Nothing happened at first. They continued their routine trying to make the hours run faster. Playing card games and observing the goblin camp, unfortunately they have witnessed some humans getting killed by the creatures, but alas all they could do is watch.
They both believed that help would come eventually. They were sure of it.
But then on the third day of their wait Roy started having a fever.
It was likely the water at fault which started having a more distinct stench.
That was bad, it meant that the water was not safe to drink.
George went out to search for medicine trough the apartments.
Quite a few of the residents were gone but a bit more than half was still there holed up and waiting. And a bunch were also having a similar fever some worse than others.
George returned to his apartment. At this rate the future was looking bleak.
“We got to do something” Roy said from his blanket cocoon when George returned.
“We should… try joining up with the survivors, yes there will be safety in numbers.”
“No, we can wait it out here, we can survive a few more days and surely help…”
“There will no help.” Roy cut him off. “You have to face it, if this is happening on a wide scale it will months for people to regroup, we don’t have that time. We should try moving till we still have the strength”
After a long pause George replied “Where do you want to go? Have you seen what’s happening out there? People are dying Roy. do you think we will be different?!” He raised his voice.
“You have to realize that the chance of surviving the apocalypse is not high, it never was. So why not just gamble on success, instead of waiting here for failure. With contaminated water we won’t survive here, we have to move”
George rubbed his hair in frustration, he did not want die nor witness other people being killed again. All of this was really getting on his nerves.
“Okay then, where do you expect to go? The whole city is like this” George waved his hand.
“To the cafeteria, they always had their stocks full of supplies. There should be food and water there, along with other survivors.”
They started preparing for their trip. They packed their backpacks with what little food they had left among other things that might help, including kitchen knives towels, toiled paper and whatever else’s that looked useful.
Before the journey they went to other residents and asked them to join. The ones who still had supplies left were reluctant and a few others were drinking alcohol instead of water, they agreed. The most zealous was Tobias he was quite drunk at the time but certainly did not lack spirit.
In the end the group contained ten people. Everyone got what they could carry and what weapons they could find.
They decided that the best time to sneak out would be early morning when the visibility was good and the goblins are still sleeping.
One of the residents, who used to live in the first floor but due to safety had moved higher was Emily. They went into her apartment locking the door behind and silently opened the window.
One by one they climbed out.
With hands covered in cold sweat and beating heath George softly landed on grass covered by morning dew.
They narrowly dodged the goblin camp. The goblins did not have a very keen senses it seemed since they did not react when the group sneaked by.
Hastily following Tobias lead they sneaked away from the apartment hiding behind bushed and trying to stay out of sight as much as possible.
As they moved towards their goal. As they jogged, they saw some of the destruction that had occurred. There were broken and mangles cars left in middle of the street with splatters of blood in a lot of places. The whole city looked like this and it seemed to only become worse.
They could see large green wasps flying in the distance along with columns of rising smoke.
“Move, move, move” Tobias said in a whisper.
Their goal could already be seen in the distance. The cafeteria of the university. It was a promise of clean water, food and safety. But before all that they needed to reach it.
Behind broken down cars in the distance a grey skinned human looking creature with elongated arms and legs was digging a hole. It was around two meters tall and had no eyes where its face was supposed to be, only a mouth.
As they moved It turned its face as if looking straight at them. Going into a fast dash towards the group.
“Shit, run!” shouted Tobias abandoning trying to be silent and going into a sprint towards the university cafeteria building which could already be seen in the distance.
George gulped and with a racing heart and followed.
Roy was the slowest of the group he had fever and his physical shape was not the best.
George glanced back for a slight moment. The creature was faster than them and was quickly gaining distance. They would not make it in time.
It caught up. There was left a few hundred meters.
In this moment even when shaking I fear George could not abandon his friend. Even when his mind and senses were screaming to run, he stopped. He did not know what got into him, but he took off his backpack and threw it into the creature’s large open jaws in the exactly right moment. Right before its jaws would close over Roy.
Instead of flesh the creature crunches on the packed supplies. Even with its jaws busy the creature still with his huge frame landed near Roy. It spat out the backpack and swiped viciously with its claws.
With loud bang its head splattered all over the crosswalk covering both Roy and George with small bits of meat. A woman from window killed the creature before it could kill them both.
People from inside, quickly dismantled the corner of the barricade to let the group in. There could be seen other monsters quickly approaching in the distance attracted by the loud sound.
The group went in.
At this point George noticed a systems notification.
[Trough action against instinct you have gained +1 Will]
They were met by a few dozens of other students and a few lecturers. They did not seem in good shape. Most had bags under their eyes a few had bandaged limbs.
“Three shots left” The woman announced as she walked down stairs.
A middle-aged man with grey messy hair came forwards.
“Greetings to everyone. I am Herman. I used to be a professor but now it seems I am a leader. So, travelers, what brings you here, in our humble abode”
“Refuge.” Tobias as their representative replied.
Meanwhile George and Roy were trying to clean blood and small bits of meat off themselves. While the monster itself turned into specs of light and faded away the splattered fluids did not.
“Thanks man, I will remember it” Said Roy after a pause solemnly.
“Don’t worry man” George reassured.
They joined up with the tired looking group. George received a few praises for his courage.
“So just to be clear. We do not have clean water nor enough food. What we got instead is a lot of alcohol. So, we mix it with water like legionaries used to do. But with the new additions “ He glanced at Georges group meaningfully ” it will last us a week at most. Food on the other hand we have supplies for two weeks”
“Another thing I would like to inform you if don’t know already. That there appears to be a game like system interface that is granted to people who manage to kill a monster. What we devised is that by killing monsters and leveling up the person gains stat points, which he can spend to increase the basic attributes in turn gaining power”
“This perhaps Is the key to our survival. But for now, we are not able to kill any of the said monsters effectively and level up. Most of our attempts ended in failures thus if you have any relevant information please share” Herman ended his speech.
No one said anything.
“Very well then, I will show you to your quarters.” Herman waved pretending to be a butler.
He led them to a corner in a cafeteria hall which was deeper into the building and had no windows. It was dimply lit by led lights hooked up to a bunch of car batteries. The light was used quite sparingly.
There were people here, in various corners and places. Various clothes and backpack were lying on the ground making makeshift beds. In total there should be around fifty people present. With the new additions around sixty.
“Make yourselves at home” He gestured at the floor.
“Oh, and try to make yourselves useful” With that he left.
Since George lost his backpack, he had nothing on him. So, the group gave him stuff to place on the ground for a makeshift bed. He was viewed with respect by his peers.
Roy slumped down and went to sleep even when it was still daytime. It seemed that his fever was getting worse. That was depressing.
George looked around and listened to conversations that could be heard in the hall. Foreign exchange students wanted to go home but such thing was not possible in the moment and did not seem possible in the near future.
Others tried to cheer up and stay positive some played card games. But still there was some sort of tension in the air even when people tried not to show it. George could notice the hints like checked hands gritting of teeth and similar. And a bunch of angry hidden glances. But perhaps he was just being paranoid?
A few hours later rations came. Everyone got a glass of tap water mixed with alcohol along with some gruel. It was bland but the alcohol in the water made it good enough.
After finishing his meal, he went along the few others to look around. He saw people making sharpened sticks out of table legs while others were training doing pushups or calisthenics. A few were reading various books and taking notes.
“Work does not let the mind wander” George was startled by Herman’s words who silently came from behind. “They are trying to gain power from the system” Herman noted Georges gaze which was upon the people training “But only one success so far, a gentleman there gained +1 strength from training”
“Now I wanted to talk to you” Herman changed topics “I have seen your bravery. You seem just like the type of man we need. Come” He waved his hand as he went upstairs.
“No, wait. I am not brave at all…”
“Wait till I finish explaining” Herman interrupted.
George did not want to be involved in anything that had a chance of him coming to harm or possibly dying. There seemed to be a misunderstanding here. He was not brave at all. But due to his irrational actions the professor seemed to think differently.
After they walked some distance till there were no more prying ears nearby Herman spoke.
“You see, the thing is. That we only have water rations for two more days at most.”
“But you said...”
“I know what I said. But in this case morale is more important. You see after the last group did not return tension has been rising.”
“Return from where?” George could not help but ask as he was still following Herman.
“They went to retrieve supplies from a supermarket. There were two attempts. In total nine people our best and the brightest. Out of the two groups only one returned. He was covered in blood and quite mad.” Herman stopped and looked into Georges eyes.
“We are at wits end here. We need a successful mission, or I fear there will be a coup. I can no longer bear sending people to their deaths, we need success. Even when I don’t know you, I think you are exactly the person I need for the job”
George had no words to say. Before he could reply the shooter, woman came. She had long black hair and a sharp gaze. With a hunting rifle on her back she looked quite fierce. Although the baggy clothes somewhat reduced the impression.
“Don’t worry you would not be alone. This is Evelyn, you probably already have an impression of her”
“Hello” the woman gave silent greetings.
“And there is of course our survivor. He calls himself Abdul now. He is indeed mad, but don’t worry he does not lack a fighting spirit and is willing to fight for what it is he believes”
“So what do you say, the three of you bringing inspiration for the people. I believe the three of you have what it takes to succeed”
“I need to think about it” Was all George could muster to say.
‘So, what, a madman, a woman , and a coward’ George mocked the idea in his mind.