I lost track of how long it was until I had my next interesting visitor. I estimated it must have been around two days, simply because the lights went off twice, leaving me in pitch black darkness, and I had two meals delivered to me by a blank eyed woman who didn’t look at me or acknowledge me when I tried to talk to her.
The meals were absolute shit, as I expected. Half a glass of water and what looked like some meat paste to eat. However, no matter how rancid it was, at least they were actually feeding me. That was definitely a good sign.
I had spent much of my time trying to scratch my wolf insignia in the wall of the cell, but so far had been unsurprisingly unsuccessful. Seriously, you try making marks on concrete with your nails some time. It’s difficult.
Finally, I heard the sound of the door being pushed open again. And luckily for me, the footsteps were that of the girl. So she’d actually bothered to come back. I couldn’t deny that I was surprised.
“Hey, how are you?” she asked.
“I’m fine, just sitting here in my jail cell being bored as all hell” I told her.
“Oh” she said. “James told me your name was Max”
“Yeah, well I’ll let you in on a little secret” I said. “My name’s not Max, it’s Fen”
“You lied to him?”
She actually seemed surprised.
“Girl, I lie to everyone. Force of habit”
“Oh. I checked the weapon’s locker and your stuff is there. The sword is really cool, I haven’t ever seen a real one before” she told me.
I grinned at her. “Thanks so much. Incidentally, the sword is totally real. It’s a hand-me-down from some samurai in Japan”
“Indeed. I wish I knew more about it; it seems the sort of weapon that has a history”
“Yup, I definitely have a history. I might tell you sometime, since no one else gives a shit.”
“What about you? From what I can tell, you’ve lived underground in this bunker for the full five years of zombie invasion”
“Yes,” she admitted, “I’ve never even seen a zombie”
“Wow. Now look here- wait, what was your name again?”
“-Cat, I really need to show you some at some point. Gruesome as”
“I’m not sure I really want to”
“They’re the rulers of the world, you should at least know what they look like”
“I do. Human shape, rotting and bent on killing us”
“Exactly. Six billion corpses, slowly rotting to the bone as their flesh bubbles and skin peels away, shambling towards you because they don’t have the motor coordination to walk properly. But they won’t stop, ever. You can walk a thousand miles but they will keep following you until you shoot them in the brain or until they find better prey. Like other humans”
Cat shuddered. “Please stop”
She glared at me. “I’m not a princess!”
“What?” I said. “You’re the perfect damsel in distress. Beautiful, has no clue how to take care of herself and locked up in an impenetrable fortress. All you need is a knight in shining armour, and I would be happy to fill that position”
Okay, maybe that was a bad thing to say. She flashed me a look of absolute loathing.
“I could kill zombies just as well as you if I had to and I’ll have you know that I can walk out of here at any time. As to the whole knight in shining armour thing, you can go fuck yourself”
“You’re quite welcome” she replied, her sweet voice dripping with venom.
“See you around” I called after her, as she dashed away.
“I’m not coming back!” she yelled.
Excellent. I may have just pissed off my only friend in this hole in the ground. Great work, Fen. Great work.
When my next meal came I hid the knife, which was metal but probably the bluntest instrument I have ever seen. The woman didn’t even seem to notice it was gone, she was too busy not giving a shit about me. With the knife, I could now start making real progress with my wolf’s head. You may wonder why I even bothered doing it. But I was really bored and I wanted anyone who used this cell after me to know that I had been there. Y’know, just in case my suspicions were correct and they killed me horribly.
Three more ‘days’ passed before I saw Cat again. I had no doubt she would come back (I’m a handsome guy with an air of mystery, after all), but I had hoped it would be sooner. As I heard her footsteps I smiled.
“Just couldn’t bear to leave me all alone, could you?”
Then I noticed that her eyes were puffy from crying.
“Oh shit, what happened?” I asked.
Cat took a deep breath and sat down just outside the door of my cell.
“I need your help”
Wow, that I wasn’t expecting. Maybe from James, to save them from some brigands, but not from this girl. For one thing, I could not think of a single thing I could actually do to help her.
“What with?” I asked, slightly taken aback.
“My brother” she said. “He’s been missing for three days”
“I hate to break it to you, but there’s exactly nothing I can do about that” I told her.
“You can help me go and look for him.”
“Don’t you have people far more trustworthy than me who you can ask to do that?” I asked. “Speaking of which, why haven’t they sent a search party out if it’s so important?”
“That’s the issue” she said. “Here in the bunker we have a rule. If someone leaves and doesn’t come back after three days we assume they’re either dead or captured. So we lock down and prepare for a possible attack. No one’s going to help me look for him. I’m not even allowed to leave”
“As much as this is not helpful, that is a pretty sensible policy. If he’s not back, then he’s probably dead. It’s a dangerous world”
“He’s alive!” she yelled. “I can’t just leave him out there!”
I sighed. “You want me to take you and search for your brother? I’m sorry, but I don’t do escort missions”
“I’m offering you your freedom” she said. “If you find him and bring both him and me back, you can go free. I’ll take responsibility for that”
“Okay, that does sound tempting. If this deal includes me getting my equipment back then I will take it”
“Excellent” I said. “I promise to help you, assuming you uphold your end of the deal. Part one of which is getting me out of this here jail cell”
“Already covered” she said, her voice filled with relief. Then she pulled out a key and unlocked the door.
It felt good, standing in the corridor, no longer stuck in my tiny ass cell.
“Thank you” I said. “Lead on”
“Right,” she told me, “we’re on the second floor down. The weapons room is on the first floor and I know an emergency escape tunnel we can use to get up to the surface. If anyone spots us, run like hell. Got it?”
Cat pushed open the door, taking the lead. I moved silently, aware of the noises of other humans moving around in other parts of the bunker. She’d planned this well, I realised, as we carefully followed a route that took us down a lot of dusty corridors and disused, rusty staircases. Eventually, we stopped outside a bare metal door with a plaque on it that read ‘armoury’. Cat looked left and right, then listened at the door, before pushing it open.
Oh man. I had no idea that there was this kind of stuff left. The place had a rack of assault rifles against one wall and boxes of ammunition against the other. There were a couple of boxes which were marked ‘grenades’ and a few open ones which contained partially used ammunition and smaller handguns. Pride of place were the two unmistakable long cylinders of rocket launchers on a rack on the near wall.
My crossbow and sword were lying on a table in the middle of the room, next to a few other weapons that were more like those I was used to, for example a makeshift halberd, two spears and a bow and arrow. Underneath the table was my backpack, which did not seem to have been opened. After a quick check, I found nothing had been removed.
Still, I had the find of a lifetime all around me. Putting my backpack on the table, I grabbed two pistols, an assault rifle and ammunition for both and shoved them in. Cat did not so much as bat an eyelid, probably assuming that I was simply being prepared. I cracked open the box of grenades and helped myself to a handful, before reaching up and taking one of the sweet, sweet rocket launchers down. Luckily, it came with a handy strap which I used to attach it to my backpack.
Cat, meanwhile, picked up only one handgun and an assault rifle, looking warily at the vast amount of explosives I was packing. She had a backpack of her own, which I assume was filled with food and medical supplies, which she packed with some ammunition. I attached my sword and knives to my belt, shouldered the rather heavier rucksack and Skullfucker before turning to her.
“So, if you’re ready we can go” I said.
“Follow me” she ordered, before pushing open the door and running right into someone I didn’t recognise.
He obviously recognised her, though, and looked at me with shock. He must have been about to speak before I pushed past Cat and punched him in the temple as hard as I could. The man dropped like a sack of potatoes. Cat stared at me, eyes wide.
“What?” I protested. “He was about to ruin my escape”
Shaking her head, she knelt beside the man and checked his pulse, before gesturing for me to follow her. I did so, letting her lead me down yet another concrete corridor (was this place all she had seen for five whole years?) before going through a thick metal safety door which led to a long, long flight of steps. Here’s a tip: should you ever find yourself looting an underground bunker, bear in mind that lots of guns makes your legs kill when you climb stairs.
Once we reached the top, I was regretting packing quite so much stuff. The exit was unremarkable, merely two sets of airtight blast doors set into the side of a peaceful green hill. There weren’t even any zombies. How disappointing – I wanted to test my new guns.
“Sun, I love you!” I called, grinning at the sky.
Cat herself seemed to be taking a moment to look about her, and I was reminded once again that she had probably not seen blue sky for five years. It’s a wonder she hadn’t gone nuts.
“You’re weird” she told me.
“I try” I replied.