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115 The Road to Carlos House

 Day 4 - 1:10 PM - Pasong Buaya St., Barangay Pasong Buaya II, Imus, Cavite

After leaving Firenze, Mark's group planned to go to the nearest house in their list which was Carlo's and Anna's. Their neighborhood was exactly four kilometers away southeast of Firenze if it was a straight travel. However, since the area was filled with neighboring subdivisions and road branches, the distance Mark estimated an additional kilometer to this distance and that might only be the lowest estimate. It was expected for them to have detours as the possibility of encountering severely blocked roads and fence gated streets was high.

Mark was not mistaken about that. Due to blocked roads, they had to change route several times. It was good that the roads they were traversing was subdivision roads where only the inhabitants of the subdivision pass through causing the lower quantity of infected wandering the roads. Moreover, the combination of the two vehicles worked out good. As long as the road only had few obstacles, the MB Sprinter that was equipped with the V-shape ram could push the obstacles aside while Emika on the other vehicle would keep the infected away from the vehicles using the vines she was controlling. Since the vines were actually made of her green flowery hair, there were times she could not handle all the infected. It was that time that Mark and Abbygale would go out and deal with the remaining infected if removing the obstacles took more time that the infected managed to block their way.

It also helped that there were roads that the policemen from Firenze had already cleared of the obstacles during the times they were looking for survivors.

With the obstacles and the time consumed aside, their journey was smooth overall, until they reached this accursed main street. It was packed with abandoned vehicles. The issue however was there were no other roads that would lead out of this area for them to take without going back and using another exit several kilometers away. Another thing was that alternate exit was going through a lot of places in habited by people like markets, churches and schools and also led to the main highway further away from their destination. In any case, there was no other road for them to take aside from this one that would lead them to a back road that was directly connected to Carlo and Anna's neighborhood.

As long as they reached that back road, they would have fewer problems as that road goes through a series of wide vacant plots of land. There would be fewer infected at that road and the possibilities of encountering obstacles was almost nil. If ever there would be obstacles on that road, they could stray into the vacant plots and go around the obstacles.

At the moment, the two vehicles were moving very slow while pushing the abandoned vehicles to the side of the road. Outside the vehicles, Mark, Mei, Abbygale, Laelaps and Emika were dealing with the infected.

Abbygale was now in her cat eared form due to her request. Along with Laelaps, the two were the vanguard of the group. Among them, only Mark could keep up with the little girl's speed as he saw her give out strong kicks towards the infected. Laelaps on the other hand was biting and tearing the limbs of the infected and also would use her horn on her forehead to pierce the heads of the enemies. Mark was really pleased with this dog as it actually could understand human language as long as the words were not too deep or complicated. It could be said that this dog's mentality was not an animal's any longer and more of child's.

Mark on the other hand was the center of the group. He would shoot the infected further away while he would use his speed and machete on the infected that managed to get closer.

Emika and Mei, who volunteered to help, were the supports of the group while atop the MB Sprinter. Emika would protect the two vehicles by blocking the infected with her vines. Mei on the other hand was using the larger crossbow Mark made back at the Mall to kill the infected that was being blocked by Emika.

To say, their coordination was good especially Mei who was able to observe the battlefield and only deal with the infected without disrupting the momentum of the others. It was common for team members who were participating in battle together to attack the same enemy at the same time which was often inefficient and had the possibility to disrupt the momentum of the other team member. Mei who was new to group fights however was able to keep away from those circumstances.

"Nee~! Scary Uncle! The ugly guys are multiplying!"

Emika who was on the roof of the vehicle shouted. As she had a higher vantage point, she could see that the numbers of infected was increasing exponentially.

"From what direction?!"

Mark looked at her and shouted.

"From the front!"

Hearing Emika's reply, Mark jumped up. Using the square metal fence of a closed car wash, he propelled himself to the roof and to have a wider view of the situation.

What he saw to the south which was the direction they were heading, was a small horde coming towards their direction. Furthermore, the leading infected looked kind of disgusting. It was no doubt that it was a mutated one.

The skin of the infected was unnaturally and unevenly dark colored but it did not looked charred or anything of that sort. What made it look disgusting was the uneven texture of its skin that could be compared to the surface of the back of the moon due to the dents, unsightly growths and tumors on its skin. The infected's clothes was in tatters displaying the disgusting features it had even more. If it was to be described further, it was Skin Cancer given the shape of a human.

As he saw this kind Mutated Infected for the first time, Mark adjusted the Bluetooth camera he always wore on his collar to focus on the new Infected. It might look gross even in the video but he needed to document it as much as possible including its abilities and strength.

"All of you deal with the ones on the back! Leave the guys in front to me!"

With that shout, Mark jumped off the roof and ran off towards the direction the horde was coming from.

As usual, the gross looking mutated infected came after Mark the moment it spotted him. Upon closer look, Mark could tell that the appearance the infected had was caused by skin cancer. There was no doubt about it as all the symptoms of skin cancer Mark could think of was present of the infected's skin.

Mark started to deal with the infected within the horde. He would hack their heads and necks using his Machete on close quarters and would switch to his assault rifle to deal with the infected further away as he would not risk it to go closer to where the infected in the horde was concentrated. However, he did not immediately dispose of the Mutated Infected in front of him. While dealing with the other infected, he was intently observing the mutated one on how it would behave and attack.

He was not able to do the same on the mutated infected he encountered before due to the perilous situations at that time but now, he had quite an amount of time to observe this one. After all, pushing the abandoned vehicles on the road could not be rushed or else, damaging the vehicle was apparent.

After observing it, the Mutated Infected was not doubt a mutated Biter. Its movements were faster that Eaters but it was slower than normal Biters. It might be because of its skin structure hindering its movements slightly.

TSST!

Mark shot the Mutated Infected on its chest.

As Mark expected, it could feel the pain as it wailed hoarsely while swing its body side by side. However, it did not die despite the fatal shot. While on Mark's sight, the wound caused by the gunshot was covered by a tar looking liquid. The liquid solidified almost immediately replacing the wound with a black colored patch of skin.

'It regenerated? No, that's not regeneration. It's more like it was replacing its damaged skin. What happened to the bullet then?'

Mark tried to approach the Mutated Infected intending to hack its chest and check the bullet if possible. However, it swung the disgusting looking arm it had towards him releasing black, yellow and green colored pus from the disgusting blisters on its skin. Seeing those clumps of sticky liquid flying towards him, Mark's complexion changed as he hurriedly dodged.

'Damn. That was close!'

Shingg!

Mark swung his Machete slicing off the arm that the infected swung. The arm plopped unto the ground along with the wail of the infected. Mark jumped back as the infected scattered the dark colored blood from its decapitated arm as it shook its body violently. However, like what happened to the gun wound it received before, the open wound from the decapitated arm was soon covered with black tar that hardened after covering the wound.

After that, the infected came running after him again like nothing happened.

As Mark saw it, he concluded that the wound inside its body caused by the bullet might have also been blocked by this black tar.

The Mutated Infected then swung its remaining arm towards Mark causing the same mess flying away from its arm which Mark hurriedly dodged. Mark did not know if this liquid was harmful or not but he had no notion of trying to touch it. The pus being disgusting was enough to make anyone stay away. In the worst case, the pus could transmit its skin condition making Mark not want to touch it even more.

As the attack pattern it displayed afterwards was the same, Mark decided to stop and killed the Mutated Infected with a head shot.

The horde was eliminated by Mark alone using his abilities and the terrain to his advantage. He was jumping from vehicle to vehicle killing the infected one by one safely.

Still, Mark found that their movement was too slow. There were a lot of abandoned vehicles on the small two way road. Looking at their current location, there should be another half kilometer before they could get out of this road. While trying to think of a way, his eyes landed on Laelaps who had just pierced another Biter with her horn.

'Right! I'm such an idiot. I forgot about her!"

Mark though as he almost slapped his forehead.

"Laelaps! Come here!"

Mark called.

Laelaps who had just whipped her head to shake off the blood on her horn immediately turned around and ran towards her owner's direction after hearing his shout.

After Laelaps, stopped in front of him, Mark patted the dog's head before voicing his intention.

"Laelaps, can you enlarge yourself?"

Laelaps tilted her head not understanding what Mark had just said. Noticing that the dog might not be able to understand the word 'enlarge', he rephrased his words.

"What I mean, is make your body bigger. Like how you looked like before we found you."

"Arf!"

Laelaps barked after hearing Mark affirming his inquiry.

"Then, become bigger and help push these cars to the side."

Mark said as he pointed at the vehicles blocking the road.

With that, Laelaps' golden eyes glowed brighter and her body slowly enlarged in front of Mark. Then, the dog started to gently push Mark with her snout.

"What is it?"

Mark asked noticing that Laelaps wanted to tell him something.

Hearing his question, Laelaps lowered her body and moved her face side wards as if she was pointing at her back.

"You want me to ride on your back?"

"Arf!"

Mark flinched as the bark facing him was too loud even with his earphones on.

"Alright."

Mark climbed unto Laelap's back and sat before he started to shoot the infected around. Laelaps on the other hand started to push the vehicles aside even faster than how the vehicle was able to clear the road.

The people who knew of Laelaps' form was elated about the method Mark thought off to clear the road while those who had just seen the three meter tall golden dog was flabbergasted and amazed.

On the other hand, there were Abbygale, Mei and Emika who looked at Mark with envy. The always lively Emika could not stand it and shouted.

"SCARY UNCLE! Let me ride too!"

"Stop shouting Dryad Chibi! Just your voice is enough to call a large horde!"

Along with that bickering, Mark's group moved forward faster than before. They soon reached the back road and traversed the road safely without too much obstacles aside from the uneven spots on the road due to the back road not being maintained.

Mark did not return inside the vehicle and just rode on Laelaps' back the rest of the way. He also brought Mei and Abbygale with him leaving the sulking Emika on their family car. Emika could not leave the vehicle since she was in charge of keeping away the infected with her vines.

After another half hour, Carlo and Anna saw the familiar floodplain which was being used as a plantation for a huge amount of Water Spinach. At this time, the plants on the water was shining with a lush green color different to the brownish color the plants had before the outbreak.

This floodplain was located just behind the block where Carlo's house was located. After passing through this floodplain, just a few meters around the corner and his house could be seen. Knowing this, Carlo's heart could not help but pound stronger as he wondered if they could find his family here. And if they could, were they still alive?