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remember the darkness. Hiding in the basement with my family when the outbreak began on my home, Titan Station. No one told us what it was, just that it was an organic parasitic mass that was spreading across The Sprawl.
I also remember the fear. Even in our basement, hidden underground, sometimes the terrified screams of our neighbors would be heard. My sister was sobbing, my mom trying to comfort her, while my dad and I kept our shotguns pointed at the door. Anything that came in here would get a shotgun shell to the face. Whatever was out there, we were sure that a shotgun could stop it.
Sometimes we could hear them upstairs, moving through the house, looking for something. Or someone. A crash from dishes being thrown, the sound of heavy footsteps on the wooden floor, inhuman screams from whatever they were.
“It’s the Unitologists,” my dad said, as usual, “They’re behind this.” He was a Christian, an older religion, and so was opposed to the traditional Unitology religion of our time.
We stayed there, in the basement, for days. We slept in shifts, my dad and I. Whoever was awake was always facing the door, ready to blow anything that tried to get in away.
At around three in the morning, my dad awoke to relieve me from my shift. Thanking him, I walked to my corner and placed my head against the carpet. My eyes felt heavy the instant my skin touched the soft material.
As I fell asleep, I remembered. I remembered exactly what happened.
Because I was the only person in my family that had encountered a Necromorph.
I was walking home from school. We lived close, so there was no need to drive. Unfortunately, due to detention, it was almost five in the afternoon by the time I set out. I had been caught riding my hover-board on school property, and I had accidentally bent a pipe I had been using, granting me a month of detention and a fine.
My friend, who had been with me for the incident and detention, walked beside me. We chatted about random things, such as how unfair our punishment was, and the new game system that had been released.
My friend, whose name was James, reached into his bag and pulled out a grav-ball, roughly the shape of the arcane football. “Go long,” he said. I sprinted around thirty yards ahead. James signaled for me to go further. Forty yards, yet he still motioned for me to go further.
Now I was around seventy yards away. “You’ll never make it,” I yelled down to James. “We’ll see, Kyle,” he said, hurling the ball with a mighty throw. It soared through the air, whistling as flew towards me.
I jumped up and caught the grav-ball. Hitting the ground, I held up the ball for James to see. A gloating smirk developed on his face. I ran up to him. “I think that throw deserves a dollar,” he said. I reached into my pocket and fished out a dollar, slapping it into James’ open palm.
“Round two,” I said, “Go long.” “Longer than where you were?” James asked I nodded. “Go down to that alley there,” I said, pointing to an alley, around ninety yards away. “Five bucks says you won’t make it,” James said. “You’re on,” I countered.
James sprinted down fifty yards, then ran twenty, then walked the rest of the way I could see him panting from where I was standing, and I couldn’t help but laugh. It was comical. I hurled the ball with all the strength I could muster. It flew right at James, clearing the distance easily. James leapt up to grab it, yet the ball slid through his fingers and rolled into the alley.
I could see him smack himself in the forehead when he landed. I could almost feel the money in my hands. James held up a hand and walked into the alley to retrieve the ball. I waited.
Ten minutes passed, still no James or ball. “Damn it, James, how hard is it to find a damn ball?” I growled as I ran to the alley.
Turning into the alley, I found James standing there, unmoving, fear obvious in his eyes. “Dude, you got my money?” I asked, giving him a light punch on the shoulder. “Shut up. It’ll hear you,” James whispered. “What’ll he-,” I said. Then I looked ahead and stopped.
It looked like a slug, long and pale gray, squirming on the concrete. I saw two small arms supporting the front half of the creature, and a mouth full of ruler-length fangs. The thing had a tail, which ended in a wickedly sharp blade.
Whatever this thing was, it was enjoying whatever it was eating, which looked to be a Peru, a small rodent-like pet from Charum, which was used as a pet. The monster tore off a bloody limb, swallowing the whole leg whole in a single gulp. IT was almost done with its meal, so it was only a matter of time before this predator turned its attention to us.
“Screw this,” James said, turning to run.
As soon as he did, the predator, a Necromorph, turned and roared, a horrifying sound that chilled me to the bone. With a might lunge, the Necromorph buried it’s tail in James’ spine. James uttered a scream. The Necromorph slithered up and placed flipped James over with one tiny hand.
James stared up at his attacker, paralyzed form fear and the shattered vertebrae from the Necromorph’s tail. The Necromorph Placed one hand on James’ chest. I could hear bone break from the force of the thing’s weight, and blood gurgled out from James’ mouth.
The monster lifted its head and roared. James feebly lifted a hand. “P-Please,” he gurgled, “H-Hav-ve merc-“ he said. He never finished his plea. The Necromorph wrapped its jaws around James’ neck and bit, tearing the head clear from the body. James’ head, a pleading look still present, rolled several feet before falling into a sewer.
With a swing of its tail, the Necromorph tore open James’ midsection. It buried its snout in the red flesh, coming up every now and then to swallow chunks of intestine or organs.
The lethal tail of the Necromorph swished in front of me. I slowly moved back, avoiding each deadly swipe of the appendage. I noticed something odd about the tail, something that didn’t fit.
I looked closer, then pulled my head back and gagged.
The tail was composed of rotting human legs and intestines. Flesh and bone gave the tail rigidity, with fragments forming the lethal tip. With every swipe, blood splattered to and fro.
I turned, planning to escape through the alley. I made it around twenty steps.
A force like a freight train hit me. I flew back, my head cracking into a wall, my fists immediately raised in defense. I felt a crushing blow hit me in the ribs, white-hot lances of pain shooting up my side.
I flew to the side, landing but a few feet from the Necromorph feeding on James. I crawled back, aware of only the thing in front of me.
It obviously had been a human at one point, but not now. Rotting flesh hung off in limp chunks, muscle and bone clearly visible. The midsection was torn open, intestine hanging out like rope. Tiny, unnatural clawed hands sprouted from the open chest. The hands were broken back, shattered. Out of the wrists grew natural scythe-like weapons.
The Necromorph moved towards me, raising a scythe. The weapon flew towards my face.
I rolled out of the way. I swept up, aiming for the most sensible location I could think of: the groin. My punch hit its target, yet didn’t stop the Necromorph. In fact, my fist went straight through the rotting flesh. My jaw dropped as I stared at my hand, which was now inside of the Necromorph.
The thing kicked me, hard, in the chest. I flew, my hand coming free, across the pavement. I smashed to the ground and rolled a few feet. Everything hurt. I crawled a few feet, hearing the Necromorph walking towards me. I could see my life begin to flash before my eyes.
A gunshot saved me from my visions. A police officer, holding a shotgun, was firing at both Necromorphs. He aimed, not at the head or chest of the monsters, but at the limbs. With each shot, a limb was torn off, causing the Necromorphs to howl. The officer killed the scythe-Necromorph, the other fleeing.
The man helped me up. “Spread the word. Destroy the limbs!” He said after giving me a pistol. I thanked him as he ran off.
I held the pistol in my hands. It was a bulky Plasma Blaster, standard issue. Designed to traumatize, and, if in the skilled hands of an expert marksman, dismember, which was what I needed to do yet didn’t have the skills for.
I ran home, alerting my family. I didn’t tell them exactly what we were dealing with, only that it was organic and that the only way to kill it was to tear off the limbs.
In my nightmares, I saw James’ death, replayed over and over again. I saw the second Necromorph, all of its horrific details in startling clarity.
I heard a gunshot. My eyes flew open, my hands reaching for my pistol. Snapping up, I saw my dad blowing away unseen adversaries at the door. I joined him, smelling the scent of Necromorph rot, as well as the creature’s roars. I began blasting at the limbs of the monsters.
One of my shots hit a Slasher (the scythe Necromorph) in the head, tearing the head clear off. Blood splattered all over the wall, yet the monster kept coming. A Slasher cam up behind my dad, sneaking out from the crowd of Necromorphs. I called out for him, yet I was too late.
The scythe tore into my father’s chest. Intestine splattered all over the wall, the claw protruding from my dad’s front. The Slasher raised its second scythe and plunged the blade into my dad’s heart.
I heard screaming from the closet. Tiny Necromorphs, maybe the size of my palm, were attacking my mother and siblings. They tore each of my sister’s limbs off, blood oozing out. She screamed as the little things tore her face apart.
My mother and baby brother were not dismembered; just killed I wondered why.
Then I saw why. A small, bat-like Necromorph flew over the horde of the Necromorphs. It flew over and hovered a few inches above my mother’s face, then shot a proboscis into her head. After a few seconds, her body convulsed. She roared a Necromorph’s roar. Her mouth sprouted fangs. Her hands bent back, the scythes growing out. Another flying Necromorph did the same to my brother, yet he turned out different.
His limbs bent back, as well as his head, to an unnatural position. His stomach swelled, a large yellow pustule dominating his features. The new crawling Necromorph crawled over and huddled around my now-Necromorph parents.
Tears welled up in my eyes as I saw my now-undead family. I raised my pistol and aimed at the yellow thing on my brother, aiming to take him out first. I closed my eyes and fired.
There was a massive explosion. Whatever that yellow thing had been, it was very explosive.
Bits of flesh flew across the room, blood spraying on my shirt. I ran out of the house, taking advantage of the momentary confusion. I ran to my parent’s car and gunned it, driving away as fast as I could.
The yellow sky over The Sprawl slowly turned blood red as night began to fall. I drove to the only place I could think of: the local military station. I ran to the door and pounded on the plasma-reinforced steel. It didn’t budge.
I looked around and found a plasma rifle lying next to the body of a fallen soldier. I checked his body and gathered as much ammo as I could. “Sorry about this, mate,” I said to the corpse. I took the rifle and began to walk off. I stopped mid-step. Spinning on my heels, I spun to face the corpse.
The Necromorphs’ only weakness was the limbs, something I had to keep in mind. Using my newly acquired plasma rifle, I shot off the limbs and head of the dead guard. It was just one less possible Necromorph.
I walked through the streets, killing only two Slashers. I now had an armament of my pistol, rifle, and a plasma-shotgun that I had found lying in the street. By now, most of the initial chaos had subsided, with corpses littering the streets.
As I walked, I got the oddest feeling. It was the feeling that I was being followed, that really odd sensation that sends chills down your spine. I looked back, but I was alone. I fired off a shot, hoping to lure out any Necromorphs in the area, but my shot went unanswered.
I heard a scuffling behind me, around thirty yards or so away. Spinning, I snapped down to a prone position and aimed down my sights. I was definitely being followed, but by what? From my experiences with Necromorphs, they relied mostly on surprise, sheer numbers, and the fact that they were immune to damage as long as their limbs were intact.
Then I saw it. A long, elongated head, composed of blended flesh and bone, peeked out from a corner. Seeing me, the head snapped back. I got up and laughed, scolding myself for panicking so fast.
I walked down to the corner, ready to blow away anything that was in my way. I took a deep breath and spun around to face the Necromorph.
Something hit me in the gut with the force of a freight train. The wind was blasted out of me, and I felt several ribs crack. I fell to the ground, spasms of pain stunning me, as the Necromorph revealed itself. It was big, around six and a half feet tall, and possessed a large, bony skull, which it had just used to head-butt me. It raised a clawed hand, aiming for my face. I rolled out of the way, firing shots from my pistol into my attacker.
For some reason, my shots did minimal damage. The Necromorph shrugged off my plasma shots and continued its assault. I felt the acidic taste of fear in my mouth as I realized that I was about to die, killed and most likely re-animated, another Necromorph in their horrific army.
I placed the barrel of my pistol to me head, planning to kill myself rather than let the Necromorphs get me. I inhaled, and exhaled, ready to die.
I felt a sharp pain in my arm: the Necromorph had kicked the gun out of my hands. With a powerful swing, it plunged its claws into my abdomen. I screamed in white-hot agony as my blood seeped out onto the concrete.
I heard footsteps and gunfire, a lone person coming to my rescue. I felt my consciousness fade, the world turning blood red, then pitch black.
When I regained my consciousness, I was on a couch in what looked like an apartment. Still groggy, I looked around. I saw a kitchen, boarded up windows and doors, bags of canned foods, guns, and other survival gear.
I tried to raise myself up, but agonizing pain in my stomach forced me to sit down. I gasped, my eyes clenched shut in pain.
“You’re awake, good. Can you move,” an unknown woman’s voice said. I shook my head. “Hmm. Here, take these,” the voice said. I felt a hand shove me something small and round. Opening my eyes, I saw three painkillers in my hand, and a bottle of water on the table beside me. I eagerly gulped down the pills, awaiting the break from the pain.
I saw my savior standing in a corner. She was a little older than me, maybe seventeen or eighteen. She was Asian, maybe Japanese, and, from the way she spoke, probably from Charum or Earth. I tried to thank her, but the words wouldn’t come out. She held up a hand. “Every life saved is one less Necromorph,” she said. “Name?” I gurgled. “Kitana,” she said, “You?” “Kyle.”
“Well, it’s nice to meet you, Kyle,” Kitana said. “Where?” I asked. “An apartment I found,” Kitana said, “Near the First Church of Unitology.” I nodded. I laid my head back and closed my eyes. “You’re lucky I got there when I did. Stalkers are real pieces of work, eh?” Kitana said. I nodded. “Feeling better yet?” she asked. I nodded again.
“Good. Help me out with these,” she said, pointing to a pile of boards. I slowly got up and shuffled over. “Board up those windows, then come help me with the door,” Kitana said. I nodded and did as I was told. As I hammered in the nails, I felt raw pangs of sorrow as I remembered my family.
After a few minutes, that sorrow was replaced by hatred. Hatred for every Necromorph on The Sprawl. I wanted them all to die. I wanted to place my gun’s barrel against the head of every Necromorph and pull the trigger. To see their brains splattered across the pavement.
I turned, reaching for more nails to hammer in, when I saw the plasma katana leaning against a wall. “Katana,” I said. Kitana turned and said, “ It was my father’s, back on Earth. When I left for college here on The Sprawl, he gave it to me, saying that it’d prove its worth at some point, and it has. Yesterday alone, that blade killed five Necromorphs.” I nodded.
When we finished our tasks, we sat down on the floor and talked for a while. “Got any family?” Kitana asked. “Not anymore,” I said, the images of my Necromorph parents and brother still vivid in my mind. I clenched my teeth, feeling the hatred rise again.
Kitana put a hand on my shoulder. “I know how it feels. My mother was visiting me for once. We were at the mall, eating lunch, when the Necromorphs attacked. One of them singled us out,” she said. I held up a hand. “No need to continue. I understand,” I said. Kitana nodded gratefully. “Any idea where they came from? The Necromorphs,” I asked. Kitana shook her head. No one knows. One second, nothing. Next thing you know, the whole Sprawl’s gone to Hell,” she said. “Jesus Christ,” I said. “This is what we know: They are re-animated human corpses, using naturally growing weapons. The Infectors, the little bat-things, inject the disease through a proboscis into the corpse’s forehead. The disease then re-animates the body, re-programs it. We don’t know what they want, except that they spread like wildfire,” Kitana said. “Are they all the same general size, like the ones with the scythes?” I asked. Kitana shook her head. “There’s the really creepy ones, the infant Necromorphs, the standard-issue ones, then the big ’uns. The Brutes and Pregnants. They’re not the Necromorphs to mess around with. They’ll eff you up,” Kitana replied. “I wanna kill every f*ing one of ‘em,” I growled, “Big or small.” “Well, good luck,” Kitana said, “Some of ‘em, like the Spider, have these weird yellow things all of their bodies. That’s the only way to kill them, shoot the yellow things. Believe me, it’s easier said than done. There’s the Lurkers, little babies with these three tentacles coming out of their backs, the Crawlers, explosive baby Necromorphs, the Brutes, the Pregnants, all of them. They exist to kill, and spread.” I wiped sweat off my brow. “What guns you got?” I asked. “Your rifle and shotgun, my sword, a few grenades, and a plasma cutter,” Kitana said, “You have quote an armory. Where’d you get all those guns?” “The other guys didn’t need them.” “Enough said.” “Oh, and these,” Kitana said, reaching into her pack, pulling out some small boxes. “Plasma proximity mines. I took them from a dead soldier,” she said, “We’ll place these by the doors, so if anything gets in, we’ll know, and it’ll die.” “Won’t every Necromorph in the area hear the explosion and come running for us?” I asked. Kitana smiled. “Then we kill them all, just like you wanted,” she said with a smirk. We set up the mines by the door and, for good measure, tossed one down into the street, just in case some unwary Slasher decided to get too close to our base. That night, we ate canned peaches for dinner. They were a little old, but it was the only thing I had eaten all day. When you’re hungry, anything tastes good. With a swig of water and three more pills, I felt great. We sat in the darkness, sleeping in shifts. I stayed awake as long as possible, letting Kitana get more sleep. “Please, someone, Help!” an unknown voice yelled. I ran to the window, Kitana a few feet behind. A woman was walking through the street, calling out for help. “God damn it, she’ll blow our cover,” Kitana growled. “Wait, she’s…” I said. Kitana’s eyes widened. “Oh no, “ she said. The woman was walking straight towards our mine. We couldn’t call out, for fear of Necromorphs hearing, yet it was against every fiber of my being to let this woman, this innocent woman who just so happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, walk to her death.
The woman was finally too close. With three warning beeps, the mine detonated in a blue explosion of plasma. Kitana and I averted our eyes. “She-she just,” Kitana said. I nodded.
“Dear God, help!” the voice continued. We ran to the window. The woman was lying there, most of her legs blown off, blood oozing out onto the pavement. “Get the rifle,” Kitana said. Grabbing the weapon, I walked to the window. I aimed down the sights, ready to end this woman’s suffering.
Necromorph screams, more high pitched than usual, resounded in the streets. “A Pack,” Kitana said, eyes widening. “What’s a Pack?” Kitana, what’s a pack?” I asked. She just pointed to the now legless woman.
Out of the alleys came the Pack, a group of around five Necromorphs, each member a re-animated child. Their childish screams sent chills down my spine. “Dear Lord help me,” the woman cried. The Pack slowly moved in, sensing prey.
The first Pack member ran up and pinned the woman to the pavement, hissing in her face. A second came up and tore her arm straight off. Blood sprayed onto the street as the woman screamed. The second Pack member began to gnaw on the limb, tearing off ragged, bloody chunks of flesh. A third Pack member scrambled up and tore the woman’s head off, ending her screams. A fourth came up and tore off the remaining arm, while the fifth began to eat her stomach.
The first Pack member, then one holding the corpse down, slowly turned it’s head and looked at us. Its eyes narrowed and it hissed, the other pack members turning to look and hiss at us.
“We’re gonna have company in around a minute,” Kitana said, readying her blade. I pumped my shotgun, ready for blood.
We heard the first mine go off down the hall. The second was tripped a second later, followed by the third and final mine. Footsteps echoed down the hall. Little Pack steps, joined by the heavier steps of larger Necromorphs.
They burst down our door with easer. I fired my shotgun, blasting a Slasher in half. I placed my gun against the bisected monster’s head, pulling the trigger, brain blasting all over me.
“Frag out,” Kitana said as she hurled the explosive. The ensuing explosion blew apart all Necromorphs in the hall, yet more were coming. We ran out to the hall and continued the fight. Kitana moved through the Necromorph horde, limbs flying and falling to the floor in her wake.
I switched to my plasma rifle and began shooting the limbs off of the Necromorphs down the hall. I handled long range fighting, while Kitana took close quarters.
I heard great, lumbering steps coming. A huge, bulging Necromorph lumbered into the hall, roaring and groaning. “Pregnant!” Kitana screamed. I aimed and fired at its limbs, the only sensible thing to do. Kitana, however, screamed for me to stop, but it was too late.
The bulging stomach of the Pregnant bulged, blood gushing out. It’s abdomen exploded, little Lurkers crawling out. “Damn,” Kitana said. I fired at the small targets now streaming from the Pregnant’s body. “Frag out,” Kitana said. She pulled the pin and hurled the explosive, killing a dozen Lurkers. The Pregnant was still alive, crawling it’s upper half towards us with its long, clawed arms. I shot off both arms, then the head.
A Slasher ran over the corpse of the Pregnant and screamed, Hell-bent on our deaths. It raised its scythes and swung, directly at Kitana’s chest. “Kitana!” I screamed. She turned and parried the slash with her plasma katana. With a swing, she sliced off both scythes, and then bisected the Necromorph, finally delivering the coup-de-grace by stabbing the head.
The assault was over, a victory for us. We went back into the apartment a few minutes later, after we were sure that all of the Necromorphs were dead and that no reinforcements were en route.
We sat on the couch, enjoying our win. I reloaded my rifle and Kitana wiped the blood off of her blade. I leaned back, feeling the soft cushion wrap around my ears.
Sleep overcame me in an instant.
The next morning, I awoke when sunlight streamed through the boards on the windows and shone on my eyes. I covered my eyes with my hand and groaned. Sleep was an escape from this world, from my hatred of the Necromorphs, from the ever-raw pain of my family’s death.
Kitana, as usual, was already up. “I saved you a piece of bread,” she said, tossing me the bread, as well as a jar of peanut butter. “Where’s the rest of the bread,” I asked between chews. “That was it. One slice that I found in the supermarket,” Kitana replied. “Well, thanks,” I said.
I walked over to the window and looked at the destroyed remains of the woman from last night. Her headless and limbless torso had, some how, been torn into two pieces throughout the night. Intestines were draped across the asphalt.
I saw a bag lying on the ground a few feet from the body. “Hey, Kitana. Check this out,” I called. Kitana walked over. “What?” she asked. “That lady from last night had a bag. Maybe it’s got supplies,” I said as I pointed to the bag in question. Kitana nodded.
As we moved through the apartment complex, we started talking about random things. I began sensing feelings rising up in me for Kitana, yet I figured that it was pointless.
I scolded myself as we walked. I was being stupid. Everything was ending; there would be no time for love.
We walked out to the street and grabbed the bag. “Some jerky, some water, and an emergency radio. Not much, but it helps,” Kitana said. I nodded. She looked ahead, seeing something I didn’t. “I’ll be right back,” she said.
As I sat on the hood of a car, I waged a mental war with myself. What’ve you got to lose? One side said, referring to my falling for Kitana. That may be true, but let’s think logically. Do you REALLY think that you have any chance with her? The other side said. I smacked my forehead.
Finally, I thought, Screw it. I mustered as much courage as I could, preparing to tell Kitana how I felt.
I walked, catching up with Kitana. She was standing there, unmoving. “Hey, Kitana,” I said. She put a finger to her lips. I could see fear in her eyes. I followed her gaze, and my eyes widened.
A Necromorph, maybe ten feet tall and composed of two or three corpses, moved through the street. It had huge fists, hands as big as the lids of the arcane garbage cans. A mouthful of teeth snarled, barbs on its face twitching. The Necromorph moved using its fists, much like a gorilla would.
“What the hell is that?” I whispered. “A Brute. Great hearing, poor eyesight,” Kitana whispered back.
The Brute tossed cars that were in it’s way to the side as if they were pieces of paper. It lifted its head and sniffed, growling. I braced for death, knowing that it had detected us. It roared and barreled down the street, chasing other prey.
Kitana and I let out huge sighs of relief. “Kitana, I wanted to –“ I began. I felt something warm blast onto my face.
A Lurker, left over from the Pregnant last night, had shot its three barbed tentacles into Kitana’s chest, the tips now protruding from her stomach. The demonic baby Necromorph lifted itself up and bit Kitana’s neck, shattering vertebrae. It withdrew its tentacles and reared them back, readying for a second strike.
The tentacles shot into Kitana’s head, blasting out through her eyes and mouth. Kitana managed a feeble gasp before she died, her mouth filling with blood and brain tissue.
The Lurker died a second later. My shotgun blew it apart, limbs flying in all directions. I ran over to Kitana. “Kitana, Kitana,” I pleaded, though I knew it was hope less. No one could survive wounds like that. I reached down and closed her eyes, letting Kitana rest.
I heard a scuffling behind me. I turned and shot at the Slasher. Blood flew onto my face, warm and sharp, like little needles. Another Slasher cam up behind me. I turned, to slow.
The scythe pierced my abdomen, dragging out organs and tissue with it. I felt blood rise up in my mouth. The second scythe pierced my lungs, filling the organs with blood. I began coughing up blood. For a second, the pain was unbearable. Then, nothing. The darkness and peace of death.
I saw the Infector shoot its proboscis into my head as if I was someone watching form the sideline. For a second, I felt life course threw my body. For that second, I produced an image of Kitana’s smiling, happy face.
Tried to hold onto that image as I was re-purposed by the Necromorphs.