Sweat rolled from his face. His breath, heavy. Humid heat cloyed to his skin, his palms slick. Sticky. Shaking. Pressed hard to the pulsing neck of a woman. She squirmed, bare feet slipped on marble floors. Smearing blood under clawed toes. Her eyes, wide. Frightened. Mouth hung open. Gagged on the blood that choked her throat. That bubbled up between his fingers, stained his wrists, and pooled, vivid, under her head.
The woman was dead. Severed carotid. He knew it. Even as her terrified, shiny eyes, smudged in glitter and shadow, begged for his help. Begged. For her life. That would spurt three feet in the air if he lifted his hands. A huge chunk of her flesh between the teeth of a dead man, brains splattered on the lobby floor, a meter to their left.
Her chest spasmed. A gurgle of gushed blood between her lips, down her chin. Her hands grasped and clawed, uncontrolled, at his arm. Fake nails scored his skin, a sharp sting twisting his mouth into a grimace. His heart, pounded hard against his chest. Fighting, to keep his breath controlled. "Shhh." The heat fucking unbearable. Wet air in his lungs. "Shhhshsh." He couldn't find words. Not for what he'd just seen. He didn't know what the fuck he'd just seen. Hand pressed to her pulsing neck. Uselessly. As she bled.
The spasms died to twitches. Her mouth gulped. A glaze clouded her terrified face. And her eyes stared.
Pierce snatched his hand away. Blue gaze automatically dropped to the watch at his wrist. Piaget, white-gold links caked in blood. He swiped a thumb across smeared glass. Time of death. 9:18 AM. Breath a trembled rush from his chest. His body sunk back onto marble floors, arms braced against his knees, and willed his heart to slow. Sympathetic system on high arousal. Cortisol, increasing the flood of oxygen to his blood. Mouth dry, even as he sweat bullets. Bright, Hawaiian print rayon stuck to his back, wet in a deep vee at his neck and pits. He turned his hands, palms up, covered in blood. And watched his fingers shake.
Fuck. What the hell was going on? The lobby, echoed silent except for the emergency announcement on repeat. His head span. What are five things you can see? Bodies. And blood. Luggage, strewn across the floors. Smashed glass, glittering under the hazy sun. The fire extinguisher, he’d used to crack in a skull… Four things you can hear? A breeze rippled through palm trees. Distantly, the hiss and crash of the sea. Birds, calling. And the emergency warning repeated over PA. Three things you can smell? Hank sucked another breath to keep himself grounded. But the metallic stink of blood flooded his head. His gaze dragged back to the woman and her mangled neck when-
She twitched. Her face. Moved! His pulse slammed into overdrive as glassy, staring eyes swung to him.
Pierce recoiled, but her hand shot out. Curled, vice like, around his ankle. His palms slipped in blood, he tried to yank away. Her mouth, gaped, gargling. Teeth snapped shut and gnashed, reaching for the muscle of his calf.
"He's not responding..." The doctor mentioned, the man pushing into the chest of their child, trying to resuscitate the small boy in the bed as he stood behind the glass, time stopped still. He had to be alright, there had been other scares, johnny would get through this. He was a fighter, his little boy would win... Unable to watch as he turned away and shook, Shaun heard the door open. "Mr. Ericsson, it may be best if you come to the relatives room." The physician stated, guiding the redhead to the room and sitting him down on the sofa. "W-Where is he?" Shaun asked, refusing to listen to the voice in his head that knew what happened.
"We tried to get your son back, but the infection was too far gone. The leukemia had already compromised his immune system and by the time we got to him, his organs were shutting down... Mr. Ericsson, I'm afraid John is dead. He didn't suffer, he just slipped away." Dr. Kilbracken explained as Shaun's sobs broke, it turned into a howl of anguish, a primal scream of agony that threatened to rip his vocal chords apart. His world had shattered, everything he'd worked for seemed pointless.
"It's best if we keep this farewell clean..." Sarah stated, taking her stuff and heading towards the taxi. "Just piss off. I never want to see you again, dead or alive." Shaun spat angrily, having found out the truth about her little "dinner with friends" and took it about as badly as one could. He took her for everything she had in the divorce, he had screenshots and screenshots of messages and emails about what "Michael" wanted to do with her. The only reason he didn't go round there and introduce his skull to his heaviest wrench until the blood stopped spurting was because Johnny wouldn't want it.
Banoi was an escape from the hell back home. To hell with his whore of an ex, he was going to drink and smoke and see as many guys as he wanted. After all, he was a free man. He could do what the hell he wanted-
Shaun woke with a start early in the morning. Already the hot, tropical temperatures had soaked the bedsheets with sweat, so he got out of bed and went to shower. The water made him feel better and washed the nightmares away, his hair soaking wet as he dried himself off. Exiting the bathroom, he saw the black-haired man he'd spent the night with almost finished dressing.
Pulling on the pants and top from last night, he wandered out of his cabin and got to work. He'd initally come here as another tourist, but now... Well, their mechanic went off with some woman, and guess who owned a shop back home? It was always "just one more month". The free lodging was pretty good as he entered the bay of the hotel, soon getting to work on one of the vehicles. First one there, guess it must be earlier than he thought as he grabbed the bucket and sponge, quickly getting to work washing the vehicles. They had to look pristine, and the mindless, repetitive and menial work let him distract himself from thoughts of back home as he scrubbed at the paintwork, whistling to himself as he worked. Just let his mind go blank, no feelings, no thoughts. Just work.
The movement from behind spooked him a little. "Who's there?" He demanded, dropping the sponge and immediately going for his heavy wrench. "N'komo? This ain't Halloween, why are you..." He stated, staring at the junior mechanic in overalls, blood-drenched overalls. He was moving weirdly, shambling almost. "This isn't funny, get to work!" Shaun stated as the mechanic began lumbering towards him, moaning and roaring. "I'm serious, back off or I swear I'll deck you!" The redhead snapped, aiming his wrench at his former colleague.
It was the work of an instant. He felt the cold, icy skin grip his arm, the glassy eyes that were unblinking. He raised his wrench like it was Excalibur and smashed into his aggressor's skull, there was almost a moan of pain as it slumped to the floor, unmoving.
"JESUS CHRIST!" Shaun whispered, horrified. The fact that N'komo was missing part of his leg and his neck had a large bite mark meant he shouldn't be able to walk with his injuries... He was like... "Like a zombie." The mechanic whispered, being a horror-movie buff. Zombies, that was ridiculous... Putting on two sets of thick leather gloves, he dragged the body away and buried it in shallow sand, dumping some gasoline on the body and setting it alight before scrubbing the floor within an inch of it's life, desperate to suppress the flashes of him smashing the skull of his former friend in with more repetitive work. Perhaps this was an infection of some sorts, like a virus?
He had to find someone else, others. They might have answers.
Well, he hated his job in general, really. All those videography lessons, media ethics, legal studies...
And for what?
To catch some washed up, B-list celebrity disheveled in public? Some super model out and about with a few hairs loose? Write some trashy articles about a bunch of sleazeballs nobody but wine moms gave two fucks about?
What a crock of shit.
At least this time the venue those assholes at SNN sent him to was nice. All expenses paid too. 'Deep cover' in Banoi, posing as some no name producer, set him up in the Royal Palms to catch every sick deed these vapid, self-absorbed fucks did. Said the footage would 'blow Hollywood right open' it'd be 'real', 'authentic', that he'd be hailed as one of the greatest field reporters in the network's history.
Bullshit. Nobody earned a Pulitzer for making front page of some sketchy tabloid.
He wanted to do something. Something good. Bust open private prisons, pharmaceutical mega-donors, political scandals.
He was wasted on this shit.
Speaking of shit, it seems his quarry was making his move. Daniel Becker. Bit actor. He'd been tailing him the majority of the night, got a few good shots with a hidden tie cam of him blowing a few lines. Real asshole, seemed like. He had been following a cocktail waitress around all night. Even out of the party.
Awkwardly squatted behind some perfectly trimmed hedgerows, James took in the scene with high quality precision, courtesy of his prize possession. Top of the line, cutting edge camcorder.
He tensed as things grew more heated, Daniel grabbing the girls hands after making several rude remarks, only to get a slap in the face for his troubles. The actor responded by gut punching the woman, doubling her over.
Fuck the footage.
"Hey, asshole!" James emerged from the bush he had been crouched behind, well, emerged was a strong word. More like stumbled.
"What?" The man turned his attention to James, obviously inebriated.
"I got that shit on camera!" James stated triumphantly. "Don't think anybody'll appreciate a piece of shit who runs around all night harassing women on their set, let alone one who hits them."
"Piece of shit." The actor slurred, reaching into the pocket of his dress pants and retrieving a switchblade, the knife glinting dangerously under the light of the tiki torches.
Maybe he didn't think this one through as much as he should've.
Rustling in the hedgerows, from behind Daniel, farther down from where James had emerged. A man stumbled out, clothing tattered. Streetwear. Homeless, maybe?
Was that... was that blood on him?
Daniel turned his attention to the new arrival, the combination of substances swirling through him clouding his senses. The woman screamed as the switchblade found it's way into the mans side, increasing in pitch as the man bit down on Daniel's arm in retaliation, the scuffle brought them closer and under the decorative torch light, the journalist was able to discern the milky white eyes of the vagrant as he tore a strip of flesh away, face flecked with blood.
The woman got up, stumbled for a moment, and ran.
James took a hint out of her playbook and did the same. No time to help, not that he would've. Motherfucker seemed ready to gut him. No time to record, no time to think.
It wasn't the merciless heat beating down on his exposed back or the sandpaper on his tongue, it was the shriek of a landing seagull that jerked him off drunken sleep. His lashes fluttered, bleary gaze sharpened on a knocked down bottle of tequila, candescent against the metalgun gravel.
And a bird.
The animal flicked and folded silver wings. Its head tipped with interest, eyeballing the peanuts spilled near the sprawled human.
It took a moment for the bizarre image to get through the brain fog, then Carlos began rising on stiff arms. Little rocks fell off his cheek and torso as he plopped to his ass with a dismembered groan. Fuck, it was hot. His upper body glittered in the early sun. His hand skimmed along his sweaty forehead and he peered at the cloudless sky with a screwed up face. Why the hell wasn't he in his room. The man looked at the lonely AC unit nearby, not acknowledging there was no usual whirring coming from the vents. Numerous others spread across the whole roof. Roof.
Wesson twitched with ragged laughter, trembling like in convulsion. His spontaneous guffaw turned into a broken cough that didn't pull his happy cheeks down. He was on a fucking roof!
Carlos looked and smelled like an overcooked gym junkie, wearing slick, bottle green shorts lined with white stripes on each side and an inapt, golden watch. Relieved to find his missing flip flop blocking the door he entered the emergency staircase, finally sheltered from the obtrusive sunlight. Balancing on one leg he put the scarce footwear on.
The man was too out of it to realize the inside was darker than it should be and as warm and humid as the air outside. The smell was kind of funny. Not good funny. Familiar too. But Wesson didn't dwell upon it, his mind spun from overheating and dehydration as he climbed down two levels. Optimistically assuming the key card was tucked inside his zipped pocket along with his phone.
He swung the door leading to the elevator lobby, debating whether to seek his apartment or closest bathroom to gulp on the tap water, but his thoughts and body froze before he made as much as a single step. People. On the floor. In a pool of blood. Man trying to move away, woman catching him, trying to… Was she trying to bite him? In that moment all Wesson saw was a victim trying to punish her assaulter.
"Lady, stop!" His voice was a raspy screech that took him off guard. "Hey!" He dashed towards the two. "You!" Pointing at the man. "Hands where I can see th--!" The full view of the lobby punched him in the empty stomach, stumbling. A body, open skull, blood on the walls What-How--
location: elevator lobby on 18th floor
No police, no ambulance, nothing. Emergency services were either disabled or so swamped with callers nothing could get through, neither of which were exactly comforting. Turned on the news after that, scattered reports of random violence. Mass hysteria. He tried to call his parents, fuck, got desperate enough to try the local american embassy.
Zilch, zero, nada.
Serious infrastructure issues had arisen then. Unless the service around here was just total shit. Which also could be a possibility. This place was notorious for spotty connection.
Live broadcasts had cut out early that morning, maybe earlier. He had tried to get some sleep in, however sporadic, and woke up to an emergency warning broadcast blasting on the tv, thoughtfully translated into several different languages.
Stay in your home.
Lock all doors.
Cover all windows.
Rescue will arrive shortly.
Yeah, fucking right.
His best chance was the embassy. Despite the lack of response he had recieved, it had to be operational. Even if it wasn't in the best of shape, it'd be the first stop for the boys in red white and blue to swoop on by to comb for survivors once news of this... well, whatever it was, reached the rest of the world.
Which meant getting out of this shithole hotel.
He filled his bag with everything he could need, laptop, journal, camcorder, food, freshwater. He shot a glance at the small kitchen, going over the events of that night. He shuddered, remembering that women. No, not a women, that thing.
A little self-defense wouldn't hurt...
Armed with a backpack, a kitchen knife, car keys, and his trademark glasses, the journalist exited his hotel room, stepping into the hallway. No bodies, thankfully. Whole lotta' blood smears though...
That couldn't be good.
It didn't take him long to find the stairs, descending down them at a rapid pace. Adrenaline was already pumping through his veins, fueling his hectic movements. His breathing quickened, both from anxiety and at the rate he was descending the stairs.
He hadn't seen any other of those things since that night, but that didn't mean they weren't there...
Sunrise lit fires in her eyes, shined against the deeply colored irises that stared back at the barren ocean ahead of her; harsh waves salted the air, a strong scent filling her lungs. Board wax coated her fingertips, thick against the pads and sticky against palms, circular motions of the arm left them sore, but nevertheless, she persisted. Behind her, a mother and child—child screaming at the top of his lungs as short legs were brush against the irritating grains of sand, as if he wasn’t prompted that a beach does, in fact, have sand. The mother did nothing to correct this, only held him by the hand, kicked at the sand as he did, and finally called out to her.
“You! You should’ve put on the pamphlet that the sand would be irritating! He has sensitive skin!” Of course, a Karen who only did laps around logic and never entirely stepped within boundaries of it.
Tired eyes pull from the brightly colored board, rotations coming to a complete stop—as if time halted with her. And for a moment, U’ilani considered chewing her out, but such behavior beckoned to be released for another time. Matter of fact, maybe the woman had misread; thought that perhaps, somehow, a surf lesson would be within the comfort of concrete and waterslides.
Give her the benefit of the doubt. She can’t be that fucking stupid. “Ma’am. It’s a beach. Beaches have sand,” she put extra emphasis on “sand,” figured that it would’ve further solidified the fact and gotten the woman off of her back; however, at that moment, it only seemed to prompt a storm. Red-faced, smoke coming out of her ears like a train pushed to its limits; the woman's head, gaudy and all, looked like it was about to pop off—find its way on another planet had she kept this up.
“Well, you should be more accommodating to your guests! I mean, this is ridiculous…” The words only seemed to be shut out, an already-annoyed U’ilani falling into her own world—thinking about what she’d eat later, how she’d explain the oncoming complaint that will be coming in the near future. “Hello? Hello! She’s not even fucking listening!” Displeased, enraged, aggravated, and senseless; a few words to describe a woman much like every other damn tourist U’ilani dealt with.
“Maybe you should’ve read the damn pam—”
Before she knew it there was blood, agonized high-pitched screeching, and bones crunching beneath—teeth? She hadn’t even seen it coming; no, U’ilani hadn’t been paying attention as much as she should’ve. Splintered bone, a river of crimson, young child hiding behind U’ilani as he watched flesh torn from muscle, muscle torn from the bone. Horror plastered itself against the features of her sun-kissed face; death filled the air thick, covered the scent of salt water alongside urine that trickled down the young child's legs.
Confrontation was expected, but this? A hostile element from something otherworldly? Never in a million years could she have anticipated this. Especially not with a child stuck to her side, clinging onto the red-spattered clothing.
A final breath, a reach of the hand to her child as a woman who clung for as long as she could, desperately attempted to call for her son. "Mama!"
"No, no! Fuck," there were moments she'd felt her stomach drop like this before, but never one of this caliber; where death seemed certain. But she'd be damned if some lunatic cut it short like they did that poor woman. "Kid, listen," shuddered breathing tainted the air, adrenaline punching through veins as she pulls the child aside, backs against the wooden slats of the surf shack. "Get inside the shop first, I'll come in after," he shook his head in protest, fear welled with tears in his widened eyes. "Jesus, kid. Just do it," patience ran thin with her, as much as she'd tried to hold it in.
Life or death, it seemed to fall in this child's hands, an idea that U'ilani dreaded, but had to accept. She followed behind him, quiet squeaks muffled by her hand, the door yelping with the push. It slammed against the doorway, a chair swiftly pushed beneath the knob; for a moment, she felt a sense of peace, acknowledging the temporary separation between her and danger. Her heart pounded in her chest, made its way into her throat, a tremble in her knees prominent as she backed away.
"Stay put, I'm gonna try to get some help," a whisper departed her lips, tangled the air around the child who still went unnamed. They needed a line of communication, something that could raise alarms. Scrambling, her shaking hands reached for the radio at the check-in station, luckily connected unlike the past few days where the line sat dead—the product of laziness at the hands of coworkers. "Hello? Hello!"
Severe whiplash, it's what she felt in the initial encounter; it's what followed her into the surf shack, coiled itself around her limbs, weighing her down and keeping her head in severe vertigo. The pounding at the door made her jump, back hitting scuba equipment and paddles hung on the wall. Shit. Whoever that was, they were on something—drugs, breakdown, something that she couldn't exactly explain, but that's not what mattered.
"Dammit, can somebody hear me?!" She barked into the radio, slammed a fist onto the desk as another pound hit the door—as shoddy as it looked, they were lucky that it was sturdy as it was.
Sterling began to stir in the scratchy, thin blankets that tangled around his limbs. The temperature of the room felt hot and heavy, as if the water laden air had somehow solidified and become tangible, something to swim through. There was a thin sheen of sweat that coated his skin, along with occasional patches of gritty sand. His eyelids were heavy as they flicked open to take in the dim light of his room. Except--not his room. The man shot upright, a mistake marked by the sharp pounding in his head that followed after the action. He winced, holding a hand to his temple as if the pressure of his fingers could somehow alleviate the splitting pain that zig zagged in electric strikes across his skull.
He let out a low, gravelly groan. What happened last night? He couldn’t remember. Not like that was an unusual end to most of his nights anyways, but the last thing Sterling could realistically remember was--going to a beach party. Ah--yeah maybe it tracked then. Yesterday was the big kick off for the resort staff this new season, some big party with an open bar and an even more open invitation. So--even though the party was intentionally meant for the long term employees to boost morale in the busy season, Sterling helped himself to the options of top shelf liquor proudly bearing the title of a seasonal (and very much temporary) groundskeeper.
The lanky man peeled himself from the hotel bed and stretched with a groan, his eyes scanning around the small staff cabin. There were two bunk beds pressed up against opposite walls, all of them empty and still neatly made up--save his own bed. Sterling scratched his messy hair aimlessly, gaze sliding around in search for some kind of water. He had only taken up this job as a means to get out of town for a couple of weeks. He and his friends had dipped their toes in a bit of hot water in their local scene--seems like the cops cared more about party drugs than they had anticipated. So, he had skipped town for a while--at least until they found someone else to pin the blame on. There were worse things in the world for the cops to focus on than a group of deadbeats selling a little bit of molly to some college kids once or twice. Or maybe it was three times--who keeps count anyways?
Sterling padded over to the back of the cabin where an old wooden shelf sat full of various supplies. He scratched his bare chest, eyeing the mix of items that littered the worn and sagging shelves. His eyes lit up as he spotted what he was looking for. The plastic water bottle crinkled slightly in his grip.
The man walked about the cabin, peering around to thoroughly inspect the place he was going to call home for a short while. His bag was thrown off to the side of his bed, still unpacked and stagnant from when he had first entered and set it down. Where the hell was everyone anyways? He suspected his boss would have woken everyone in the cabin already, hangover or not, but judging by their still made up beds, Sterling began to suspect that he was the only one who made it back to the cabin last night. Did some of them manage to get laid somehow? He sneered. Lucky bastards.
With nothing else to do and a cabin whose only airflow consisted of a slightly cracked window and a weak overhead fan, Sterling decided to throw on the crisp resort uniform his boss had left out for them all to sift through and head out onto the grounds. He squinted against the burning mid morning sun, head pounding still. That water did next to nothing for his hangover, maybe the hotel would have some more? The young man walked lethargically through the heat, his eyes landing on several scattered items that began to swirl a feeling of unease deep in his stomach. There were pieces of clothing or personal items littered about the grounds, things that he couldn’t imagine people would drop and leave without some kind of danger urging them along. Sterling swallowed hard, picking up his pace once the gleaming sight of splattered blood registered in his peripheral vision. Had something--awful happened?
Cabins near lifeguard station | hungover, confused | N/A
He knew that something wasn’t right from the night before, there had been frantic banging on his door. A quick look through the peephole had him eye to eye with a disheveled looking ban, pleading to be let in as blood stained parts of his clothes and skin. It had only taken a mere second before the man was tackled to the floor by another. The attacker snarled and snapped his teeth as the knocker desperately tried to subdue him.
Sidney stepped back and promptly turned on his heel. “They getting a lil too wild huh?” He glanced towards his temporary roommate, only to be met with silence. The garrote wire glinted in the low light of the room, fresh blood dripping once it was placed on the bedside table. With the doors locked and curtains drawn there was little to worry about. Not to mention the gun tucked under the pillow that he now lay one.
Most would be unsettled at the thought of sleeping with a dead body in the same room, but he had experienced worse. It wasn’t like the body would rise to exact revenge on him. Though, if it did, he’d be ready. With that he closed his eyes, letting the veil of sleep wash over him but not take him completely.
He woke up to birds chirping, as expected of a luxury resort. As he sat up, he glanced at good ole George who still lay in a pool of his own blood. He had left no evidence behind so there was no worry about being caught.
It was when he finally left the room, all fresh and clean, that he noticed something was off. Things were thrown about the hall and there were splatters of blood in various places. There was no sign of the two men that he’d seen before but he was still on alert. His footsteps were quiet while he ventured further.
Then, he saw them. A woman standing at the end, she looked injured yet she stood still as if the blood didn’t bother her. Brown eyes narrowed suspiciously. She turned and he took a step back.
“What the fuck…” He muttered to himself, her jaw was quite literally unhinged, giving her a horrifying slack jawed appearance. Her tongue moved aimlessly and then, her eyes landed on him. Before she could get too far, a shot rang out. Her body fell to the floor, a single whole right between her eyes.
Sidney was quick to find an emergency exit. He didn’t know what was going on but the stairs were probably safer that the elevator. The doors banged open as he pushes through.
Pain shocked his system. A harsh shout ripped from his lungs as teeth sunk into the meat of his calf. Pierce drew in his knee, and smashed the sole of his sneaker into her face. Her head snapped back from his leg, but her hands stayed clawed to his skin. “Get her off me!!” Stripping his throat, his voice echoed into the lobby and the eighteen story drop below. Muscle coiled, slamming his foot again into the woman's head. Hard enough to split the skin of her cheek, the vice grip of her hand knocked free.
Pierce twisted, palms beneath him to launch to his feet. Buttons from his shirt ripped over a fitted singlet. Blue board-shorts soaked in blood that wasn’t his. And shock evident on his face as he met the gaze of a stranger for a split second. The dead woman's guttural, wretched groans tearing goosebumps down his skin.
This was actually insane… N’komo had gone mad, he’d only seen that sort of anger in people with terminal stage rabies. “Fuck am I gonna do?” He swore softly, running calloused fingers over his chin. Staying here wasn’t a good idea, too enclosed and there might be other people. He needed to try and find out what was happening out there, he felt his stomach churn like a stormy sea at the sight of more blood on the golf cart as he quickly cleaned it off, as if trying to scrub away what he’d done. Regardless, without more information to go on, all this sitting around and pondering wasn’t going to help him or anyone else.
Getting into the golf cart and starting the engine, Shaun quickly drove into the dazzling sunlight as he skirted crashed cars and… blood. Smears of it, something or someone, as Shaun feared, was hurt. The roads were empty, it was silent except for the birds and crashing of the waves. Something was wrong, but where to go? Checking his phone, the mechanic sighed. "No signal... Typical." He sighed, thinking. The nearby hotel had radio equipment, he might be able to make contact and request information.
He stopped when he saw a cop car, with more blood on it. That couldn’t be remotely good… Stopping the cart, he got out and slowly approached, a little nervous when he saw the officer on the ground. “Sir… Are you alright? Are you hurt?” Shaun asked concernedly, keeping his distance a little. There was a sort of snarling as the uniformed figure got up and lumbered towards the redhead, his glassy eyes unseeing as it lunged. “JESUS CHRIST!” Shaun swore, backing off.
Banoi Roads leading to Royal Palms Resort | investigating cop car | n/a
James winced, recognizing the not-so distant crack-pop for what it was. Something he had heard with quite the regularity back in Texas. Gunfire. Well, not so much gunfire. Nobody was popping off rounds, so to speak. Just a single shot. Definitely close.
Seventh, maybe eighth floor?
Which meant people?
Unless these crazies also knew how to use guns?
Given what he had seen, both on the beach and on tv, that would probably be extremely bad. Insane pain tolerance coupled with the motor skills necessary to shoot a gun?
He paused for a second, hands on his knees. On the... ninth floor?
Jesus christ, there was alot of stairs.
He heard a creak, a door slamming shut. He looked over the railing, not much you could infer from seeing somebody from a top-down perspective, but one thing he could discern was the handgun held loosely in his grip.
Well, at least he didn't have to worry about murderous bitey people with guns. Just normal people with guns.
"Is it, uh, safe down there?" James called down, peeking over the railing.
Wooziness screwed up his balance and Carlos stumbled, awkwardly slipping on the crimson puddle. His hands shot out to catch himself, slamming against the hard floor covered in the congealing substance that his bare knees plunged into. Fuck- Was he still drunk? Was it hyperthermia?
The other man's cry for help was all Wesson needed to snap out of it. "Let him go, woman!" He grated out and scrambled towards the two, grabbing her shoulders as the other's shoe connected with her head. What- What was wrong with them?! He had to hook his arm around the thin waist to pluck the female off the man. Which sent Carlos falling back on his ass. It struck him how swiftly she turned in his arms, about to snap her teeth at his face. "Whatta- Fuck!" His eyes widened, briefly meeting stranger's as he blocked woman's neck with his forearm, out of breath, struggling against her exceptional strength.
location: elevator lobby on 18th floor
The two tangled on the floor. Her body twisted wild in the grip of the strangers arms. Neck stretched, craning. A hideous desperation in the way she fought him. Fought to bite him. Yearning. And vacant. Chasing something that made his stomach twist.
Pierce dove for the fire extinguisher. Fingers snagged around the silver trigger. Hefted, high and back. Muscle coiled. Sucking in a breath as he aimed. And swung.
Impact. Her skull cracked with a wet smack, hair matted into bone and grey matter. The force tumbled her frame sideways, where she slumped. Face up. Her jaw worked mechanically, biting on air, before she went slack. Dead eyes glazed and staring at the ceiling.
Tense, Pierce gulped air in the suffocating heat. The extinguisher slipped from his numb grip to drop with a clang on hard floors. Sweat, beaded down his face. Brow knitted, he squeezed his eyes shut. Swallowing hard on the sudden burn of acid that clawed up his throat. Don't you fucking throw up, Pierce. Not now. This wasn't the first time he'd seen death. Just… Never like this. Hold your shit together!
The gun was quickly raised in the direction of the voice. He had only taken a few steps before someone spoke, his body head all the likeness of a coiled spring. Dark eyes stared holes into the figure above. He didn’t see any injuries and his jaws looked normal, but it did little to soothe him. Sidney’s mouth fixed itself to reply but from behind noise could be heard. It took him a second to look back and in that second, he acted. Long legs moved with a swiftness not usually associated with his build. The door burst open, people spilled forth with grabbing hands. They were like the woman he’d shot. His legs skipped steps in order to create more distance.
“Move!!” He shouted to the figure, rushing up and past without a single glance back. Sidney didn’t care if the man had reacted in time, no he needed to escape before he was swallowed by the mass of injured and broken bodies. He pushed his way through the first door that he saw, running into an upper floor. There was no time for pondering about what to do. His big body slammed into a door and thankfully it was unlocked. He was just about to push the door close when the man from before rushed inside. The door was then closed with slam and locked.
Sidney eyed the man for a second, looking for any sort of indication that something wasn’t right with him. He kept alert even when he didn’t see anything. Sidney focused on the situation at hand, his feet led him to the balcony. The door wouldn’t hold for long and he needed a way out fast. He could hear them banging on the door. He looked over the railing, thinking.
Sterling squinted against the beating mid morning sun. The heat was a relentless pressure and sweat had already began to gather and break in small rivers from his temple. His throat was like sandpaper, the lethargy of his hangover still filling his limbs with what felt like mud. Every step was dragging, agonizing, but despite his reluctance to keep moving, the scene around him pressed urgency into each step. Something awful had happened, Sterling was sure of it. There was too much blood to justify a freak accident. He had sworn he had seen a few bodies laying on the ground in the distance, too scared to actually turn and verify his suspicions.
The gleaming black and white body of a cop car crept into his vision in the distance. Sterling felt a flicker of hope ignite within him, pushing off the shadows of dread that threatened to consume him mind and soul. The young man picked up his pace to a light jog, lungs heaving, in the direction of what he hoped was rescue aid. If it was in any other circumstance, Sterling might have gotten a laugh at the irony of him running openly into an authority he had previously spent his entire life running from. But now was not the time for jokes.
A golf cart pulled up beside the cop's vehicle as Sterling was still approaching. He could see the figure of a man get out to search around the vehicle, but was too far away to make out any details other than the fact that he seemed unarmed. The reverberations of the man’s voice carried easily through the air. A second figure appeared shortly after, clad in a police officer’s uniform.
Perfect, Sterling thought to himself. At least he could get some sort of answer as to what was going on. Sterling picked up his pace, making it up to the cop car just in time to hear the inhuman grunt of effort line the cop’s lunge at the man before him. The man swore loudly, backing out of the way and leaving the cop’s limbs swinging in the momentum of a missed movement. There was something so--inhuman about the cop’s body language. Something--reanimated.
“Oh no fucking way,” Sterling lamented, voice cracking. His hands found purchase in his sweat dampened hair. He began to pace back and forth, still a safe distance away from the cop, as the pieces finally began to align. He had seen far too many cheesy zombie movies not to recognize the sight in front of him. The carnage he had passed on the way here, the scattered items--it all made sense now. “No fucking way,” He repeated, still pacing, even as the cop began to take uneven, staggered steps towards him.
“Hey!” He called to the other man that was in the vicinity of the cop car with him. “Are you a zombie too or what?”
Desperation, that’s what it was; the will to live on overdrive as the incessant pounding against the heavy door filled the room. As did the terrified cries of a child she’d only just met. The overwhelming feeling of buzzing intensified in her arms, as did the heartbeat’s volatile reaction in her chest; too much happening, too much of which she had no other solutions to other than to seek help the only way she thought she could: U’ilani speaks into the radio again, frantic, stumbling over her words, and attempting to lull the child into calmness simultaneously.
“Somebody—fuck! Anybody there?” Sounds only seemed to intensify: screaming, crying, fists pounding, metal rumbling beneath soft flesh. “Fuck it. If somebody can hear me, I’m in the surf shack on the beach. Red door, the only one there,” words seemed to flood from her lips, quickly paced with little breaths in between.
Survival, as it seems, was the only thing on her mind. No longer was there the forcefully nurturing spirit of a woman who’d unwillingly taken up the job of protecting a child; in fact, it had only seemed that her selfishness had gotten in the way—she shushes the child again, almost harshly, though unintentional, and shakes him back to reality. The only thing her mother had taught her when it came to children—from experience, that was. “Kid! I’m gonna need you to shut up.”
“I’m not ‘Kid’, I’m Harry!” He exclaimed back to her, throws his head into his shoulders and dampens it with tears.
She pauses, eyes falling to the door, “yeah. Yeah, alright, Harry. Listen. You keep crying like that, and they won’t send any help.” A threat, an empty one, but a threat no less. Harry, in that moment, purses his lips, holds in the oncoming cry before U’ilani stands once again, knees aching from the brief moment of kneeling. “There’s some fucking MANIAC at the door. Please.”
Gurgles and cracks resound from behind the door once again, nearly inhuman—but that couldn’t be possible and she wasn’t willing to investigate. Safety, however, could still be applied to such situations: canvassing the area, she searches between each nook and cranny, flips through filing cabinets, lockers, and equipment before finding something suitable in the case that somebody—that bastard in front of the door—somehow makes it in. A knife, slightly rusted metal at the base, but still sharp enough; a thick. wooden boat paddle that could at least buy them time to escape. She backs herself against the shack walls again, pulls Harry behind her awaiting a reply—at least one—to come through the radio.
Growing pressure crushed his temples, his heart rate jumping scale. He almost had her. He could fucking swear he almost had her subdued when the ungodly crack and the splatter of blood hitting the side of his face made him freeze. The woman fell limp by his side, lips moving like she was trying to speak. He watched with his face twisted by shock and dread, and his mind chased fleeting ideas. She had to be on something. Someone drugged her. Or she was sick. No, someone drugged her.
The bang of metal on marble snatched his attention and his big eyes skipped to the attacker's pale face. "You son of a-" A split second and Carlos leaped to his feet, ignited by the horrible experience. Needing an outlet, needing someone to blame.
His bare foot slipped on the smeared tiles and his body slammed against the other man. "Get to the fucking wall! Now!" Twisting man's limbs he shoved his face into the tropical pattern adorning the lobby, attempting to lock man's arms back using his whole figure to pin the other. "Think you can just get away with it, ya psycho?! I know what you are!" He drugged her. He fucking drugged her!
Wesson's hand dug into his shorts, he had to have zip ties somewhere in his pocket. Unless he used them doing stupid party tricks again. Fuck!
location: elevator lobby on 18th floor
His body hit the wall. Hard. Forceful weight at his back, the grip around his wrist, tight. Twisting the muscle in his arm and shoulder, the socket stretched until it forced a yelp from his chest. “Christ. Stop!” Teeth clenched, his panted breaths pushed back into his face, cheek mashed against the printed wallpaper. Trying to think beyond the cloud of cortisol and adrenaline that hiked up his blood pressure.
Pierce forced his body lax, leaned into the wall and away from the heated figure behind him. Words uttered out slow, pushing down the tremor that wanted to creep into his voice. “You’re a cop.” The way he dove so fast into arrest? Gotta be. Pierce wasn’t asking a question. “My names Doctor Hank Pierce, Chief Practitioner at UCFS Beinoff. The-” Face creased in a grimace. “The Children's Hospital in San Francisco. Look around you!” Frustration broke into his low tone, words faster. “That woman had her carotid severed. The major artery in her neck. She was dead long before I hit her. Look around you.” Ground between his teeth. “And tell me what you see?!.”
James leaped back and yelped at the sight of the gun being pointed at him, falling hard on his ass. The terror of nearly being shot was compounded by an incessant moaning, one that spoke of a ravenous, inhumane, hunger. A crash, the doors downstairs caving in from the sheer amount of bodies pressed against it. All gnashing teeth and flailing limbs.
James was broken out of his stupor by the sharp orders issued by the stranger as he rushed up the stairs. Didn't need to tell him twice. He rushed in just behind the stranger, barely managing to get inside before the door was slammed shut. Wouldn't hold them for long. He turned, muscles protesting as he toppled a bookcase in front of the door. Tall and thick. A makeshift barricade, but a barricade nonetheless.
James put his hands on his knees, breathing heavily. He glanced up. Guy definitely seemed no-nonsense. Didn't scream cop, though.
There was silence for a few more moments. Sidney gave no indication on whether or not he’d heard the man’s greeting. He pushed himself away from the balcony. It would be far too long to jump of course, but there was a method that he’d used in the past. If done right he’d be able to get to the floor below. Sidney was positive that it was clear of whatever those things were, since they’d all come crashing through the emergency exit. And on another note, he was more than sure that it’d been his gun that attracted them all. Usually, people ran away from the sound of a gun going off. Those…things had come flying to find the source of the noise.
Finally he looked towards the stranger, giving him a quick once over to see what he was dealing with. His gun was then set in the holster attached to his stomach holster and hidden beneath his shirt. He glanced at the makeshift barrier in front of the door. “That won’t hold up forever. The best thing is to get as far away from here as possible.” He finally spoke again, making his way over to one of the two beds in the room.
“If you wanna live, start tying.” With that he stripped the bed and began tying himself. He was sure that there were extra sheets somewhere too, he was confident that the sheet rope would be able to hold.
His chest rose and fell with leveling breaths as he let the new information sink in. A what? A hospital? Ah fuck, his head was pounding, it was hard to focus. He shot a glance over his shoulder and his gaze suspended on the woman's severed neck. Then carried on to another corpse.
Carlos swallowed, feeling cold doubt creeping up his spine. Caved skull post mortem... Because it had the abdomen ripped open. Ruptured flesh glistening in a torn polo shirt... Not fucking possible. Intestines festering under artificial light... It just made no- Fuck. Wesson's body recoiled, releasing the other man. The cop bent over by a tall plant nearby, and tugged forward by convulsion he threw up. It hit the corner, just booze, bile, and an occasional peanut.
"How-" He puffed heavy breaths. Lips wet, and eyes teary as he turned his head to keep the other in his sight. "How is that possible..."
location: elevator lobby on 18th floor
This was actually madness, complete insanity… This had to be some sort of infection, a disease that caused madness somehow. God knows what lived out here, perhaps it was a parasite or something in the water, he didn’t know. “Hey, back off!” Shaun threatened the zombified officer stumbling towards him, reaching for his wrench again.
He was certain he heard footsteps as he heard a voice, a young man’s voice call out to him. “What? Of course I’m not a fucking zombie!” Shaun replied, the undead officer now turning its attention to Sterling and shambling towards him, sensing perhaps easier prey as it’s low, guttural moan rose in pitch and volume to a demented scream of rage. This was good. “Keep distracting him!” Shaun stated, approaching the zombie cop. His grip on his weapon was trembling, he swallowed hard and tried to remain calm. He didn't want to kill, N'komo was a blind panic... "Over here!" He shouted, throwing a rock at the cop which turned back to him. "Come on, follow me!" He stated as the radio buzzed to life.
"Kid, you answer the radio while I distract him!" Shaun instructed, continuing to throw things at the zombie to keep it's attention on him. "Listen, I really don't wanna hurt you... What's wrong, are you sick?" He asked concernedly.
Banoi Roads leading to Royal Palms Resort | terminating infected cop | Sterling, U'ilani
The journalist stared blankly at the man as he moved towards the bed, stripping it of its sheets.
That little comment about tying...
"You can't be fucking serious." James blurted, still awkwardly clutching his knife.
A particularly loud pounding at the door shattered any reseverations James may have had, as did a portion of the door. A hand reached through, clearly the culprit given its shattered appearance and the countless bits of wood stuck inside of it. The barricade had bought them time, but not much.
"Shit, shit!" James jumped, taking up position beside the man and working on his own little sheet harness. At least the knife came in handy. Part of him wanted to laugh at the absurdity of it, trapped in a room with someone who looked and acted like the main character in some cheap action flick (given the clientele of the hotel, he actually might be), pulling off some absurd stunt.
"You sure this'll hold our weight?" James asked uneasily, the banging on the door getting progressively louder and more violent.
Sidney had always been someone who was calm under pressure, but now even he could feel anticipation making his body tense. He had no idea what was wrong with those people but something primal in him told him that he didn’t want to be stuck in a room with them. Following his instincts had never led him wrong in life yet. “Yeah.” He grunted, tying the last knot in the combined sheets. With that done he took it to the balcony and tied it there, testing the knot for a moment. Again he looked to the stranger and nodded.
Sidney was quick to climb over the railing and lower himself down. He could hear the people tearing through the door even more. Sidney lowered himself quickly, his feet hitting the next balcony with a thud. The sight that greeted him was familiar and he kept his face neutral. His target still lay slumped over and covered in blood against the wall.
He was quick to snatch the wire that he’d left on the bedside table and place it in his back pocket. Sidney began making his way towards the door. With the people trying to get in above, the hall should be clear.