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24 Marks Conjecture and the Fate of the Survivors Inside the TechZone

 12:03PM - City Mall Bacoor Rooftop

Everyone formed a circle to discuss what they should do next. As the chairs available isn't enough, the each of the girls had sat on one while the males except Mark laid some flattened empty boxes on the floor and sat on those. Mark on the other hand was also given a chair due to his condition. His chair was previously used by Sariya who now sat on her mother's lap.

"What are your plans now?"

Bernard asked the young people in front of him and what happened surprised him. Except for his son, Joseph, Calvin, who was with him here in the rooftop and the innocent Sariya, everyone looked at Mark as if they all planned it together.

"Hah, why are you all looking at me?" Mark sighed.

"Hahaha, I don't know, I just..."

Ange let out a dry laugh as her voice trailed off. They all slowly averted their gazes from him. Except Mei, that is.

Though none of them want to admit but they are very clueless of what to do and Mark, who seemed unfazed as he dealt with the zombies and managed to get them this far might have an idea of what they should do next.

The only person who seemed to want to do something was Fernan but he knew that he might not be capable of actually doing it.

Bernard and Mark looked at Fernan at the same time as he looked disturbed and thinking of something deeply. Then, as he steeled himself, Fernan raised his hand.

"I want to go back inside. I want to get to the TechZone."

Everyone understood why. Bernard and the rest already heard of their story so they also understood his reasons.

But Mark spoke.

"That would be hard."

Everyone agreed as they all nodded. The only way they can use to get there right now is the back corridors which are now teeming with zombies.

As if he managed to read their minds, Mark continued.

"Don't misunderstand me. I'm not talking about the zombies in the back corridors. I already had a good idea on how to deal with those."

"Then what do you mean?"

Fernan had a bad premonition about the way Mark is talking.

"The TechZone, it should be filled with zombies right now."Mark said calmly.

Everyone was shocked and Fernan felt as he had been struck with lightning. He asked Mark shivering.

"H-How?"

"Are you sure about this?" Bernard was also worried.

"A hundred percent. Actually, the zombies we encountered when we exited the cinema came from the TechZone. As for proof..."

He looked at Ange.

"Remember that large fat zombie?"

"Yeah, it looked gross. All that fat jiggling as he ran. Ugh."

Ange looked disgusted as she remembered that zombie's appearance.

"He should be the person that caused us to be locked out. It is hard to recognize him since his clothes are in tatters and his body 'changed', but I'm quite sure that it is him. The fat man followed by a body guard."

"That's--"

Fernan grimaced. He also remembered him though he did not see what he turned out to be as a zombie since they did not try to look back as they escaped to the emergency exit.

Strange enough, when Mark said that the guy was a 'fat man followed by a body guard', both Ange and Paula jolted on their seats.

Mark looked at the two college girls with eyes like he was cleared of confusion. He watched their expressions and if this was anime, he was sure that there should be black aura enveloping the two. The males were surprised by their reaction but Reyah looked at the two as if she had some understanding and also pity is obvious in her eyes.

Realizing their inappropriate reaction, the two apologized and sat properly on their chairs but the dark atmosphere around the two did not lessen a little bit.

Then to their surprise, Mark spoke to the two.

"He is the reason right?"

"The reason of what?" Joseph can't help but butt in.

Ange and Paula looked at Mark but stayed silent. As Joseph asked, Mark looked at him and continued.

"That fat man is the reason why only these two girls remained of their group."

The two girls trembled when Mark said that while Reyah shook her head. Seeing the confusion of the others, Mark decided to say more.

"When the zombies entered the Mall and everyone started running down the escalators. I already saw these two." He pointed that the girls who now hung their heads down.

"I think... There should be another six or seven students with them. I saw their group among the people escaping."

The whole group looked at the two. They don't know what to say. They want to know the whole story but it would be unlikely for the two to tell. Furthermore, it would just make these two remember their bad experience.

The atmosphere turned sour again.

Then, without minding the drop in mood, Mark spoke.

"Paula looked fine but this gloomy face doesn't suit you Angeline."

The two looked at Mark confused why would he say something like that. The others were the same.

"What do you mean?" Ange replied weakly.

"You look UGLY." Mark smiled sinisterly.

Then she snapped. She even stood up from her seat.

"WHO ARE CALLING UGLY!!!"

Then there was silence and Mark stayed smiling.

"Pfft. Hihihihi."

Someone's giggling entered their ears. They followed where the sound coming from and saw Paula trembling on her seat.

"Paula? WHAT are you laughing at?!"

"Sorry. I can't help it." Paula answered wiping the tears on the corner of her eyes.

Mark watched the spectacle with a snicker.

While the others were confused where the dark atmosphere just now had gone to, Bernard was looking at Mark.

'Amazing.' He thought as he looked at Mark in a new light.

With just a simple sentence, Mark recovered the mood of the two girls and the dark atmosphere was blown away.

The two girls realized what happened as they grew quiet once more though this time, it is normal silence. Still, Ange is pouting due to Mark's remark.

"Then back to the issue about the TechZone." Everyone grew serious once more.

Mark looked at Fernan.

"You are worried about those two, right? They were your cousins correct?"

Fernan, nodded.

"There is a chance that they should be fine if they followed my instructions correctly."

"Instructions? Don't tell me you expected this to happen? Also how did the TechZone got filled with zombies in the first place?" Bernard barraged Mark with questions.

"Please, one question at a time. Well, I'll answer them all anyway." Mark fixed his seating position.

"About the instructions, they might have told you already about how we got locked out and how I communicated with his cousin and that sales clerk, right?"

Bernard nodded.

"My last message to them was some instructions they must follow."

"Take all the people originally here in this floor, find a secure place to hide and don't come out no matter what. Strictly remember not to bring anyone who came from the lower floors." Paula interjected.

"So, you remembered it?"

"Yeah, I was behind you that time and I saw it. So that is why you told them that they might die if they did not follow what you said?"

"That's right. This also answered the second question. However, I wasn't a hundred percent sure back then." He stared at Bernard.

"Then what happened? Did you expect that the zombies would be able to get in?" Joseph is the one who asked this time. He was visibly agitated.

"No, you are wrong. Though I expected that the zombies would get to them, it's not from the outside."

Mark dragged his sentence a little and revealed a sinister smile.

"It came from the inside."

All of them were shocked.

"How did that happen?"

"Well, though I didn't really manage to confirm it, with that amount of people from the lower floors that managed to enter the TechZone, I thought of the possibility that one or more of them were already bitten."

"Wait."

Mark looked at Ange.

"We saw people who got bitten turned into a zombie almost immediately. Our... Our friends were also the same."

Ange seemed to hesitate continuing her sentence but it seemed she steeled herself.

"Then, tell me which part of their body were they bitten."

"Hmm... Neck, shoulder, Face, arms..." Ange trailed off and shivered.

"Seriously... Don't try to remember how their bites looked like, I only asked you where they were bitten."

"Well, I think that's it."

"There are also ones who were bitten on their legs and body." Paula added.

"I bet those who had bites on their arms and legs had been bitten multiple times or got bitten in other parts of their bodies."

The two girls nodded.

"Well, my reasoning really came from some video game but, what if the time needed for a person to turn into a zombie might vary and one of the reason they vary is because of where they were bitten."

Everyone started listening to him intently.

"From what you two said, they immediately turned but their bites were near their head or they are bitten several times. However, what if they were bitten on their hands or maybe, their foot or even the tip of their fingers and managed to get away with just those bites? Would they immediately turn?"

"Is that possible?" Bernard asked.

"I think, what he said is possible."

Reyah interjected.

"I saw someone earlier, a woman. She was grabbed by a zombie and got bitten just above her left ankle. She managed to get away with just that bite because someone helped her and did not turn into a zombie until I lost track of her."

Hearing what Reyah said, everyone was now inclined to believe Mark's conjecture.

Then, Joseph asked a question.

"Say... If you knew all that, why did you not just tell them that there might be people inside who was bitten and might turn anytime?"

It was a question that will determine Mark's standpoint in this situation.