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Sarah said Jen and I hadn’t seen the garrison’s ability to hold off a herd of infected; if we had, we wouldn’t have been so nervous. Well, now that I see that ability for myself, I’m not convinced at all. Half the people are dead. And that’s supposed to impress me? If it weren’t for my decision to retreat when that large infected showed up, I would’ve died too. The formation is barely holding. After Keith died when an arrow shot his neck, the large infected rampaged for a bit, but Keith’s squad managed to subdue it. They haven’t killed it yet, but they’re holding it back.

As for the rest of us, there’s still a large number of infected, but without the large infected or the smart infected here to drive a motorcycle into us, we’re managing. It’s tiring. It feels like we’ve been fighting for hours, but I’m sure only a short time has really passed. I’ve been keeping up with my calisthenics and cardio the whole time I’ve been here, but other people haven’t. I can’t even imagine how they’re feeling right now. Holding infected back by pushing them is hard work, and the threat of death adds on to the pressure. The spearmen have it easier, just using their arms to stab.

At least I can see the end, the figurative light in the tunnel. We’ve really killed a lot. They were like a flood, but now they’re like a river, and soon, they’ll be a trickle. Instead of pushing back against two or three infected, it’s just one at a time now. Some of them are tricky to stab since they have plates and bowls and pots tied to their heads. Those are the only ones left since the ones that weren’t armored—if you can call a bowl armor—were killed first. This battle would’ve ended faster if Keith managed to kill the large infected and his squad was free to help us, but Cosmo’s squad returning helped prevent a lot of injuries. They weren’t tired at all since they only had to move stuff out of the kitchen. As for Cosmo, he’s keeping the smart infected in check. How is he doing anyway?

I made sure there wasn’t going to be another infected suddenly showing up once this one died. Then I turned my attention towards the entrance of the chief’s building where Cosmo should’ve been. Yeah, I shouldn’t allow myself to get distracted, but I couldn’t help it. Last time, I was fully focused on the enemy in front of me and didn’t notice the motorcycle rushing at us. Focus is good, but tunnel vision is bad. I wanted to make sure Cosmo was keeping the smart infected locked down, so there weren’t any accidents, but doing that nearly caused my to drop my shield. Cosmo and the smart infected were fighting…, and it looked like the smart infected was winning.

There was a lot of blood on the ground, and the knife in the smart infected’s hand was drenched in it. On the other hand, Cosmo wasn’t even using his spear properly. He was swinging it like a bat. He was trying to draw some distance, but the smart infected was sticking to him like glue—very stab-happy glue. A weight disappeared in front of me as Jen pushed her spear through the infected’s head. I took that chance to shout, “Someone has to help Cosmo!”

“Cosmo? What the hell! Loo, go with Joe to help Cosmo!”

“Joe’s dead!”

“Go with Michael and Sarah!”

Joe’s dead? I haven’t seen much of him ever since we arrived at the garrison. Loo and Joe split off from Jen and I and became hunters. Well, everyone has a day they’re going to die: today was Joe’s. And many other people’s. But it won’t be mine. I’m going to survive like I always have. Now that another three people were sent to deal with the smart infected, I can focus on killing the rest of these with Jen. I made a quick check on the large infected. It was kneeling; it seemed like Keith’s squad took out its legs. Before, they disabled an arm. Without any more stray arrows flying at them, they’ll kill the large infected in no time. Once that happens, they’ll be free to help us, and the only threat left will be the smart infected at the end. It put up a good fight.

“It’s almost over, just a little longer, Chris.” Jen and I had time to take a quick breather. That’s how few infected were left. They’re double our number, but that just means the spearmen have to kill four each and it’s over. It’s a good thing the infected only had two anomalies: the large infected and the smart infected. If the herd had more, this might’ve turned out a lot differently, but what are the chances of that? Of all the infected I’ve ever encountered since the outbreak, there’s only been these two. That just goes to show how rare they are.

“One’s coming.”

I readied my shield. This infected seemed to be going a bit faster than the others, but it doesn’t matter. I just have to lower my posture and brace myself to stop the impact. Most infected shamble along, but they speed up when they see a human. However, at most, I’ve seen an infected jog, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen an infected run like a person like this one’s doing now. “Jen, be careful. This one seems to be different.”

“Yeah. It’s fast.”

If it weren’t for the fact it wasn’t wearing a helmet and had a dried trail of blood running down from its mouth to its chin, I would’ve thought it was a person. I braced myself even further, tensing my legs, widening my stance. But the impact I was expecting didn’t come. The infected was just a few steps away when it jumped. It placed its hand on my helmet and planted its feet on the edge of my shield. I sank down from the unexpected force, and the infected sprang off of me. I lost my balance, falling to the ground, but I managed to release my shield and prop myself up with my elbows and knees. Jen screamed. I stood up while whirling around. The infected had landed on her and pushed her down. It was biting her neck.

Red filled my eyes. I didn’t even have time to think about it. I charged at the infected, kick its head as if it were a soccer ball. There was a sickening snap, but it barely registered. I kicked the infected’s head again, forcing it off of Jen. Then I stomped down on its neck, repeatedly, until it was a bloody paste.

“Chris.”

I flinched.

Jen grabbed my leg, the one I was standing on. “Calm down. We have a cure, remember?” She was panting, hyperventilating. I could tell she was scared. “When I asked you what you’d do if I was infected…, the cure.”

Right. The cure. The bite on her neck wasn’t very deep. I kicked the infected off before it could do real damage. At most, it was just a scrape, but it was still an infection. The longer I wait, the higher the chances of the cure not taking effect. She has to drink it, now. I scooped Jen up in my arms and ran towards the chief’s building, ignoring the gap I left behind in the formation.

Cosmo was lying on the ground, presumably dead. Loo, Sarah, and Michael were standing around outside of the building’s entrance. The smart infected was waiting on the other side. “Get the fuck out of my way!” The three people scattered. The smart infected saw me coming and raised its knife. I didn’t care. I turned my body to the side, keeping the knife away from Jen, and bashed the bastard as hard as I could with my shoulder. I ignored the smart infected that was dazed against the wall and ran towards the chief’s basement. The infected wasn’t going to chase me. There was no way Loo, Sarah, or Michael would let that happen. There was a burning sensation, almost like ice running through my veins, in my arm, but it didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was Jen.

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Virlyce

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