The Ends (Act 5: The Return)

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The Ends

1. "Wait."
3
75%
2. Let her go.
1
25%
 
Total votes: 4
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Friday
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The Ends (Act 5: The Return)

Postby Friday » Thu Aug 22, 2019 7:42 pm

Old chapter link.

I'm not going to link all the old chapters, they're scattered to hell and back all over the fossilized boards, but if you really want to read the whole thing again, it's all there, somewhere.

Let's get a short recap out of the way.

You died trying to save Jacob, the ex-doctor who had his license taken away for alcoholism. David took Nicole away from you. You "woke up" after having made a deal with Benny and left to go try to find them. Along the way you met Jesse en route to Limestone. You met doomsday prepper Kyle and his daughter Shawna, living in a bunker. You rescued Max, a border collie left in an office room. You found a crazy super-strong beast in a dumpster who you had a connection with. It (you) killed some military types but eventually the nuke went off and destroyed it and the nest in Limestone. Right before that Benny killed Kyle and Shawna, bringing it into question if he's entirely an imaginary figment of your infected brain or a real flesh and blood entity (or both).

You had a crazy dream where you were having experiences from the point of view of Jesse, Benny, Max, and David, who is representing a new color/faction that seems to be smarter or at least more inquisitive. David said that he would be interested in studying you if he ever saw you again.

You met back up with Jesse (who had escaped the nuke) and discussed with her about your experiences, theorizing that the worms exist as some sort of hivemind, and that you're connected to this hivemind in some way. If that's true, then Jesse and Max must also be infected.

The dream revealed that David and Nicole are actually at a Church in your hometown, so you drove back there. Along the way you tried to rearm at a local national guard armory, but found the weapons too hard to access, so instead went to the police station. You found a magnum with six shots, and also a guy named Gary locked in a cell, who claimed his party left him there because they thought he was infected. Turns out they were right because he took Jesse hostage with his vine-tentacles through the bars.

Benny had been taking over more and more of the time, and this time you asked him on purpose to help resolve the situation. Benny talked Gary down and got him to release Jesse, pointing out that if he killed her the blood would preclude any chance of anyone else ever letting him out.

The last choice was a bunch of red options and one final non-red sssssssssssss option. We'll be going with that option to continue the story.

Let's recap some general enemy info and other stuff:

1. "Faceless"
These are basically vine zombies. These "drones" seem to be only humans and are used for digging hives and moving shit around. Very strong but slow, can scream from their chest cavities to attract more infected, including:

2. "Cavines"
Infected dogs with split open heads with tentacle vines coming out. Used by the reds as hunters. Much faster and more resilient than Faceless.

3. "Mimics"
Humans who are fully infected but can disguise themselves as still human. Stronger, smarter, and faster than Faceless, with thicker and more powerful tentacles. Seem to possess the infected memories despite destroying the brain just as Faceless do. Can reknit flesh and morph their host bodies.

4. "Bovines"
Infected cow carcasses used by the hives as breeding meat. Mostly harmless unless you get close.

5. "Crawlers"
Small animals like birds or rats or squirrels all get morphed/mutated in a pus-yellow fleshball with vines. Easy to kill and weak but vast in numbers and speed.

6. The Red
Benny, No-Face (with his one long red nail) and the general, common infected. The primary antagonistic faction. You're infected with this strain. Doesn't like alcohol, and can be kept under control by it (until late stage infection, anyway). Doing deals with Benny, or even talking to him, seems to increase the strength of the infection inside you.

7. The Blue
Only one encountered is Nicole. Has psychic powers. Unknown relationship to red, but perhaps not directly allied. A long time ago, when given a choice by (possibly not red/still human?) Benny in a mental-mind scape, you allied yourself with Nicole/this faction.

8. The Purple
Only one encountered is David. Unknown if he's always been infected or if it's a more recent development. From what little dialog you've had with him, he seems smarter and more inquisitive.

9. The Human
Your standard apocalypse survivors and the military that's trying to destroy the nests. Both factions tend to have a "shoot first, ask questions later" attitude, and you can really hardly blame them.

How far does this infection go? What vectors does it use? Water supply is a known one, but other than that it seems improbable that it could spread so fast and effect so much so quickly. Is the infection limited to mostly California? Just the United States? You don't know.

Note: This story was first written back when flip phones were what everyone carried and the smart phone was not yet ubiquitous. The first post was written in September 2008, (christ I'm old) and I had it in mind that it was taking place a few years before that. So, maybe around 2004. So you and most people do not have smart phones nor do they feature in the story. Cell phones are mentioned as just not working, along with everything else.

The setting is northern California, and is based on my home stomping grounds, but it's a fictionalized version of the real world. I take liberties when I need to in order to create the plot I want. If it helps, imagine this is an alternative universe where smart phones were never invented, because I'm never going to talk about them.
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Re: The Ends (Act 5: The Return)

Postby Friday » Thu Aug 22, 2019 7:59 pm

Characters:

Jonathan:
Our hero. The story is told from his perspective entirely. All other perspectives so far have been through the alleged hivemind link/dreams. Your typical 20-something semi-capable everyman. His personality was intentionally left blank but your choices have molded him into a calculating, pragmatic hero type.

Nicole:
Small hispanic girl with dark hair and dark eyes. Can blow shit up with her mind maybe? Can read your mind maybe? In any case seems to know more about what's going on than should be possible for small girl. Acts pretty typical for someone her age most of the time. Currently taken by David.

Jacob:
Ex doctor and "The Dale" of the group. As all moral old guys must, he died when you were a little too pragmatic for his tastes and he stomped off to get eaten by Cavines. Your attempt to save him ended with your death and subsequent resurrection by Benny, in return for "a favor."

David:
Young asshole type. Blonde hair and glasses. Recently has been revealed to be infected all along? Took Nicole when you died.

Jesse:
Rough and tumble tomboy 17 year old girl with a blond ponytail. Has expressed interest in you but you've consistently turned down her advances. Headstrong and stubborn, doesn't like not getting her way. Her do-gooder heroism has gotten you into some sticky situations in the past. Including the one you're in right now. She's pretty handy in a fight, though.

Max:
Everyone's favorite Border Collie doggo. You rescued him from starvation and now he's adopted you as his new family. Possibly infected from biting and killing a crawler. As is typical for his breed, extremely intelligent and energetic.

Kyle:
Doomsday prepper who lived up in the coastal mountains in Limestone. Killed by Benny.

Shawna:
Daughter of Kyle. Killed by Benny? Probably?

Your mom
How is she? :)

Benny:
Some punk-goth dickhead you found in a gas station. He tried to steal your car and you left him in said gas station. When you came back later you found his (human) corpse, but he's been fucking around as a hallucination in your head ever since. Seems to want you alive for some reason. How real he is or isn't isn't fully known.

No-Face:
Another hallucination? You're not 100% sure. Unlike the Faceless who just have a hole where their face should be, No-Face is just a smooth, blurred flesh blank. He's got one long red nail. Dresses in a dark suit.

Big Fucking Strong Worm Monster Thing:
"Dumpster Monster" was nearly invulnerable to small arms when you were sharing his exploits. Stretchy and immensely strong. Presumably destroyed along with Limestone when the military set off the tactical nuke.
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Re: The Ends (Act 5: The Return)

Postby Friday » Thu Aug 22, 2019 8:17 pm

4. sssssssssssssssssssssssssss

Alright, enough is enough. You told Benny to handle to situation, and he did that, so it's time for him to take the backseat again. You concentrate.

Jesse looks at you oddly as you suddenly stop moving and fall silent. "You okay?" she asks, worry on her young, dirty face.

"Yeah, fine," you reply, smiling slightly. "Just a bit of a headache."

Jesse frowns, but turns away from you. "Alright," she says over her shoulder. "Let's get out of here. We've got a gun, and some food. Let's head to the church and see if David and Nicole are really there."

"Sounds like a plan."

You smile again, and bring up your pistol and aim at the back of her head. You don't really need her around and chances are she'd only get in the way of your plans. And since ol' Wolfy is gonna make things difficult, this might be your only chance to take her out.

You pull the trigger.

Except you don't. Your finger won't move.

"For fucks sake," you say under your breath. "You know she's the one who got you into this mess, don't you? She's just gonna get you killed. And neither of us want that. Let me kill her. Trust me, it's preferable to what's waiting for her down the road anyway."

Jesse pauses at the entrance to the police station, in the lobby. She turns to look back at you.

You quickly put the gun down as she does so, and wave slightly. She looks back at you with a slightly consternated look. "Come on," she says, waving you forward. "Let's go before more of those things show up. I think there might be some aspirin in the car."

"Coming, dear," you say, smiling at her.

You pick your way around the desks and out of the station into the parking lot. Your SUV is parked about two blocks away, Max waiting inside. You know you'll have to kill him too. Damn dog can smell you when you're up front like this.

But first things first. You focus and bring the gun up again behind Jesse as she walks slightly ahead of you.

**************************************

1. Shoot her.

2. Yell a warning.

3. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

4. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

(1 option per voter, 2 days. Vote changing allowed.)
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Re: The Ends (Act 5: The Return)

Postby Friday » Mon Sep 02, 2019 2:22 pm

4. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

Despite your best efforts, you can't bring yourself to pull the trigger. Your "friend" seems to be --

Wait a minute.

Wait.

Wait just a --

You lower the gun.

"No no no no no," you mutter. "It's not possible."

The hissing is growing in your mind, that noise like static on a dead TV screen, but it's --

It's.

You smile.

"Hey there, tits."

The hissing is louder. You don't have much time. Already, your motor control is slipping. The gun tumbles from your fingers and thunks onto the pavement. Jesse turns at the sound, her face inquisitive, then concerned. You don't care about her. She's just meat. Meat like this whole fucking planet.

"You must be close if you can do this," you say, still smiling. "Real close. Real close, now."

Jesse takes a step back toward you. Saliva is pooling at the corners of your mouth. She's saying something but you can't hear it over the hissing. So close now. You can't control your mouth, your voice. But it doesn't matter. You cannot be silenced, not really.

Just you wait right there, tits. Just you wait for your knight in shining armor to come and rescue you. Just... you... wait.

Your legs buckle and you fall to your knees, then to your face. Your nose cracks painfully against the pavement.

And don't think your other friend can save you. He won't lift a finger if it endangers his own life. I've dealt with him before and I can deal with him again. Just you wait right there, oh oh oh, and --

Just wait right --

Right --

You --

Ha ha ha ha ha ha --

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssJon!ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

sssssssssssssssssssssssssssisssssssssssssssssssssssssssssJonwhatthefuckssssssssssssssssssssss

sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssJONWAKEUPsssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

JON!

JON!!!

You blink.

The pavement is an inch away from your eyeballs. Someone is shaking you.

Everything is very blurry. It feels like you're ten miles under the ocean. There are several sharp cracks, like stones hitting rock. You blink again.

In the back of your head, in the your neck, you feel like sludge is draining down, down, back into your torso. You groan as you begin to surface.

"Jon!"

"Mmmrmmgh," you manage.

"Jon for the love of god get up! There's more of them!"

More of them? More of... them?

Them.

You blink one last time, and focus, bearing down on the task of bringing your sluggish brain to heel. It finally responds, and you swim upwards and surface, breaking out of the dark water.

You gasp and roll over on your side.

Two Faceless are approaching. Another lies on the ground behind them, greenish black fluid pooling around it. Jesse is screaming at you, trying to drag you.

You sit up just as the Faceless nearest you screams, only ten feet away, tentacles extending toward you like a lover's fingers, seeking to wrap around you and fill you with endless FUCK GET AWAY

You kick your feet and scoot backwards across the pavement, the vines missing your legs by mere inches. You roll, push yourself up with your hands, and get to your feet. Jesse is holding a smoking revolver. "Come on!" she screams.

She runs, and you follow. The hunters will be coming soon.

You've almost made it around the block and to the SUV when two crawlers come rolling out of the bushes. You look around for anything to use, but find nothing. Jesse shoots at one, missing, and then it's on her, leaping at her face, her arms. She flails and tears at it, but the thing is amazingly strong. The other is coming right at you.

You have to wait till it leaps. If it gets on you, it's over.

You tense yourself and watch it, knowing you can't help Jesse until you deal with this one.

It leaps, predictably, right at you. You step to the side, twisting your body away even as it twists toward you in mid-air to correct for your dodge. A vines scraps your arm, but that's it.

You know it'll have to gather itself for a moment when it lands.

It lands, gathers itself, and you bring down your heel on it, crushing the life out of it even as the vines coil around your leg. They go limp before they find purchase. Your pull your leg free and turn to Jesse, who is still tearing at the one on her. Vines run over her face and shoulders, whipping and tearing. You take three quick steps, and bring down your fist on the pus-like blob that is the main body of the creature.

It hangs on.

You bring down your fist again. It hangs on. Jesse is screaming. You see one of the vines rip away part of her cheek.

You bring your hands together into one and raise them above you. Jesse is bleeding badly.

Your double overhead punch misses. Some of vines release Jesse and latch onto you.

There's a blur of movement between you. The vines tear away from you both, leaving long bloody trails and rents in your shirts, like nails on a chalkboard.

Max has the thing in his mouth. He's already killed it. You see the greenish black blood coming out from between his teeth. The ruins of the thing that almost killed you both is on the pavement.

Behind the dog, across the parking lot, more are coming.

You turn and run, Max and Jesse at your heels. You make it to the car door and jump in. Jesse gets in the back, still holding the gun. Max jumps in with her, gagging and spitting.

Key. You fumble it, scratch it against the ignition.

"Come on!" Jesse screams from behind you.

You start the car, and peel out even as a Cavine smashes itself against your window. The glass cracks but holds. Max is growling.

You're out. You turn the corner and drive away from the gathering tide of death behind you.

************************************************************************************

You're sitting on the edge of the hotel room bed, can of beer in hand. Jesse is asleep beside you. You did your best to stitch up her cheek and wrap her wounds, but she'll have an ugly scar even after it heals. It looks awful. She bled so much you were afraid she was going to pass out.

The motel was blessedly empty. You found a first aid kit in a supply closet and used almost the entire thing on you and Jesse's wounds. The peroxide should help the cuts to not get infected, and you're both covered in linen bandages. You dipped the needle in some rubbing alcohol and found some thread in another room, along with a stale six-pack of beer, which is now all gone except for the last half of the one you're holding. Three cans for you, two for Jesse, and one for Max, who drank it out of a bowl without complaint. He's sleeping on the other bed.

You pick up the .357. Two bullets left.

All in all, not a good trip to the police station.

You finish your beer and double check the door to your room is locked and the curtains are drawn. Then you walk over to the bed and lay down next to Max, who whimpers and licks your hand as you pet him.

************************************************************************************

You went to bed around 6 pm, exhausted both mentally and physically, so it's not surprising that you wake up when it's still dark. You check on Jesse before you go to the window and pull back the curtain slightly. Your SUV is still parked outside. All is quiet as far as you can see in the moonlight.

You walk to the nearly pitch black bathroom and relieve yourself in the toilet. There's no water in the bowl, and you have to stop yourself from flushing. You check the tank and find it half full of water. You dip your hands in and drink, hoping that whoever told you that the water in the toilet tank was clean was right. Your wounds on your shoulders, upper chest and face burn, but not as badly as yesterday.

Jesus christ.

That's the last time you're letting Benny in.

Unless you absolutely have to.

You return to the room, giving Max a rub as you pass by. He stirs and slides off the bed he was sharing with you, shakes, and goes to the door.

"Alright, come on," you say.

You lead Max to a patch of grass nearby and watch as he sniffs around and then relieves himself. You've no idea for sure what time it is, but it feels like 5, maybe 6 in the morning. The stars twinkle above you, oblivious, uncaring. A streetlamp (dark, of course) stands alone in the parking lot, casting a hazy moonshadow over you.

You call to Max and head back inside, curling up with him on the bed. You can't stay here for long, but right now you just want to close your eyes and get a few more hours.

***********************************************************************************

Jesse's face is swollen and bruised in the morning light. The thing ripped out a big chunk of her hair on the side of her head. She looks as miserable as you feel. She regards you in ugly solemnity.

"I'm starting to think I shouldn't be around you anymore," she says, flatly.

You nod.

"What the fuck happened back there? Why did you... pass out like that?"

"Benny," you say.

"Benny?"

"I... I don't know how to ..." You shift uncomfortably, but she deserves to know.

"I ... let him in. Or he got in. I don't know. He... he almost killed you, just before... when I had the gun. You were facing away, and..."

Jesse looks at you in silence.

"You let him in?" she asks, finally.

"I..." you start. "... yes."

Jesse blinks. "Why?"

"Gary had you. He... offered to help. All that shit he... I... said, to talk Gary down into letting you go, that was him. Everything there and up till I passed out was him. He wanted to get rid of you, said you were a liability, not part of his plan."

Jesse just shakes her head. "What? Why would he save me from Gary then? Why bother if he's just gonna shoot me?"

You shake your head, but you have an idea, maybe. But now isn't the time.

"This is too crazy," she says. "Even after everything we've been through. If I can't... if I can't trust the person I'm with... do you understand?"

You nod. "Yeah."

Jesse sighs. "I don't know. We're so close to finding this church of yours, but every step we take toward it feels like two steps back."

You don't reply.

Jesse goes to the window. "Where is it, anyway?"

"Just across town. Just a few miles from here. We could drive it in ten minutes, tops," you answer.

Jesse shakes her head, staring out the window.

"Why do I feel like we'll never make it?"

You don't reply.

She turns back to you, reaches into her pants and pulls out the revolver. She looks at it in her hand for a bit, then slowly hands it to you.

"I don't know what you're doing or what you want out of all of this, but I'm not a part of it. We've been through a lot together, but I was doing fine before you showed up and I can go back to taking care of myself. Without all this... craziness."

You stare up at her, and she stares down at you. Her cheek is ragged. You didn't do a very good job with the stitches with how exhausted you were last night.

"You saved my life a bunch of times. I'm grateful for that. But part of me wonders if I wouldn't be better off if I had never met you."

She touches her cheek.

"You can keep the SUV. I'll find something else to drive. I don't... I don't think I should tell you where I'm going."

You remain silent. Jesse reaches out and traces her fingers under your chin.

"Goodbye, Jonathan."

She turns and walks out of the room.

*******************************************************************************************

1. "Wait."

2. Let her go.
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Re: The Ends (Act 5: The Return)

Postby Niku » Mon Sep 02, 2019 3:22 pm

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pictured: jesse, you, benny
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