Sarah and Andy chuckled when I rolled my eyes; the sun had set not long before. “Wanna show us what you’ve learned?”

I could feel heat rising through my body. Was I—blushing? Impossible. Yet, after getting so used to being invisible, I was now the center of attention. What was I doing? I was a hunter; I wasn’t meant to be—

And there they were, for the first time in days—my instincts. I wasn’t nervous; they were. I was doing the right thing.

What should I say? I gestured to Trevor. He raised an eyebrow as a huge grin swept Sarah’s cheeks.

“Did he just insult my mother?” Trevor asked her.

“No,” Sarah said, laughing. “He said, ‘What do you want me to talk about?’”

I made a note of the interpretational difference, wondering if she was trying to make me sound more eloquent than was.

My response stumped Trevor, which prompted Andy to jump in. “Tell ‘em the ice-cream story,” he said.

Ice-cream story? I looked at him, confused. That was Charlie’s doing, and I thought we all understood, or at least silently acknowledged, that I wasn’t really Andy’s brother. I was ready to ask what he meant when a subtle shift happened in his eyes, freezing my hands. I could almost hear his thoughts begging me to—to play along, and I had never seen such pained intensity from him before.

When we were little, I started to sign, the ice-cream lady never stopped by our house. “When we were very young,” Sarah interpreted, “the ice-cream woman never came to our house.” Andy was such a baby that he would always cry when he heard the song.

Sarah grinned. “Andy was such a crybaby that he cried every time he heard the ice-cream truck’s song.” Trevor and Andy laughed.

“Nah uh!” Andy cut in. “Tell it right: you cried, too,” he insisted, making a face at me.

Grinning back at him, I went on, So one day… I hesitated—was I really supposed to take credit for Charlie’s idea?

“So one day,” Sarah said, and waited.

pappaskurtz
11-27-2011, 10:55 PM
Andy smiled at me. “So one day, Buddy had the idea that he would…”

He left it hanging, and that I was all I needed; hell, I’ll figure out why I was doing this later. One day, I had the idea that I would hide in some bushes with my bike and wait for the ice-cream lady.

“One day,” Sarah translated, “I had the idea that I would hide on my bike inside some bushes while I waited for the ice-cream truck to come by.” OK, she was definitely adding some words in, but she wasn’t distorting the story.

Right when she was about to pass by me, I rode out from the bushes and BAM! I clapped my hands once to demonstrate the crash, and Sarah seemed shocked as she translated: “Just as she was about to pass by, I drove from the bushes on my bike and she crashed into me.”

Andy started giggling as Trevor stared at me, agape. “Damn,” Trevor said, “and I thought my brother was bad.”

I was OK, though, because I had on a helmet and everything. The lady was distraught, though, and to make up for it, we got free ice cream for life. “I wasn’t hurt, though,” Sarah continued, “since I was wearing a helmet and everything. The ice-cream lady was horrified and made up for it by giving us a lifetime supply of free ice cream.”

Trevor and Sarah shared a quick look of understanding before Trevor said, “Wow, that’s genious.”

“You were very, very lucky,” Sarah added.

Andy nodded a thank you my way. “We were.”

“So you have been getting memories back, then,” Trevor said, “right? Can you remember anything more recent?”

I wasn’t sure why at first, but I started opening up, describing my recent flashbacks with Derek, Zach, and the tank at Emory. Maybe it was because I was so tired of yes and no responses, of either nodding or shaking my head, or shrugging, or rolling my eyes. With a voice again, I could communicate—all thanks to Sarah—and I no longer needed a pen to do it.

She didn’t always say the exact words or phrases I thought I was saying, but then again, most of the signing gestures could mean a multitude of things, and it was really up to the “listener” to discern the true meaning. Sarah was a remarkable translator in that respect, and not once did she misinterpret what I was trying to say.

With their rations consumed, Trevor and Andy were both leaning across the table, clinging to my every gesture. I worried about signing too fast, but even Sarah seemed to want the next detail even faster by how quickly she spoke. By the time I reached the part where I cut the ropes of the bells in the clock tower, my arms were tingling from fatigue.

“So that’s why!” Trevor exclaimed.

“That’s why, what?” Andy asked.

Trevor stood up. “I’ll explain later,” he said, starting to leave. “We’ve got to get moving again.”

Andy and Sarah looked back at me after Trevor left, but I didn’t want to give them too much of a good thing by explaining my waking flashbacks or why Trevor had to shoot me off a power line.

I’ll tell you later, I signed, and Andy understood; the gesture was obvious enough.

After Trevor refueled the boat and we started moving again, we had another period of downtime. When it was my turn to steer, I took Trevor’s place and he went below just as Sarah was coming up. The waters were choppier than usual, slowing our progress, and since Andy wasn’t fond of the turbulence, he usually kept below deck in the rougher waters.

I was almost expecting Sarah to come to the steering cabin, but she remained on deck. For a while, she just stood and stared ahead. No, she was doing more than that—she was holding a pose: her arms were at her sides, and I could sense her muscles cyclically tensing and relaxing.

Then she got low as she started to stretch, and I realized I hadn’t really made use of my body since we started our voyage. Apparently, Sarah was worried about going soft, as she spent a considerable amount of time stretching.

A mat flashes before me, and I’m on a bench chewing my mouth guard as I watch two competitors tackle each other.

So I definitely was a wrestler, then. But when, and where?

Sarah pulled me from my thoughts as she sprang upward and began rotating her body. Holding her arms out and balancing herself on one leg at a time, she started moving across the deck like—a ballerina.

Even with the boat lurching, she never lost her balance. More so, she was graceful. She leapt through the air, twirled, and bent herself like a swan, revealing an astonishing flexibility I grew jealous of. The infection might have transformed my body, giving me increased strength, but I’d never be able to attain such poise and balance.

I could’ve steered the boat half-asleep, so I spent most of the time watching Sarah. It only registered slightly that Trevor came above deck and was watching Sarah, too. Since I didn’t hear him coming, I decided to let it count as him sneaking up on me.

Obviously, she knew I was watching, but whether she knew Trevor was, too, I couldn’t be sure. After he spent a while gazing at her movements, entranced, he slipped back below deck before she finished her dance. It was her turn to take over after me, and she came to the cabin right on time.

“Did you like my warm up?” she asked, smiling.

I smiled back at her. Beautiful, I signed to her, and she laughed.

“I haven’t danced since I was a girl. I didn’t know I still had it in me.” Ballet? I gestured, and she nodded. “Yes, that was ballet.”

I headed below deck, where Andy and Trevor were already asleep. I’d stuck to a nocturnal schedule so far, but after all the attention on me from our last meal, I settled into my sleeping bag to see if my mind would wind down, if not completely rest.

I’m before the steering wheel of my mustang, my mom in the passenger seat beside me. It’s early, and it’s been a long drive, but when I look at her, she smiles at me, softening her features as the lines deepen around her eyes.

“You’re not nervous, are you?” she asks. “It’s just your first day of college.”

I laugh. “Technically, I don’t start classes until next week.”

“True, true,” she admits, and turns her attention to the highway for a moment. “You haven’t mentioned her at all, lately.”

I swallow. “I…didn’t see a reason to.”

“Not like you to just give up.”

“I didn’t have a choice. She broke up with me. She didn’t want to see me.”

“That didn’t stop you before. What changed?”

I take a deep breath and try to swallow the tears before they come up again. “I realized…I realized she was right.”

Mom takes my shoulder. “Oh, honey, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have brought it up.”

We don’t say anything else for the rest of the drive, but we’re close, anyway. I packed light, since we didn’t have a means to carry everything I needed, so Mom suggested we spend the day shopping for essentials. We pull into campus, and there’s already a line of cars before us. Luckily, our designated drop-off point is right beside the res hall, so unloading won’t be a problem. Parking will be another bear entirely, though.

Once I pull up, we get out and start unloading my things from the trunk and the back seat. An officer directs traffic, and she tells me I have fifteen minutes when she sticks a piece of paper on my windshield.

Already, there’s a line by the entrance for check in, but a burly guy with a bright yellow shirt approaches us. He has some Greek letters on his shirt that I don’t recognize.

“Hi, welcome to Emory,” he says with a wave, and takes a look at the three suitcases I’ve unloaded from the car. “Is this all you have?” I nod. “Cool, finally, a light packer. What’s your room number?”

“Uhhh,” I begin to say. I haven’t even gotten my keys yet. How am I to know?

pappaskurtz
11-27-2011, 10:57 PM
“Three oh one,” my mom interjects, giving me a knowing smile.

“All right,” the guy says to my mom, “I’ll help you bring his stuff up.” He turns to me. “Check in is right over there. Don’t worry, the line moves fast.”

As he leads my mom inside with my luggage, I see he’s right, as the line has already shrunken by a quarter. I walk to get in line, and the last guy in line turns around to acknowledge me as I get behind him. He gives a polite nod, but after I return the gesture, he does a double take and looks back at me.

“Seth? Is that you?”

I’m taken aback at being recognized, but when I give the tall, slightly lanky guy another look, I realize it’s Derek, my soon-to-be roommate.

“Derek?”

“Hey!” he exclaims, holding out his arm, and we clasp hands for a greeting. “Sorry, I don’t have my contacts in; still trying to get used to them. I didn’t expect to see you so early. Weren’t you scheduled to move in later?”

“Yeah, I was. It’s weird, they changed my time to now, but it works out better for me.”

“Is that your ride?” he asks, indicating my mustang behind me.

“Yeah, it is. Well, was, at least until next year.”

“Sweet, man. Wait, how’d you fit all your stuff in there?”

I chuckle. “I didn’t bring very much. I’m going with my mom later to pick up some things, which is probably good they moved my time.”

He nods. “Gotcha. Well,” he pauses to indicate his suitcase, “I’ve got plenty of stuff for the two of us!”

We laugh. It’s been a while since I last saw him—it was the spring open house, and he was in my tour group. When I found out we were going to be roommates, we exchanged a few e-mails, but I had no idea he would change so much over the summer. When I saw him last, his hair was cropped short and he had glasses. Now, he’s without them, and he’s grown out his hair. It verges on being a little unruly, but it suits him.

“Are both your parents here?” I ask.

“Yeah, my mom’s starting to set up, no doubt, and my dad’s parking somewhere. He’s been gone for a while; I hope he didn’t get lost.”

I laugh. “Lost, here?”

Derek sighs. “He’s awful with directions, even with a GPS. I bet the traffic isn’t helping, either.”

A blip of something enters my peripheral vision, somebody with red hair. I turn to look, and I freeze. She’s wearing sweatpants and a zip-up hoodie, but there’s no mistaking the bright red curls that flow past her shoulders.

“Michelle,” I whisper.

“Huh?” Derek asks, but I ignore him as she approaches me. She looks like a lost deer as she walks, but she doesn’t stop until she’s right before me.

“Hey,” she says softly. I can only gape at her. “I guess you’re wondering what I’m doing here…”

My throat is on the verge of spasms. “I…” is all I can manage.

“Orientation was over…I got the first plane ticket I could get and flew back here…”

Her eyes begin to well, and when I think she’s about to burst into tears, she leaps towards me and brings her lips to mine instead. She’s grasping me tightly, and it takes me a moment to embrace her back, but I start holding her just as tightly as months of anguish and torment rise to the surface and are washed away by her touch. Just like that time years ago when she appeared on my doorstep and gave me my first kiss, she manages to surprise me yet again.

She pulls back for air. “Oh, Seth, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry. I was wrong—I was totally wrong!”

“I’m sorry too,” I whisper, “I should’ve given you what you asked. I should’ve given you your space.”

She shakes her head emphatically. “No, that’s not what I needed,” she sighs, blinking a few tears from her eyes. “I was being stubborn. I was being selfish; I wasn’t seeing.”

“Michelle,” I begin.

“No, you were right,” she repeats, and she clasps her hands behind my neck. “I don’t care how hard it will be. I don’t care how many miles are between us or how busy the both of us get. I don’t want it to end—not now, not ever. I love you, I want to be with you, and no matter what happens, I want to share my life with you.

“You were right,” she breathes. “No matter what happens, we’ll make it work. Always.”

I blink, and I feel tears fall down my cheeks, too. I don’t know what to say, so I just kiss her, and our lips meet to say everything else that needs to be said.

When we part, Derek is staring at us, a confused grin on his face, but his eyes are a little misty, too. He offers Michelle his hand, and they shake before we burst out laughing.

“I’m Derek,” he says. “Since I have to live with him, I want to especially thank you for taking away his baggage!”

He and Michelle both vanish when I feel something shaking my shoulders.

“Buddy, wake up.”

My eyes flung open at the sound of Sarah’s voice. It was dawn, but there was hardly any sun. When Sarah stood up, I sprang to my feet and signed, What is it?

“It’s Andy,” she replied, and I followed her up to the deck.

Andy was in the captain’s cabin, but even though it was his turn to steer, Trevor was at the wheel. As Sarah and I approached, Andy seemed to have a hard time keeping his balance, and I smelled the reason why before I spotted the bottle in his hand.

“You’re holdin’ out on me!” Andy slurred, pointing the bottle at Trevor. I caught Andy just as he took another tumble. “Oh hey, Budd—Buddy!”

Trevor looked flush, and I could sense the heat rising from him. “Thank you, guys. Please get him out of here.”

Sarah and I led Andy out of the cabin. “Hey!” Andy protested. “I weren’t done with Trev, jerk-face.”

“He needs to steer,” Sarah said gently.

We took him to the deck and got him to sit, since he seemed beyond stairs at the moment. Just before he took another swig, Sarah took the bottle from his grasp.

“Hey!” he whined. “I wasn’t done.”

“I think you’ve had enough, Andy.”

“Nah uh! That was my, my first time! No one e’er gets drunk their first dime…dime, d-d-dime…” As a grin swept his face, he fell back into a fit of giggling.

I looked at Sarah. What happened? I signed.

“He found the crate of beer and, I guess he just got carried away.”

We had beer? I asked.

“Not very much,” she replied, looking towards the cabin at Trevor. “He wanted to save them for when we landed.”

When she looked back at me, I gestured, He drank all of them?

She shook her head. “There was more than enough for celebrations and to use as sanitizer, but with how drunk he is now, I think he’s going to be very sick later.”

Andy was still lying on the deck giggling to himself, so I helped him to his feet. It would probably be best for him to try to sleep it off.

pappaskurtz
11-27-2011, 10:59 PM
“Aww, Buddy, you’re the bestest, bestest ever,” he said, and hugged me. Sarah tried to not to laugh as she watched us, but Andy was just refusing to walk. He was just hugging me! I tried to pry him off, but he wouldn’t let go, so I swept him up and carried him over my shoulder.

“Whoa!” he cried out, but then started laughing. I carried him below deck and plopped him onto his cot. He kept giggling as he tried to stand, so I pressed him to the cot, letting out a low growl.

He wasn’t fazed, and his dopey grin persisted. “You’re so funny, Buddy. I love it. Love it!”

When it looked like he would stay on the cot, I let him go. After a step, though, Andy leapt back up and grabbed me. Why was he so damn clingy all of a sudden?

“Noo, don’t go! You’re the bestest teddy bear I ever had. I told you, right? My Buddy was a teddy bear; I mean, my teddy bear was my buddy, he was Buddy. That was his name, and that’s your name! You’re Buddy, too! I gave it to you. When I was little. I miss him, though, lots. Tons. Tonnnnzzz. I wish I had him still.”

He squeezed me tighter. “But I have you, now! You’re even better. You’re so warm and snuggly, just like a teddy bear. Snuggly snuggly!”

Sarah finally came below deck, and she met my scowl with a grin.

“All right, Andy,” Sarah said, nudging him off me. “You need to rest.”

“West? I ain’t tired!” Andy slurred, but he didn’t resist her as she led him back to his cot. When he lay back, it was like a switch flipped, and he was out.

I crossed my arms, and when Sarah looked at me, she could hardly keep from laughing. “Well, at least, he’s a happy drunk!”

Shaking my head, I went back up and Sarah followed me. It was morning, but it was ominously overcast, so I decided to keep my blindfold off. After days of travel, we were finally getting close to the Georgia coast.

Shortly after Andy’s turn, now Trevor’s, was done, Sarah took over, and when it was my turn, Andy awoke and came sprinting onto the deck to vomit over the rail. We were all amused at the sight despite how pale he looked, but Trevor and Sarah came to his aid with water and crackers.

“I’m sorry,” he uttered.

Trevor patted his back. “Don’t worry about it.”

“Well, at least…I got what’s coming to me.” He shot up and vomited over the side again.

Unlike how I usually spent my time as captain, I didn’t try to empty my mind; I couldn’t. Sarah might have interrupted my flashback, but for all I knew, she could’ve helped trigger it by giving me a way to speak again.

This one had been different. It had been special. I learned—remembered—my name. Seth. Seth. I tried to mouth it, even speak it to myself, but the name wouldn’t sound. Like everything else I tried to say, it came out as a snarl.

Even then, however, the name didn’t feel right coming across my tongue and colliding against my teeth. I knew why, but I couldn’t bring myself to admit it right away. Instead, I relished the name, because for the first time, the flashbacks didn’t feel like I was watching someone else’s life or reliving someone else’s dream. Because someone finally said my name, I knew I was there, and he knew I was there, too. Finally, I had something to inscribe an indisputable authenticity to the dreams.

Yet—did any of it still matter? I might be able to write it, but I’ll never be able to say it again. As much as it pained me to admit it, that name only meant something to people who might not be around anymore. More so, could I still be that guy who showed up with barely anything on his first day of college, who nearly gave up on his first love, only to have her surprise him with a promise of forever—no matter what?

No matter what happens, we’ll make it work. Always. Those were her words. That was her promise. Was it strong enough to withstand such unfathomable destruction? Were we strong enough?

As the doubts gnawed at my sanity, I knew I’d spoiled the sanctity of my steering time. We were nearing our next mealtime, so I was almost glad when Trevor came into the cabin and had me stop early, but when I smelled the dangerously still air around us, I was brought back to the time of day—and the extraordinary lack of sun. We anchored at the next buoy before he called Sarah and Andy into the cabin.

It was midday, and the sun still hadn’t shown up. The clouds had only thickened, and it was almost as dark as dusk.

“The storm’s bad, isn’t it?” Sarah said right as she entered.

“And it’s not going away?” Andy asked.

Trevor shook his head. “It worse, and no, it’s not going away. We got to decide fast, or we’re screwed.”

A pit of dread clutched my stomach. It wasn’t like Trevor to be so alarmist.

“Screwed?” Sarah gasped.

Trevor looked at us grimly. “It’s a hurricane, and it’s coming our way.”

Salphen
11-28-2011, 01:40 AM
I've read thousands of books in the course of my life, and few of them keep me as riveted as this does. Well done with this latest piece of the chapter!

Salphen
11-28-2011, 01:44 AM
Also, this explains why we see the boat wrecked later in the game XD

Drewsko
11-28-2011, 03:50 PM
Also, this explains why we see the boat wrecked later in the game XD

Holy moley, if you're right...

I agree. This chapter was worht the wait. Can't wait to see what happens next (actually, I can wait. I do have some level of patience).

Gamingliker
11-28-2011, 09:15 PM
That would be QUITE unoriginal, thank you.

Oh, and didn't Pappaskurtz list the female Hunter's name earlier?

Excuse me for not reading most of the replies.
Anyway,great update!
And a cliffhanger,hmm.

Left 2 B Happeh
11-30-2011, 04:58 PM
This addition to your now large story brought a grin to my face many times. And I didn't bother counting, I was too absorbed in the story!

This part has definitely been worth the wait, and I hope the next part is as well!

Also, I saw a typo in this part. Can't remember where it is, though. Can someone help me?

Excuse me for not reading most of the replies.
Anyway,great update!
And a cliffhanger,hmm.

It was in the story, not the replies.


[EDIT] Woah, that's cool. After I read this, I decided to go play some L4D2. But when I'd joined a server I really liked, I found that All-Talk was on. The other team didn't like the fact that we heard them, so one of them said "Let's talk in *I forget the language* so they don't know what we're saying". Then, three of them (the fourth was a bot) started talking in a language that was quite alien to me. They turned All-Talk off later, and laughed when everyone on BOTH TEAMS except for the two bots voted to turn it off.

Maybe I should learn a second language (EDIT: I'm learning one now).

Jar55
11-30-2011, 05:43 PM
Just wondering, did you pick the names from writings on the walls of the safe rooms? From what I can remember, I've seen the names Andy, Trevor, and Sarah floating around on those walls, though I can't remember if I've seen a Buddy or not.

RadioKon
12-05-2011, 03:24 PM
Buddy's name is Seth? Seth?! Why would you do something like this to me? The story is absolutely wonderful, the name in books just irks me a little bit.

raptor67
12-08-2011, 11:08 AM
Whait Sarah and Trevor think Buddy is Andy's brother?

Anyway, I have been noticing a change in writing style through your last view posts. Sentence constructions are a LOT better. Sentences were sometimes a bit odd in the first few chapters but they make more sense in the newer ones.

Jakeomaniac
12-20-2011, 07:35 PM
No new stuff yet?

Salphen
12-20-2011, 08:19 PM
It's the holidays, man! He's probably up to his ears in family stuff :)

Jakeomaniac
12-21-2011, 08:47 AM
True. I wasn't complaining, I was just surprised is all.

Brew78
01-04-2012, 01:28 PM
Well, now that the New Year is upon us, hopefully we'll see an update at some point.

pappaskurtz
01-04-2012, 03:37 PM
Yes, I'll post a new section soon. There's so much that happens in part 2, though, and I was hoping for a bit more reactions from readers. I'm not sure where to start... Buddy's name? Buddy learning a new language? Andy making Buddy take credit for Charlie's memory...? Sarah becoming Buddy's "voice"?

Left 2 B Happeh
01-04-2012, 03:45 PM
Yes, I'll post a new section soon. There's so much that happens in part 2, though, and I was hoping for a bit more reactions from readers. I'm not sure where to start... Buddy's name? Buddy learning a new language? Andy making Buddy take credit for Charlie's memory...? Sarah becoming Buddy's "voice"?

Those are all what made this my favorite part yet! I'm sorry, I'll post my full opinion in the future.

pappaskurtz
01-05-2012, 06:37 PM
Hmm, I suppose I should rephrase my post. Why does Andy make Buddy take credit for Charlie's memory?

Brew78
01-06-2012, 01:26 PM
You know, I wasn't entirely sure.. figured it would be explained in a future chapter.

My initial reaction was "coping mechanism" - trying to retcon his life a little so as to not have to deal with the issue.

My second reaction was that it was to make Buddy more human to the others, to endear him to the group so that they'd be less likely to turn on him, declare him a danger to the group if he were to flip out in a rage again. Especially considering his increasingly erratic behavior.

As to the sign language thing, I'm kind of torn. On the one hand, its great to see Buddy finally able to better communicate and interact with the group. On the other hand, it seems like an awful coincidence that anyone in the group would even know sign language, let alone be totally fluent with it.. Just feels like a bit of a cheat. But I don't know, maybe sign language is more common than I think - its just been my experience that its pretty rare, like fraction of a percent rare.

Don't really have an opinion on Buddy remembering his name, I just saw it as the next step in recovering his lost memory. I mean, its a pretty important and major step, no doubt. But even if he could positively identify himself to others, is there even anyone left who'd know who he is? Maybe there is and that's why its important, I dunno. Figured I'd read on and see :)

Unusual Cookie
01-06-2012, 02:04 PM
Found out this thread yesterday.I casually started reading the beginning thinking maybe it would spark my interest.

I just finished the whole thing today.I kinda wish it would end already.
Kinda stretching out a bit long for me.

Scars Tropics
01-06-2012, 10:34 PM
Yes, I'll post a new section soon. There's so much that happens in part 2, though, and I was hoping for a bit more reactions from readers. I'm not sure where to start... Buddy's name? Buddy learning a new language? Andy making Buddy take credit for Charlie's memory...? Sarah becoming Buddy's "voice"?

I didn't have much feedback because everything that you mentioned seems like it all leads up to something that hasn't happened yet, so the feeling I got from all of it was a sensation of limbo. Story-wise. There wasn't much conflict, mostly establishing a new tool for buddy to communicate which allowed for a bonding between him and andy with a fake story. I like the parts of the story best where buddy battles with himself and his dealings with other infected. How he deals with other people was interesting too, but he seems to get along with everyone so there isn't much drama at present with that. Buddys past doesn't interest me at all actually. Its more interesting watching him come to grips with what he is, not what he was. He can never be what he was.

pappaskurtz
01-07-2012, 01:25 PM
That's fascinating that you bring that up, Scars Tropics. That is just the sort of thing that will come to a head, soon.

I like the general thoughts so far. The next part will finally cross into new territory, so to speak--as in, ground that hasn't been covered in a L4D game. I'm finally breaking free of the chains and am about to start on a track that I've been waiting a long time to cross.

Scars Tropics
01-08-2012, 08:26 AM
Its been fun seeing the story become far more vast than the game it was inspired by. If its about to turn a corner into new territory I'm very stoked.

biby
01-08-2012, 10:25 AM
wow, awesome!

raptor67
01-11-2012, 11:14 AM
Buddy's name?

Sorry but I just don't like names that end with a "th".
Fits with a hunter though.


Buddy learning a new language?


Fun and good but...
I kinda expected it.


Andy making Buddy take credit for Charlie's memory...?


Ah, THAT'S what happened.
I think Andy might actually see Buddy as his brother.


Sarah becoming Buddy's "voice"?

Makes sense. Andy wouldn't be too interesting since they can get along anyway and Trevor is too much of a mystery man to do that. I would also have chosen Sarah.

Left 2 B Happeh
01-13-2012, 08:54 AM
Sorry but I just don't like names that end with a "th".
Fits with a hunter though.



Fun and good but...
I kinda expected it.



Ah, THAT'S what happened.
I think Andy might actually see Buddy as his brother.



Makes sense. Andy wouldn't be too interesting since they can get along anyway and Trevor is too much of a mystery man to do that. I would also have chosen Sarah.

From now on, everyone here should list their reactions like you did.

Have a rep cake.

bLark
01-13-2012, 11:17 PM
I'm not too sure about the language thing. On the one hand I can see why you did it, but part of the whole thing with buddy(Seth)was his inability to communicate, thus distancing himself from the others. It just seemed to be huge part of his character, the coming to grips that he would probably never fit in with everybody else.

Although you kinda had to as you kinda hit a wall as far as Character development goes with him. So it makes a lot of sense story wise.

stellerman7
01-21-2012, 04:59 AM
Reading this story makes me wish custom campaigns could be made with custom surviors, then parts of this story could be recreated in L4D2.

Unusual Cookie
01-28-2012, 09:06 AM
so... about that BUMP

Left 2 B Happeh
02-03-2012, 06:13 AM
so... about that BUMP

What about it?

Cvenom
02-03-2012, 06:47 AM
email to
licensing@valve.com

And see if you're allowed to write the books. You gotto love merchandise :)

pappaskurtz
02-04-2012, 11:46 AM
Just to give a heads up, I've had to relocate twice in the past month or so, and I am currently without steady internet access at the moment. I plan to get situated by the end of the month and then I can resume regular updates.

Salphen
02-05-2012, 08:39 AM
Dude, you can crash at my place XD

Left 2 B Happeh
02-12-2012, 09:37 AM
Just to give a heads up, I've had to relocate twice in the past month or so, and I am currently without steady internet access at the moment. I plan to get situated by the end of the month and then I can resume regular updates.

Oh. Alright. I'm sorry about the internet access, I know how you feel.

Good luck!

Salphen
02-16-2012, 08:36 PM
I just had a thought that inspired a bit of melancholy. People had, earlier in the thread, suggested that perhaps the huntress was Michelle.

Here's a 'what if?'; what if Michelle has become one of the infected, one that they'll encounter later. A witch, perhaps? That'd be quite the tragic twist, even if perhaps a tad cliche'.

Left 2 B Happeh
02-18-2012, 08:26 PM
I just had a thought that inspired a bit of melancholy. People had, earlier in the thread, suggested that perhaps the huntress was Michelle.

Here's a 'what if?'; what if Michelle has become one of the infected, one that they'll encounter later. A witch, perhaps? That'd be quite the tragic twist, even if perhaps a tad cliche'.

I admire your idea just as much as I do the fact that you can call your own idea cliche!

I like tragic twists. I vote for this, so long as 'Skurtz didn't have anything planned.