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74 Traveling to the First Stop

 Day 3 - 5:40 AM - Meadowwood Avenue, Panapaan VIII, Bacoor City, Cavite, Philippines

SPLASH!

The dirty red tinted puddle of rain water let out a splashing sound as the wheel of a Refitted MB Sprinter Armored Van ran over it. The attachments of the refitted vehicle had red splotches dripping on them especially the V-shaped ram in front.

Inside the car, Mark sat behind the passenger's seat while peering through the tinted window. He could see the remains of the outbreak from this side. Despite the fact that the rain water had already washed the majority of it, Mark could still make out the splashes of blood on the walls and the street.

On the first day, Mark had already expected that it would rain. It seemed that the rain started to fall when Mark fell unconscious and did not notice it either as they holed up in the mall doing all the preparations yesterday. The rain continued to fall until past midnight the previous night. He only noticed the fact that it was raining when the military rescue squads entered the basement parking with wet attires and vehicles.

At the time of their departure from the mall, it was easy since the number of infected blocking their vehicle was significantly lower as most of the infected that gathered around the mall went after the military rescue convoy that left before them.

Still, it was not easy for them to go out of the vicinity of the highway. The traffic jam left during the start of the outbreak gave them a lot of headache. They had to slow down pushing the vehicles to the side as they had to traverse four lanes of lined up cars of all sizes. Some of the larger vehicles like buses and trucks were even left blocking other cars and they had to maneuver around these vehicles.

During these times, they had to slow down and of course, they got surrounded by more than a dozen of infected. Even though it was a smaller number than it was supposed to be in the previous days, it was still a large number. That moment, Mark had a practice session with one of the M16 assault rifles given to them and a new partner of his, a larger and sturdier machete he got from the mall storage. The machete he snatched from the gangsters already fulfilled its duty and abandoned back there in the mall as it was smaller and the blades were already filled with nicks and cracks due to overuse.

The guns they got from Capt. Theo were all paired with silencers, perfect for use during the apocalypse. Mark just wished that they had given them a little more variety of weapons or at least newer models. These M16 Assault Rifles were the standard issue in the military and was already overused in the past decades. While other countries were on the path of developing their own weapons and war vehicles, their country was still using these older models and were happy receiving hand overs from larger countries. Mark really found this frustrating.

Mark also hoped that those guys in uniform gave them other military equipment like night vision goggles and Kevlar vests. Even though the Kevlar vests would not really work much against the infected, it could at least lessen the threat they would receive from other survivors who held ill intent. The only things they got from the military were guns and ammunition after all. It looked like that the military were not only lacking in manpower but also equipment. The only thing they had more of was weapons.

After a little bit of trouble and shooting session, they finally managed to get off the highway and entered the branching road just before the Electricity distribution office Mark had been to the other day. At that time, it was brimming with people but now, the front glass walls and doors of the office were smashed and blood and flesh from the edges of the broken glass were obvious.

Back to the scenery the vehicle had driven past, the signs the outbreak left were plenty. There were a lot of abandoned houses and those houses that had windows without railings to cover were broken down. Dismantled body parts and decapitated corpses littered the street. There was also a lot of garbage scattered on the road.

While Mark was peering by the window, there were times he could detect people of some of the houses as they drove through the street. Some of these people were even peering at their second floor windows as they heard a vehicle passing through. It looked like that some of them even had the notion to call for help but held back as to not gather the attention of the infected.

There were also those who actually shouted to ask for help but the people inside the van would not hear their shouts due to sound proofing. Inside the car, only Mark could detect their intentions. Of course, he disregarded their pleas. He did not choose to venture this dangerous world for them but to find his friends. If he started to help one of these people he did not even knew, more and more would come until they were overwhelmed and could not control the situation anymore

That was just how people were after all.

BAM!

A face appeared in front of Mark before getting left by the vehicle. It was not a human or a purposely planned jump scare. It was an infected that got swept to the side by the V-shaped ram in front of the car. The infected was hit hard that its body bounced off the vehicle it hit that they just passed and splattered its face in front of Mark. Of course, the hard to scare Mark did not even put the event in his eyes. His eyelids did not even twitch.

As the scenery of houses they passed by was redundant, Mark grew tired of watching through the window. When he turned back his thoughts into the vehicle, he saw that all of them with Odelina as the driver as the exception was staring at him.

"What's wrong with you all?"

His eyes swept over them. Mei was sitting to his right while Abbygale would not give up her space which was over Mark's lap. Odelina's children, Odette and Siegfried, were sitting on the sofa in front of them. The children were twins both 9 years old. It was also not hard where Odelina found the names for these two children.

"Gege, it's because you're spacing out."

"I'm not. I'm just watching the scenery outside."

"Gege, that's really not good scenery."

Mei smiled wryly. What Mark was looking at was not good scenery but scenes of carnage.

Mark dismissed what she said by patting her head making her stop speaking. This girl really liked being patted on her head other than hugging. He then looked at Odelina's children. He could sense that they were hesitating about something.

"What do you two want? Get on with it."

Siegfried and Odette looked at each other and nodded. Siegfried then spoke.

"We asked mom before why she was calling you "Master" and she said that it was you Uncle who saved her. We wanted to thank you but you're not going to make mom do bad things right?"

"Pfft."

Mark almost laughed. One was because he was actually called "Uncle". But he gave it a sudden thought and actually found it reasonable. Most of his peers had already started to have families and children several years ago. Their children might have been around these children's age already. It was just him who kept on staying single and was aiming to become a wizard.

The other was that he did not even want to accept this self-proclaimed servant of his but she just kept pushing herself under him. Why would he make her do something bad other than killing the infected and humans who would become threat to their group in the future? In the end, he just told the two.

"I won't."

"Then, you have our gratitude."

The two children lowered their heads making Mark and Mei bewildered. Mark looked at Odelina who was driving and said.

"Just how did you raise these two?"

Odelina who was glancing at the rearview mirror saw the spectacle as she drove the vehicle just giggled.

"I already told you before Master, it just run in our family."

"Behaving like servants?"

"Yes, behaving like servants."

Mark and Mei did not know how to react to this. Odelina's children were also confused. It was normal for them to behave like this and did not understand what Mark was talking about.

Abbygale on the other hand was just quietly listening to their conversation snuggling on her Papa's body. Mark looked at her, she looked really bored.

With that, Mark lifted her and made her sit down on his seat.

"Stay here for a bit."

Mei and the children watched him as he made his way to the back of the vehicle and rummaged on the things he brought from the TechZone. Soon, he took out a laptop and turned it on. He then copied several files on five of the phones he brought. After that, he plugged a wireless router on the socket where the refrigerator was plugged in put the router on top of the fridge.

When he got back, he brought the five phones and handed four to Mei and the children. The phone had only one game installed and it was a game released in the 2009 and was kept on being updated even before the outbreak.

Soon, laughter and panicked shouting was heard inside the vehicle as the group was immersed in playing the game where they needed to build things using blocky resources found with the game and battling monsters during the night.

"Papa! Help!"

Abbygale shouted as her character was being shot by blocky skeletons using bows and arrows. Laughing, Siegfried and Odette's characters went to help the little girl while Mark was shooting the skeletons back on top base they just built.

Odelina was glancing at the rearview mirror with envy. She wanted to join in but as the driver, she could not. Ever since the outbreak, she had not seen her children laugh like this making her even more eager to join them.

Mark who started the game knew that he succeeded in his scheme. It was killing two birds, no, four birds with one stone. First was to relieve the boredom brought by the slow travel. Second was to remove the wariness of Odelina's children towards them. For the third was to reduce the stress the apocalypse brought to everyone and the last one was to bring the group together.

Just who said that playing games was just a waste of time?

Still, if other saw them like this, they would think that they were looking at a group of lunatics. This group was actually having fun while others were doing their best to survive.

***

Day 3 - 6:30 AM - Niog Road, Mambog IV, Bacoor City, Cavite

Mark's vehicle stopped by the street.

Before the outbreak, getting this far from the City Mall would only take about fifteen minutes. Now however, it took them about an hour due to the flooded parts of the road, obstacles on the way and turning around to find other ways due to heavily blocked roads.

Mark went down the vehicle and took care of the infected around. The number of infected in this part of the road was way smaller as the area was surrounded by vacant plots of land used for farming and rearing animals.

After dealing with the infected, he finally looked around. He could see how much the world had changed after the outbreak. Like what the military disclosed, even plants were affected by the mutagen and were slowly evolving. The lush green plants at the vacant plots of land were strong evidence. Back then before the outbreak which was just two days ago, Mark saw this plot of land from the road on the other side of the plot since the public transport he rode to the Electricity Distribution Office passed on that road. Before, the plants in these plots had just been harvested. But now, the grass and wild plants were now about to reach his knee in height.

Mark looked past the plot of land towards the wide road going to the east. Far past through that road, several large buildings were vaguely in sight. It was their first destination, The Bacoor City Hall. The nearest person to find in Mark's list should be around here.

However, Mark felt that it was dangerous to blindly enter the area. It was the reason they stopped here. The perimeter of the City Hall was covered in overgrowth of plants and right where the main building of the City hall was built, there were a large tree towering over the buildings. The roots and branches of the three even stuck out of the walls of the building.

The City Hall was a four story building and the tree was one or two story higher.

"This would be tricky. I just wish that she's still alive in there."

Mark muttered as he observed the place using a pair of binoculars.