Will examined the girl in front of him. Although, she seemed cautious of him, she didn't seem hostile. If anything, she looked a little exhausted.

"You should put that away before you poke someone's eyes out." Will said, turning around and tossing Matthew into the pit.

The young girl watched with wide eyes as the roots moved and slowly latched onto the giant corpse, encompassing and adding it into the pile with the rest of the bodies.

"What is that thing?"

Will shrugged, he took off his gloves and began cleaning up the medical equipment lying around, bringing them back to the helicopter.


<Will, you there?> Donny's voice came from the radio at that moment.

"I'm here."

<A military helicopter just showed up to check things out. I don't see that dude with the wings though, but you should probably stay out there for a bit before coming back.>

"Got it. It will take a bit of time on my side anyway." Will acknowledged Donny's warning. His grandpa's evolution would take some time but he'd have to be careful on his way back in case they were still around, since they had his description.

<Right. They're coming over now, I'm going out to meet them.>

"Are you keeping in touch with the military?" The young woman asked. "Can you call them over here? My friend needs help. Or, better yet, can you take us to them?" She gestured at the helicopter.

"I'm not keeping in touch with them and I can't take you to them but I can give you a list of places they have set themselves up."

She was disappointed to hear that. "We won't be able to survive a trip like that on our own."

At that time, a group of men appeared from down the trail. They all had protective gear on and were also armed with long sharpened poles. Seeing that the young woman was beside Will, they relaxed their guards slightly but they still watched the surrounding plant life with caution.

"Care, you're already here?" One of the men said to the young woman as they approached before he turned to Will. "Excuse me, but do you know anything about what's going on out there? What the government is doing, the rescue efforts, a cure? We've been holed up at home ever since this whole thing started but it's hard to get any information."

"All I know is the military is working at retaking the city but it's a gradual process and will take a few more weeks."

"That long?" One of the men said, looking crestfallen.

"The problem is the entire country is dealing with the same situation, so they have their hands very full. If you can't hold on any longer, the closest refuge is the stadium."

The first man stepped forward. "My name is Gerald Brown and I work at the Green Water—it's one of the municipal wastewater treatment plants. The thing is, if we have to tough it out for a few more weeks, water is going to be a serious issue for everyone. So I'd like to ask if you could take a couple of us in your helicopter over to Green Water, and we'll drop in, restart the systems, and get the water running for about half a million people. If things go well, we can have clean running water for a couple of days."

"I'm sorry, but a couple of you won't be enough." Will shook his head. "I don't know how it works at a wastewater treatment plant but I'd imagine there's plenty of wastewater, right?"

Gerald nodded.

"It will be like at the landfills, that smell will attract a lot of...unwanted scavengers."

"The zombies?"

"Yes, it will be extremely dangerous over there."

It should also be about time for the first Category 1s to start showing up. Will thought grimly. It would be too dangerous if one of them shows up while we're trying to deal with a horde of zeroes with a small group like this.

Gerald's face fell at the news. "I see..."

"I just saw something move!" One of the men hissed in alarm as he focused on the bushes behind them. The rest of them entered a state of alert and made a sort of spear wall to protect themselves.

"I guess it's our time to go. It was good to meet you..."


"Will." Gerald nodded at Will before turning to the young woman. "Care, you should leave before something shows up."

The men turned around to leave down the trail but 'Care' decided not to follow.

"You want something?" Will asked her. She had not said anything about what she saw earlier and stayed behind even though those men were clearly afraid of staying out there any longer.

"My housemate, she's sick, and I don't know what's wrong with her. Can you take us somewhere, so she can get help? It sounds like you're in trouble with the military. If you can't take her to there, then to a hospital or a doctor, anything." She begged.

"How did she get sick?"

"She was isolating herself because she caught covid. She's been vaccinated but it keeps getting worse, and we don't know what to do."

It sounds like she's undergoing evolution in the middle of a co-infection if she hasn't turned into a zero yet.

Broski suddenly began to growl at the bushes on the side. Will spotted them with his infrared vision a moment later when the bushes rustled and a pack of rats charged out at the two of them. The young woman immediately bolted up a nearby tree and onto its branches in a display of athleticism.

"Broski, stay back!" WIll stepped forward and stood his ground, attracting the rats away from the dog. He stomped on the rats that ran up to him and tried to bite against his boots and shin guard. Those that climbed too high were grabbed by him and crushed before being tossed aside.

The young woman jabbed and batted her long spear at any rats that tried to follow her up the tree. Once it was all clear, she breathed a sigh of relief.

"Do you have a death wish?!" She looked at Will like he was insane. "If one of those things bit you, you'll zombify."

Will ignored her and began gathering up the rats. He tossed them into the pit, feeding them to the Metamorphosis Pod.

"Where are you going?" She questioned from up in the tree when Will turned around to leave.

He returned shortly after with two foldable chairs and sat down Broski down in one of them before he sat in the other.

'Care' came down from the tree about 10 minutes later when she determined that no more attackers were coming and the coast was clear. She took one last look at the strange young man and dog before quickly leaving down the trail.

About an hour later, when Will and Broski were in the middle of a meal, she appeared again. She returned this time carrying a one legged table and a messenger bag. She placed the table down and sat on top of it.

"Will, right? My name is Karen, by the way, Karen Smith." She looked Will in the face, searching for something he didn't know. "You're not laughing?"

"About what?"

"Never mind..." She reached into her bag and brought out an energy bar.

"Why did you come back?" Will asked.

"For my friend, she really needs help. If you have a helicopter, you should be holed in a pretty safe place, right?"

"You want me to take her with me?" Will answered her question with another question.



"I'll do anything..." She cut in before he could fully decline and looked at him in the eyes.

"I'm not interested." Will continued eating his ration.

"Then what do you want? Men? My friend knows a bunch of them, if you help her she can match you up with someone."

"I never asked for anything."

"Everyone wants something. Fame? Money? I guess those things are useless now." She glanced at the Metamorphosis Pod. "What are you sitting here for anyway? Is an alien about to hatch?" She gripped her makeshift long spear tighter.

Will didn't answer, and the three of them sat there and ate in silence. About half an hour later, Broski growled again, and a lone raccoon charged out from the greenery. It came from Karen's side and before Will could step in to deal with it, she lanced it through its body with her long spear.

She made a face as she flung the raccoon off of her weapon. Will walked up to it and kicked it into the pit. He also made sure to bury any blood spilled in the dirt.

They sat there in silence for about another half hour before she stood up and left, leaving the table behind.

She returned again an hour later. This time she brought a lantern with her, but she paused when she saw that Will had already prepared wood for a campfire.

" could do that outside. We've been holed up for so long I forgot." She said in embarrassment, placing the lantern down and taking her spot on the table again. "You know, you're pretty grumpy for someone who looks so young. How old are you anyway?"


"No're younger than me?" Karen looked like her world had been flipped upside-down. "At least you have enough tact to know not to ask a lady her age. I'm 21, by the way." There was a moment of silence before she spoke again. "So his name is Broski?"


"That's a cute name."


"At least you're a better conversation partner." Karen muttered.

They sat there for another hour, during which Will dealt with another attack by rats. This time he placed Broski on Karen's table, where they couldn't reach the two because of the one legged design. He easily dealt with the rats afterwards, and was called suicidal by Karen once again before she left.

Donny contacted him sounding tired and briefly informed him that the soldiers had left.

Karen returned a little over an hour later, when the sun was beginning to set. "Are you planning to stay out here for the night? I know you're crazy, but you should at least look out for Broski."

The dog in question looked up from the table he had taken over.

"He'll be staying inside the helicopter."

"I can take him to my place if you'd like. I'm sure it'd be better than being confined inside a metal box."

Before Will could say anything, Broski suddenly leapt to his feet and scampered on top of the table excitedly. His tail wagged back and forth wildly as he let out a bark at the Metamorphosis Pod. The familiar squelching sound came out from it and the pod parted as a Grandpa Wong crawled out.

Although he was covered in slime, Will could see that his grandpa's wrinkles had mostly smoothed out and his body had regained a lot of the muscles it had lost over the years. He still had white hair but now he looked like a middle-aged man in his 40s instead of an old man in his 80s.

Will had to hold Broski back to keep him from jumping on the old man and accidentally getting something bad in his system.

Karen watched this extremely bizarre scene before her with wide eyes.

"I thought you said you weren't interested in men?"


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