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51 The Girl Stained with Blood

 7:23 PM - City Mall Bacoor, Central Area, First Floor, Batsons Storage Area

Mark and Paula started checking the labels printed at the boxes inside the storage one by one. There were a lot of boxes stacked over one another with all sorts of products from skincare cosmetics, baby necessities and nutrient supplement drinks to different kinds of medicines.

"What kind of medicine are you looking for?"

Breandan asked Paula.

"Paracetamol for children, the syrup one. That's the priority. Also other medicine for common diseases just in case."

"Let us help look for those."

"Alright."

The two students also started searching the storage for medicine Paula spoke about.

"Hey. Breandan right? Use this to store what you find."

Mark threw his backpack to Breandan and the latter nodded.

Though it just seemed normal, Paula noticed that Mark had a different reason why he passed his backpack to Breandan. Mark was standing in place while looking towards the direction of the storefront.

"Is something wrong?"

Paula approached him and asked.

She could not see Mark's face because of his helmet but right now, his eyebrows were tightly knit.

Mark did not immediately notice it but when he moved closer to that area near the storefront, he felt it. As he could detect emotions of the people around him, there were times that he could detect unusual emotional fluctuations. It was when the person he detected was dangerous like killers and people high of drugs whose emotions were highly unstable. But right now, he could not fathom what kind of person he was detecting.

He was sure it was not a zombie as he never detected any emotional fluctuations from them. It was more like the zombies were moving by instinctual urges. The fluctuation he was detecting right now was faint. It made him sure that it was a child. But the strange thing was the emotion he detected from that child.

Calm.

The only emotion he could detect was calmness. There was no sadness, no happiness and no fear. It was really strange if it was just a child.

Mark looked at Paula and spoke.

"Continue searching for the medicine. I'm going to check something."

He did not explain to Paula what he was going to check as he did not know how to explain it either. He walked away towards the door that led to the storefront.

Paula felt strange as he did not explain why. She just followed what he said and continued searching for the medicine.

Mark leaned his back towards the door and slightly opened it. Using the compact mirror, he looked at the situation outside. He was surprised.

The storage room had two doors that led to the storefront. The door he opened led towards the enclosed counter where the clerks receive the payments for the products sold. It was also where clerks attend customers who had prescriptions from their doctors and give the medicine they needed like how it was in pharmacies. The only difference from pharmacies was that the area was just enclosed by a long counter table.

What surprised him was the scene at the area behind the door. There were several mangled zombies of different sizes. He was sure that the bodies were from zombies as there were bites visible on some parts of the bodies along with the other changes of appearance that could only be seen on bodies of zombies.

He could see some zombies lurking quite a distance outside the counter but the area within the counter had none but the mangled bodies.

Seeing that the situation within the counter area was safe, Mark crouched down and slowly moved out.

He then froze.

Under one of the payment counters, he was a life size doll of a girl with black wavy below shoulder length hair wearing a red frilled dress. Her pale-light skinned face was stained with red paint and the dress had tears in various places. The doll sat on the floor with her legs stretched out and she was missing her right shoe.

Then, the doll looked at him. She was not a doll but a child about five to six years old.

Though he did not actually thought that she was a doll but her appearance would make anyone think so. If not for the emotional fluctuations he was feeling from her, he would think that he was looking at a ghost.

Her dress was not red colored and it was not paint that stained her face. The girl looked like she just took a literal bloodbath.

Mark slowly approached the girl and the girl just watched him calmly. There was no joy seeing a human or cautiousness seeing a stranger. She just calmly watcher him move closer.

"Who are you?"

The girl spoke. Her voice was calm and full of innocence.

"Just someone passing by. Are you alone?"

Mark replied and asked her as he crouched in front of her. He looked around and saw a display case by the counter and took a packet of wet wipes.

As he took the packet by the counter, he heard her reply.

"Mom died. I'm alone now."

He looked at her and did not know how to react. She just said that her mom died and she was alone but she was still mostly calm as she said those words. The only change was there was a thin thread of loneliness in her voice.

He tore the pack open and started wiping her face and arms without her consent but the girl did not resist either and just watched him gently removing the blood stains on her body.

"Did you get bit by the zombies?"

Mark asked as he was confused with all the bloodstains on her body. To his surprise, the girl raised her right arm and looked at it.

He wiped the blood on the girl's arm but he saw no bite which made him really confused. He looked at the girl and he saw the same expression. She looked confused but strange enough that Mark could not detect any change from her emotional fluctuation. She looked confused in the outside but Mark was uncertain about her emotions inside.

Strange...

"Do you want to come with me? There are other people with me behind that door and in our camp on the floor above."

The girl stared at Mark for a bit after he said that and nodded.

"What's your name?"

"Abbygale"

Mark then froze once more.

It was not because of the girl but he was feeling danger. It was the similar feeling he got after detecting murderous intent from other people.

If he were to describe the feeling using a video game, it was like hearing random boss fight music without actually seeing the boss!

He immediately leaned at the counter and took out his compact mirror. He raised it up so he could see the situation at the storefront. Then he saw it.

"What the hell?"

Mark murmured.

What he saw was a humanoid whose head and half of body were covered with black charred looking thick substance. The substance had several cracks on it. In the cracks, Mark could see a glowing gel like liquid that had the same appearance as a lit charcoal. Its clothes looked melted and there were white patches visible on its skin that was not covered by the black substance indicating that it was exposed to high temperatures before.

Mark would have ignored it even if it just happened to pass by but the problem was it was moving towards their direction. He did not know why or how but he was sure that it knew that he and this girl was here. Lucky was that the humanoid was moving in very slow steps. It seemed that the black substance covering its body was also hindering it from moving faster.

Another thing was this guy had no eyes. The place where the eyes were supposed to be was also covered by the thick black substance!

He then noticed that there were distortions in the air around that humanoid's body.

'Heat distortions?'

Then it indicates that this humanoid's body was burning in high temperatures!

Mark took out his phone and took few pictures as he aimed his crossbow at the humanoid.

SWOOSH!

The bolt swished and hit the forehead of the humanoid. As the bolt drilled into its head, it staggered backwards. And that's it.

It did not die as the crossbow bolt did not pierce deep enough due to the thick substance covering its head!

It was not good. He saw the bolt made of metal on its forehead slowly bend as if being melted and the part of the bolt sticking out of its head fell on the floor with a loud metal sound.

The zombies around were alerted.

He looked at the girl under the counter.

"Hold on tight!"

Mark then quickly picked up Abbygale into his embrace and bolted towards the storage room.