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96 The Consequences of Complacency in the Apocalypse

 Day 3 - 2:46 PM - Vacant Farming Lot, Molino Boulevard, Bayanan, Bacoor City, Cavite

Several vehicles were parked beside the side walk of the curved boulevard in two rows. It was the survivors that decided to wait for Mark and his group's return. The parked the vehicles in this way to reduce the area needed to be protected by the police, the bodyguards and the armed volunteers. Most of the survivors stayed inside the vehicle with only the armed men patrolling outside.

It was fortunate for them that the location was a good spot to stop over. The wide road on the west and south area was the wide road while the northern and eastern area was the vast vacant farmland. There were no hiding spots and every movement from all directions could be observed except for some parts of the farmland were the grass had grown taller than two meters. The tall grasses however were quite far in the distance and could be considered insignificant.

The group attracted quite a number of infected after stopping but was efficiently dealt by the police. If was fortunate for them that they did not attract the horde since the horde came after the armored van that tore through their horrifying numbers.

At the north-eastern side of the convoy, two armed volunteers could be heard chatting. The man who was anxiously looking around while sitting on the sidewalk spoke to the other man who stood while leaning on the base of the concrete electric post.

"Fred, how long do you think we're going to wait here?"

"How would I know huh, Luke? Why don't you try asking them?"

The man called Fred pointed towards the police with his thumb.

"Nah, I would rather not. I know that they are protecting us but they still look scary."

The man sitting on the side walk, Luke, shook his head. Both of the two were government office workers before the outbreak and it was obvious that Luke was a timid person.

"Why are you scared with them? They are only scary because they have guns. But we also have ours now right?"

Fred boastfully said while tapping on the gun he put on the belt of his pants. Luke only shook his head hearing Fred's sentence. The guy was being too complacent. Just because he had a gun now, he thought that he was comparable to the trained police? Luke had those thoughts but did not voice it since this guy in front of him was quite hard to deal with even back in the office.

It was then that Fred turned around and walked towards the farmland leaving the convoy. Luke was about to ask him where he was going when another shout beat him to it.

"Hey you there, where are you going?"

Luke turned his head and saw that it was a police officer who asking Fred. To the question, Fred replied.

"Boss, nature's call. I can't do it here since there are women inside the cars."

"Is that so? Then do it quick and don't go too far away."

"Alright, boss!"

Fred replied to the police officer with a smug face before turning around once more and continued to walk towards the middle of the farmland. The guy was really not afraid of the police especially since he had a gun himself. It was quite common to see people who had this kind of attitude even in the ranks of the police. They felt superior and arrogant just because of the weapon holstered on their waists.

He arrived at the middle of the farmland and saw that the people in the convoy would not see him anymore. Looking around, he saw the nearest tuft of tall grass. He decided to empty his tank there. After moving in front of the tall grass, he noticed that the grass was quite thin and there was an open space behind. As he was confident with himself and with his curiosity kicking in, he decided to look.

What he found was a 3.5 meter by 2 meter rectangular hole. It was a hole dug by farmers to store water collected from the nearest creek and use the water for watering the crops manually. In fact, the hole was still filled with water because of the rain yesterday. Since there was water inside the hole, who knows what entered the man's head and decided to take a leak there.

The sound of flowing water could be heard behind the tall grass as Fred did his thing. Luke who was still sitting on the sidewalk back on the convoy was attentively looking around for danger. He also saw when Fred entered inside the tuft of tall grass but did not think too much about it since it was just a small tuft of grass in the middle of the vacant grassland.

It was then...

"AAAAHHHHH!!! HELP!!"

They all heard a loud scream. Luke immediately turned towards the group of tall grass. He was sure that it was Fred's voice. Luke immediately flung himself up and sprinted towards the middle of the farmland. Several police officers also went towards the source of the scream.

BANG!

Midway their sprint, they heard a loud gunshot coming from the same direction where the scream came from.

BANG! BANG!

As several more shots sounded, the men who went to aid froze. When the gunshots finally stopped, they all continued with extreme caution. But before they could reach the tuft of tall grass however, the tall grass in front swayed open and a silhouette of a person came out. It was Fred.

However, his eyes were all red as if it was irritated and there was a white web like root on his face, neck and arms. Furthermore, there was a red mark on his pants. It was blood and by the shape of the mark, it looked like a bite.

"Luke! Help me!"

Fred staggered out of the tuft and called out to Luke who was already nearby. He then fell down on all fours splattering his arm and pants with mud. He then started wailing in pain and started to roll on the mud while clutching his head.

"Fred!"

Luke shouted and was about to run when a hand grabbed him on his right shoulder stopping him from doing so. When the turned around, it was one of the police officer who went to help.

"What are you doing? I need to help him!"

Luke had forgotten his fear of the police due to his panic. He tried to shake off the hand on his shoulder but he failed to do so. When he was about to retaliate, he heard the police officer speak.

"Sir, calm down. It's likely that he was bitten. If you came close to him carelessly, who might also get bitten by him if he suddenly turned."

Hearing that, Luke calmed down a bit but he was still worried. Even though he and Fred were not too close to each other, they knew each other for several years now. Furthermore, he was the only person he knew within the survivors.

While everyone was hesitating whether to approach Luke or not, the tuft started rustling and another person came out. It was an infected.

The infected was slow and there were several bullet holes on its body. The bullet holes were probably done by Fred. The most noticeable thing however was that there were several odd looking fungi on the infected's face and arms. There were also web like white roots all over its body. On one of its eyes, a clump of trumpet shaped white colored mushrooms were growing. There were also smaller mushrooms on other parts of its body.

Looking back at the wailing Fred, he already had the same web like patterns on his body and was spreading fast. Soon, his actions started to became weaker and he started twitching with his back on the mud. He then stopped moving. After that, under the gazes of the witnesses, Fred's right eye burst into a stream of blood and the same trumpet shaped mushroom that was stained with blood started growing at a fast pace. It was as if they were watching a growth of a mushroom in fast motion. The scene made all the witnesses fall back in fright and disgust.

Fred then stood up and started to shamble towards the men who went for his aid.

"Fred..."

Luke was crestfallen. His friend just went off like that.

"Snap out of it! Quickly deal with those two!"

One of the police officers bellowed. The frightened police snapped out of their emotions. They needed to deal with the threat first before anything else. Since the two were just moving slowly, one of the police officers decided to deal with the two infected in melee. There were already several gunshots that were fired and they did not want to attract more danger.

Under Luke's eyes, the police officer went towards Fred and smashed his police baton towards Fred's neck. That was then...

With a puff, the mushroom that had just grown out of Fred's eye released white smoke enveloping the police officer.

"GAAHHHH!!!!"

The police officer then subconsciously released the baton in his hand and staggered backwards while clutching his neck and face. The wind then carried the smoke away towards the other people. Everyone immediately retreated. However, the crestfallen Luke was late to react. He managed to inhale the white smoke.

"Cough! GAH! UGH! Sh*t!"

Luke fell down on his knees and clutched his neck as if he wanted to strangle himself.

The other police officers stared wide eyed on the unexpected scene. They then saw the web like roots started growing on the two persons who inhaled the white smoke. They finally realized that it was not smoke. The smoke was actually mushroom spores!

The two infected then went towards the two victims and bit them on their necks. The two then turned in a matter of seconds.

"Damn it! Don't get close! Shoot them! Don't care about the noise anymore!"

Given the signal, they started shooting the four infected and brought them down. Still, no one of them dared to go close at their bodies.

Chief Mallari and Madam Lanie who saw the scene from far away had their foreheads knitted. The other survivors inside the vehicles grimaced. Outside the vehicles, the armed men were crestfallen. They just lost tree capable men.

It enlightened them to the meaning of not letting their guards down. Just one slip up and it could be the end.

The armed men looked around, they now needed to deal with the incoming infected that was drawn in by the gunshots.

Everyone wished that Mark's group return as fast as possible.

***

Day 3 - 2:47 PM - WCRonalds, Molino Road, Molino II, Bacoor City, Cavite

Mark hacked the neck of an Eater blocking his way inside the restaurant. Since the space inside the restaurant along with the overturned chairs and tables, Mark was having a hard time fighting. Abbygale had the same predicament. She could not bounce around and kick the necks of the infected inside the restaurant too much due to the mess and unstable footing.

As the time was the essence, Mark stopped trying to conserve ammunition and took out his pistol.

TSST! TSST!

Two shots and two infected fell down and never to stand up again. At that moment, a Biter busted in from the northern side of the restaurant through the broken glass walls. However, the Biter was greeted by a kick from the little girl sending the Biter flying back outside the restaurant. Attracted by the noise below, several infected went down from the second floor through the stairs and window. Mark could see some infected falling outside the restaurant creating splat sounds.

"Huh?"

Mark suddenly looked up. The number of people he detected decreased by one for some reason. It gave him a sense of crisis. After eliminating the infected on the first floor, Mark and Abbygale immediately went up. They were greeted by a dozen infected wandering the second floor. Seeing the newcomers coming from the stairs, the infected immediately scrambled towards Mark and Abbygale. The little girl was ready to charge when her Papa spoke.

"Gale, let me handle this."

After holstering his pistol back into his belt, he pulled the M16 from his side and flicked the safety lever.

TSST! TSST! TSST! TSST! TSST! TSST! TSST! TSST! TSST!

After more than a dozen shots, all the infected on the second floor fell soaking into their pools of blood on the floor.

Mark approached the only staff door at the second floor. It was the door that led to the rooftop outside. Mark could still feel the three weak fluctuations from the other side of the wall. He shot the lock of the door. It was a door that did not use a door knob and only had a door handle and a separate circular lock.

After shooting the lock, he kicked the door open and readied his gun just in case. What he saw made him dumbfounded. He saw five people lying around the rooftop. Two of them were already dead. The other three however, a man and two women were lying down on the floor together hugging each other wearing only their underwear.