As we slowly made our way up to the roof, I couldn’t help but linger on the fact that Stan hadn’t killed Cara yet. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want him too, but they clearly weren’t exactly compatible individuals based on the few social interactions they’d had, including one where Cara almost ‘accidently’ knocked Stan down a flight of stairs.
I eventually rationalized it as simply being a case of Stan wanting to take full advantage of having an extra person on hand, and perhaps even as some regard for my feelings.
Stan and I hadn’t really had much of a chance to talk about it given the fact that Cara had been around the entire time, but I actually thoroughly enjoyed having her around, which was something that I had a bit of a hard time with in regards to must people.
It wasn’t anything romantic, of course, but I enjoyed having a friend other than Stan in the game, especially considering that death was a very real and ever-present threat, and having a friend meant having one less enemy.
“You holding up back there?” Stan asked as I kind of lingered on the final few steps before the roof’s door which both he and Cara had just walked through, “You seem kinda off.”
“I’m fine,” I lied, pretending that Stan being there hadn’t brought into question my mortality and forced me to remember that we were both in a warehouse somewhere, “like I said before, big day.”
“Fair enough.” Stan replied flatly, taking my meaning to heart and clearly thinking about the same thing I was.
Or he was thinking about something totally unrelated, who knows?
Anyway, I eventually accepted that I was going to have to go onto the roof with the others and finished the climb, before coming to a full stop pretty much as soon as I’d stepped on the uneven gravel.
“Yep.” Stan answered before I could finish.
“And is it-”
“That just seems like-”
“A really stupid idea?” Cara interjected, “Yeah, it does.”
Okay, so she may have had a point, but it was also stupidly awesome. I mean, come on, a dirt bike attached to a bungie-cord? That’s just plain cool.
You know, until you start thinking about the logistics of it.
“I’m deeply offended by that,” Stan said, finding the words that I couldn’t, “I put a lot of work into that there machine of greatness.”
“And by that you mean you had to figure out how to get the cord secured to the roof?” Cara asked pointedly, “Seriously, what made you think this was a good idea?”
“The fact that it’s absolutely amazing.” Stan replied defensively, “Just look at it, and it’ll totally weigh down the cord so we can slide down it to safety.”
“So you never planned to ride it?” I asked, a small piece of my heart breaking as I did so, “I mean… Good call, smart.”
“Yeah, except for the fact that he doesn’t actually need to weigh down the cord,” Cara jabbed, “he just wasted a bunch of points on a stupid, poorly thought out idea that clearly came from some boyhood journal of his.”
“I’ll have you know that I drew the schematics for this just last week,” Stan joked, “besides, weighing down the cord can only be a good thing.”
Cara went to argue, stopped, sighed, and nodded, “Yeah, I s’pose you’re right. Doesn’t make it any less of a stupid idea.”
“Yeah, yeah, go get yourself patched up while Finn and I look over my awesome invention.” Stan said, gesturing for me to follow as he did so, “They’re over in that far corner, should be able to find a few full blood bags and a tester, if you need it.”
“I know my blood type, dick.” Cara replied while Stan and I made our way over to his bike and she went to get herself healed.
“So…” I trailed off once we were by the bike and Cara was out of earshot, “you totally planned to drive this off, didn’t you?”
“Of course.” Stan scoffed, “But then she went ahead and made me think about it.”
I’m not sure why, but that’s when I decided to give Stan a serious, almost stern look, “How can you be so irresponsible, man?” I asked, taking him by surprise, “Given our… circumstances, don’t you think it would’ve been better for you to think of something at least a little bit less deadly?”
“Hey, don’t blame me,” Stan said almost too nonchalantly, “I’m just tryin’ to make the shit situation. You, as always, are only seeing the downsides of our predicament.”
“And what would be the…” I trailed off as I remembered the massive reward.
“There you go.” Stan practically laughed, “Now can you see why I’m havin’ fun with this?”
I honestly couldn’t, but I quickly figured that that was why Mister Purple had the reward there in the first place, to draw in those who wouldn’t be as affected by the threat of life or death.
“Still though,” I finally said after realizing that Stan was waiting for me to talk, “I think that it’d be in all of our best interests if we did our best to make sure we play this smart.”
“Yeah, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that. What’s with the girl? She kinda seems like deadweight.”
I was instantly offended on her behalf, but did my best not to let it show, “She saved my ass back at the Cradle, pulled me out of a bad situation that I couldn’t get out of.”
“Bullshit,” Stan scoffed, “I know you too well to believe that you couldn’t have figured out a way to work on your own, or, at the very least, get rid of her once you were in the clear. C’mon, what’s the real reason?”
The truth was that I didn’t know, but I knew that Stan wasn’t going to take that for an answer, “Because I figured it’d be better for me to have body shield.” I said flatly, earning me a grin from Stan that unsettled me slightly, “She’s there for if ever the situation gets too grim and I need somethin’ to throw off my scent.”
“Heh, there he is,” Stan replied, “there’s the gamer I know and love. Why didn’t you lead with that?”
I faked a smile at that and shrugged, “Guess I’ve been in character too long.”
“Yeah, heh, I noticed that. Echolalia or just tryin’ to make her comfortable?” Stan asked, referencing my change in accent.
“Probably a bit of both.” I replied, struggling to maintain my smile as I realized that the person that I’d labelled as one of my best friends didn’t know a great deal about me, “Anyway, what’s the plan?”
Stan shrugged and pointed his head toward Cara, “I reckon we get rid of her ASAFP. From there it’s just a matter of holding this hospital for as long as possible.”
“And you think we can do that? Even with all those players downstairs?”
“Hell yeah we can,” Stan replied confidently before gesturing for me to follow him over to the four-foot high cement wall that lined the edge of the hospital’s roof, “I’ll cover the forest there, and the town all the way over there, and you cover the door.”
“What if a chopper comes in?” I asked as I looked over to the small town about two miles west from where were standing, “I don’t know if you know this, but I ain’t got nothin’ that’ll be worth a damn if we come up against a vehicle.”
“That won’t be a problem,” Stan said, tapping the AS50 on his back as he did, “this ol’ girl will take out anything in two shots, bar a BTR, of course, which takes three.”
I liked his confidence, well, I liked it at that point because it meant that he had faith that there was a chance we might actually see ourselves into the endgame without any trouble.
Now, of course at around that time is when I started to consider the fact that when we did get into that endgame there was only going to be one of us allowed out, but I really wasn’t quite ready to start facing the fact that I might have to be the one to put him down.
Anyway, I was right about to start going through the plan in more detail when I got a fresh player count notification that was worth reading.
Kylia_the_Brave murdered LimpBiscuit
-1 Player (175 Players Remaining)
Zeta-One-Meta-Beta has mutated!
Infected individuals have increased muscle response!
Zeta-One-Meta-Beta has mutated!
“Welp,” Cara murmured as she joined us in watching dozens of zombies pour out of the forest and the town toward the hospital at full sprint, “that can’t be good.”