So, here's the first chapter of February. January was a good month, my stories receiving a cumulative 200+ pageviews. Thank you all for that! I hope to continue a regular-ish number of releases this month too, if I can do that then my goal of finishing my Parallel Worlds part 1 rewrite by July might actually happen. Anyway, this chapter continues on from the last one and talks about some of the effects that it has had on characters, more specifically, our nameless main character. It also introduces something new and I hope that where that ends up going, you will enjoy. Anyway, here's the chapter, so enjoy and I'll see you next time with another chapter!

Chapter 10

The next couple of days were not exactly what I would describe as "fun". We spent the first day discussing how to get rid of the bodies of the fallen zombies. Initially, Aiden suggested that we dispose of them the same way we had done before; dragging them out into the streets far enough away to not warrant any unwanted attention. However, this idea was only really viable for one or two bodies, three at max but our current pile of bodies numbered a grand total of twenty-three. We could've just left them and go elsewhere but after we found out that this place was somewhere that had a more traditional boiler, powered by the burning of fuel like wood rather than more modern gas-powered ones, we decided that it would be much better for our own comfort to stay here. Eventually, we made a decision.

We dragged the bodies, one by one, up to the roof. This was only a single set of stairs so it was much easier than dragging them down to the ground floor. Aiden had suggested that we just throw the corpses down the stairs but both myself and Clare were opposed to that. Firstly, it could result in more trouble than it was worth and secondly, we felt it was rather inhumane. We knew they were zombies and couldn't really be called human anymore but at one point, they had been like us and we didn't want to live with that guilt. After dragging the bodies up to the roof, we used some gasoline that we had syphoned out of some nearby cars and soaked the bodies in it. Using Aiden's lighter, we then burned the bodies. It was risky, if there were any Leader type zombies around, they would see the column of smoke and come to investigate but the cumulative smell of a bunch of rotting corpses in the street would also attract them, this was probably the lesser of two evils. Our trip to the roof also gave us a small something to be happy about. The previous tenants, or maybe some before them had installed a solar array, it wouldn't be enough to provide a lot of power but it would at least give us use of the lights and maybe some of the kitchen appliances if we were lucky.

I was sat in one room, my back leaning on the radiator and my knees pulled up to my chest, arms wrapped around my legs. This was often a position I took whenever there was something on my mind or if I was worried about something or just if I wanted some time alone, so in other words, this was my usual sitting position ninety percent of the time. I sighed quietly and rubbed my collarbone. Ever since I had been bitten, it had been hurting a lot. When Clare cleaned it, she had been surprised by how shallow the wound was considering how profusely I was bleeding. It had scabbed up pretty quickly too but it still hurt a lot, sometimes even feeling like the zombie's jaw was still biting down on me. Another problem was that we weren't sure how the zombie virus had spread. In comics that Aiden had found once, it showed people turning from being bitten but how long it took often varied based on the story or sometimes even the characters own will. Clare said that we shouldn't take the comics as a reliable source though, they were written long before zombies had actually become a thing. But that still didn't help keep me at ease. I could change at any moment, becoming a mindless creature that could attack Aiden and Clare. Could they kill me if they needed to? What if I changed and hurt them in the process? I shook my head, I didn't want to think about something like that.

I was running once more. Down the pristine white corridors, I ran as fast as I could. What was I doing? I felt like I was running away. Away from what? I didn't know but I continued anyway. The white corridors continued onward, never seeming to change, never seeming to show an exit. It seemed like a maze or a labyrinth, the latter was probably more accurate. I tried one of the doors but it was locked, not even rattling in its frame as I pulled, turned and pushed at the door handle. I continued running. A corner was coming up, I felt that I would run straight into the wall ahead rather than turn the corner, I was running that fast. But things didn't go that way. A large face loomed from around the corner, its eyes hollow and empty having no colour to the iris', its skin was flaky and decayed, showing bits of the muscle tissue underneath. A vein thumbed quickly across the surface of its face as it opened its mouth wide. For whatever reason, I continued running, straight into its open jaw. But it didn't end there. The blackness of its mouth continued onward, I didn't even know what I was running on anymore. Then clarity came and I was running up some familiar stairs but then I was attacked. A body clung to me, pushing me down to the ground, its hands on my shoulders, holding me down. I struggled under its weight as it brought its jaw down to me neck and closed its teeth around my flesh.

I awoke with a start, jolting my head back with enough force that it hit the wall. I rubbed the back of my skull. For a few seconds, I wondered where I was and how long I had been here. But then I remembered. It's the building we fought those zombies in, they were burnt on the roof and we had now been here for just over a week, I think. I rubbed the back of my head again and let my legs slump down from their position where they had been supporting my slouched form. I wiped my eyes, there appeared to be tears building up in the corners of my eyes and some had streamed down my face. Why was I crying? Was it my dream? But what had I been dreaming about again? I didn't know the answer to any of those questions so I pushed them to the back of my mind. I glanced up at the window above me, I was greeted by a blanket of darkness speckled with small dots that shone so beautifully. How very sad that I see something so beautiful every night just hanging there in the sky, yet when I turn my head to the world around me, it's a horrible place, decaying and abandoned, death lingering over everything. The only sign of the worlds former beauty was the nature that was desperately trying to reclaim the land after the downfall of humanity.

I went into the main room where Clare and Aiden were sat around a table that we had moved in there from one of the smaller rooms. Around a week ago, we had fought twenty-three zombies in this very room but you'd never know that now if you hadn't seen the fight happen. Then again, even if you had seen the fight, it would've mostly been a bunch of dark shapes brawling with one another until I opened the curtains. I sighed before bringing myself fully into the room.

"You're awake." Aiden said.


"You know you've been asleep since last night?" Clare asked.

"What? You mean I've slept through the entire day!? Why didn't you wake me?" I was in shock, I'd never managed to sleep that much. Maybe five or six hours at most but never close to a full twenty-four hours.

"We tried to." Aiden replied. "Everything we could think of but you just stayed curled up and with your face resting on your knees. You didn't even move an inch. We eventually just left you there, you'd wake up in your own time."

"I didn't miss anything, did I?"

"Nah, nothing. The street has remained empty, I don't think anything has walked across it in days."

"What makes you say that?"

"It snowed the other day, right?" I nodded. "Well, as far as I can tell, there aren't any footprints in the snow at all. So, unless it snowed again overnight and we didn't notice, it hasn't snowed again to cover up any tracks." Aiden explained.

"Yeah, but it is winter, the zombies aren't exactly outdoor creatures when it averages less than 32°F outside." I replied.

"It's still odd though, I would expect some activity. A lonesome zombie trying to escape the cold or a small infestation of them trying to get into a building for shelter."

There came a rumbling outside, a growling noise and the sound of snow being crunched underneath feet.

"Well Aiden, you wanted zombie activity." Clare said with a tone of annoyance as if it was Aiden's fault that the zombies had appeared.

"Oh, that explains why I couldn't see them," He said sticking his head out the window. "They were hiding in the alleyway."

"You are far too happy about this." I muttered.

"Better than being stuck inside being bored, I'd much rather have zombies roaming around than sit there doing nothing."

"You have a real problem."

He laughed and said something about not caring if he had a problem. I joined him at the window.

Down on the ground were a few zombies, not many though. I gave a brief count and noted about six of them, though one of those six was a problem. It stood in the centre, pointing the other zombies at different buildings before they ambled back to it and gave some sort of grunt as a report. This zombie was one of my least favourite types; a Leader. You could tell just by looking at it though, its clothing was neat and relatively clean, as if it had gone into a house and took the clothes straight from a washing machine. It had hair on its head that, while long and looked like it hadn't been washed in a while, was clearly brushed very often. It just had a general air of superiority about itself, something that made it feel like it was better than the other zombies, a sentiment that it probably shared about itself too.

"Aiden, that's a Leader." I whispered.

"Yeah, I know. We should take it out."

I sighed. He was right, of course. Killing the leader of a group wouldn't usually cause much trouble for the zombies, they would be replaced by someone else very quickly but a Leader was different. It was almost as if the zombies that followed a Leader were dependent on the Leader, if it were killed the others would disperse or sink to the ground in a state comparable to madness.

"Clare," I said but she was already prepared. I felt the weight of the sniper fall into my hands. Aiden moved out the way and I put the barrel of the gun out the window.

I had one shot, one chance to hit it. If I missed then we would alert the zombies to our location and then we would have a round of physical fights against the Leader to worry about, a fight we would most certainly lose unless we got incredibly lucky. I lined up the shot, putting my eye against the scope of the gun and staring through it at the zombie. I could see it move, its slightest movements, from the rise and fall of its chest as it breathed to the slight twinge it had in its muscles. I was nervous, of course I was, it could go wrong so easily. I felt my own chest rise and fall, my breathing almost falling in sync with the Leader's. I could hear the blood rushing through my body as my heart continued to pump faster and faster. I let out a deep breath as I pulled the trigger. The gun went off and the bullet flew out of the end of the barrel, hurtling towards the unsuspecting zombie but I didn't get to see if it hit.

A hand reached up and pulled me out through the window. For a split second, it felt like I was just floating in the air. I looked around and saw a zombie, its hand still gripping my arm, clinging to the wall. The word shit instantly came to mind. We should've checked the building for Climbers, how had we not done that? It let go of me and I fell the three stories down to the ground landing on the roof of a car which buckled from the impact. I quickly turned my head to where the group of zombies had been, they'd all fallen to their knees around a corpse. Seems I hit the Leader in the head. Still aching, I pulled the sniper rifle up to point at the Climber now making its way back down the wall, presumably planning to finish me off. I fired a shot and its corpse fell down and hit the pavement with a wet smack.

I pulled myself up off the roof of the car. I hurt everywhere and I heard a crack in my back as I dropped to the ground.

"Now that hurt." I told the mangled mess that was the Climber on the ground. I looked at it and a twinge of guilt hit me. I sighed. I can't keep feeling guilty after killing one of these things.

I rushed to the door and pulled myself back inside. I then climbed the staircase back to the level that Aiden and Clare were. I was worried, neither of them had stuck their heads out to see if I was alright, could there be more Climbers inside the building? I pushed open the door to the main room to see Clare and Aiden stood perfectly still looking at the same spot on the floor.

"Why hello there." Said the zombie who was sat cross-legged on the floor where all three of us were now looking. It grinned at me, showing its yellowed teeth. I exhaled deeply. Looks like we have yet another problem.