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The Ghost Who Didn't Like Musicals.

Chapter Text

It started the night before everything happened. At the Starlight Theater. Alice and Deb were waiting for her dad outside the Starlight theater- they had found a bus stop to stand under to avoid the rain- and they talked. When Bill finally showed up, he was quick to hug his daughter and smile at Deb.

“Well, shall we head in?” he asked, holding up the three tickets to Mama Mia. Before either of the two could respond, there was a loud crash, which had the three screaming and Bill pushing himself between the noise and the two girls. After realizing they weren't in immediate danger, they turned to look at the theater.

“Holy S**t,” Deb whispered, staring at the absolute gigantic hole through the top of the theater.

“It’s a good thing we weren't in there yet,” Alice said, fear still evident in her eyes. Bill draped an arm over his daughters’ shoulder as Deb grabbed her girlfriends' hand and gave it a quick squeeze as they waited to see if anyone would leave the theater.

“We should go inside, see if everyone’s ok,” Deb said, releasing Alices’ hand as she took a step forward.

“Shouldn’t we wait for someone to show up? Like Police or the Fire department?” Bill asked.

“Yeah, Deb, I’m not sure,” Alice said.

“How about this, you two call 911 and I’ll go see if anyone’s hurt,” she said, adjusting her beanie a bit as she turned to look at the two. Alice gnawed at her bottom lip while Bill looked between the two.

He knew he couldn’t force Deb to stay and that if Alice said she wanted to go with, she wouldn’t listen to him. So, against his better judgment, he relented.

“Fine, but while we’re in there, I’m going to call 911 as well, so that people get down here,” he said, pulling out his phone as the three started walking towards the theater.

Inside was absolute chaos. The impact had caused anything that wasn’t nailed down to topple over. Popcorn, candy, and drinks were spilled across the floor and a lot of people seemed to be in a daze as they stayed where they had fallen. The walls and ceiling had cracks in them and glass from windows and popcorn machines littered the floor. The three were quick to start helping people up- with Bill still on the phone with a 911 operator- and trying to get people out of the building.

Deb looked around and realized that some people were probably already in the actual theater part and ran down the hall to help anyone there she could. She froze when she saw it. There in the center of the stage, with the only working spotlight, glowing blue, was some kind of giant rock, half-submerged in the floor. It was terrifying to see what HAD to of caused this catastrophe. But… It was also… Beautiful. As if possessed, Deb stepped forward, eyes locked on the space rock as she stepped over the bodies of people unconscious in the aisle. Only able to focus on this blue glowing boulder. Before she knew it, she was on stage, right beside it. Now that she was next to it, she could hear something.

“Is that… music?” she asked aloud, getting closer still to it.

Indeed, music was emanating from the meteor. Not only that, but there seemed to be some kind of music-based chant coming from it. Repeating the words ‘What do you want, Deb. What do you want, Deb. What do you want, Deb.’ over and over. She ignored it in favor of staring down a hole in the meteor. However, the noise seemed to be coming from down it. She squinted and tried to see inside of, only for a blue mist to spray out and into her face. She backed up and coughed into her sleeve, trying to exhale all the blue smoke from her lungs. When she had finally gotten her breath back, she noticed two things.

One, the music and chanting was louder and sounded like it was coming from behind her no matter where she looked.

And Two, Alice was next to her, looking at her in concern.

“Deb? Are you ok?” Alice asked, fidgeting with the sleeves of her pink sweater as she watched Deb with concern.

Deb ignored the music as she smiled at her girlfriend.

“I’m fine, Al. Just zoned a bit,” Deb said as Alice smiled.

“Cool. Um, police showed up, they want everyone who isn’t injured to leave immediately and my dad’s giving a statement to what happened,” Alice explained. Deb nodded and grabbed Alices’ hand again.

“Let’s go then,” Deb said, glancing back at the meteor as the two walked away. Her eyes landed on where the smoke had come from and frowned at the blue slime that was oozing down the side like mucus. Something inside of Deb made her want to get Alice FAR away from it.

As Deb was walking out of the building with Alice- it had stopped raining- she saw two police officers walking in and another one talking to Bill. Alice frowned and shook her head at the officer before explaining to Deb.

“Remember how I told you about all the drama that goes on at my Dads’ work? That’s Sam. Charlottes’ husband,” Alice whispered as they walked closer. Bill had told Alice about ALL the drama going on at his office between Ted’s ‘Jerk-hole’ attitude, The Love Square Between Charlotte, Ted, Sam, and Zoey, Mr. Davidson’s prominent flirting with ALL employees, Pauls unwavering crush on one of the Beanies Baristas, and so much more. Alice -after getting Deb to promise not to tell- told her girlfriend EVERYTHING! At first, Deb found it slightly amusing. Until she started getting really into it. Now she LOVED hearing all the gossip from Alice.

“And I think that’s it. Thank you, Bill. We’ll be sure to call you if we need anything else,” Sam said, smiling in that fake way only cops can.

“Of course. Have a good night, Sam. Come on, girls,” Alice and Deb smiled as Bill lead the way back to his car. The girls got in the back while Bill sat in the driver's seat. The three sat for a minute, just breathing before Bill sighed.

“I’m sorry, Alice. I know how you and Deb were looking forward to this,” he said. Alice frowned and leaned forward in her seat. Patting her dads’ shoulder.

“It’s fine, Dad. Really. How about we just go get some food?” she offered. Bill smiled at the two and nodded.

“Ok, where would you like to go?”

-Earlier That Night-

Sam was checking his phone near Beanies. He was supposed to be out working all night too- f***ing chief- and there was no way he was going to make it through the night without a hell load of caffeine. Until…

“Heya hot stuff,” Zoey said, smiling in a flirtatious way. Sam stifled a sigh before forcing a smile.

“Hey, Zoey,” he said, forcing a smile.

“Soo… I got you something,” she said, pulling something out of her back pocket. Sam hadn’t expected her to pull out two tickets to Mama Mia. Ever since he had been younger, he had gone to every single performance at the Starlight Theater, and it had only become more prominent after him and Charlotte had first gotten together. Another performance hadn’t come since his and Charlottes’ marriage had started falling apart, but he had been saving up to buy two tickets to Mama Mia to take her.

After realizing he had been silent for a few moments he started scrambling for an excuse to decline -since when had he become so awkward?- only for his radio to pick up. He made a ‘one-moment’ gesture to her before responding to his radio.

“Attention all units there are reports of an 11-60 at the Starlight Theater, Every available cop with a badge and a gun make way ASAP,” he couldn’t help but smile, an excuse to getaway.

“What’s an 11-60?” Zoey asked as Sam started walking back to his car.

“Attack in a high hazard area,” he said, waving to another officer who was driving past.

“The Starlight Theater is a high hazard?” she asked, beating him to his car and leaning against the driver's side door.

“Have you seen that place? I may love it, but it definitely needs an inspection,” he said, waiting for her to move.

“Whatever, I’m sure it’s not that important. Why don’t you just stay here instead?” she said, running her hand over his biceps. Another police car drove by, this one with lights and sirens running. Followed by two more.

“Zoey, listen, this could be seriously important and I need to go. Not only that, but I’m not interested, so STOP flirting with me, will ya?” Sam snapped. Zoey stood there, mouth agape for a second before ripping the tickets in half, dropping them at his feet, and storming off. Sam rolled his eyes and hopped into his vehicle, driving off towards the Starlight theater.

When he got there a few other officers were already there, escorting people out. The place looked like S**t with how wrecked it was.

A knock on his cars’ window knocked him off his train of thought. He looked up and saw another officer who told him to talk to witnesses about what happened.

After about an hour of monotonous questions, he actually went inside and made it to the stage where the meteor was, with two other cops poking at some kind of blue slime.

“The F**k is that?” he asked, looking at the blue goo. One of the officers- named Robert- shrugged while the other one- Mariah- just walked away to look at some supplies the orchestra had.

“God, that’s so f***ing weird,” Sam said, stepping closer until he was next to Robert.

“Right? When I got here, Mariah was just staring at it,” Robert said, shining his flashlight on it.

“Anyway,” he said, standing back up and looking around. Sam followed his eyes and saw Mariah fidgeting with a bandstand.

“How are things with Charlotte?” he asked. Sam shrugged.

“Not sure. I told Zoey to stop flirting and I was planning on getting tickets to take her to Mama Mia, but you see how that went,” he said, gesturing around the destroyed building. He heard Mariah moving around behind him but ignored it as Robert started talking about something else.

Boy was that a mistake.

Sam was barely aware of what was happening when something metal came crashing down on his head, knocking him to the ground.

“Sam! Mariah, What The F**k! Why The F**k Did You Do That!? Stay The F**K Away From Me! Mariah! MARIAH!” Another bang. Sam’s vision was fuzzy but he was able to make out Robert on the ground near him covered in red. It took a minute for Sam to connect the dots and realize it was blood. He looked up slowly, his vision swimming with black. He was able to make out Mariah standing over him with some kind of dark grey thing with one end covered in blood. The bandstand, he realized.

“Don’t worry, Sam. You’ll see Charlotte soon enough,” she said in a sing-songy pitch before bringing the bandstand down on his head.

And then everything went black.

~~~

Deb had finally made it home, which was good because she had started feeling worse and worse throughout dinner.

“Mom! I’m Home!” Deb yelled. She didn’t hear her mom respond, just moaning coming from her moms’ bedroom. Deb ignored it as she made her way to her own bedroom. She wandered around her room for a minute, just staring at all the nicknacks and pictures she had. Smiling at pictures and memoirs from happier times.

“I just want things to be happy again,” she muttered bitterly. No sooner had the words left her mouth had her stomach started turning. She dashed to the bathroom and just BARELY made it over to the toilet before she was emptying her stomach.

When she finally had a chance to breath she picked up on three things.

One. The music was back.

Two. The Chanting had returned. Repeating over and over ‘What do you want, Deb? What do you want, Deb? If you could have anything, what do you want, Deb?’

And, Three. In the toilet was a mixture of food, blood, and some kind of purple mucus.

She started coughing again. Coughing on and on as it was stopping her from breathing. Her vision swum black until she collapsed. The music and chanting becoming louder and louder until… it just stopped.

As did her breathing.

Chapter Text

Deb opened her eyes to find herself sitting in one of the seats of the Starlight Theater. Her eyes landed on the meteor almost immediately. The rock itself was oozing blue, as well as the air around it, was tinted a similar color. A few puddles of blood that was tinted a similar color in the center to what she had thrown up.

 

“Hello?” she called hesitantly. Unsure of how she had gotten there. She stood up, only to realize her legs were missing. Well, not missing, she could still feel them, but she couldn’t see them. Her whole body was white and looked like it was made of jagged edges and sharp lines. And despite not seeing her arms either. She could still feel them.

 

“Uughh,” someone groaned. Deb turned around and saw another jagged white figure sitting to the right of where they had been a few aisles away. His eyes- which just looked like two shakey lines- were closed and his mouth was open as he groaned. He was wearing a black jacket that didn’t have arms either. The weirdest part, however, was the blue wound on his head, which looked like his brain had been busted open. None of the brain touched his forehead, however as it was mostly wrapped in his long brownish hair.

 

“Hello?” Deb asked again. He opened his eyes, which looked like a blue candle had been lit inside a jack-o-lantern as two blue flames in pitch black nothingness.

 

“What The F**K!” He yelled as he- Deb assumes- flung himself backward over the seat. His reaction had started Deb too, as she tripped backward over her own seat. 

 

“What The F**k! What The F**k is Going On?!” he yelled, righting himself as he saw he was in a similar state to Deb.

 

“You Think I F***ing Know?!” Deb yelled, ticked that some Dumba** had scared her so bad.

 

“Who are you?” the guy yelled, his hair moving behind his ear- Deb assumed it was from his hand, which she couldn’t see- as he talked.

 

“I’m Deb Wilson. Who are You?” Deb snapped.

 

“Sam Lowery. I’m a police officer,” he said.

 

“Sam? Wait. I saw you earlier. Yesterday? I’m not sure. You took Bill’s statement,” Deb said, recognizing him from Alices’ stories. Sam squinted his eyes before they widened.

 

“Yeah, I remember you. You were with Bill and his daughter,” Sam said, his eyes flickering over to the stage. He froze for a long minute before rushing over to the stage. 

 

Deb watched, confused, as he looked down at the pools of blood. Deb approached slowly, staring at him as he proceeded to curse as if his life depended on it. She stared for a minute, unsure of what it was. Within the pools of blood, the blue-purple blood had formed two numbers. In the left one, a zero. And in the right, a four.

 

“Four? Four what?” Deb asked.

 

“Sam?” someone yelled. The two turned to look at who had entered to see two other ghosts. One had on a pair of black sunglasses and short curly brown hair with a dark blue stain on his neck while the other had on one of the police hats, blue slime dripping from her mouth, and long brown hair.

 

“Robert? Mariah?” Sam asked, staring at the two. The longer-haired one, Mariah, nodded.

 

“Yeah. Hey, Sam. Sorry about… everything,” she said, smiling awkwardly.

 

“What The F**k, Mariah? You Killed Me!” Sam yelled. Stepping forward as Mariah seemed to stumble backward.

 

“Hey, Hey! Sam. Relax!” Robert said, stepping between the two.

 

“RelAx!? SHE F***ING KILLED ME! I’m- I’m-!” Sam sighed and took a step back as Deb rubbed awkwardly at the back of her head, only now realizing she still had her beanie on. At least she had that.

 

“I’m never going to be able to fix things with Charlotte. So you better tell me what the F**k you were thinking, Mariah,” Sam said, his tone dark and serious.

 

“I don’t… I don’t know, Sam. I was messing with that blue… crap- I think I swallowed some- when I just started coughing. I collapsed and the next thing I knew, I woke up looking like… this. And right as I did, I saw my body bringing down the music book holder thing on your head. A few minutes later, your and Roberts’ body stood up and started walking away, singing. Then Robert showed up. And a few minutes later, you two,” she said.

 

“I’m sorry. How did you accidentally swallow some?” Deb asked. She was starting to panic, and when she panicked, she got snappy.

 

“I’m sorry. And how did you get infected?” Mariah snapped, annoyed.

 

“I’ll have you know I accidentally inhaled that blue s**t and choked to death in my own house, so maybe you f**k you pig,” Deb snapped before turning away from the three and jumping off the stage before making her way to the door.

 

“Kid. Kid, wait. Where are you going?” One of them yelled. Deb didn’t care which one.

 

“Alice goes back to Clivesdale today and she won’t come back for at least two weeks. I’m going to see her,” Deb said. And before any of them could follow her, she was gone.

~~~

When Deb found Alice at the bus stop to Clivesdale, she couldn’t help but smile. It had taken a while to get there, considering she had gotten lost and had to walk- although she didn’t feel too tired, which was a fun perk of being… Dead? Was she dead? Did this really count as the afterlife?- but she did find it.

Deb had always thought of Alice as extremely pretty. Maybe that was part of liking women. Or maybe it was that true love thing Disney characters always talking about. Deb had never considered true love to be real. Not until she had met Alice, at least. Alice who was kind, and positive, and supportive, and beautiful, and loving, and just amazing.

 

Deb slowly reached an invisible arm up to brush her fingers through Alice’s hair, which untucked it from behind her ears. Deb smiled sadly as Alice brought her own hand up to tuck it behind her ear.

 

Bill and Alice had been sitting in silence for about a minute when Deb showed up. Until Bill spoke up.

 

“Why don’t you try dating someone at your own high school in Clivesdale?” he said. Alice looked up from her phone- she had probably been trying to text Deb- and glared at her dad.

 

“You just don’t like Deb,” she snapped. She wasn’t angry. Alice never got angry- one of the many reasons Deb loved her- she just sounded tired. Deb, however, was ticked. She was literally dead and Bill still didn’t approve of her.

 

“Why don’t you try dating someone like Grace Chastity?” he continued, clearly uncomfortable with the whole conversation already.

 

“No! Grace Chastity is a nerdy prude!” Alice yelled, surprising both Deb and Bill. Deb couldn’t help but smile. She had heard about Grace Chastity from Alice dozens of times and it had gotten kind of… tiring.

 

“One, I said date someone like her. Two, That is not a very nice thing to say,” Bill said. Deb, surprised that he was defending Grace Chastity of all people, couldn’t help but laugh.

 

“You just want Grace Chastity to be your daughter!” Alice yelled, tears welling up behind her eyes. Deb reached her hand over until she grabbed Alices’ hand. For a second, she thought she felt Alice squeeze her hand back, but she wasn’t sure.

 

“Well, at least she’s nice to me at church!” Bill snapped. Before Alice could say anything, the bus showed up.

 

“Bye, Dad,” Alice said before getting right onto the bus.

 

“Alice-” Bill said before hiding his face in his hands.

 

“D**n it,” he muttered before getting up and walking to his car. In not too long, he was gone. 

 

Deb sighed, watching as the bus started to pull away, only for it to suddenly stop. Confused, Deb watched as the doors to the bus opened and as Alice stepped off the bus. Alice, with tears in her eyes, stepped off the bus and started walking back into the city.

 

“Alice? Alice. Alice, what are you doing?” Deb asked as she followed behind her pink-clad girlfriend. Alice wiped at her eyes a few times as she walked. Walking along the side of the road. It didn’t take Deb to long to realize she was heading for Hatchetfield High.

 

“Alice? What are you doing?” Deb asked again. Moving from behind Alice to next to her.

 

As she walked, she realized there were more and more of those ghost people. Some she recognized and some she didn’t. Two of the employees from Beanies, some people at the building Alices’ dad worked at, A Greenpeace employee, a homeless guy, some other students, and so many others.

 

-Earlier That Night-

 

After that kid, Deb, had walked off Robert and Mariah said they wanted to go see what that the fake them were doing, and Sam agreed to come after realizing fake him might hurt Charlotte. 

 

They eventually found their fakes with the receptionist from Charlottes’ work, the Beanies Manager and, unfortunately, Zoey. The three cops were each flirting with one of the three. Sam with Zoey, Mariah with the receptionist- Marissa?- and Robert with the manager chick.

 

“This is f***ing ridiculous,” Sam said, watching as fake him pulled Zoey into the alleyway.

 

“I have to agree,” Mariah said, glaring at the fake her.

 

“I mean, that thing has No class. Honestly, is this how she thinks I flirt? If I flirt, I’m gonna be Suave. Not whatever mess she’s doing,” Mariah groaned.

 

“Mariah. Not the time,” Robert said before they heard a scream from the alleyway. Sam shot down the alley to see the cheesy hat fake him had been wearing was missing, revealing his exposed brain which was a bright blue color. Worst of all, fake him was repeatedly slamming his fist down on her chest as she gasped and screamed.

 

The other two girls screamed and tried to run, only for Mariah to start choking Marissa and Robert to shoot the other girl. 

 

After a few minutes, the three girls stopped gasping for breath, twitching and moving.

 

Another few minutes passed and they all three stood up. They exchanged a few words, talking about how they were going to go home and shower, get to work or go talk to more people.

 

“Sam? Sam!” Robert yelled as Sam felt what seemed to be a hand on his shoulder. Sam turned to look at him.

 

“Me and Mariah are going to go check on those three and see if they’re ok. Why don’t you follow yourself? From what it sounds like, you can go check on Charlotte,” Robert said. Sam nodded, and without another word, followed his fake.

~~~

Sam was tense as his fake entered his home. But he relaxed as it seemed to ignore Charlotte, who was asleep in their bed, in favor of taking a shower. He sat beside her as she started to wake up from fake him singing in the next room.

 

“La De Da Da Day? More like La De Da Da Dumb,” Sam muttered as he watched his wife get dressed in a cute cat sweater and a red skirt. She had hesitated for a minute, pressing her hands to her stomach before coming back to reality as she rushed over to the bathroom.

 

“Sam, Sweetie?” she called. He responded with a hum.

 

“I’m headin’ out now. Have a good day, dear! Love you,” she yelled over the showerhead.

 

“You too!” came a muffled reply. Charlotte made her way out of her home with Sam following close behind. He clasped his invisible hands together and felt his wedding ring. Looking around, he saw more and more of the ghost-ified version of the civilians he was supposed to be protecting.

 

All the people he had failed.

 

He followed Charlotte’s short walk to work and as she walked upstairs.

 

“Morning Melissa,” Charlotte said, smiling to the other girl who was pouring coffee. Sam nodded to the real Melissa, who had tears in her eyes. She nodded back, not looking away from her fake self.

 

“Hey, Charlotte,” Bill said, walking into the break room.

 

“Hi, Bill. How are you?” Charlotte asked, smiling at him as she started setting up the coffee machine to brew. Sam frowned as he realized Charlotte hadn’t eaten yet but brushed it off for now.

 

“It’s alright. I got in an argument with Alice, unfortunately. She left before I could apologize,” he said, frowning. Sam frowned, wondering if Deb had managed to see her girlfriend before she left.

 

“I’m sorry, Bill. I’m sure she’ll forgive you though. I’ve met Alice. She loves you, Bill,” Charlotte said, smiling sweetly as she put a hand on his shoulder. It wasn’t flirting, Sam realized, Char was just being kind to her friend.

 

“Thanks, Char. You always know what to say,” he said, smiling before he walked over to a cabinet, looking inside for some kind of food while Charlotte got back to the coffee.

 

“Hey, Bill, Char,” someone said, walking in.

 

“Hey, Ted,” the two said as Sam recognized him. Charlotte mostly seemed to mostly ignore him as he walked to the little fridge and pulled out a yogurt cup as Bill pulled a bag of bagels out of the cabinet.

 

“Hey, Charlotte?” Bill said, turning to look at her. She adjusted her headband before turning to look at him.

 

“Yes, Bill?” she asked, eyeing the bag he had curiously.

 

“You want a bagel?” he asked holding it as if offering her one. Sam placed a hand on her shoulder and tried to nudge her forward- which was much harder for him to do to a living person than a ghost. She did stumble forward the slightest bit, however.

 

“You mind?” She asked as Bill pulled a second bagel out of the bag before putting it in the toaster.

 

“Not at all,” he said, smiling as she turned back to the coffee. She had just picked up the pot when Ted spoke up.

 

“So, Bill. You were so excited to take Alice to see Mama Mia, how did that go?” he asked, sounding genuinely curious instead of the normal snark Sam always heard.

 

“Terrible! I feel like I ruined the whole thing. And I had meant to ask her if she wanted to live with me more often, but she was attached to Deb’s side until I dropped her off and then went to bed immediately. Now, I get that Alice is eighteen. She’s a senior. She’s got her own life, but I only get my daughter for one week a month, and she wants to spend that whole time with her girlfriend, Deb. So I say, ‘Bring Deb along, we’ll all go see the show.’ And would you believe it? We get there and the whole theater was exploded by a god dang METEOR! Mama Mia!” As Bill had been talking, Charlotte had gotten distent eyed as she poured some sugar into the coffee.

 

“Huge hole right through the marquee and everything. Can you believe that- Charlotte?” he froze and the two stared at Charlotte, who had zoned out with sugar still pouring into the coffee. Bill and Ted shared a quick look before Bill spoke up again.

 

“Charl- Charlotte? You got enough coffee in the sugar?” he asked, pointing to the coffee pot as Ted leaned around her to get a look at her face, frowning as he took another bite of yogurt.

 

“Huh?” Charlotte asked, zoning back in as Sam placed a hand on her shoulder. She looked down at the pot and her eyes widened as she tipped the sugar back up.

 

“Oh! I didn’t even realize. Sorry, I’ll make another pot,” she said as she turned back to the sink. Ted gave her one last concerned look before turning to throw away his yogurt cup.

 

“Coffee in the sugar,” she laughed as Bill stared at her concerned.

 

“Bill, you’re a riot,” Char finished, smiling as Sam and Ted both rolled their eyes. Bill looked away as Charlotte giggled a bit.

 

Someone else walked in, muttering a chorus of ‘ok’ over and over as he walked and tabbing his wrist together. If anything, the guy looked like he was going to have a panic attack.

Chapter Text

When Melissa woke up that morning, she hadn’t expected anything different from her normal life. Wake up, get to work, make Mr. Davidson his coffee, take calls or schedule meetings, take a walk to the sandwich place a block down the street, get a meal, finish work, go home, go to bed, wash, rinse, repeat.

 

That was Not the case. For one thing, she hadn’t expected her friend Nora to show up at the door to her apartment at five am with someone else Melissa didn’t know.

 

“Nora?” Melissa asked. She had just finished getting dressed and was triple checking she had everything she needed for the day before she relaxed for a bit until work.

 

“Hey, Mela,” Nora said, smiling brightly. Melissa gave a shy smile as she looked between the two.

 

“I’m Zoey,” the other girl said, smiling slightly.

 

“Melissa,” she said in response.

 

“Anyway, Mela, I was thinking you should come hang out with us for a bit,” Nora said, smiling again.

 

“Hang out?” Melissa asked, surprised. Nora hadn’t wanted to ‘hang out’ with her since college. It was surprising for her to just pop in out of the blue.

 

“Sure. When are you available?” Melissa asked, smiling.

 

“I’m mean now, Mela. You have like two hours before work, and Zoey and I don’t have a shift till eight.” Nora said, smiling still.

 

Now, Melissa had a schedule to follow. She always had some kind of schedule to follow, even when she was little. That’s how she always was. Being honest, she got a little stressed whenever she didn’t know what was happening. However, deep inside, she also had a desire to be liked by everyone, that’s just how her brain worked. She didn’t blame Nora for showing up out of the blue- even if a call ahead would have been nice- she had never told anyone about this, and she didn’t plan on it now.

 

Melissa chewed on her bottom lip as she looked between the two oh her front step and her apartment.

 

“Sure. You two can step inside while I grab my bag, and then we can go,” Melissa said, stepping aside to let them in.

 

The two stepped in and looked around her living room as Melissa rushed into the nearby kitchen. While Melissa was gone, the two looked at every single nicknack in her living room, smiling at the different items.

 

A lot of things were either animal-based, shiny, or cute. And while there weren’t any pictures of her or her family, there were beautiful pictures of landscapes, sunrises, and adorable animals. Zoey had picked up a beautiful glass rainbow figurine when Melissa walked briskly back into the living, and adorable purse strung over over shoulder with a few folders and pieces of paper poking out the top.

 

“I’m ready,” she said, smiling to the two.

 

“Melissa, you have a lot of really cute things. I like it,” Zoey said, smiling at the decorations. Melissa’s face flushed slightly as she blushed.

 

“Thanks,” she said, smiling.

 

“Aww, Mela’s turning red,” Nora said, tossing an arm over her friends’ shoulder as Melissa turned redder.

 

“Anyway, shall we head off?” Nora asked, already steering Melissa to the door as Zoey put the figurine down and followed her.

 

“Can I ask where we’re going?” Melissa asked, waiting for Zoey to step out so she could lock her door.

 

“Don’t worry, I’ve got it covered,” Zoey said as she climbed into Nora’s old car. Melissa followed and climbed into the back seat as Nora hopped in the driver's seat.

~~~

Melissa was happy to find that they had arrived at a bookshop she went to frequently. Of course, she was surprised, she hadn’t expected the two to pick a bookshop when there were so many more… flashy places to go.

 

The two were quick to drag Melissa inside and to the little cafe there, where they spent at least three minutes arguing over who was going to pay- Melissa saying she could pay for her own, and Nora and Zoey both saying they would pay for her- until she gave in and ordered a coffee with whipped cream. Zoey paid for drinks, and Nora bought sweets for the three- getting Melissa her favorite type of cookie- before they sat down at one of the plush tables.

 

“Wow, Mela, it’s been so long since we’ve hung out like this. We need to do this more,” Nora said, smiling as she took a sip of her own coffee.

 

“Agreed. We haven't really talked since before college ended, have we?” Melissa asked, dipping her cookie into some of the whipped cream before taking a bite.

 

“When did you two, graduate, actually?” Zoey asked, taking a sip of her Caramel latte.

 

“Almost two years ago, right?” Melissa asked, looking at Nora and hoping she had guessed right.

 

“Yup. Those four years were insane. And all for naught, huh? After all, I may be a manager Beanies, but it's not like that's a big thing, is it?” Nora said, her smile never wavering.

 

“But at least you did something. I became a secretary and, while I'm happy with my job, I can't say I'm doing much with my life,” Melissa said, trying to cheer up her old friend without making everything seem like it was about her.

 

“Thanks, Mela. So, anyway...” The conversation drifted into something much more fun. With Zoey talking about how her college life was going and the musical she was going in- base on the Oregon trail game- Nora talking about her brother and his life as a soldier, and Melissa talking about whatever seemed to fit the conversation the most, just trying to fit in.

 

The three finished their drinks and sweets before they agreed to leave- Nora even saying she'd drive Melissa to her work. They all walked outside, only to be stopped by three officers. Melissa, initially, started panicking as anyone with authority made her uneasy. Until one of them started flirting with Zoey.

 

“Excuse me, ma’am, but I got a warrant to investigate the junk in your trunk,” the guy with long hair said, smirking as he adjusted the cheesy hat he was wearing. Zoey, who had been looking at her phone, looked up at him, scoffed, and looked back down.

 

“Oh, Sam you’re such an a**hole, okay…” she said, before glancing back up at him as he stepped closer to her.

 

“But that uniform is so f***ing sexy,” she said, shoving her phone into her back pocket and feeling her hand on his chest.

 

Nora had ignored the other two, giving Zoey an unamused look as she and the cop- Sam?- made lewd comments, until another one started flirting with her.

 

Melissa had taken a step away from them, so as not to impose, and was staring at her heels as she slid one of them slowly along the concrete, chewing her lip as she wondered if she should start walking or wait for Nora. It felt so much like college, when she would feel brushed off and awkward, unsure of what to do. Her head shot up, however, when she felt a hand on her shoulder.

 

Standing to her right was the third cop of the group, with long dark hair and black sunglasses.

 

“Hey. I'm Mariah. May I ask what an angel like you is doing out of heaven?” she asked, smiling cooly to Melissa- whos face started turning red. She was distantly aware of Zoey and Sam walking down an alleyway, but she was to focused on the cute girl in front of her.

 

“Oh, I'm Melissa. Nice to meet you,” she said, blushing still.

 

“Oh, please, the pleasure is mine,” Mariah said, allowing her sunglasses to slide down as she winked to Melissa. Before Melissa could respond, a scream came from the alleyway. Before Melissa could run and see what was wrong, a gunshot from the nearby had her screaming. As she turned to look, she saw Nora had collapsed to the ground, a red stain forming and a gun in the other cops' hand.

 

Before Melissa could scream or run, she felt hands tighten around her neck and she started gasping for breath. She saw black dots appear in her vision as her brain faintly registered singing from Mariah. Some kind of lullaby, telling her to close her eyes.

 

It was unfortunate when her brain decided to listen.

 


 

Oliver was slow in waking up. That wasn't always the case, but today it was since he had pulled an all-nighter on studying. He pushed himself into a sitting position and pulled his glasses on before he looked around, the first thing his eyes had landed on was the fancy index card with 'Hot Chocolate Boy' written in silver calligraphy. That's what nearly everyone knew his as, at least. Most people would probably prefer to be called anything besides that, but he thought it was better than being called a dead name.

 

He got out of bed and looked around for a clean shirt and pants. It didn't take long for him to find a binder, white shirt, brown pants, suspenders, a bow tie, and some clean socks. After getting dressed, he picked up his backpack and made his way to the kitchen. There was a cup of chocolate yogurt sitting on the counter along with a note from his parents. He picked up the yogurt cup, surprised since he was pretty sure he had eaten all his chocolate yogurt cups, before checking the underside of the cup to see the name 'Carol' scribbled in black sharpie on the bottom. He smiled, his mom had given him one of her yogurt cups. He popped it open and started eating it while he read the note.

 

'Hey, son. Your mother and I wanted to say how proud of you we are. We can't imagine how hard it is to keep such good grades while going through all this. How about after school we go out to dinner to celebrate six months since you started. Love, Mom, and Dad.'

 

He read the note over a few more times as he ate, a warm feeling in his chest. His parents had always been sure to tell him how proud he was, but it still felt good to know his parents loved him. He checked the time before heading to the door. He had enough time to swing by Beanies for a Hot chocolate before school. He sent one last glance into his house before closing and locking the door behind him.

 

~~~

 

Oliver was right down the street from Beanies when a homeless guy asked if he had any spare change. Now, on a normal day, Oliver wouldn't have had anything. Today, however, he not only had enough money for either a hot chocolate or a snack but also had a coupon for a free tall drink that his mom had given him yesterday. So he offered to give him some money or just go buy him breakfast. He accepted the breakfast and Oliver told him he'd be right back before rushing towards Beanies. 

 

Inside he was just behind a lady in a Greenpeace outfit. Oliver didn't think much of it. Not until she started tearing up after being told she didn't have enough money. She was checking inside her purse for any loose change while Oliver checked her total. She had ordered a small coffee and a plain croissant. Which only cost about seven dollars, and she was short two. Oliver, already in a giving mood, stopped her from canceling her order and handed her two dollars.

 

"What? What are you doing?" she asked, looking at the two bills he was holding out to her.

 

"Take them. I don't need them," he said, smiling. She quickly thanked him and finished paying for her breakfast before stepping to the side while Oliver ordered a hot chocolate and a bagel with cream from Zoey. His ordered food and the Greenpeace girl- who he learned was named Regina- got her stuff as well. While the two were walking out, she told him about this rude jerk who had lied to her face the other day as she took a sip of her drink. When he got back to the homeless guy- who told Oliver his name was Ernest- he handed him the bagel, as well as a five-dollar bill as the three kept talking and enjoying their food or drink.

 

Oliver was having a good time talking to the grown adults who had stories to tell- until Regina doubled over coughing. Bad.

 

"Ma'am?" Oliver asked placing a hand on her shoulder as she kept coughing.

 

"Hey, lady, you ok?" Ernest asked, concern lacing his voice as she collapsed to her knees. Ernest dropped his bagel to the side as he tried to help her, and Oliver noticed some kind of blue goop in the middle of the bread. He didn't have much time to focus on it though, as he started choking as well and collapsed to his knees.

 

"Kid? Kid!?" Oliver heard Ernest ask as he kept coughing. He was faintly aware of what was happening when Ernest started coughing too. But things were already going black by that point

 


 

Melissa hated everything about today.

 

Well, not everything. She was happy she had managed to briefly reconnect with one of her old friends, but that was it.

 

She had DIED. She had choked to death and was ninety-five percent sure she shouldn't be in ruins of the Starlight Theater, which she had heard about in the news that morning.

 

"Mela?" she heard someone ask. Her head shot up and she saw two sharp-lined figures sitting just a few seats away from her. They had neither arms nor legs, just a general shape, and the cliche ghost tail, but they both had hair and maybe one accessory. The shorter-haired one had the same green infinity scarf Nora had been wearing and a blue hole in its chest, while the longer haired one had the 'PRIDE SUPPORT' hairpin Zoey had been wearing and dark blue markings on her chest and upper torso.

 

"Nora? Zoey?" Melissa asked. The two nodded quickly, stepping forward to hug her. Despite not seeing their arms, she still felt the hug and couldn't help but sink into it while wrapping her own invisible arms around them.

 

"What- what happened?" Melissa asked after a minute. Sniffling as she tried to keep it together.

 

"We have no idea," Nora said, pulling away slowly.

 

"We just woke up here after..." Zoey said, trailing off.

 

"Hello?" a familiar voice said. The three screamed as they turned to see the ghostly versions of two of the cops from before, Mariah and Robert.

 

"Woah, woah, woah," Robert said as the two stepped back, giving the girls space.

 

"Relax, relax. We're not gonna hurt you. It's over now," Mariah said.

 

"It's Over? What's over. And Why The F**K Would We Relax?! You SHOT Nora and CHOKED Melissa To DEATH! Not Only That But That A**hole Sam Pumbled Me To DEATH! What The F**k Is Wrong With You Pigs!?" Zoey yelled, taking a sort of defensive step between the two cops and the two girls.

 

"Let us explain, then," Robert offered.

~~~

Dead.

 

They really were dead. Their bodies were being inhabited by... Something. Melissa became so upset that she walked off. Giving the bs excuse of deciding to go see what fake her was doing. Melissa wasn't surprised to find her at work, making some coffee for Mr. Davidson.

 

Dark bruises were around her bodies' neck definitely caught her attention. As did Mr. Davidsons' constant staring at her neck and his quiet muttering to himself of 'Maybe me and Carol could...'

 

Melissa had always thought of Mr. Davidson as an older brother, even if he did flirt with anyone he could. He had almost always been at the same school as her and had only been two grades above her. She had actually been at his wedding, baby shower, and he had been at her graduation.

 

Which is why she was so devastated when fake her put some of that blue slime into his coffee.

Chapter Text

Deb was still following Alice like a puppy when she got to Hatchetfield high school.

 

“Alice? Allllice? Allllllllliiiiicccee?” Deb said, repeating her girlfriends’ name over and over out of boredom. Alice made her way to the smoke club, which was both full of smoke and completely empty, before sitting down in the orange bean bag chair that Deb usually occupied. Deb placed a hand on Alices’ shoulder as her girlfriend wiped at her eyes before pulling out her phone. Now that Deb wasn’t so focused on keeping up with Alice, she had a chance to see what her significant other was doing. 

 

Deb felt her heart stop, however when she saw Alice had been texting her. Alice had been texting Deb this whole time, and somehow, despite being dead , there were responses from Debs’ phone.

 

Then it clicked. Those cop guys had said their bodies were still out there, still functioning as this blue crap controlled them. Alice could get hurt because of this fake Deb.

 

Would that be her fault? Deb wasn’t sure.

 

Alice and Deb sat for a good ten minutes, with Alice constantly checking her phone and Deb trying to get her to leave, until Debs’ body walked in.

 

“Deb,” Alice said, jumping up to hug what she thought was her girlfriend.

 

“ALICE! NO! That’s Not Me!” Deb yelled as fake her hugged Alice back, smirking to herself before putting on a fake concerned tone and trying to comfort Alice.

 

“Ally, Ally, hey, dear, it’s ok. Ok? I promise. I’ll talk to your dad while you’re in Clivesdale and it’ll all be ok,” Fake Deb said as she pulled away. Alice smiled softly as Fake Deb patted her shoulder. Real Deb, however, was yanking on her shoulders in an attempt to pull Alice away from her.

 

“Oh, I got you something,” Deb said before reaching into her backpack and pulling out a pudding cup. Deb tried once more in vain to force Alice away as she grabbed for the pudding cup.

 

But Deb just couldn’t do it. She was getting stressed at this point. Stressed and upset. But she refused to cry. She had to be serious about this!

 

Fake Deb was more than likely going to kill Alice. Her Alice. And there was nothing she could do to stop it. 

 

But maybe, what she could do was stay by Alices’ side until that happened, and be there for her when she woke up in the Starlight Theater. That’s where everyone she had talked to woken up. So Alice would probably be there, too. 

 

Deb, not knowing what else to do, threw her arm over Alices’ shoulder as she planned the fastest way to get to the Starlight Theater. Deb also knew that like this, she didn’t get tired out that fast, so she could probably push herself to run there.

 

She was jerked out of her thoughts when Alice started choking after finishing maybe half of the pudding. Deb felt her heart clench and, despite not being visible or audible to anyone who hadn’t been infected, she tried her hardest to comfort her girlfriend with empty promises of ‘It’ll be ok’ and ‘It'll Be over soon’ until Alice collapsed and stopped moving completely, fake her just stood there smiling.

 

Deb waited an extra minute in case Alice got up again, but she didn’t. So, Deb did what made the most sense. She told fake her to ‘F**k off’ before she was running. Running as fast as she could for the Starlight Theater. To get to the Starlight Theatre and the love of her life

~~~

Alice sat up suddenly and looked around. She was in the Starlight Theater? How had she gotten there? She pushed herself to her feet and looked around. It was definitely the Starlight Theater. At least, what remained after the meteor last night.

 

“Alice?” Some said from nearby. She turned to the voice and nearly screamed at the sight.

 

It was some kind of ghost with short brown-blonde hair, black glasses, a bow tie, and blue dribble running down the side of his mouth.

 

“Wait, Wait, calm down, Alice,” he said, taking a step back.

 

“Who are you? How do you know me?” Alice whimpered out.

 

“I’m Oliver. Oliver Davidson. We have math together. Well, when you’re here at least,” Oliver said.

 

“Oliver! Hey! It’s- it’s good to see you! But what’s going on?” Alice asked, fidgeting with the bottom of her pink sweater nervously.

 

Oliver opened his mouth to respond when the doors were slammed open. The two looked up to see another ghost. This one with short brown hair and an orange beanie.

 

“Alice?” The ghost asked, and Alice nearly cried.

 

“Deb?” She asked. Alice didn’t know too much of what was going, but she knew it wasn’t good. Deb- or the ghostly version of her- dashed forward and hugged her. Alice didn’t hesitate to return the hug.

 

“Alice, I’m sorry. I had followed you from your bus stop because I wanted to see you again before you left but I didn’t realize until too late that you were going to see me and I couldn’t tell you that was fake me until now and-” Deb- who had been rambling on- stopped talking completely as Alice pressed a kiss to her cheek.

 

“You’re Fine, Deb,” Alice said, smiling. 

 

The two separated and turned to look at Oliver- who had turned away to give them some privacy- and then Deb gave an awkward greeting.

 

“Hey... Oliver. Haven’t seen you in a while, huh?” Deb said while Alice made a guess and grabbed where she thought Debs’ hand was, she was right.

 

“Yeah. Last time we talked really, was the last time you were at GSA club,” he said, nodding.

 

“Yeah, so… what are you doing here?” Deb asked, giving Alices’ hand a light squeeze.

 

“Some cops wanted to go see what was going on in town but they wanted someone here to explain to everyone who showed up what was going on,” Oliver explained, scanning the rows of chairs.

 

“So you know what’s going on?” Alice asked, still confused about everything going on.

 

“Somewhat? The best anyone can figure out is that blue… stuff from the meteor is causing this and whenever someone gets infected, It takes over their body. So it looks like us and can act like us, but with… more malicious intentions. Like The Thing. You guys ever see that movie?” Oliver asked.

 

“Can’t say I have, no,” Alice said while Deb shook her head.

 

“The Thing is this Science Fiction movie about this group of researchers who find Aliens in Antarctica. When the Alien finds someone, they kill the person and become a dopple of sorts, acting like that person until they can kill someone else. It’s kind of like that. Except whenever the person is infected, they end up here, like a sort of ghost,” Oliver said. Alice and Deb nodded in understanding as he sent another glance around the auditorium.

 

“You looking for someone?” Alice asked.

 

“My parents,” Oliver said, frowning.

 

“You don’t think they’re gonna make it?” Deb asked.

 

“The two officers made a list of everyone who’s been infected so far. One of them was my Dads’ receptionist,” Oliver explained. Deb nodded, deeply understanding.

 

“So, all in all, who’s infected?” Alice asked, a sudden thought entering her mind.

 

“There’s a list over by the meteor. Actually, can you check if your names’ are on it and if not add it?” Oliver said nodding his head towards the stage before he walked off to go meet someone else who had just faded into one of the chairs.

 

The two walked over to the list and checked it, finding about twenty or so names. Some of which they recognized, like Melissa, Oliver, Deb, Zoey, Sam, and a bunch of others. Alice added her name to the list- relieved her dad wasn’t on it- before noticing something.

 

In two pools of blood on the stage, there were blue numbers formed. The first pool had a two, and the second a seven.

 

“Twenty-Seven?” Alice asked, frowning. Deb looked over at the number too.

 

“Twenty-seven? It was zero four earlier,” she said before thinking of something.

 

“Hey, Ally, how many names you think are on here?” Deb asked, checking the list again.

 

“Twenty-five, I checked. Twenty-six including me,” she said, quickly understanding what Deb was getting at.

 

“But what about that guy that showed up? Wouldn’t that make  twenty-seven?” Deb asked. After a few seconds, Alice nodded.

 

“Yeah. But what does that mean? Those numbers are counting the number of people infected?” Alice asked.

 

Oliver sighed. Alice and Deb had shared their theory about the magic numbers before heading off to find Alices' dad, leaving him alone. 

 

This was not what he had expected to celebrate the six month anniversary of his transition. Being honest, he had expected to get through school, meet his parents at home, relax for a bit, head to dinner at a restaurant, followed by a small ice cream cake while watching a movie with his mom and dad. Not as a ghost, waiting for his parents to show up.

 

Not just that, but realizing that the reason Regina and Ernest had gotten infected, was because he had been happy, hit him pretty hard. 

 

Every few minutes when another person turned, he was busy and able to avoid those thoughts. But when the person left to go see family or themself, he started thinking again. It didn't help that his brain was telling him it was all his fault either.

 

The sound of someone suddenly gasping nearby brought him back from the edge, and he looked around. Noticing a new figure with dark shoulder-length in the middle of one of the rows, just one seat to the left of where he woke up. As he stepped closer, he could also make out some brown framed glasses, a tie, and the same blue dribble everyone who had ingested the blue slime had.

 

“Hello?” Oliver asked once he was close enough to talk without being obnoxious or awkward. The guys’ head shot up as he stood up and jumped down.

 

“What The F**k!” he yelled as Olivers’ heart started to sink.

 

“Dad?” Oliver asked, looking at what appeared to be a ghostly version of his dad.

 

“Dad? Wha-” This guy, who really did look like his dad drew back and looked annoyed as he imitated Oliver before his eyes really seemed to settle on the younger boy, and his yelling stopped.

 

“Oliver? Son?” he asked, stepping closer. Oliver felt tears welling up behind his eyes as he realized his suspicions were true.

 

“Dad,” Oliver said again as he rushed forward for a hug from his dad.

 

“Oliver! Oliver what- what happened?! I checked in on you this morning and you were fine and now- I was- I was choking- and- Oliver Are You ok?!” Chris Davidson asked his son, starting to panic again.

 

“Yeah, dad. I’m fine. But we’re pretty sure this is aliens or something,” Oliver explained.

 

“Aliens? Oliver, what do you mean, Aliens?” he asked.

 

“Well, Dad, remember that movie we watched, ‘The Thing’?” Oliver asked.

 

“Yes, of course. That was a great movie. Very good design for its time. Wait, which one? The original ‘The Thing’, or the sequel which was also called ‘The Thing’?” Mr. Davidson asked.

 

“The original. The sequel sucked,” Oliver said, momentarily distracted.

 

“We’re getting off-topic. The meteor that crashed into the Starlight Theater had some kind of blue alien goo on it. It’s making people get infected and, well, die. Once people get infected, their souls or subconscious or whatever gets sent here while their body walks around wherever it was dropped. Acting like whoever originally inhabited it, but also becoming more violent. I’ve been here, explaining this to anyone who shows up,” Oliver explained.

 

“... Holy S**t. It’s the end of the God D**n world,” Mr. Davidson said, sitting in one of the chairs of the auditorium. Oliver let those words sink in for a minute before sitting down next to his dad.

 

“Hey, dad?” Oliver asked, quiet.

 

“Yeah?” came the response.

 

“Do you think moms’ ok?” Oliver asked as he felt an invisible arm be slung over his shoulder.

 

“Absolutely. Her side of the family is strong as s**t. You know, her who knows how many great-great-grandmother was the main reason her side of the family made it to Oregon? That lady tried to jump the Columbia River, and no one of their family died, either. Your mothers’ gonna be just fine,” he said, smiling to his son.

 

Despite being ninety-five percent sure that story was fake, he smiled anyway. Thinking maybe things would be ok after all.

Chapter Text

Bill watched his dark-haired best friend walked in, tapping his wrist together as he muttered a repetitive chorus of ‘okay, okay, okay,’ as he walked. Bill knew he only did these things when he was extremely close to a panic attack. Out of the corner of his eye, Bill managed to see the concerned looks Ted and Charlotte were giving him as well.

 

“Paul?” I asked, as closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and while still tapping his wrists together, started talking without too much of as a proper hello. Not that Bill really cared about that, he knew Paul would probably feel bad about it later and would probably be there to tell him it was fine later.

 

“Uh, hey guys, is today, uh, some kind of, I don’t know… Canadian holiday or something? Like uh… International music day? Or uh…” Paul said, his eyes still wide and twitchy. Bill frowned, thinking for a half second before shaking his head.

 

“Not that I know of,” Bill said. And that was true. Bill and Paul had been friends their whole lives. Bill had actually been there when Paul was diagnosed with his Severe Anxiety Disorder. Bill had learned about every single holiday where some kind of activity could have triggered his friend. And Paul knew Bill had this information, so he would hang a lot closer to Bill or Charlotte during one of these days because he would be so nerve wracked. And if those two weren’t available, Mr. Davidson would ease off with the unneeded flirts and help Paul calm down, or even Ted would stop being such an a-hole and keep an eye on Paul. Everyone who was actually friends with Paul, was sure to keep an eye out for his mental health.

 

“Ok, ‘cause I just, uh…” Paul cut himself off with an awkward laugh and Bill knew it was bad. 

 

“I just saw some people uh- Dancing and s- and singing like they were in a- a musical. And there was a- There was this homeless guy and this- this very rude woman from- from Greenpeace doing this whole… choreographed number...” Pauls’ words were becoming more rambled and Bill knew if they didn’t shut it down, Paul would probably lose it right there.

 

“Like a flashmob?” Ted asked suddenly. Bill saw Paul relax just a bit while Charlotte smiled, hoping they could calm Paul down before to much happened.

 

“Yeah. I mean, what else could it have been, right?” Paul asked. He had stopped tapping his wrists together, but was still clearly tense.

 

“Well, did you get a video of it?” Ted asked, sounding a bit harsher. Bill glared at him as Paul answered.

 

“No,” Paul said quickly, staring straight ahead at the wall in front of him while sounding like a child who was expecting to be punished. Charlotte and Bill both sent Ted a look, telling him not to do or say anything else. Either he didn’t see them or he didn’t care, but he kept talking.

 

“You’re F**king useless, Paul,” he said, turning away. Bill sent a disapproving look his way before turning back to Paul, who was still staring at the wall with his hands clasped together while he talked.

 

“Yeah, I j- I just have a bad feeling about all this, uh… Charlotte?” Paul said, turning to look at his friends and noticed Charlotte at the sink.

 

“Huh?” She asked, looking up at him.

 

“Have you noticed anything strange?” Paul asked.

 

“What? No. Oh, it’s silly. Um… It’s just, um… It’s Sam, my husband,” she said slowly. Paul, Ted, and Bill shared a suspicious look.

 

“He said he was coming home late last night-” she started.

 

“Heh! He didn’t get home at all!” Ted said with a laugh. For a second, Bill almost felt like there was someone else in the room for a second, like they were upset or angry, then the feeling was gone. Ted shared a look with Charlotte- who looked so… So ticked off with and Ted immediately got serious while Charlotte looked down, almost guilty.

 

Bill wasn’t an idiot, he knew Charlotte was cheating on Sam with Ted, but no one asked his opinion, so he didn’t say anything.

Ted coughed before speaking up again.

 

“Uh, I heard, I wasn’t there,” he said quickly before taking a long sip of coffee and looking away, before jerking his hand as if something had poked or pinched him.

 

“He must have rolled in around 6:00 this morning,” Charlotte said, continuing as if she hadn’t been interrupted, “He was in the shower when I woke up. I could hear him. He was… Singing. And I know this is a strange thing to realize, because, well, Sam’s not a… A Bad singer. He’s just always been a little… flat,”

 

Bill, who had been able to see Ted’s face while watching Charlotte, saw him scoff while- simultaneously- he felt like another person was in the room, agreeing with her.

 

“But not this morning,” Charlotte said as Bill saw Paul tense up besides him while Ted gave her a concerned look.

 

“Today he… he sounded like an angel. And I don’t know why, but it frightened me,” she said, looking like she would start crying. Paul took a few steps forward, a concerned look on his face, and he got closer to Charlotte as she kept talking

 

“It just… It just didn’t sound like MY Sam. Oh, I must sound silly. I’m probably just imagining things…” she said, wiping at her eyes Paul placed a hand on her shoulder while some kind of breeze pushed some hair from in front of her eyes.

 

“Cha- Charlotte?” Paul asked as she sniffled a bit.

 

“Do you remember… What Sam was singing?” Paul asked. Bill didn’t even need to look at his friends’ face to know he was wide eyed and frantic.

 

“It was just a silly little song,” Charlotte said while Ted caught Bills’ eyes and waved his head towards the two, silently asking what to do. Bill was trying to figure that out himself.

 

“Something like, um, La… Dee,” Charlotte started.

 

“Dah. Dah. Day?” Paul finished. Charlotte turned to look at him as if she was saying ‘Yes. yes, that’s it.’ as the two shared a look of horror. Before Bill could step in to calm them down, Melissa scared the crap out of him by appearing out of nowhere.

 

“Paul? Mr. Davidson wants to see you in his office,” she said before quickly walking off. WHich Bill found as unusual, seeing as Melissa would always stay and talk for at least a minute, no matter what.

 

“Oh shoot, I forgot to hand in my weekly reports yesterday. I’m gonna get it!” Paul yelled before rushing off.

 

Ted started laughing as Paul rushed off while Bill tried getting Charlotte to relax.


Paul walked in to see Mr. Davidson sitting at his office, newspaper held up in front of his face. Paul took this time to take a deep breath, an attempt to finally calm down from the mornings weirdness, before he started talking.

 

“Hey Mr. Davidson, I think I know why you called me in here today. My weekly reports were not turned in yesterday. Not because they’re not done. They are done. There’s a problem with the printer network, You see. You try to print something over here, it gets sent over there,” he let out another nervous laugh, trying to get some kind of reaction from Mr. Davidson, who hadn’t looked up.

 

“I bet my report is sitting in someone else’s printer tray right now. You give me till the end of the day, I can find it,” he offered, still standing awkwardly. After another awkward pause, he sat down across from Mr. Davidson.

 

“Not do it? I- I- I wouldn’t just not do my statistical analysis,” another awkward laugh, “That would really gum things up here in the office. And that’s the last thing I want,” he finished.

 

“What do you want, Paul?” Mr. Davidson asked in a sing-songy tone, yanking the newspaper down to reveal one of the creepiest expressions Paul had ever seen on Mr. Davidsons’ face. Paul felt himself freeze up. After this mornings’ weird scare, Paul was way too close to a breakdown to deal with another song.

 

“Excuse me?” Paul asked, his voice breaking as his panic mode made him stare straight ahead at a wall.

 

“Tell me what you desire to see. Your deepest intent, Paul,” Mr. Davidson said, folding over his newspaper before folding one leg over the other and resting his elbow on his knee.

 

“What do you see for this company? I'm looking for someone with strong ambition, someone to sell their specific vision. Someone to share with precise precision their thoughts,” Paul was nothing short of confused as Mr. Davidson was now standing with one foot oh his chair and posed like some kind of Pioneer adventurer.

 

“Cause I want you to want. To want,” Paul flinched back a bit at the sudden movements Mr. Davidson made as he made yet another terrifying face.

 

“So, what do you want, Paul? What's that one concrete goal that motivates all your actions?” Mr. Davidson asked, weirdly walking the length of his office a few times as he talked.

 

“I don't think I have one of those!” Paul awkwardly yelled.

 

“Well, then how's anyone supposed to sympathize with you, Paul?” he asked, still walking kinda stupidly.

 

“I don't know, I want what anyone wants? Money, a partner? Kids, someday, maybe?” Paul said as Mr. Davidson stopped pacing behind him, deciding he’d rather this weird conversation instead of Mr. Davidson singing.

 

“I want you to want, Paul. A man so vague just can't be trusted. Something you pine for,” he sang, patting Pauls’ shoulder.

 

“Mr. Davidson?” Paul asked, concerned.

 

“Maybe someone who keeps you lusted,” he said, making the ‘Curvy Woman’ gesture.

 

“To-  to ma-” Paul started, attempting to correct Mr. Davidsons’ improper use of the gesture, only to give up.

 

“I'm just a boss, I'm not an idea guy. I hire you Pauls to keep our stock high. But if you can't pin the point that's in the skyyyyyyy,” He sang, taking a step closer to Paul, making him tense.

 

“Then I want you to want! To waaaaaaaant!” he sang, making a third creepy expression before stepping away.

 

“D'you know what I want for myself?” he asked, making the kind of gesture someone swooning for something would.

 

“O- okay,” he stuttered out.

 

“I've waited for so lo-ong,  To tell somebody else,” he said, walking towards his side of the desk. 

“Carol, my wife. You're my muse, my source of light,” Mr. Davidson pulled a picture of Carol into view.

 

“Carol, my love. I want you to choke me out at night,” he sang.

 

“Uh huh,” Paul said, staring straight at the wall again.

 

“I want you to choke me,” he sang

 

“This seems like a private moment,” Paul said, now just kind of awkward.

 

“I want you to choke me,”

 

“Like, who is this for?”

 

“I want you to choke me while I jerk off,” Paul nodded, face still slightly red.

 

 “I want you to choke me while I jerk off,” Mr. Davidson said, suddenly walking back to his desk.

 

“Melissa, get my wife on the phone for me,” Mr. Davidson yelled down the hall. Paul figured this was the best time to leave.

 

“Mr. Davidson, I think I should leave!” He yelled, standing up suddenly.

 

No, Paul, I want you to hear this, if you leave, you're fired,” he said, picking up the phone.

 

“Carol! Yes, everything's fine, I promise,” he said, giving Paul a thumbs up.

 

“I just, uh, wanted to tell you something. I uh... UM, I- um…” Paul stared at his boss, terrified he might go through with this.

 

“I forgot what it was. Maybe someday I'll remember. Goodbye…” he said, hanging up as Paul breathed a literal sigh of relief.

 

 “Paul, now you know what it is to want,” Mr. Davidson started again, taking big extravagant steps as he sang.

 

I wanna go home!” Paul screamed, on the edge of a breakdown.

 

It consumes a man with a passion, To drive the primary plot! / So take up yoga or improv classes / Volunteer at shelters or Twitch to the masses!” He sang, suddenly turning to Paul.

 

“There's gotta be something that'll keep my hands off you. Off you!” he sang, suddenly extending his arms as he charged at Paul.

 

Oh hell no!” Paul yelled, pushing himself out of the seat and taking a few steps away as Mr. Davidson stepped onto the chair.

 

Cause I want you to want!” He sang as Paul inched his way towards the door.

 

“I'm gonna go get some coffee, do you want anything?” Paul asked, ready to run out the door.

 

No, I need you to want!” Mr. Davidson sang, extending a hand to Paul while staring at a wall.

 

How about an iced caramel frappe, nothing better!” Paul yelled before stepping out the door.

 

And if you don't want. We're through!” Paul heard Mr. Davidson sing down the hall.

 

“Paul? Paul?” Paul heard his name and walked faster, tapping his wrist together over and over.

 

“Paul!”


Sam looked up as Bill walked over to Charlottes’ desk. He had been sitting here, watching his wife ever since she had sat at her desk. In the time since he had, well, died, he’d had time to really think for the first time in a long time. 

 

Think about highschool, really. About when he first fell in love with Charlotte, his two oldest friends who had drifted away, how easy and happy things had been, and how his life had more recently gone to s**t.

 

He thought about how he used to have the biggest crush on Charlotte in highschool and would talk about her to his two best buds, Ted Duke and John McNamara, and how they would teese him about it to no end, but still spent so much time helping him set up his dates with her.

 

He thought about his wedding, where he had been the luckiest man alive, having John as his best man, but letting Ted plan the Grooms party. How much fun he had that night, singing- despite his ability to properly hit a note- and dancing and eating cake with his wife . He perfectly remembered how amazing those words were to think of. Charlotte was his wife. And the words had given him a buzz that he couldn’t get off of for months.

 

He thought about the moment when they had both agreed they wanted a kid. It didn’t matter what type, they just both wanted a family. How happy the two had been, planning the nursery out and thinking up tricks to make this is the kindest kid ever. Right before the novelty of the whole thing wore off.

 

He remembered getting the news, right around twenty four weeks in. A miscarriage, a still birth, whatever you want to call it. Sam didn’t remember much after that. All he knew was that he had driven home right then and ripped apart the nursery. Destroying the crib, curtains, blankets, toys, bookshelves, and even the walls a bit. He had been seeing red, until Charlotte had gotten home and begged him to stop… he was so angry, he had nearly hit her. He had gotten control of himself before he could though, and had comforted his wife to the best of his abilities.

 

He remembered the week after that when the two started drifting away. Sam had turned to alcohol and was staying out later. Finding any excuse he could to not go home. He hadn’t been sure then, nor was he now sure about what he had been avoiding. Maybe it was just all too much. Maybe he was afraid of hurting Charlotte more. Or maybe he was just disappointed in himself, he didn’t know.

 

He remembered when he came home early one day and found Charlotte in bed with one of his best buds. Sam had just stood there for a minute before turning and walking right out of the house, followed by the twenty minute walk to the nearest bar to get drunk.

 

Now that everything is over and Sam’s has a moment to think clearly, he can’t help but wonder how he got so d**n stupid.

 

He had been so in love, so HAPPY, and after one incident he went and f**ked it all up. Sure, it was depressing, but he should have been there for Charlotte, who had to have a surgery to physically get rid of the baby so it wouldn’t effect her . He should have talked to his wife, he shouldn’t have given her a reason to cheat on him.

 

Sam decided if he ever got the chance, he would make sure she knew how much he loved her.

 

“Yeah, here it is,” Charlotte said, holding up a paper that had come from her printer.

 

“Thanks, Charlotte. They really need to fix that printer system, don’t they?” Bill asked, Sam watching his attempt at small talk.

 

“Yeah, they really do-” Charlotte said, only for Ted to come in, cutting her off.

 

“EY! Bill!” he yelled, walking over. Sam hadn’t recognized Ted at first, he had had a feeling the other guy was familiar, but hadn’t been sure. Now that he realized it was his oldest friend, it made him feel worse about the whole Charlotte affair.

 

“Not now, Ted,” Bill said. Shaking his head.

 

“Um, Yes , now. My printers gone to s**and I’m pretty sure my papers ended up in your printer again,” Ted said, fidgeting with a pencil as he talked.

 

“If it’s so important, why don’t you get it yourself?” Bill asked, sounding slightly irritated.

 

“Don’t you read the company emails? Someone’s been stealing documents from other peoples’ printers. If I’m seen taking something from your printer, I’d be in some deep S**t,” Ted said, crossing his arms.

 

“Well, Ted, maybe I don’t care about your job. What I do care about is that Paul was about to have a panic attack and you were being an A**hole! Now, I don’t care what you and Charlotte got into an argument about last night-” Bill snapped.

 

“It wasn’t like that-” Charlotte started, while Ted yelled “Whoah, Whoah, Woah, Now Wait A Minute!”

 

“-But I Don’t Want You Being The Reason Paul Has A God D**n Relapse! So Fix Your Attitude!” Bill yelled, not letting Ted interrupt him. Sam watched the whole thing go down, surprised. He hadn’t expected Bill to be one to snap, but he seemed really protective of his friend.

 

“Of Course I know! I’m Not As Stupid As Everyone Thinks I Am,” Bill snapped before walking over to his desk.

 

“Well-” Charlotte said.

 

“Listen, Charlotte, I really don’t care about what you do outside of work. It’s not my business. But what I don’t want is Paul breaking down. I’ve known Paul since we were five years old, I’ve seen how bad it can get. You and Ted, you’ve seen him pretty close to the end, but you’ve never seen him really topple. I have, and I don’t want to see him topple again,” Bill said. Sam, who wasn’t even part of the conversation, felt extremely bad and awkward, as if he was the main problem.

 

Bill walked into his cubicle while Ted and Charlotte stood there awkwardly. A minute later, Bill came back in, printed report in hand.

 

“Just think about what I said, ok?” he said, handing the six or so papers Ted needed. Ted just nodded and Sam wondered if he was thinking about when Ted, John McNamara, and Sam would run around downtown as kids, causing mischief and having a good time.

 

Before Ted could leave or Charlotte could say something, Paul came rushing pass them, a fast paced murmur of ‘okay okay okay okay,’ as his wrists tapped together repeatedly. He didn’t even look up as he cut down the hall, heading straight for the elevator.

 

“Paul? Paul, are you ok?” Bill asked. Ted and Charlotte called his name as well, but he didn’t respond to them and was gone a few minutes later.

 

“Well, that was odd,” Ted said.

 

“You’re not wrong,” Sam muttered as someone else was called into Mr. Davidsons’ office.

Chapter Text

Zoey was bored as s**t.

 

You would think that being dead would be more fun. It wasn’t. Zoey was just kind of walking around as fake her added that blue s**t to all the food and s***y pastries in the store.

 

Of the customers who came in she had already poisoned Zoey recognized the Hot Chocolate Kid, the Greenpeace chick who was always struggling to pay the three dollars for her coffee, a few high schoolers, and college students, a few regulars and general a**hole customers. Maybe a dozen or so, probably more.

 

Not only that, but fake her and fake Nora had spent all morning teaching another employee who she was in college with some cheesy as s**t song and had initiated an a** load of new policies. She was NOT a fan.

 

She had been walking around in the front area, messing with peoples’ hair and insulting people, but in general, was just kind of… there. She looked up as the little bell at the door rang. A guy with black hair who looked close to having a breakdown power walked to the counter, which had no line surprisingly. She recognized him as well. He was here a lot, watching Emma- the other college student who worked here- ordering plain black coffee and an iced caramel frap and occasionally a chai iced tea, or sitting in one of the four-person tables, on the edge of a panic attack.

 

She had talked to him a few times- to make sure Emma didn’t have to worry about some stalker- and he was nice. Not like the other guy who came with sometimes and was a total a**hole and was probably the reason the nice guy got chai iced teas occasionally. 

 

“HELLO?!” he screamed, scaring the s**t out of Zoey, twitching a bit as if he would just shatter.

 

“HELLO!?!” he screamed again as a few patrons turned to stare at him. Zoey couldn’t help but glare at them as, despite how awkward the guy was, he could be referred to as baby. A literal child who needed to be protected.

 

“Please, God, I just want a black coffee!” he screamed. Zoey could almost see tears in his eyes and wondered just how bad his day had been so far. Only to realize what was about to happen, thanks to another new policy.

 

“Black coffee, I’m your coffee gal, Here a coffee-” Emma sang as she walked in, looking majorly done with life.

 

“NOOOOO!!” he screamed, startling everyone in the shop, including Zoey.

 

“No! Not You Too, Emma. Please, God, Stop Singing!” he said, taking a step away as a few patrons gave him a mixture of concern and suspicion.

 

“Okay. Okay, I’ll stop,” she said, chuckling a bit before snapping her fingers. “Oh, I didn’t forget. You’re the guy who didn’t like musicals, Paul, right?” she said, smiling as Paul took a deep breath and sent a terrified look around the cafe.

 

“Emma,” he said. “You’re talking to me… Like a normal person,”

 

“Uh, yeah, and if my boss catches me, I’ll get canned,” she said and Zoey couldn’t help but laugh at the awkward expression the patron near the counter, who was clearly listening in, had on his face.

 

“Uh, new company policy. Not only do we have to sing when people tip. But when they enter, when they order, all the time apparently!” she snapped as she started cleaning off the counter.

 

“Emma, I think there’s something terribly wrong with the world today,” he said, anxiously tapping on the side of the counter. Zoeys’ eyes widened, wondering if he knew what was going on out there yet.

 

“Yeah, f***ing tell me about it. I spent the entire morning learning some dumb a** new tip song, I’m exhausted. Do-?” Zoey had to agree with Emma about the song being dumb, but that train of thought was quickly ditched as Paul went around the counter, grabbed Emmas’ arm lightly, and led her over to the far side of the cafe.

 

“Emma, Emma, Emma, Emma,” he said as he walked. She gave him a concerned look while Zoey took a step closer, making sure she could still watch and hear what happened.

 

“I feel like there’s something… Sinister… Infecting Hatchetfield. And I know this is gonna sound crazy… and not very scary, but it is scary if you think about the implications. Promise me you’ll think about the implications?” he said. Zoey stared at him, suspicious. His behavior was rather odd, for one thing. Zoey was pretty sure he was gonna have a breakdown any second now.

 

“Okay. Okay, I promise,” Emma said, probably recognizing the near breakdown from the number of college students who were acting a lot like him.

 

“Okay, Emma. I think the world is becoming… a musical,” he said. Zoeys’ eyes widened. He was the first person to be concerned about the amount of people singing to dead silence.

 

“Um, I-” Emma started as she took a step away, only to be cut off by Paul.

 

“Don’t say anything!” he rushed out. “Let it sink in,”

 

“Okay,” Emma said, nodding.

 

“Okay! Now. Are you frightened?” Paul asked, arms shaking horribly.

 

“Uh, yeah. I think I am starting to get a little frightened…” Emma said, leaning away from him a bit.

 

“You should be,” he said, his voice cracking as Zoey noticed the customer from earlier who had been listening in on their conversation put a tip in the jar.

 

“Okay, I think you should sit down and wait for me-” Emma started, pushing him towards an empty two-person table as fake Nora and Zoey spoke up.

 

“Emma! Tip!” they said as Emma made him sit down.

 

“Oh, thank God. Sorry paul, I gotta do this dumba** tip song. Oops, Sorry!” she said, rushing over to where the other two were.

 

“Get your cup of roasted coffee. Good morning cuppa joe-y. With your jamming cup of java, mocha latte with the froth for you jack,” the three sang while Paul looked around concerned.

 

“Frappuccino with a freshly roasted mung beans. It’s a caramel drizzle mod in a cup,” Zoey had to admit, it was pretty funny seeing Emma sing and dance while clearly not giving a single s**t.

 

“With a drip, drip. Drip drip, drip. And we’ll bring it right up. Hey, Mr. Business, how do you do?” Emma sent concerned glances to Paul, who was staring at the floor while tapping his wrists together as if he had just stopped responding.

 

“Can we get a triple for you? Decaf?”

 

“Whaat?”

 

“Decaf?”

 

“Whaat?” Zoey slowly placed a hand on his shoulder in an attempt to help him, wondering if he could even feel it.

 

“Dit dit, dee de dit, dee de dit, dee de dit. And we’ll bring it right up. Oi, oi, oi!” the three girls ran around, giving people coffees’- Paul didn’t get one, thank f**k- while Emma tried to talk to him.

 

“Let’s got out-” he started.

 

“Emma!” the two fakes sang, smiling while Emma glared and rushed to her spot.

 

“Hold on,” she whispered, doing the next part of the dance while any customer with coffee stood up in sync as if already infected, took a sip of their drink, and simultaneously let out a sigh of relief. Paul stayed sitting, staring around in terror.

 

“And we'll bring it, and we’ll bring it,”

 

“Right,”

 

“Right,” 

 

“Right,”

 

“And we’ll bring it right up!” Zoey had to admit, their voices did sound good together.

 

“God,” Emma muttered as she stopped singing. Only to look at Fake Nora and Zoey who were still dancing.

 

“Wait. Hey! What is this?” she asked, trying to keep up with the two.

 

“There’s more?” she asked.

 

“Nora! Hey!” Emma said, Paul standing up in a panic as he watched the two.

 

“Hey! You know what? Alright, alright, alright. Stop. Stop. Stop!” Emma yelled, cutting between the two- who both posed and gave her the same identical smile.

 

“What is that? A whole other A section? God! When did you learn that? You know what?” Emma snapped, clapping her hands together while taking a breath.

 

“When I got this job, I signed up to serve coffee and cold, s***y pastries. If I wanted to be in a musical, I’d be in a d**n musical! Yeah, that’s right, Zo-ey. I, was in Brrrigadoon in high school and I f***ing killed it,” she said.

 

“Yes. I Re-men-ber, you b***h !” Zoey snapped.

 

“But now…Now, I’m just trying to make ends meet while I work my way through community college. And I can do that, just as easily, down the street, at Starbucks. I quit,” Emma said, taking off her apron and throwing it at the ground.

 

“You can’t quit, Emma,” Fake Zoey and Nora said at the same time.

 

“Um, Yeah, I sure as hell can,” she snapped as people started coughing.

 

“The Song is so simple. We’ll teach it to you. Why everyone here will be singing it soon,” the two said as a few people fell off their seats while others stayed sitting, all coughing.

 

“What are you talking about?” She asked, looking around and panicking.

 

“They’ve all had their coffee. Their Apotheosis will be upon them at any moment,”

 

“What? What did you do to their coffee?” Emma asked, running over to the coffee pot. Zoey watched, disgusted, as Emma picked up some of the blue s**t.

 

“F***ing Gross !” she yelled as Paul paled. 

 

Then they started singing.

 

“Get your cup of poisoned coffee”

 

“What is this? What is this?”

 

“Your toxic cup of Joe-y!”

 

“What?!”

 

“We'll make a twisted cup of java mocha latte with the goo for you Jack

Jack, Jack, Jack!” They charged at Emma, who ducked under them and ran to Paul as the customers all stood up in sync.

 

“Hey, Mr. Business” Fake Zoey and Nora started while Paul stumbled back with Emma.

 

“How do you- How do you- How do you do?” everyone sang, pointing at the two.

 

“They’re singing! Why are they all singing!?” Emma yelled.

 

“Just run Emma, don’t look back, just run!” Paul yelled as the took off out of the coffee shop. And, on a split second whim, Zoey followed them.

 

“We got a double for you!” Fake her sang.

 

“Hey, Mr. Business” She paused at the door and looked back in at the customer at one of the now dancing customers, who had tipped, before dipping entirely. But she could still hear them singing as she ran.

 

“And we'll bring it right up!”

 


 

Alice walked into her dads’ office space, followed by Deb. She had decided the best thing to do was see her dad- even if she had been upset with him- and Deb had agreed to come with. Alice had asked if Debs’ mom had been infected and Deb had just shrugged. She didn’t care.

 

As they walked into the floor Bill worked on, they saw the spiritual version of the receptionist- Melissa- standing beside the fake Melissa.

 

“Hello,” Alice said, nodding to her- as she didn’t have hands to wave with- as Melissa looked up.

 

“Oh! Hello. Who are you?” Melissa asked, walking around the counter to talk to them.

 

“I’m Alice, and this is my girlfriend, Deb,” Alice said while Deb nodded next to her.

 

“Hey-lo,” Deb said as her hat adjusted itself.

 

“Well nice to meet you both. I’m Melissa. Are you looking for someone?” she asked. Alice decided not to mention she already knew who Melissa was from her dads’ gossip of the place.

 

“We were looking for my dad, Actually. He works here, His name’s Bill Crow,” Alice said. Melissas’ eyes widened.

 

“You’re Bills’ daughter? He talks about you all the time and how much he loves you and how proud he is of you. He’s really sweet actually. If you go down that way and turn right at the first hallway, you’ll find him,” Melissa prambled on, moving as if she was gesturing somewhere, but the two couldn’t see where she was pointing.

 

“Um… Which way?” Deb asked as Melissas’ eyes widened.

 

“Oh, right. Sorry. It’s this one,” she apologized, moving so she was next to one of the hallways.

 

“It's’ fine. Thank you for the help!” Alice called as she started down the hallway Melissa had mentioned.

 

“Of course! And if you need help with anything, I’ll be around,” Melissa called after them.

 

It didn’t take long for the two girls to find Alices’ dad, who Alice was relieved to see was fine. To both of their surprise, however, another ghostly figure was just two cubicles down. The guy looked up, surprised to see two other people.

 

“Hey, you’re that kid, Deb,” he said as the black holes where Debs’ eyes’ had once been widened.

 

“You’re that a**hole cop! Sam!” Deb said, recognizing him. But her voice wasn’t bitter or angry.

 

“What’s up?” she asked as Alice looked between Deb and Sam.

 

“Hello,” Alice said, smiling politely.

 

“Hey, kid. I’m gonna guess things didn’t go so good,” Sam said, eyeing Alice.

 

“Yeah… But I’m okay for now,” Alice said, smiling to the officer.

 

“Good, good... “ Sam said, turning back to look at his wife, who kept looking up at people walking out of Mr. Davidsons’ office with growing concern. Alice looked over at her dad to see he was writing an Email. Upon closer inspection, she realized it was an email addressed her. Before she could read it, Teds’ head popped up over the edge of the cubicle and Bill quickly changed the tab.

 

“Hey, Bill. What’cha doin?” he asked while Bill tried to as inconspicuous as possible.

 

“Uh, work… Ted, what are you doing here?” Bill asked, changing the subject.

 

“Charlotte texted me. Asked me to meet her here,” he said with a shrug as he stepped into the cubicle. 

 

“Yeah. Sorry, Bill. I just… I have a bad feeling about all this,” Charlotte said, sending a look over her shoulder.

 

“About what?” Bill asked. Charlotte frowned.

 

“About… All this… Singing, I guess…” Charlotte admitted.

 

“Oh, thank f**k. She's noticing,” Sam muttered, startling Alice.

Chapter Text

Ted looked around the office, noticing the amount of people who were all humming the same toon. It had started to creep out him a bit, but it wasn’t like he would be telling anyone else that.

 

“I have to agree with Charlotte,” Bill said, looking around as well.

 

“Ok… so what about it?” Ted asked, leaning against one of the cubicle walls.

 

“I don’t know, but I think we should go,” Charlotte said, lowering her voice a good bit.

 

“I’m not sure, Charlotte,” Ted started.

 

“I’ll leave with you Charlotte, but do you mind if I finish writing this email first?” he asked. Charlotte relaxed a little bit and nodded.

 

“O- of course! Thank you, Bill,” she said before turning to me.

 

“What about you, Ted?” she asked. For a second, Ted felt like he was back in school, watching Charlotte ask him for help on a test or relationship advice. The hopeful, innocent look in her eyes. Despite everything that had happened to her, she was still so much like she was in high school.

 

“Fine, Char. When are we leaving?” he sighed, giving in. Charlotte grinned and thanked him.

 

“Once Bill’s done with his email,” Charlotte said while Bill started typing at his computer.

 

“Well, how long is that gonna take?” Ted asked with a sigh.

 

“Not too long,” Bill said without looking up at them.

 

“Ok. What are you even doing?” Yes asked, leaning down to look at Bills’ computer to see an email addressed to his daughter.

 

“I’m writing an email to Alice. Apologizing and asking if she’d like to live here with me,” Bill said, not looking up. For a second, Ted thought he heard a gasp, but ignored.

 

“So what? Should I hang out here or head back to my desk?” Ted asked.

 

“Bill, do you mind if we hang out here?” Charlotte asked him.

 

“Not at all,” Bill said, smiling to the two before looking down at his computer. Ted dragged Pauls’ chair into the cubicle and sat down before checking the time. It wouldn’t take too long.


Ted was wrong. Ted was SO wrong. It had been twenty minutes and Bill had finally sent his stupid email.

 

“Are you done? Can we go?” Ted asked, standing up.

 

“Yes we can go,” Bill said, standing up as well. Charlotte- who had walked over to her desk to get something- walked back over and the three prepared to leave together.

 

“Good. Maybe we can stop by Beanie’s? My treat,” Ted offered.

 

“Yeah. Maybe Paul’ll be there,” Charlotte said, nodding quickly.

 

“And a coffee might calm our nerves,” Bill agreed. They had just gotten to the elevator when Melissa spoke up.

 

“And where are you three off to?” Melissa asked. She sounded off, Ted noticed.

 

“Oh. We-we’re just off to go get some- some coffee and- and go see Paul,” Charlotte stuttered quickly.

 

“You can’t go yet. Mr. Davidson hasn’t talked to you yet,” Melissa said as a few employees Ted didn’t recognize walked into the reception area.

 

“Yeah, but you can’t hold us here, so we’re gonna go get some coffee and be right back,” Ted said, inching towards the elevator.

 

“Stick around, stick around, why won’t you just stick around?” Melissa sang. Charlotte and Bill backed up while Ted pressed the elevator button.

 

“Stick around, Stick around, Why don’t you just stick around?” More people sang while others started humming along. Someone made a grab for Bill but Ted shoved them off as the elevator doors opened. Bill ran in, and Ted pressed the ‘close doors’ button, only to realize Melissa had Charlotte. 

 

Ted dashed back out of the elevator, knocked Melissa over, and shoved Charlotte towards the elevator. Before Ted could move though, another employee grabbed his arm.

 

Ted knocked them off as the elevator doors closed and ran for the stairs, knocking over a cubicle wall as he ran. He got into the stairway and locked the door. He heard people banging against it as he took a second to catch his breath, before making his way down the three flights of stairs. He managed to get outside alright but found himself alone.

 

“Ok, Where would Char and Bill go?” Ted muttered to himself, listening to the sound of people singing in the distance. It was odd. He hadn’t felt so out of place like this since High School when his parents kicked him out after he came out to them. He hadn't liked being alone then, nor did he like it now.

 

He was always around people. Going to the most crowded places he could or buying a crappy apartment in the worst part of town just because he'd still hear people at all times and not feel alone. Over the years, Ted had decided that any attention was better than no attention. Because if hes' an a**hole, at least people would talk to him.

 

Looking around, his eyes landed on a store not too far away. The butchers. It wasn’t a big place and not many people went there. A good place to hide. 

 

Looking both ways, he crossed the street and walked in to see the butcher trying to force open the door to the back.

 

“Get Out! Get Out! Get out here right now-” he sang before Ted turned and walked right out, deciding not to deal with a singing butcher with a knife.

 

Ted figured the two had probably found a way out the back since they weren’t screaming so Ted made his way into an alleyway and looked around. As he had guessed, the back door was open, as was a door to another shop. He poked his head in and just managed to see Bills’ back before someone singing came into view. It was a bank, Ted realized. Ted made his way out of the alley just in time to see Bill and Charlotte disappear into the post office. Ted waited for a second, and once he realized none of the singing bankers were going after his coworkers, he rushed over to the post office and walked in.

 

“Pl- please don’t hurt us!” He heard Charlotte yell before he rushed over to where they were.

 

A postal employee was approaching them with a box cutter, singing loudly. Bill was in front of Charlotte in an attempt to protect her, but they were essentially cornered. Thinking quick, Ted picked up one of the metal line markers and smacked the employee upside the head with it, effectively knocking him to the ground and ending his singing.

 

“TED!” Bill And Charlotte yelled, rushing towards him. Charlotte hugged him quickly and Bill patted his shoulder.

 

“You two ok?” Ted asked them.

 

“A little shaken up, but yeah,” Bill said while Charlotte nodded.

 

“What about you?” Charlotte asked.

 

“Perfectly Fine. Little tired but, yeah. I’m good,” Ted said, nodding absentmindedly as he looked out the window.

 

“We should hide,” Bill said, looking out with Ted to see people dancing in the street.

 

“I’m gonna call Sam,” Charlotte said, rushing towards the phone.

 

“Charlotte, Don’t-“ Bill started.

 

“Don’t bother, she won’t listen. Let’s find somewhere to hide,” Ted said, heading towards the back door and poking his head outside.

 

There was an intersection of Alleyways and several clean-looking trash cans. Ted looked back at the two- Charlotte in the phone and Bill looking around- before walking towards the trash cans. Looking inside, he was happy to find three of them were empty and clean. Ted smiled at the Luck before walking back to the other two.

 

“Guys, I found a hiding spot, let’s go,” he said, waving them towards him. Charlotte was off the phone now so the two walked over.

 

“Pick a trash can,” Ted said, waving his hands flamboyantly towards the metal bins.

 

“I’m sorry, what?” Bill asked while Charlotte looked around.

 

“You heard me, get in a trash can,” Ted said once again. Smiling at the shocked expression on Bills’ face.

 

“They’re clean, I promise,” Ted said before pulling the lids off of two of them. Before anyone could argue, someone started screaming in the distance and Bill sighed before stepping into one of them, taking the metal lid from Teds’ hands. Ted just smirked before offering a hand to Charlotte to help her get in. She was slower at getting in, fixing her skirt several times before letting Ted put the lid on for her. Sending a quick look at Bills’ can, the lid was on and it looked empty. Ted opened a third trash can before climbing in himself and pulling the lid on. It was warm, stuffy, and dark inside the trash can, but it wasn’t like it was Teds’ first time inside one, so he wasn’t complaining. Besides, it was actually clean.

 

Not too long after the three had settled, Ted heard footsteps approaching.

 

“Oh my god. Oh my god, what the f**k was that?!” Someone asked as Ted felt something bump against his trash can a bit.

Chapter Text

Zoey had followed Emma and Paul through the shrub filled alleyway and was now standing above them as the knelt beside a few trash cans. Paul had seemingly calmed down a slight bit while Emma was closer to panicking.

 

“Oh my god. Oh my god, what the f**k was that?!” Emma asked as Zoey noticed three ghostly figures standing nearby.

 

"I told you it was scarier than it sounds!” Paul whispered, grabbing Emmas’ hands while Zoey recognized one of the ghosts.

 

“You were right. I didn’t think about the implications,” Emma whispered.

 

“Sam? Zoey asked, taking a step closer to him.

 

“Hey, Zoey,” Sam said, not looking up.

 

“Hello!” another figure- one of the younger two- said, smiling.


“Oh my god, I didn’t think about it!” Emma yelled, making Zoey chuckle a bit.

 

“Hey,” Zoey said, smiling to the two before turning back to see Paul grab Emmas’ shoulders.

 

“Emma, Emma, shh. It’s all right, okay?” he said while Emma nodded.

 

There was a loud bang, followed by the sound of someone banging on metal as a guy stood up inside one of the metal trash cans. The two younger ghosts chuckled a bit.

 

“No- It’s not alright Paul!” he yelled as he climbed out, causing Emma and Paul to scream and Zoey to jump slightly.

 

“Bill! You scared the s**t out of us,” Paul said, taking a deep breath while Emma gave him a wtf look.

 

“Well, how the hell am I supposed to pop out of a trash can and not scare the s**t out of you?” Bill asked, placing his hands on his hips as he looked away.

 

“I don’t know. Give us a warning or something next time, you know?” Paul said.

 

A repeated banging noise from inside another one of the trash cans, followed by someone popping out of it, scared Zoey again while Emma and Paul screamed. Sam and the two girls chuckled.

 

“Charlotte!” Paul yelled as Zoey recognized Sams’ overly nervous wife.

 

“Sorry, I tried to warn you but…” Charlotte said while rubbing her hands together.

 

“Oh my god! Who are these people?” Emma asked, looking to Paul.

 

“They’re my friends from work,” Paul answered quickly.

 

“What are they doing in the trash?” Emma asked again.

 

“Well, we had to find a place to hide. Mr. Davidson’s kept calling people into his office and they kept coming out singing!” Bill said, Charlotte nodding along.

 

“I- It was the same at the bank, the butchers, and the post office,” Charlotte said.

 

“It’s all downtown, we were just at Beanies!” Paul said.

 

Another bang, more screaming.

 

“You Didn’t Invite Me?!” Ted yelled as he stood up in one of the trash cans and slammed his hands down on top of another one.

 

“Jesus, Ted!” Paul yelled, grabbing at his heart while all the ghosts now chuckled a bit.

 

“Shh! Shh! Shh! Shh! Shut The F**k Up, Paul!” Ted whisper yelled.

 

“Alright? If you want to stay in our hiding spot, you got to be quiet! All right? There’s something going on and we don’t know what it is or who we can trust so Paul,” he tapped the lid of another trash can,” Get in your trash can. You, beat it!”

 

“Uhh, F**k you?” Emma said, flipping him off while Zoey and the three ghosts either chuckled or grinned.

 

“No, no. Emma stays with us,” Paul said, turning so he was kneeling beside Teds’ trash can.

 

“I don’t know her!” Ted snapped.

 

“Yeah, you do! She’s the… SHe’s the barista from Beanies the-” Paul sighed.

 

“You know, the- th- ‘The latte-hottie’,” he said, rubbing at his face with a mix of embarrassment and shame. Emma and Zoey had similar expressions of ‘What the flying f**k was that’.

 

“What?” Emma asked, looking to Paul and Charlotte who just shrugged. Ted smiled to Emma before leaning closer to Paul.

 

“Paul, that is not the ‘latte hottay’. That’s the crabby one who won’t sing when I tip her! You grabbed the wrong one! You Noodle. F**k!” Ted snapped, standing upright while Paul flinched.

 

“Is it bad that imma ‘bout to throw hands with this b***h?” Zoey asked, finding she really disliked him. Before anyone could say anything in response, a police siren went off. Sam seemed to pale considerably.

 

“Oh, Oh! Thank God! They’re here! I- I called Sam, he’ll get us out of this!” Charlotte yelled as she rushed closer to the flashing lights.

 

“Char! Charlotte! That’s Not me!” Sam yelled.

 

“Sam, Sweetheart? Sam baby? Oh Sam, thank god you’re here. They’ve gone crazy! Everyone’s gone crazy!” Charlotte said as Sam and the two fake cops from earlier walked in, fake Sam still wearing the dumb as s**t hat.

 

Charlotte jumped back a bit as fake Sam randomly stretched out his hand.

 

“Wha-?” Charlotte asked as fake same looked back at the two fake cops before starting towards Charlotte, steering her towards one of the alley walls.

 

“Ma’am I need ya to take a step back,” he sang as Charlotte looked down at the ground and stepped back a bit. Having her back against the wall now. The two fake cops now snapping in sync.

 

“You’re facing the law, not the clerk at the ga-ap,” he continued while Paul snuck around behind them.

 

“Yeah, we’re cops,”

 

“Paul,” Emma yelled.

 

“Yeah, we’re cops. You better shape on up,” he sang. Ghost Sam tried to force fake Sam back while Paul grabbed her shoulders.

 

“Get away from him, Charlotte! He’s One Of Them!” Paul yelled, only for fake Sam to grab Pauls’ shoulders and yank him away.

 

“Wha-? Oh!” Charlotte whispered as Paul froze.

 

“You better empty out all of them pockets,” he started as Paul reached into his pockets.

 

“But don’t empty out all of them pockets,” Paul brought his hands back up as Robert and Mariah slapped his hands.

 

“Yeah we’re cops,” he sang as Paul was kicked to the ground, hitting his head on the wall to a nearby building. Zoey winced and sent a glance to the two teenagers, who seemed to be huddled together.

 

“Yeah, we’re cops. And we make sense,” fake Sam sang while the stepped back towards the middle of the alley, nodding in sync as Paul and Charlotte ran back towards the group.

 

“Show me your hands! Show me those jazz hands,” he sang as the three pointed to Paul and Charlotte- Charlotte was slightly behind Sam- with real Sam trying to stop him. 

 

“Get ‘em up or you’ll end up in cuffs,” The three fakes brought their hands above their heads while Ted, Bill, and Emma tried sneaking past them.

 

“Show me those hands. Show me those jazz hands!” the fakes pointed to the group.

 

“Whoa. Aw, F**k!” Ted whispered as he got slightly more in front of Emma and Bill.

 

“Or I might be inclined to shoot you up,” fake Sam sang as the three fakes walked behind the three real.

 

“Hey look, my I.D is in my back pocket,” Ted started while the fake cops each grabbed one of the threes’ left arms, bouncing them as Robert sang.

 

“You go forty in a thirty-five,” they made a general ‘mirror check’ move.

 

“Check your mirror you’ll find hell has arrived,” the fakes all moved their hands to the real peoples’ shoulders.

 

“Cause we’re cops, yeah we’re cops,” they sang, forcing the others to the ground.

 

“We’re up in your s**t,” they sang before making their way between Ted, Bill, and Emma and Paul, and Charlotte.

 

“What the f**k is this?” Emma asked.

 

“Cathy lost her cat in a tree!” Mariah sang as the three all gave very dramatic turns.

 

“Contact Fire, not the HFPD,” Fake Sam responded as real Sam tried once again to stop him. Fake Mariah picked up her radio and sang into it.

 

“Cause we’re cops. Yeah, we’re cops,”

 

“Her cat is dead,” Mariah sang. The three gave very dramatic shrugs.

 

“Show me your hands,” Fakes Sam started.

 

“Show me those jazz hands! Get ‘em up, or you’ll end up in cuffs,” they sang, Fake Sam rushing towards his police car while Mariah and Rob did that hands on the knees dance thing. Zoey may be in theater, but she had no idea what the f**k that thing was called.

 

“Show me those hands, show me those jazz hands, I might be inclined…” The two drifted off with Mariah rushing closer to Charlotte and Paul while Robert rushed towards Emma, Bill, and ted.

 

“Step away from the vehicle. Step away from the vehicle,” Fake Sam started while Robert started break dancing.

 

“Get back in the vehicle. Get back in the vehicle,” Charlotte and Paul were panicking while Emma and Bill were trying to inch away. Ted was nodding along, looking at Robert like him and his dancing was the coolest s**t ever.

 

“Slowly get out of the vehicle. Slowly get out of the vehicle. Do. The things. I say! I’m A cop!”

 

Zoey wasn’t even sure what was happening next. Mariah was yell/singing at Paul and Charlotte something along the lines of ‘Get those hands up, Get those hands up. Put those hands down, Put those hands down!’, fake Sam was going through his whole ‘Get out of the / get back in the / slowly get out of the vehicle’, and Robert was just making siren noises.

 

“I’m A Cop!” The three sang.

 

“9-1-1 emergency call. Got a 4-1-1 at your shopping mall. Better pack your heat and utility belt. Any mall-rats comin’ in hot, they melt,” fake Sam sang- Real Sam still fighting him.

 

“Serg, it’s your wife on the 9-1-1,” Mariah sang while Zoey saw Charlottes’ eyes widen.

 

“What the b***h want, Serg?” Robert sang while Charlottes’ eyes watered a bit. Ted, meanwhile, was glaring.

 

“She just wants a snug,”

 

“Grab your 9 millimeter and donut bucket. Want my badge number? Put it in your mouth and-”

 

“SUCK IT!” The three sang, pointing at Charlotte who had stood up.

 

“Oh, Sam. Sweetheart… I- I’m your wife. Sam baby, just talk to me,” Charlotte said. As Sam disappeared.

 

“Wait, What?” the ghost in a beanie asked.

 

“Where’d he go?” the other one asked at the same time.

 

Zoey shrugged and watched fake Sam shakily pull his glasses off. Except his pupils weren’t the electric blue everyone infected had. They were… normal.

 

“Charlotte,” Fake Sam whispered.

 

“Sam?” Charlotte asked.

 

Fake Sams’ concerned expression disappeared and his pupils turned blue as he pulled the glasses back on. Real Sam appeared out of nowhere, stumbling back into a wall.

 

“Sam?” Zoey and the other two asked, turning completely to him as Charlotte screamed. Zoey looked back to fake Sam had Pulled A F***ing Gun on Charlotte. Zoey saw as Ted gasped and he started towards fake Sam as the three fake cops started chasing Charlotte in circles, getting the whole group to run.

 

“Show me your hands, show me those jazz hands!” Fake Sam sang while the other two fakes made ‘doo bop a da-ba’ noises. Ted managed to pick up a trash can lid as he ran, repeatedly looking towards Charlotte.

 

“Get ‘Em Up or they’ll end up in cuffs, Show me those hands, show me those jazz hands!” Sam sang as Mariah and Robert cornered Paul, Emma, and Bill. 

 

“Or I might be inclined to shoot you-” Fake Sam brought up his gun to shoot Charlotte only for Ted to rush behind Fake Sam and bring the trash can lid down on his head. Charlotte screamed as Sam dropped the gun and Paul ran up as if to see Charlotte, only for fake Sam to start falling backward, making Paul back up.

 

“Oh my GOD!” Charlotte yelled, picking up the gun. She was pretty close to hysteria.

 

“J- just get back!” she yelled holding up as if to shoot. Ted, Bill, Emma, Fake Mariah, and Fake Robert all brought up their hands. Paul was busy staring at Sams’ body, which was missing his brain.

 

“Just stay away, just leave us alone!” Charlotte cried.

 

The two fake cops gave each other a look before they turned and ran off, waving their hands in the air and making weird turkey like noises.


Meanwhile, in the Hatchetfield graveyard, caskets were being dug up and opened. Ernest, the homeless guy, was watching his body dig up a row of six caskets and drop some of the blue slime into their mouths, one at a time. And slowly, ever so slowly, they were opening their eyes and waking up.

 

"This can't be good," Ernest muttered to himself.

 

Indeed, he was right. As in the Hatchetfield theater, the six newest ghosts woke up. Sitting a row of seven seats, each of which had their names on them. Looking around, confused.

 

Last they had seen each other, they were in South America. Working on a cure for some disease.

 

They had gotten infected.

 

They had died.

 

Chapter Text

The first of the six to wake up was named Greg Summers. His seat was the closest to the wall. He didn’t remember much. He remembered up to their travels to South America and the groups… unfortunate fate. He remembered getting sick and spending his last few days wallowing in sickness and misery after watching Mark, Chad, and Steve pass on. As well as a small bit of white and gold afterward.

 

He ran a hand through his light brown, curly hair as he looked around. Sitting next to him were five figures and six empty seats. He jumped slightly, realizing he didn’t have arms either.

 

“What the f**k?” he muttered to himself, looking down at himself. He was a ghostly silhouette with no distinct bodily shape or limbs. The only thing distinctive him from any other jagged ghost was his brown hair and the Hatchefield College letterman jacket.

 

Whoever was in the chair to the left of Greg groaned, opening his eyes.



Steve Davids opened his eyes to find himself slumped forward in an older, more run-down, version of what looked like the Starlight Theater. The last thing he remembered was losing Chad and Mark before becoming sick himself. 

 

Steve had short black hair that just managed to dip in front of his eyes. He was the type of person who never left the emo phase. Meaning he was wearing a black and purple ripped hoodie and a black choker. He wasn’t too surprised to see himself as a ghost. Even if he was surprised to see himself in the partial wreckage of the Starlight Theater. Looking to his right, his eyes landed on the purple and green colors of a Hatchetfield College jacket. The jacket and the hair immediately made him speak up.

 

“Greg?” Steve asked.

 

“Yes?” Greg asked, not recognizing Steve for a second before his candle flame eyes widened.

 

“Steve?” Greg asked. Steve had just barely managed to nod before being pulled into a hug.

 

While they were doing that, the person in the third chair woke up.



Stu McKinley was the fastest of any of the six who had or would wake up to jump up out of his seat and look around. To his left were three ghostly looking figures and a fourth empty chair. He quietly wondered how this had happened, remembering that last time he had been conscious, he had been sick in South America after watching four of his friends pass on.

 

He had short brown hair and wore a simple white muscle shirt. It didn’t take long for him to recognize the people next to him, the closest of which suddenly sat up.

 

Mark sat up stock still and immediately glared around the area. Having been the first to die, he hadn’t expected to see weird backward versions of his friends, yet here he was.

 

His brown hair- which was normal gelled back- was standing tall and curly with no visible way to stop it, as well as the black t-shirt he had been wearing last. Before he could say anything, however, he heard someone yell his name. No, not just his name. His and Stus’ names.

 

He just managed to turn his head to the side in time to see three other ghostly people. A long-haired one, a really short-haired one, and a black-haired one. The short-haired one jumped slightly while the other two seemingly hugged him. Mark just managed to recognize the three as Stu, Steve, And Greg before he was wrapped in a hug as well.

 

“Stu! Mark!” Greg yelled.

 

“Can you dumbos keep it down?” Someone asked from behind them.

 

Whoever sat next to Mark- Leighton?- didn’t wake up, but the guy next to them was sitting up and leaning back casually with his legs kicked up on the chair in front of him.

 

He had black hair curled to one side, a single black ring earring, and a scarf. Easily recognizable as Chad Sanders, the artsiest of their group.

 

“Like, seriously. I’m trying to sleep here,” Chad said as he kicked his legs down from the chair and stood up.

 

“Chad?” Stu asked.

 

“No s**t, you guys,” he said, looking over the group expectantly.

 

“What? No hug?” Chad asked sarcastically. Causing the group to pull him into a hug.

 

“Ok, but what’s going on?” Greg asked looking around.

 

“I don’t know. Last I remember I had just… passed on and left Leighton and Henry,” Stu said.

 

“Henry! Where’s Henry? I mean, I get that that’s Leighton, but where’s Hen?” Mark asked, looking around.

 

“There’s a seventh empty chair. Next to where I was,” Chad said, pointing to the last empty seat.

 

“Maybe he’s not here?” Greg guessed, looking down at the floor.

 

“Wait, what’s this?” He asked, kneeling down.

 

“In memory of Steve Davids,” Stu read aloud, leaning down as well.

 

“In memory of me? I mean, I figured that I died, but why would the theater make notice of me?” Steve asked.

 

“Wait, check the others,” Chad said, looking around suddenly. The group checked in the other six chairs- Mark had to move Leightons’ legs because he was still asleep- and found all but one said the same thing.

 

“It says ‘In Thanks to Henry Hidgens. Who funded the theater in exchange for making a memory of six other Hatchetfield scientists who died in the process of curing-“ Mark started.

 

“Wait. We cured it? Henry Lived?” Stu asked, standing up suddenly.

 

“I guess we did… in a way,” Steve said.

 

“So… where is Henry?” Stu asked

Chapter Text

Alice stayed kneeled beside Sam while Deb paced back and forth behind her from stress. In the back of her mind, she could hear Charlotte scream, but knew she couldn’t do much for her. Instead, she focused on Sam, who was in a daze.

 

“Sam? Sam? Are you ok? Sam?” Alice asked. Sam blinked his eyes open, looking dazed for a few seconds before sitting up suddenly.

 

“Holy S**t!” He yelled. Zoey jumped as the fake cops started chasing everyone suddenly, still singing.

 

“Sam? Sam, where’d you go? What happened?” Alice asked as Deb knelt beside her.

 

“I- I don’t know! One second I was here and then- I was fighting to stop that fake f**ker and then… I was… I was in my body for a second,” Sam said, his hair moving as he probably ran his fingers through it.

 

“You possessed yourself?” Deb asked.

 

“I… guess? Maybe? I’m not sure,” Sam said, his eyes turning to Charlotte. Alice followed his gaze to see fake Sam had pulled out a gun and was aiming at at Charlotte.

 

“Or I might be inclined to shoot you-” he sang right before Ted brought a trash can lid down on top of fake Sams’ skull. Sam winced beside her as Fake Sam dropped the gun and tumbled backwards.

 

“Oh my GOD!” Charlotte all but screamed, picking it up.

 

“J- just get back!” she yelled while Paul stared in horror at Sams’ body. Before Alice could figure out why, Deb stepped in front of her with a whisper of ‘Don’t worry, Ally,’ Alice shrugged, giving it up.

 

“Just stay away, just leave us alone!” Charlotte yelled. She was able to see the fake cops running off while screaming.

 

[Brain Fell out/King Scene]

 

“Oh my God! He- His Head Is Open!” Charlotte yelled. Alice wrinkled her nose, glad Deb had blocked her.

 

“Well I Had To Do Something!” Ted yelled.

 

“Oh! Oh- Oh my God His Brain Fell Out!” Charlotte yelled again. Alice turned her head away. She hated insides and blood and stuff like that.

 

“Then Put It Back Then!” Ted yelled. Alice saw that her dad had turned away as well.

 

“I Don’t know how, I’m not a doctor!” Charlotte yelled.

 

“Charl- Charlotte! Look At That! That’s Not His Brain, It’s Blue!” Ted yelled.

 

“Well how do you know, you’re not a doctor either!” Charlotte yelled.

 

“Ugh!” Ted groaned while Charlotte started muttering about getting fake Sam to a doctor.

 

“Wow, Sam. She really loves you,” Zoey said, sounding bitter.

 

“Yeah. I have no idea why. I don’t deserve her,” Sam muttered.

 

“No, uh, listen. Listen Charlot- Charlotte, Right?” Emma asked.

 

“I’m Charlotte. Yes,” Charlotte answered.

 

“We need to get out of downtown, okay? Downtown is f**ked. The hospital is downtown, we can’t go there,” Emma said.

 

“But he needs to see a doctor. He needs to see a doctor. Sam, we’re gonna get you to a doctor,” Charlotte rambled, clearly about to break. Alice noticed Emma had started pacing back and forth before throwing her hands in the air.

 

“Um, okay, okay… Oh! Oh okay! Okay! I know where we can go! I have this like kooky, reclusive biology professor-” Zoey groaned, “Professor Hidgens! Yes! I’m his favorite student ‘cause I bought his groceries once. Anyway, he has a doctor ate . That’s kind of like a doctor, right?” Emma rambled.

 

“No it’s not,” Deb muttered. Alice laughed.

 

“He could help your husband, probably! And um- he’s got like a lab in his house and- a- security, his whole house is like a panic room! He’s like a… um… what do you call a guy that lives in a fortress?” Emma asked.

 

“A king!” Ted said suddenly. Sam shook his head as if saying ‘Only you, Ted,’

 

“No! No, he’s like a… um… a doomsday survivalist! Yes! He thinks the world is ending! He’s been preparing for the last twenty years for the apocalypse!” Emma said.

 

“The apocalypse? Is that what this is? Maybe we should go to a church!” Charlotte said suddenly, moving to get up. Ted was quick to halt her, however.

 

“No! No, no, no, no, no, no, Charlotte. We are all from different denominations, alright? We cannot split up. Ok? I am a Presbyterian, I’m not gonna die in you dirty a** Methodist church, alright?” Ted asked.

 

“So he’s Scottish?” Zoey asked.

 

“Very slightly,” Sam said, nodding.

 

“I say, we go to the panic room and beg for the kings’ help,” Ted said, standing back up.

 

“Charlotte, I think the best thing for all of us, including Sam, would be to get to the Professor,” Paul said, kneeling beside her gently.

 

“Yeah,” Charlotte muttered, not moving.

 

“Well let’s go now. We can take the squad car!” Emma said.

 

“Um, help me with… him,” Paul said, causing Ted and Bill to move forward and help while Emma moves to pull Charlotte away from fake Sam.

 

“Ok, so… This has been fun, but imma head back to the theater,” Zoey said, standing up.

 

“Why?” Deb asked.

 

Zoey just shrugged.

 

“I’m tired of watching people die.”

~~~

Zoey sent one last casual nod to the group before turning and walking her own way. It didn’t take long for her to get to the theater, maybe fifteen minutes away.

 

When she walked in, she managed to recognize dozens of people. HCB, Mr. Davidson, the police officers, coffee shop patrons, Greenpeace girl, etc, etc. She was looking for Nora, however. Unable to see her, she tapped someone nearby on the shoulder.

 

Who she had mistook for a female- thanks to the long curly brown hair- turned out to be a guy in on older styled Hatchetfield College jacket for before the mascot was turned to Peanuts the Pocket Squirrel.

 

“Yes?” he asked.

 

“I’m looking for a friend of mine,” she started.

 

“Really? Me too.” he said, cutting her off. “Maybe we can help each other,” he offered.

 

“Sure. I’m Zoey, By the way,” Zoey said, nodding.

 

“Greg. Now, what does your friend look like?” he asked.

 

“Sure. I’m looking for someone around my height, curly brownish-reddish hair about as long as yours, blue eyes, and she’s wearing a green infinity scarf. Her name’s Nora,” Zoey said. He thought for a minute before nodding.

 

“Yeah. Last I saw, she was behind the concession stands,” he said.

 

“Cool. So who’s your friend?” Zoey asked.

 

“You’ll have to excuse my guessing. I haven’t seen the guy in at least a decade,” he said.

 

“Go for it,” Zoey said.

 

“Ok. Last I saw him, he had short brown hair, blue eyes, a little taller than you. His name is Henry Hidgens,” Greg said. Zoey’s eyes widened.

 

“My Biology Professor?” Zoey asked.

 

“Henry’s teaching Biology?” Greg asked.

 

“Yeah. He hasn’t been infected yet. Not that I know of, at least,” Zoey said. Greg’s eyes widened and he grinned.

 

“That’s great! You know where I can find him?” Greg asked.

 

“Sure. Last I heard, he lives in the Hatchetfield Fortress,” Zoey said.

 

“Hatchetfield Fortress? Where’s that?” he asked.

 

Zoey gave him directions and he thanked her before running off. She ignored it and looked around for Nora. Finding her snacking on a candy bar.

 

“Hey, Nor. Whatcha eatin’?” Zoey asked

 

“Hey, Zo. I found out we can still eat. If you grab a candy bar, a duplicate will show up we can eat without touching real food. How was it out there?” Nora asked. Zoey stared at her for a long minute, thinking of the best way to describe it.

 

“Boring as s**t,”

Chapter Text

Henry Hidgens was barely known in town. And when people did know him, he was either the bizarre Biology Professor or the Paranoid shut-in.

 

Two ends of the spectrum that, no matter which side he was on, made him sound like he didn’t belong. Like he was some mentally ill man about to lose his mind, not a scientist who managed to create a vaccine for a deadly disease just thirty years ago. That thought made him freeze.

 

Good God. It may have been thirty years ago, but it still felt like it was merely a few hours ago they had landed in South America.

 

A few hours since Leighton broke and Henry did something terrible he could never forgive himself for.

 

~

It was 1987. Henry was standing in the airport, waiting for the other Working Boys to arrive. He was buzzing with anticipation for South America. One on hand, he knew this was serious and he was going to help people. On the other hand, this was his first big medical incident since graduating from college earlier that year.

 

He was knocked from his thoughts by a hand slamming down on his shoulder, making him jump.

 

“Hey, Henroy,” Stu said, smiling.

 

“Hell- loo Mr. Popular,” Henry sang, smiling to his friend.

 

“Nerd,” Stu laughed.

 

“Did you carpool with anyone or Nah?” Henry asked.

 

“My Aunt dropped me off. She’s already ditched.”

 

“Understandable. I took a taxi,” Henry said.

 

“Nice. Any sign of the others?” Stu asked.

 

“F**k yeah there is,” Greg said, throwing either arm over Henry and Stus’ shoulders.

 

“Hey, Greg. How are you? You Obnoxious piece of s**t,” Stu asked, making his voice sound sarcastic and annoyed at the end before smiling.

 

Greg gasped and pulled his arm from around Stu and fake pushed at Stus’ chest before pulling Henry into a full hug. 

 

“How Dare you! If that’s how you’re gonna be, Then I want a divorce! And I’m taking Henry and Leighton! Go Spend the Night With Chad!” Greg said, bringing back the group's joke of Greg and Stu being a married couple with Henry and Leighton as their sons and the rest as weird friends and brothers. Stu mocked a gasp before the three broke down laughing, Henry pulling himself out of the hug in the process.

 

“Hey, guys. What’s happening?” Leighton asked as him and Chad walked up, making the three laugh harder. Henry, who composed himself fastest, was quick to jump back into the nonsense story.

 

“Leighton! My dear, Sweet, baby brother! It appears our mother Greg and our Father Stu have decided to divorce! Oh, what a woeful time to be children!” Henry mocked before throwing a hand over his face and leaning himself backward.

 

“Oh, S**t! Henry!” Greg and Stu yelled at the same time as they jumped forward to catch him, just managing to do so.

 

“What? I mean- Oh Nooo . I can’t believe this!” Leighton said, catching on while Chad laughed. Leighton tapped Chads’ side and Chad nodded before standing beside Stu.

 

“I told you not to marry that b***h! Don’ you worry, brotha. I’ll make sure you get them kids,” Chad said in a southern accent, patting Stus’ shoulder as Stu started laughing.

 

Steve and Mark- the last two of the Working Boys- walked up as well.

 

 “Hey, uncle Stu. Hey Aunt Greg,” Mark said, biting back a snicker.

 

“Cousins Mark and Steve! Thank God you’re here! My entire family is Falling Apart !” Henry said before going to fall backward again.

 

“Not Again! Not Again!” Greg, Stu, and Chad all yelled as they dove to catch him.

 

“Leighton, My son, why didn’t you help catch your brother?” Stu asked.

 

“I dunno. I’m like seven,” Leighton said, making himself sound younger. The group all laughed again.

 

Getting on the plane, Henry had an idea. He waited until everyone was settled- they were in first class so they were facing everyone- to start his conversation.

 

“Name one thing you’re excited about in life. Mark, Go,” Henry said

 

“Uh. Um… I am getting a cat when we get back,” Mark said, blurting the first thing that came to mind. The group chuckled a bit.

 

“How cute. Markie’s getting a wittle kitty katty. How punk,” Greg teased, making everyone laugh again.

 

“Hey! Hey. Punk is about being great while not respecting the man. So f**k you, Greg,” Everyone laughed before Henry pointed to Chad.

 

“Chad! Something you’re excited for,” Henry said.

 

“Me? Easy. I’ve submitted an art piece to the Hatchetfield art museum and they’ve accepted,” Chad said, smirking. 

 

“Holy S**t, that’s awesome, dude!” Stu said as Greg, who was next to Chad, patted his back.

 

“Thanks. Steve! What is something your emo A** is excited for?” Chad asked.

 

Steve didn’t say anything for a long minute.

 

“My therapist says I’m finally ready to get off the ‘self danger’ list or whatever the thing or whatever the list is called,” Steve muttered. 

 

The group was quick to congratulate Steve with just as much, if not more, enthusiasm then with Chad.

 

“So… thanks for making me go to a therapist, I guess,” Steve muttered.

 

“Aww. No problem, man. Glad you’re doing good,” Mark said.

 

“Umm. Who paid the majority might I ask?” Steve asked, giving Mark a look.

 

“Not your poor a**. That’s for sure,” Stu said, making everything laugh again.

 

“Stu, your turn,” Mark said.

 

“Ok. My… transition is going great,” Stu said, earning another round of applause from the group.

 

“Ok, ok. Now then… Greg! How’s our dumb jock doing?” Stu asked.

 

“Notice how Stu picked Greg instead of little Leighton,” Henry whispered loudly to Mark, who was next to him. Mark laughed while Stu swatted at him.

 

“Well. I was planning to ask Kaitlyn to move in with me,” Greg said, bringing up his girlfriend.

 

“So you’re both going strong? That’s great,” Henry said, smiling.

 

“We are. I’m really happy, actually,” Greg said, smiling.

 

“Good. Maybe she’ll treat you better than Papa Stu,” Leighton said making himself sound like a child again. The group laughed again.

 

“Ok. Last two. Henry… Leighton… Henry… Leighton… Henry…. LEIGHTON, GO!!!” Greg yelled suddenly, making Leighton jump.

 

“Good Lord in heaven,” Leighton muttered, making the ground laugh again.

 

“Um… lemme think… I don’t do anything exciting in my life… um... Oh! I am loving myself with long hair! And I don’t care if you guys don’t like it because it makes me happy!” Leighton said. Greg, who was next to Leighton, laid his head down on Leightons’ shoulder.

 

“Well I’m glad you’re wuving your self,” he said. The others laughed.

 

“Well, Henry, what about you? What’s something our favorite Theater ga- guy excited for?” Leighton asked.

 

“Well… I’ve come up with this idea for a new musical,” Henry started.

 

“Really? What’s it called? Stu asked.

 

“Well. It’s a working title but… ‘Working Boys; A New Musical’,” Henry said.

 

“Henry, you’re making a musical about us ?” Greg asked, sitting up suddenly with a grin.

 

“That’s the plan,” Henry said, smiling. The group started talking about whatever they wanted as the plane took off.

-

Henry looked up from the papers he was looking at to the sound of footprints. Mark was walking into the temporary lab, coughing into his elbow.

 

“Hey guys,” he said with a wave.

 

“Hey, Mark. What are you up to?” Chad asked, looking up from his microscope.

 

“I dunno. Just been unable to focus lately. Probably because the South America army’s been on our a**es.” Mark said, wandering around the lab.

 

“Understandable. Those guys are stressing me the f**k out,” Greg said as Chad looked back down at his microscope. Henry didn’t look away, though. Meaning he saw when Mark turned pale and his legs gave out under him, sending him to the ground with a thud.

 

“Mark? Mark?” Henry asked, getting up quickly. The others looked over and were quick to jump up as well, rushing towards their fallen comrade.

 

“Mark!” Several people yelled.

 

“He’s sick,” Leighton whispered quickly.

 

“What? Is he infected?” Chad asked.

 

“Who cares! Quick, help me get him to the couch. Someone go get a cool washcloth and someone else go look for any antibiotics,” Greg said, bending down to hoist Mark up. Stu and Chad stayed while Steve ran towards the kitchen. Leighton and Henry ran for the bathroom and anywhere else there’d be medicine.

-

It had been two days since Mark had gotten sick. Stu had made sure to go around and super clean anything Mark might have gotten infected so they didn’t have to worry about that. But Mark wasn’t doing good.

 

They had admitted him to the medical bay and, if anything, he was getting worse.

 

“Hey, guys,” Henry said as he and Chad walked into the med bay. Mark was laying on the bed, pale as s**t in his leather jack and his hair- which Henry has never seen not gelled back- was sticking to his forehead in knots. Greg, Stu, Steve, and Leighton were already here.

 

“Hey! Hen! Good to-“ Mark was cut off by some horrible coughing “-see you! You too, Chado!” Mark was smiling weakly, clearly miserable.

 

“So what are you guys talking about?” Chad asked.

 

“What to do if I don’t make it,” Mark said, sounding so casual about his death it scared Henry.

 

“You’re going to make it, Mark. You’re not allowed to die,” Leighton said.

 

“Yeah, yeah. Pip-squeak. I know. However, if I do die, do me a favor and adopt that cat for me. Will you?” Mark asked.

 

“Won’t need to. You’re gonna make it,” Stu said. Mark sat up suddenly, unplugging an IV Henry hadn’t noticed.

 

“I get it, ok? But will guys just promise me? Jesus Christ, you guys. We’re all gonna die eventually, right? I-“ Mark started, only to cut himself off as he doubled over and puked into a bucket.

 

“Of course, Mark. And when I’m working on ‘Working Boys’, I’ll be sure to have a whole song dedicated to the cat you live to adopt,” Henry said once Mark had stopped puking.

 

“Thanks, Henry,” Mark said as Chad patted Marks’ arm.

-

“He’s dead,” Chad said the next morning, making Henrys’ heart stop.

 

“Chad. What? Who’s dead? What are you talking about?” Stu asked, staring at Chad who had just made his way into the room with seven cots where the group was sleeping.

 

“Mark’s dead,” Chad said before making his way over to the bed. “And I’m next.”

 

“Chad? Chad! Chad, what the f**k do you mean you’re next?” Greg asked, rushing towards him.

 

“Inability to focus, high temperature, weakness, loss of appetite, stomach sickness, headache, coughing, dyleria, hallucinations. Symptoms for this thing. I have them all,” Chad said, flopping backward.

 

“That doesn’t mean anything, Chad. Maybe it’s nothing,” Leighton said.

 

“Nope. I have it, guys. Sorry,” Chad said, not peeling his eyes away from the ceiling.

 

“Then we better get back to work,” Steve muttered.

-

Two days. 

 

Henry lost two of his closest and only friends in two days. Chad had made them promise to go see his art. Henry had done so.

 

“Hey, Hen. You ok?” Someone asked. 

 

Henry had never broken. He couldn’t afford that now. He had to be strong.

 

Henry looked over at Leighton. His best friend. His first friend. The first person he had come out to. The first person to accept him. Henry has always seen Leighton as his brother. He couldn’t lose that. He had to be strong for Leighton.

 

Henry’s glance turned to Stu. Henry had been the first person Stu told about being a guy. Henry had been the one to tell Stu about proper Binding and hormone treatment and all those other things. Stu has made sure when he became popular after he ‘transferred’ to the school after Stacy ‘left’ to see to it that no one bullied Henry. He had to be strong for Stu.

 

His glance turned to Steve. Steve, who came to him about his verbally abusive parents and the depression. Who Henry had talked away from the edge of an office building. Henry was the one who had talked to the other Working Boys about getting Steve money for therapy. He had to be strong for Steve.

 

Greg caught Henry’s eye next. Greg who had responded to Henry’s coming out by buying a rainbow patch and sewing it to the inside of his letterman jacket. Greg who had told Henry about places he could go to be around other gay people and ‘Maybe finally date someone’. Greg who always came to Henry when he was upset because no one else wanted to give this guy any kind of support. He had to be strong for Greg.

 

His mind traveled to Chad. Chad who, after Henry revealed he was gay, spent two weeks working on a painting of the group on the football field with Henry catching a rainbow football. Chad who only wanted to inspire and help people and was now gone. He had to be strong for Chad.

 

Mark who had gone through life telling everyone he could that authority was bad while simultaneously helping anyone and everyone he could. Mark, who helped convince Henry that God didn’t hate him and that he was still lovable. Mark, who was also gone. Henry had to be strong for him.

 

He had to be strong for the Working Boys. All of them.

 

“Yes. Just thinking about what to do next,” Henry said.

 

“Aren’t we all,”

-

It was that same day Greg realized he was sick. A few hours later, Stu and Steve realized they were sick. Henry was in the lab with Leighton. He had been working for who knows how many hours now and was seeing spots. But he couldn’t stop now.

 

“Henry. Henry, you need sleep,” Leighton said.

 

“I can’t sleep, Leighton. I can find a cure. I just need to keep looking. Stu and Greg, who had both been laying on one of the couches in the lab while Leighton and Henry worked, both turned to look at him.

 

“You’re not alone, Henry. You know that, right?” Stu asked.

 

“Of course I do. But I… I’m working to find a cure. I’m not going to do that if I'm asleep,” Henry said.

 

“Not again. Henry, don’t make this like college again. This isn’t like those projects where you had to find a cure for some kind of made-up disease,” Greg started.

 

“You’re right, Greg. This isn’t like college. If I don’t find this, I’m going to lose you and Steve and Stu,” Henry said. 

 

Before anyone could say anything, Steve came stumbling into the wall.

 

“Guys. I’m sorry. I… I can’t,” he said, leaning heavily against the wall.

 

“Steve? What do you mean?” Leighton asked.

 

“It’s too late. I… I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t tough it out. I already did it,” Steve muttered, his voice louder than normal as he slumped to the floor, a weak chuckle escaping his lips.

 

“Steve! Steve, what did you do? What is this?” Henry yelled as he and Leighton rushed towards him. Greg and Stu managed to force themselves up and make their way over as well.

 

“I’m not you like you guys. I’m not creative like Chad or bold like Mark or strong like Greg or likable like Stu or smart like Leighton or Brave like Henry. I’m not like any of you. I’m just… haha… pathetic,” Steve laughed again, his eyes glazing over.

 

“Steve! Steve-o! Buddy, what happened?” Greg asked, grabbing his hand.

 

“I- I found some of Marks pills. He wasn’t using them so…” Steve started coughing again as Henry’s eyes widened.

 

“Steve! Steve, No!”

 

“I love you guys…” Steve whispered before going limp.

 

Henry couldn’t move. Couldn’t breathe.

 

Three friends. Three days. 

 

He wasn’t sure if he could take any more.

-

When Henry woke up, he looked around. He didn’t remember falling asleep. Let alone going to bed. Looking around, he noticed two letters on his nightstand. The first was the one Steve had left for the group, asking them to get out of there.

 

The other, however, was from Greg.

 

Dear Henry,

God, do I already hate the way this letter is coming out. Whatever. Anyway, I’m sorry. I told Leighton to slip some sleeping Pills in your coffee while you were removing Steve. You need sleep, Man. You’re going to get yourself killed too. No one needs that. Let me see, what next? Oh, Right. Before we left, I set in my will to give you all my inheritance since I trust you the most with this. Also! I talked to Mark, Chad, Stu, and Steve while they were sick. They all said that if they died, they wanted to be buried in their favorite outfit. Same with me. So when you get out of here, can you see to those arrangements? Of course, I only told Leighton to give this to you if I didn’t make it. So… I’m sorry, Henry. Just, do me a favor, will ya? Get Kaitly to move on. Make sure she’s alright, will ya? I love you, man. I’m sorry it had to come to this. Just make sure you get your little brother out of here, too. 

Love (I don’t care if it’s weak sounding) Greg.

 

Henry was crying. Greg was gone. Four friends in four days.

 

Steve was wrong. 

 

Henry wasn’t strong. Greg could laugh and make jokes in the face of death. Greg was strong.

 

Henry wasn’t strong. Chad could inspire and bring happiness to people with the stroke of a brush. Chad was strong.

 

Henry wasn’t strong. Mark could stare down someone with ten times the power he had and tell them they were wrong while helping at the local soup kitchen. Mark was strong.

 

Henry wasn’t strong. Steve could take on the hate of everyone in the world and emerge with only a few scars while still fighting to take back life. Steve was strong.

 

Henry wasn’t strong. Leighton could find the most unnoticeable details no one else could and fix it while under the pressure of everyone he ever knew. Leighton was strong.

 

Henry wasn’t strong. Stu could do something most people found impossible, and all while hiding the fact he wasn’t who he said he was. Stu was strong.

 

‘Henry wasn’t strong. Henry wasn’t strong. Henry wasn’t strong.’

 

For a few hours, Henry just sat there, repeating this mantra until it was the only thing he could think of.

 

Then he heard someone coughing.

 

Henry dropped the letter on his bed before making his way to the lab. He had to get back to work. 

 

For Leighton and Stu.

-

It was a few hours after Henry woke up when he heard it. The phone ringing. He looked over to Leighton and Stu, who were both discussing something, before heading over to answer it.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Hi. This is Kaitlyn Bowers. Is Greg there?” Kaitlyn asked. Henry’s heart dropped.

 

“Kaitlyn… It’s… It’s Henry… Greg. he’s-” Henry started, gaining Leighton and Stus’ attention.

 

“Oh! Henry! I’m So Happy To Hear From You! I Have Some Great News! You Wanna Hear It?” Kaitlyn asked.

 

“Kaitlyn. Greg’s-” Henry started, only to be cut off by Kaitlyn again.

 

“Of Course You Do! Oh, Henry! It’s Just Wonderful!” She said.

 

“Kaitlyn. Please-” Henry started again.

 

“I’m Pregnant!” She said. Henry froze completely. He felt himself go pale as he dropped the phone.

 

Leighton rushed over and pushed Henry towards the couch before taking the phone.

 

“Kaitlyn! Please! I have bad news…” Leighton started.

 

“Greg. He’s… gone,” Henry could barely process what Leighton was saying.

 

It was a few minutes later he heard Leighton hang up the phone after several apologies.

 

“Henry? What happened?” Stu asked after a minute.

 

“She’s pregnant. Greg had a kid,” Henry whispered, unheard by the other two.

 

“What? Henry?” Leighton asked. Henry dropped his face into his elbows.

 

“Good God. Greg has a kid. She’s pregnant,” Henry said louder. The two went quiet. Unsure of what to do now.

 

Unsure what they could do, and unsure if they even deserved to do anything. 

-

On Day Five, when Stu started coughing and choking without a chance to breathe at all, Henry had rushed to his side. He tried everything he could to get Stu breathing again.

 

It was for naught.

 

Henry didn’t react. Didn’t have time to. He was sick too. He was infected. That wouldn’t be a problem, really. Henry was tired of fighting. But Leighton had started coughing, too.

 

Henry wasn’t strong. But Leighton was.

 

Leighton needed to live.

-

“Hey, Leighton. Do you mind giving me a hand with this?” Henry called across the lab.

 

“Yeah- Hey! Don’t mess with that if you don’t have your gloves on!” Leighton said, noticing Henry’s lack of safety equipment.

 

“And Where are your goggles? What, were you raised in a barn? And sandals? Really? Slippers would be better than that!” Leighton said, Henry chuckling a bit.

 

“Ok, ok. Whatever. Can you help me now?” Henry asked as Leighton started looking for something.

 

Their lab was a general mess. After Stu had passed, Henry hadn’t had a chance to clean up the lab. He had become more desperate to find a cure before he lost Leighton.

 

“Here, Hen. Put these on,” Leighton said, holding out some disposable gloves and Leightons’ goggles.

 

“Thanks, Lei,” Henry said, putting on the goggles and gloves. 

 

“No problem, Henroy,” Leighton chuckled before coughing into his elbow.

 

“You ok, Leighton?” Henry asked, concerned.

 

“Of course I am, Henry. Now, what’d you need help with?” he asked.

-

Henry was laying in bed, half-asleep. He had been quietly grieving the five empty cots and the friends who once laid in them when he heard Leighton quickly shuffle towards the bathroom.

 

While he ignored it at first, he was quick to sit up when the paper thin walls allowed Henry to hear the sound of retching. He sat stock-still for a second before jumping up and dashing towards the bathroom.

 

He knocked on the door before immediately opening it to see Leighton on his knees in front of the toilet, puking, and retching until he ran out of food and then just dry heaving and bile. Henry was quick to get to his side and pull his long hair off his neck and rubbing his back as Leighton- who was uncomfortably warm- sat there, heaving and almost sobbing.

 

The two stayed like that for twenty minutes. Twenty minutes of Leighton gagging and choking while Henry tried to calm him down and comfort him. At one point Henry rushed towards their s**ty little fridge to get Leighton a water bottle and came back.

 

When Leighton finally stopped coughing, he collapsed backward, leaning against Henry’s side, breathing hard and occasionally letting out sobs.

 

“Hen- Hen- I- I-” Leighton tried, struggling to speak.

 

“Shh. Shh… Leighton. Leighton, It’s ok. It’s all gonna be ok,” Henry promised in a whisper, hugging Leighton.

 

“I- I Do- on’t wa- n- a d- di-” Leighton said, almost sobbing again. Henry’s heart dropped at the thought.

 

“You’re not, Leighton. You’re not going to die. I won’t let you,” Henry whispered again.

 

“I- I got into a fight wi- with my mom before we- we left. I- I’m gon- na die and- and she’s- she’s gonna thi- think I ha- hate her, Hen. I- It was a- abo- bout my ha- hair An- And I wa- wanted to do so- so many thi- things, H- Hen. I- I wan- wanted to s- see yo- your musical on- on broadway an- and Ch- Chad’s art in- in art shows and- and-” Leight sobbed.

 

“Leighton, calm down. Breath. Look, it’s still gonna happen. I’m going to set up a place for you in the lab and get to work. I’m going to find a cure and heal you and then you and I? We’re going to go back to Hatchetfield, you’re going to apologize to your mom and she’s going to say she’d already forgiven you and you’ll never have to argue about your hair again and we’re going to go see  how many of Chad’s art pieces were accepted and we’re gonna go see them for him. And ‘Working Boys’ is going to be finished and we’re going to see it on broadway together. We’re going to go get that cat Mark wanted. And we’re gonna see Gregs’ kid and you and I? We’re gonna make it. Good God, Leighton. We’re gonna make it and be fine. I’m so close to a cure, Leighton. So close,” Henry said.

-

It was day six. 

 

“Henry?” Leighton asked.

 

“Yes?” Henry asked.

 

“I can’t go on,” Leighton said.

 

“What? Yes, Yes, yes you can! I’m so close, Leighton!”

 

Henry was MINUTES away from a cure. Just minutes! If Leighton made it that long, he’d be fine.

 

“I can’t Henry. If I have to die, I… don’t want to die from… this,” Leighton said. His eyes flickered to one of the cabinets where there was a gun.

 

“No! No no no no no no no! Leighton! Please, give me five minutes! Please!” Henry begged before rushing towards the cabinet and grabbing the gun.

 

“I’ll be right back,” Henry promised before rushing to their room and throwing the gun under his cot. Before he could head back, he heard something in the next room.

 

Heading to the med bay. He found at least three dozen squirrels eating the pills and solid medicines.

 

“NO! GET OUT!” Henry yelled, attempting to get the squirrels to leave. It was ten minutes later when he got them all out. He closed the window and made his way to the lab.

 

Walking in,

 

He froze.

 

“Leighton?” Henry asked, staring terrified at the sight.

 

The cure was completed. 

 

The cure wouldn’t fix Leighton, though.

 

Not now.

 

“Leighton, No…”

 

Leightons’ stomach had been cut open and his intestines were hanging out. The Scalpel he had used was still stuck in his small intestine and he was still bleeding. But Henry knew his heart wasn’t beating, nor were his lungs moving.

 

“No…”

 

Henry wasn’t strong.

 

“No…”

 

Henry wasn’t strong.

 

“NO! Leighton! Not you too! I can’t! I- I can’t lose…”

 

Henry wasn’t strong.

 

“I can’t lose you too,”

 

Henry wasn’t strong.

 

“I can’t- I can’t do it alone…”

 

Henry wasn’t stro ng .

 

“I have no one else…”

 

Henry wasn’t s trong.

 

“I don’t have anyone else….”

 

Henry was n’t strong.

 

“God…”

 

Henry wasn’t strong.

 

“GOD! WHY!”

 

Hen ry wasn’t strong.

 

“WHY AM I ALIVE! WHY?!”

 

Henry wasn’t strong.

 

“God… Why?” Henry sobbed.

-

It was three hours later when Henry finally took the cure himself.

 

Six friends in six days.

-

When Henry returned to Hatchetfield with the bodies of his friends to arrive, He was met by Leightons’ mother.

 

It was heartbreaking explaining he was dead and had cried.

-

It was a month later when the funerals were set.

 

He went.

 

He wished he was down there with them.

-

He found the script for ‘Working Boys’ a few weeks later and remembered all the promises he had made.

 

He got the kitten Mark had wanted and gave it to Kaitlyn, who moved out of town a few months later.

 

That same day, he went to the art show and saw the five picture Chad had there.

 

He did everything he promised.

-

It was a year later he started theorizing for the apocalypse. He used some of the money Greg had left him to have six seats made and labeled in the Starlight Theater, where the group had joked the show would start at.

 

The same year, he started building up his fortress.

-

Ten years later, he was a biology teacher.

-

Henry managed to snap out of his flashback and shook his head.

 

The meteor. What was the news saying?

 

“Alexa, turn on the news!” he yelled, sitting down.

 

“This is Hatchetfield Action News with Dan and Donna!”

Chapter Text

The group managed to get halfway to the Professor's house before they ran out of gas. Turns out the aliens don’t know how gas works. Luckily, since the group was far enough away, they could walk to the Fort without fear of people.

 

Deb had been walking alongside Alice- hand in invisible hand- with Sam a little further ahead, closer to Charlotte.

 

“So, Deb. Do you wanna do anything?” Alice asked, trying to start a conversation.

 

“What do you mean?” Deb asked.

 

“I mean, we could probably do anything we wanted with no limits. If you were to do anything at all, what would it be?”Alice asked.

 

“I don’t know. Probably get high or hang out with you. That’s all I really need in my life. Drugs and my love,” Deb said. Alice giggled a small bit and smiled sadly.

 

“I still want to live here. With my dad and you. Get away from my mom,” Alice said.

 

“Is your mom doing anything to you?” Deb asked.

 

“What? No! No. It’s just… I don’t think of her the same way I did before. Y’know? We’ve just… drifted apart?” Alice said with a shrug.

 

“Oh! Hey! Wait Up!” Someone yelled behind them. When none of the uninfected group turned around or reacted, Alice and Deb turned to see several ghostly figures rushing over to them. Sam stepped between the girls and the new group.

 

“Can I help you?” Sam asked, looking back to see how far the group had gone.

 

“Yeah. We’re heading for the… what’s the place called?” the guy in the white shirt asked.

 

“She said the ‘Hatchetfield fortress’, I’m pretty sure,” the guy in the letterman jacket said.

 

“Yeah. That’ place. Last time we were here, however, it didn’t exist,” The shortest guy with the longest hair and in a buttoned tan suit jacket.

 

“Really? The place is like… almost thirty years old,” Deb said.

 

“I’m sorry. What?” The black-haired guy with the scarf asked.

 

“Yeah. It was made in like… late 1980’s early 1990’s I think,” Deb said.

 

“How do you know that?” Alice asked, sounding amazed.

 

“I like history. It’s in the past, you can’t change it, but you can learn from it,” Deb said with a shrug. Sam smiled before the group of guys spoke up again. Alice was walking forward to keep up with the uninfected group, guiding along Deb- who was walking backward-, while Sam walked backward, the group walking forward to keep up as well.

 

“Um. We’re a little out of date. Do you mind telling us what year it is?” the curly-haired guy asked.

 

“It’s 2018,” Sam said.

 

“What?!” The white shirt guy said in shock.

 

“We’ve been dead for thirty years…” The emo looking guy muttered, finally looking like he was paying attention instead of just being there.

 

“You were dead?” Alice asked, stopping suddenly which made Deb bump into her.

 

“Sorry, Deb,” Alice apologized as she kept walking.

 

“It’s fine, Ally,” Deb said, smiling to her girlfriend.

 

“Yeah. In 1987. November, I’m pretty sure,” Curly hair said.

 

“Well, It’s July,” Sam said.

 

“Poor Henry… I can’t imagine he dealt with losing us well,” scarf said.

 

“Well, we’re heading there now, actually. You can join us,” Alice piped in.

 

“Really?” Letterman asked.

 

“It’s not like we could stop you anyway,” Deb said with a shrug. Sam nodded.

 

“Thanks. I’m Stu, by the way,” Muscle shirt said.

 

“I’m Greg,” Letterman said.

 

“Chad,” scarf said.

 

“Mark,” Curly said.

 

“I’m Leighton, and that’s Steve,” short hair said before nodding to bangs.

 

“I’m Sam,” Sam said, nodding as he turned and kept walking.

 

“I’m Alice and this is my girlfriend, Deb,” Alice said, turning around to kiss Deb on the cheek.

 

“Girlfriend?” Chad asked.

 

“Yeah. Do you have a problem with that?” Deb asked darkly.

 

“Not at all,” Mark said, smiling.

 

“So, who are they?” Chad asked, nodding to the uninfected group.

 

“Well, the dead infected guy they’re dragging is me,” Sam said, nodding to the fake him.

 

“Wait, what? You’re infected and they’re taking fake you with them? Why?” Stu asked.

 

“Because Charlotte, the lady in the cat sweater, is Sams’ wife who very much in love with Sam and the others aren’t really sure what’s going on,” Deb said.

 

“Ok… Who are the guys carrying you?” Greg asked.

 

“The guy in the ugly tie is Ted, The guy in the suit is Paul, and the other guy is Alices’ dad, Bill. They all work at the same place as Charlotte,” Sam said.

 

“Got it. So who’s the other lady?” Leighton asked.

 

“Oh, the lady is Emma. She’s the barista at Beanies that Paul likes,” Alice explained.

-

While the group walked, the six deceased Working Boys stepped back to talk privately.

 

“Ok. Can we get the story straight? I mean, I died first. I think I know the least,” Mark said.

 

“Ok. After you got sick I got sick and died… A day later? Right?” Chad said, guessing near the end.

 

“Yeah,” Greg said with a nod.

 

“After you passed. Me, Steve, and Greg got sick as well,” Stu explained.

 

“I Steve passed first,” Greg said, trying to rush pass that topic.

 

“I couldn’t do it,” Steve whispered.

 

“What?” Chad asked.

 

“You don’t need to talk about it, Steve,” Stu said.

 

“No secrets…” Steve muttered. The group went quiet as Steve took a few quick breaths.

 

“I couldn’t stand it. I was scared. Mark, I found your medication. And… “ Steve went quiet while the group digested what he was saying.

 

“Steve… “ Greg started, trying to find something to say. He couldn't help but mentally curse. While everyone in the group knew how to talk to Steve when he was talking about something like this, Henry was definitely the best at that.

 

“I’m alright, Greg. I can’t say Henry’s the same, though,” Steve muttered.

 

“I’m sure Henry moved on eventually. He’s probably happy now,” Mark argued.

 

“Hopefully. Anyway, after Steve, I went next. I… didn’t have a proper chance to say bye to Hen. He was going to work himself to death. I told Leighton to lace his coffee with some sleeping pills,” Greg said, shoving his invisible arms into his jacket pockets and clenching his fist.

 

“You did a good thing, Greg. Imagine if Henry had kept working. He would have gotten sick and passed on himself,” Mark said.

 

“Yeah…”

 

“Oh, S**t! Greg! Greg, you don’t know!” Stu said suddenly.

 

“Know? Know what?” Greg asked.

 

“Oh,” Leighton said suddenly.

 

“Seriously, guys. What don’t I know?” Greg asked again.

 

“Kaitlyn called the day after you… she was…” Stu droned off, frozen in thought.

 

“What? Was she ok? Leighton, what happened?” Greg asked.

 

“Um… Congrats, Greg. You’re a… dad,” Leighton said, trying to sound just a bit excited. It wasn’t that Leighton wasn’t happy, he was. It just meant that Greg’s kid grew up without him.

 

Everyone was quiet for a minute.

 

Greg zipped up his jacket and didn’t say anything.

 

“Greg-“ Chad started.

 

“Whatever. It’s whatever. What happened after I died,” Greg said.

 

“Well, after you passed on, I passed on a day later. Not sure after that. Leighton?” Stu said, turning to Leighton.

 

For a second, everyone thought Leighton would start crying.

 

“Um. Henry and I both got infected. He was working on a cure. It was almost complete. Then I… um…” Leighton stalled.

 

“I- I um I- I pa- passed on. I- I gu-guess after th-that, he- um- cured himself,” Leighton said.

 

“Leighton? Are you lying?” Chad asked.

 

“N-No!” Leighton squeaked.

 

“Leighton, you only stutter when you lie. What happened?” Mark asked.

 

“I- I-“

 

And then he was crying. Choke back sobs and tears streaking down his face. Which was terrifying because the tears looked like a pitch-black void.

 

“I Did Something Terrible!” Leighton sobbed. Steve and Stu each threw an arm over his shoulder to keep him walking while Chad sent a glance ahead to see Alice was loudly talking to Sam and Deb, keeping them distracted.

 

“Lei, Lei, it’s fine. Whatever you did, I’m sure it’s not that big,” Mark offered.

 

“It is! I was- I was- I was scared and- and in pain and I- I couldn’t do it! I- I- I didn’t wa- wanna die l- like that so I- when Henry was gone I- I- I got a- a syringe an- an- and-“ Leighton could barely talk as the others went quiet. They didn’t stop trying to calm him.

 

“Leighton, kid, breathe. It’s fine, ok? It’s in the past. Yeah, what you did sucks. But can you change it? No. We’re gonna go see Henry, we’re gonna root for him like we did in football, and then if he gets infected, we’re gonna go back to the Starlight Theater and see him again. He’s gonna be so happy to see you and he’s gonna forgive you. Ok? It’s ALL gonna be fine,” Greg said.

 

Leighton still wasn’t sure

 

“Hey, Emma? How much further, you think?” Paul asked.

 

“At this rate? Maybe, um… thirty minutes?” Emma said.

 

The uninfected group groaned.

-

Alice bounced on the heels of her feet as Emma buzzed the little panel at the front of the gate.

 

“Holy S**t. Barista, you said fortress, this is a whole god D**n kingdom!” Ted said. 

 

Alice noticed the group of Henrys’  friends looking around in shock, surprise, and concern.

 

“Who Is It?” Came a rushed yell from the intercom.

 

“Professor Hidgens!” Emma yelled, seemingly relieved.

 

“Don’t Lie To Me, Whoever You Are! I’m Professor Hidgens!” Came the yelled reply.

 

Emma was quiet for a minute while the group gave her a look.

 

“Brilliant?” Ted asked.

 

“Shut up, Dumba**. The Professor is one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met. It’s probably this apocalypse BS. I told you he’s been preparing for it for years.

 

“No. No, Professor, It’s me. Emma Perkins? The Whole Town’s gone crazy. I didn’t know where else to go,” Emma explained.

 

“Emma! You’ve Come To The Right Place! Hold On! I’ll Let You In!” was the response. A few seconds later, the gates unlocked. Emma and Charlotte pushed it open and allowed the rest of the group in before shutting it again. The minute it was in place, it was back in the locked position.

 

Deb and Sam stepped ahead, but Alice waited for a second to talk to the other ghost group.

 

“Hey. I just wanna say, I’ve seen Henry once or twice around town. He’s probably pretty different from how he was thirty years ago. But good luck with him. Just in case you need to know, being as we are, it doesn’t take energy to run, so you could probably make it to the theater in a matter of minutes. You’ll probably make it there before he wakes up, being as average to wake up seems to be ten minutes,”

 

“Ok. Oh, and thanks for distracting those two,” Chad said, nodding to Sam and Deb. 

 

Alice smiled.

 

“Of course,”

Chapter Text

Stepping inside, the Working Boys were shocked to see Henry. 

 

His eyes seemed to have replaced their old spark with a sort of wild paranoia, flickering between the group of uninfected with a sort of fear and interest while the bags under his eyes were a light purple color that was enough to make him look like he hadn’t slept in a few days. His skin was still mostly the same as before, if not paler like he hadn’t left in days. He was thinner, too. His hair, which shouldn't have been as grey as it was yet. And he looked tired. Like he was sleeping but hadn’t rested.

 

“Good God he looks like s**t,” Stu muttered.

 

“Oh my god! Thank you, Professor! Thank you!” Emma said as she ran up to him- as if to hug- but stopped short of touching him.

 

The suspicious and concerned look Henry sent the rest of the uninfected- and Sam- causes Emma to start talking again.

 

“Oh, these are my friends, this is Paul and... them,” she gave a half a**ed wave to the group as they say Fake Sam down on a chair. Ghost Sam kicked his body as if disgusted with it.

 

“We came from downtown. Now, listen, this is gonna sound crazy but everyone’s-“

 

“Singing?” Henry Hidgens asked in a way too overdramatic way. The deceased’s Working Boys chucked a bit, glad to see at least that part of Henry was still alive.

 

“And Dancing? Like a Musical? They Want You To Join Them. And Once They Get You, You’re A Part Of It!” He said, making Emma look at him as if he himself was infected while he turned away and stared into the distance.

 

“Uh, yeah. How’d you know?” Emma asked, sending a glance to her friends. 

 

“I theorized this exact scenario Thirty years ago!” Henry said as Steve noticed some about his hands.

 

“Really?” Paul asked.

 

“Really!” Henry exclaimed, still not looking at them.

 

“Like exactly this?” Paul asked again.

 

“He’s Tense,” Steve muttered, pointing out the awkward way Henry was holding his hands as if he wanted to hug someone, only to recline every time he got close enough.

 

“Exactly!” Henry said while Emma sent her group a confused look.

 

“That the world would become a musical?” Paul asked again.

 

“You Better Believe It!” Henry said.

 

“Wait, so what’s wrong with Sam?” Charlotte asked, pointing to her fake husband.

 

“Good God! Don’t Tell Me You Brought One Of Them Here!” Henry yelled before pulling a small hand revolver out of his jacket pocket, causing Emma to jump forward and try to grab the gun from Henry- he knocked her off- while everyone else brought up their hands and screamed.

 

“Told you we should have left him in the alley!” Ted yelled.

 

“Holy s**t!” Deb yelled.

 

“If your friend shoots my wife, he’s f***ing dead!” Sam warned.

 

“You’re a Monster, Ted!” Charlotte yelled.

 

“When did Hen learn to use a f***ing Gun?” Greg asked.

 

“No! He’s a Monster!” Ted yelled gesturing to fake Sam.

 

“No S**t!” Sam yelled at Ted. Of course, he wasn’t heard. 

 

Alice presses herself into Debs’ side, clearly not enjoying the yelling, and causing Deb to kiss her forehead as if to say ‘it’ll be ok,’.

 

“Alright, Everybody Calm Down!” Henry yelled aiming his gun towards the air as he approached fake Sam.

 

“Providence has brought him to me. Quickly! Cuff him to the chair!” Henry said, not really aiming the gun at anyone and making Ted and Bill rush forward and cuff him.

 

“Make sure he’s secure! There’s no Telling what would happen if he were awake and loose,” Henry said, uncocking the gun and shoving it into his pocket. He turned back to fake Sam as Ted and Bill stepped out of his way, Ted swinging the keys with a jingle- making Sam role his eyes- before shoving them into his own pocket.

 

“I’ve been preparing for this day for decades! Now, all the answers are right in front of me! If only I have the wits to decipher them,” he said before stepping closer again.

 

“Alright,” he said, pulling up the sleeves of his brown jacket and black turtleneck before reaching down and peeling a chunk of blue slime off Fake Sams’ brain, making Sam jump back and shiver as the hair on his head started flattening on its own.

 

“Gloves!” Leighton yelled at the same time Sam cursed.

 

“Oh, F**k!” He yelled.

 

“Sam?” Alice asked, concerned.

 

“What’s Wrong?” Stu asked, stepping forward as well.

 

“I F***ing Feel That and it’s Unpleasant As S**t! F**k!” Sam yelled.

 

The ghost all heard the slime squelching as it was finally peeled off. They turned to look at him as he rushed towards Emma.

 

“Now tell me, Emma. What on Earth does this look like to you?” He asked, holding in front of her face in a way it dripped while still holding its form.

 

“Oh, God. Uh... I don’t know. Some kind of blue... shiiiiit?” Emma guessed. Henry leaned back for a second before leaning down to her level again.

 

“Exactly, Emma!” He said before taking a few steps away.

 

“What the F**k is this s**t?” He asked before going quiet for a minute.

 

“I’ll tell you what on earth this looks like. Nothing!” He said, earning a few skeptical looks from the others.

 

“You all the remember that Meteor that crashed into the Starlight Theater last night?” Henry asked. The others gave a few nods- Ted nodding slightly more eagerly than the others.

 

“I dare say it carried a deadly cargo. A contagious pathogen of cosmic origin,” he finished. Ted nodded as if it made perfect sense, while Bill stepped forward.

 

Alice said a whisper of ‘Dad, no,’ which made Deb chuckle.

 

“Wait a sec, doc. Don’t tell me you’re talking about... aliens?” He said.

 

“Why is that so hard to believe?” Henry asked.

 

“Think of all that we take for granted now that was once for told in the pages of Bradbury and Azimuth. Look no further than my robot assistant,” Henry said, gaining the WB’s attention.

 

“Robots?” Greg asked.

 

“Alexa. Once confined to the realms of science fiction, she is now science fact!” He exclaimed, holding up an amazon echo, which none of the WB’s recognized. Henry looked around, making sure he still had their attention.

 

“Alexa!” He yelled as the machine chimed, making Steve jump slightly as the other WB’s eyes widened.

 

“Dim the lights,” Henry said. The lights dimmed- which got the working boys all freaked out- while the Uninfected nodded along, except Ted, who seemed really into what Henry was saying.

 

“Extraordinary!” Henry exclaimed, making his way to the wall.

 

“Twenty years ago, I would have had to walk all the way to the dimmer!” He said, turning the lights back up.

 

“Now, as unbelievable as this or the outbreak may seem, the question is no longer can this be happening, but how do we stop it? I’ve got to get this blue...” he gestured to Emma, “S**t under a microscope to find out what makes these ba***rds tick,” he said before turning to walk away.

 

“Um, Sorry, Professor?” Paul said, stepping forward as Henry stopped to turn back to him.

 

“This is a lot to take in, uh... Do you have anything to take the edge off?... like a drink... or something?” Paul asked.

 

“Doubt it. Henry wasn’t much of a drinks guy,” Greg said, the other WB’s nodded in agreement.

 

“Young man. For the past Twenty- Seven years I have been stockpiling the bare essentials needed for human survival in the events of a world-ending cataclysm!” He said, stepping closer to Paul- who stepped further back- as he talked.

 

“You bet your a** we got booze! Come with me!” Henry yelled before spinning and leading Paul off. The Working Boys shared a look and followed him as well. Emma shortly after them, followed by Bill, Alice, and Deb.

-

“I can’t believe he’s still not wearing lab equipment,” Leighton muttered.

 

“Yeah. He’s gonna get infected at this rate,” Steve whispered. The Working Boys had all migrated to Henrys’ lab, where he was experimenting with the blue s**t. 

 

“I can’t believe how much he’s changed,” Chad added.

 

Chad was sitting on one of the few empty counter spaces as most of the counters and islands and tables were almost completely covered in science equipment and papers and other nonsense. Greg, Steve, and Leighton were mostly just following Henry around as he occasionally went into a separate room to grab something else. Stu was looking around the room, going through anything he was able to pick up a fake of- as some items were able to be picked up and some didn’t- and looking for anything interesting about the last thirty years. And Mark was looking at all Scientific tests Henry was doing on the blue stuff.

 

“Why do you think some items are able to be picked up and others aren’t?” Stu asked after his hand went through all the science equipment in arms reach.

 

“Not sure. Maybe they need to be important to someone?” Chad offered as he well failed to pick up a mug, but succeeded at picking up a picture of something. The back had ‘HF College; June, 1986’. Curious, he flipped it over and grinned.

 

“Aw. The sap has a picture of us in his lab,” he said, chuckling softly.

 

“Act like it’s ridiculous all you want, Chad. We know you’re touched,” Mark said, looking up from the microscope Henry had stepped away from.

 

“Maybe you’re right, Chad,” Greg said as he managed to pick up a mug he had recognized.

 

“Hey! That’s the mug me and Steve got him,” Leighton said, recognizing what Greg had picked up as well.

 

“So we can touch things people are sentimental for and food?” Stu asked.

 

“Who’s not sentimental for food?” Chad joked.

 

“A lot of these things seem to be from us. You guys think Henry moved on?” Mark asked.

 

“I sure hope so. I can’t imagine becoming a shut-in for thirty years. Honestly, if it had been me who lived, no offense but I’m making more friends,” Stu said.

 

“Yeah. But I’m glad Henry at least made it. I mean, he’s probably the strongest guy out of all of us,” Greg said as Henry stepped out of the room and down the hall with a mumble of ‘I’ll be right back’. A normal thing as he talked to himself a lot when in the lab.

 

“What do you mean?” Leighton asked.

 

“I mean, think about where he came from. He came from a horrible home with a terrible dad who didn’t support his career, had to hide almost everything about his true personality in fear of some homophobes discovering him, and risked neck and limb for us time and time again. Not only that, but he lost the six of us in less than a week. I probably wouldn’t have been able to live with knowing I lost ninety-nine percent of my closest friends,” Greg said, making everyone stop for a minute.

 

“Yeah. And he spent so much of his time helping us. I can’t imagine how much empty time he had without us around to keep him busy,” Steve muttered. Mark made his way to the door and poked his head out as Steve talked.

 

“You’re right, Steve. But- Aw s**t,” he said, muttering the last bit to himself.

 

“What is it?” Stu and Chad both asked.

 

“Wait for it,” Mark said, stepping away from the door and out of the way.

 

“Bam,” Mark said as Henry walked in, a lit cigarette dangling between his fingers as he muttered to himself.

 

“Oh f**k,” Stu muttered as the others expressed similar forms of this. It’s wasn’t that they had a problem with smoking, they just knew Henry only smoked when extremely upset. 

 

Unlike most people, Henry actually was able to control how often he smoked. Able to quit without a problem for years. It wasn’t that he was addicted, it was just that it was a habit that he only did when deeply upset.

 

“How long do you think he’s been smoking?” Chad asked. The others knew what he really meant. ‘How long you think he’s been upset?’ 

 

“No idea,” Leighton whispered as Henry to a long drag of the cigarette.

 

“Ok, you ba***rds. How do you work?” Henry asked, ducking down in front of his microscope again as he leaned his elbows on the counter, the cigarette dangling haphazardly from his fingers once again.

 

“Holy F**k, Guys. I found it,” Stu said, holding up a thick stack of paper.

 

“What? Found what?” Leighton asked.

 

“Working Boys; A New Musical,” Stu read aloud.

 

“Wait, really? F**k yeah,” Chad said, jumping off the counter as well to see.

 

The rest of the six joined, figuring they had time to kill, anyway.

Chapter Text

Sam watched as everyone left with the weird professor, leaving him with Charlotte, Ted, and fake him.

 

“Oh, Sam, Baby,” Charlotte said, walking towards fake him. Ted slowly followed her.

 

“Come on Charlotte, we’ll make you a drink, we can relax,” Ted offered, rubbing her shoulders. 

 

Sam wasn’t surprised. He knew that Charlotte had been having an affair with Ted. He had known since the time he walked in on them in his bed together, but it still hurt.

 

“Talk… f**k,” Ted said, wrapping his arms around Charlotte.

 

“Ted,” Charlotte said, still not moving away from him, “I can’t believe you’re thinking about that a time like! The whole world could be coming to an end!” she said, stepping away from him.

 

“Well if I’m gonna die, I’m gonna go out doing the thing I love. Screwin’ around with another man’s wife,” Ted said, sounding almost exactly like he had in high school for a minute.

 

“Ted! You’re such a horny ba***rd!” she said, spinning around as if to slap him. Ted caught her arm and Sam decided he should probably leave.

 

“Always have been, always will be,” Ted said as Sam turned to leave.

 

“And you know that’s why I can’t resist you!” he heard Charlotte say as he was nearly out the door.

 

“WAIT!” he heard Charlotte all but scream. “Ted, My husband’s brains fell out today. If I can’t be a wife to him now, what kind of woman am I?”

 

“Oh, I don’t know Charlotte. I’m not your therapist!” Sam heard Ted yelled, he quickly looked back to see if Charlotte was ok.

 

“You know, maybe you should go back to f**king him. Hmm? I know that’s why you actually went to counseling,” Ted snapped once he was halfway across the room. Sam considered maybe he should leave when Charlotte spoke up again.

 

“I mean that’s not the only reason! I wanted to make things work with Sam. I love him,” she said as she stepped closer to him. “I know I shouldn’t but I do…” she trailed off.

 

Sam hesitated and reached out to place a hand on her shoulder- when had he crossed the room?- when Ted cut in.

 

“No, Charlotte! This guy is a scumbag, alright?” he said. A part of Sam knew he was right.

 

“You could upgrade… To a sleazeball,” Ted said, pointing to himself. “But you refuse to be happy,” Ted’s eyes drifted a bit, and for a second, Sam thought Ted might have seen him. He had a similar expression to one Sam had seen whenever he was upset for someone.

 

“You know what, Charlotte? I’m Done. Alright? So you could stay here with your dying marriage and your dying husband,” Ted said, tossing Charlotte the keys to the handcuffs.

 

“I’m gonna go hit on that hot new guy,” Ted said, gesturing over his shoulders and leaving it too vague to know who exactly Ted was talking about. He clicked and made a peace sign over his shoulder as he walked away, leaving Charlotte alone with fake Sam.

 

“Wait, No! Ted! Wait! Oh, God!” she said as fear flashed in her eyes. She stood still for a minute before heading back towards fake Sam with a murmur of ‘Oh, God?’ as she knelt in prayer.

 

“God, if you’re up there and you can hear me, It’s me, Charlotte. You just gotta know… I didn’t want any of this to happen! I love Sam! And I know we’ve had our problems and I know I’ve been so… Angry with him lately, but… But I didn’t want him to Die! Please, God! Just let him wake up! Just let him wake up!” Charlotte begged. Sam knelt down beside her and tried rubbing her back before he felt a tingling feeling in the back of his neck.

 

He’d felt it a few times before. Mostly when fake him was singing.

 

His headshot to the side, able to see fake him opening his eyes and glaring forward for a minute. He blinked as if making himself seem weak before calling out.

 

“Charlotte!” fake him said, making Charlotte scream and fell backward- Sam going right through him which felt weird as s**t- before she realized it was Sam.

 

“Oh! Oh oh, Sam?” she asked, pushing herself backward just the slightest bit.

 

“Where am I? Why am I tied to a chair?” Fake Sam asked, sounding stupid as s**t.

 

“Um, it’s for your own safety, Sam. And ours… you’re not well Sam,” Charlotte explained.

 

“Charlotte! Don’t Listen To Me!” Sam yelled at Charlotte. She didn’t hear him, of course.

 

“Charlotte baby, I’m hurt real bad. I need a doctor!” Fake Sam whined.

 

“Um, I’ll go get the professor!” Charlotte offered, getting up.

 

“No! They left me here to die! Only you can help me, Charlotte. Untie me. And we’ll leave here, together!” he offered, making Charlotte pause. 

 

“Char, No! Be Strong!” Sam yelled, trying to nudge her down the hall.

 

“I'm tied up, Charlotte,” fake Sam sag

 

“Please don’t do that!” Charlotte whined.

 

“Tied up with you,”

 

“Oh no”

 

“You understand me. Now hand me those keys,” he sang, nodding towards Charlotte’s keys.

 

“No!” she yelled. Sam was trying to either get Charlotte to leave or Fake Sam to shut up.

 

“The keys to our youth. God, we were young once. Innocent and fun once and free. Let go of this grip on me. You tied up my heart, You tied me down. Now break me open, With your love and mercy,” he sang as Charlotte started to approach him, dancing slightly.

 

“Charlotte!” He yelled pulling her closer with his legs. Sam wasn’t happy in the slightest bit.

 

“F**k You! Leave Her Alone!” Sam yelled, trying and failing to take over.

 

“Whoa!”

 

“You're breaking my heart, Char. Got my feet to the fire. Just let me go, And I'll love you,” fake him sang as Charlotte pushed herself away.

 

“Oh, Sam, I love you too, but I- I can not let you go!” she said as she rushed closer to the door.

 

“Yes! Leave!” Sam yelled to his wife.

 

“Charlotte, baby! Apple of my eYE! Don't you twust me?” fake Sam said. Real Sam tried slapping fake Sam, whos head did turn the way Sam had hit him, but the fake also started singing again.

 

“I've effed up, Charlotte. Effed up with you. All the booze and harlots,”

 

“I Did NOT Cheat On Her!” Sam yelled again.

 

“And all the Charlottes,” Charlotte sent a sort of ‘I’m sorry what?’ expression to him.

 

“But they didn't cou~ount. They couldn't break me. You're the one who caged me,” he sang as he stood up . “In chaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiins. Please, take away my pain, Charlotte!” Fake Sam and Charlotte started swaying together and Sam panicked, trying to possess himself again. Before fake had started singing, the thought of doing that again made him want to curl up and die, It was agonizingly painful and draining, but he’d rather do that again then watch Charlotte die at this f**kers hand.

 

“Let me hold you again, Char. Just free up my arms,” he sang as he sat down next to Charlotte, bumping into her and causing her to land in his lap. “And I'll give, You a foot massage. Charlotte!”

 

“Nononononono!” Charlotte said, rushing away from the door and towards the far side of the room. Sam also found he was unable to really take control again. He was too tired.

 

“Will you ever forgive me? I'll crawl on my hands and knees,” (unlike the actual musical) Fake Sam actually got down on his knees and kind of crawled after Charlotte. “If you untie me, girl. And free up my heart,”

 

Sam tried once again to stop fake him while Charlotte swayed alongside Fake sam.

 

“This Is kinda catchy Sam!” Charlotte said with a giggle.

 

“AH HAH!” Fake sam said, his tongue sticking out.

 

“No no no! I gotta go get the others, Sam. This is Bad!” Charlotte said, rushing towards the door again. “Help?” she yelled down the hallway.

 

“Just Leave, Char! Please!” Sam yelled, trying to push her forwards and out the room.

 

“Oh fuck, I'm fading fast,” fake Sam said while real Sam yelled ‘You’re Not, dumba**!’

 

“What? No!” Charlotte said, taking a step forward.

 

“I think you better come quick. I really don't wanna die alone in here. Time to say our goodbyes at the end of the road,” he sang as he started leaning down.

 

“Goodbye?” Charlotte asked as he let out a horribly fake cough. “No no, Sam, you'll be alright just hold on!”

 

“This body's not gonna last, the air is cold and thick. I'm losing my last remaining hope for us,”

 

“Noo,” Charlotte said, getting even closer.

 

“Yes! Char, Please, Let Me Die! Leave!” Sam yelled at his wife.

 

“My hands are tied in knots and I can't come home. I wanna die in your arms in the evening glooow,” he sang before collapsing completely while the tingling in Sam’s neck stopped.

 

“What? Sam? No. Oh, What have I done?” Charlotte asked as she rushed forward to uncuff him. “No, D**n! What have I done? No!” 

 

“Charlotte! Please, Leave!” Sam asked once again, trying to pull her away as his neck tingled again.

 

“Oh, what have I done?” Charlotte asked, resting her head against his side.

 

CHARLOTTE! ” fake screamed as he sat up, causing Charlotte to scream as her headband went flying off.

 

“No!” Sam yelled.

 

“You brought me back from the dead, Char! My light was in red! I saw God, and he told me, girl. To free up my heeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaart!” he sang as he stood up.

 

“It’s a miracle!” Charlotte said, combing a hand through her hair.

 

Sam looked between the fakes and the door. He figured maybe he could make it back to the Starlight Theater before Charlotte woke up, but decided to wait.

 

Fake Sam extended a hand to Charlotte and pulled her up as they wrapped their arms around each other.

 

“Now I’m gonna free up your heart, baby,” Fake Sam said, grinning.

 

“Yes take me, Sam!” Charlotte muttered as she closed her eyes.

 

Sam took one step toward the exit, then another. The second he saw Fake him shoot his hand into Charlottes’ stomach, he turned and fully bolted for the Theater. He was halfway through the wall when he heard Charlotte yell something unintelligible.

Chapter Text

As Sam made it to the Starlight Theater, he was stopped by the ghostly figure of Robert and Mariah.

 

“Get out of my way. I gotta go find-” Sam started, trying to shove past them.

 

“Charlotte,” Mariah said, making him pause.

 

“Sam, we saw her show up, we knew it was her. We figured you want to be there so we moved her to a separate area,” Robert explained.

 

“Where is she? Is she awake?” Sam asked.

 

“She wasn’t awake when we were there, but we can take you to her,” Mariah offered. Sam agreed and the three were off, ending up at a private viewing area where Charlotte was reclined on a little couch.

 

Her hair was still the curly mess it usually was and she still had her headband on. Her cat sweater was also still on except her stomach was ripped open and her intestines were hanging out.

 

Sam sat down beside her and somehow found her hand.

 

He’d be here when she woke up.

~

Alice and Deb sat at the bar seats- which no one else were using- watching Alices’ dad fumble around in the bar. Emma was sitting on the floor with her back pressed against the wall. Paul was standing next to her, taking off his suit jacket and tossing it onto another chair. Ted was sitting in a chair on the other side of the room, one leg kicked up on another chair with his hand wrapped around the neck of a bottle of alcohol. Bill was going through the cabinets looking for something.

 

“He said this was a full bar! How the hell am I supposed to make a Shirley Temple without any cherries?” Bill asked.

 

“Shirley Temple? Really?” Deb asked.

 

“I dunno. Shirley Temples are good,” Alice mumbled.

 

“Al-lice! Have you drunk? You’re Not of Age!” Deb teased, kissing Alices’ nose.

 

“Well… me and dad have this… tradition of sorts. Every new year he let me have a sip of one of his watered-down Shirley Temples. It’s just a small thing,” Alice muttered.

 

“You’re dad’s nice,” Deb said while Ted spoke up.

 

“Jesus Christ , Bill. It’s the end of the world and you’re gonna get your drink on with a Shirley F**king Temple?” Ted asked, making Deb chuckle.

 

“We’’, If it’s as serious as all that, I figured we might need a designated driver!” Bill defended himself.

 

“He has a point,” Alice said.

 

“Okay, so when the cops pull you over you can pass their breathalyzer test before they infect you with their nasty blue s**t? Come on!” Ted snapped, taking another sip from the bottle.

 

“He might wanna slow down the drinks,” Deb said, making Alice chuckle.

 

“If you make one more crack at me, I am gonna… Do something to you!” Bill threatened, making Deb chuckle.

 

“Your dad could threaten better,” Deb said.

 

“He could also do worse,” Alice said, making Deb nod in agreement.

 

“Oh yeah, Bill? What are you gonna do?” Ted asked, smirking.

 

“I’m gonna... kick your… head!”

 

“Nevermind, you’re right,” Alice said, making Deb double over laughing.

 

“Oh. My head,” Ted said

 

“Yeah!” Bill said.

 

“Not my a**?” Ted asked again.

 

“...” Bill paused. “Yeah!”

 

“Alright then let’s see it! Huh?” Ted asked, jumping up suddenly. “Kick my head! Come on, karate champ! I wanna see you kick ABOVE your waist. Alright, try that roundhouse. Show me that sweeping crane kick that your kung fu master taught you!” 

 

Alice and Deb doubled over laughing at Teds overacting.

 

“Okay, you two calm down! Ted. Bill’s not gonna kick your head,” Paul said, stepping between the two.

 

“Why not? It’s the most vulnerable part of the body. That’s what “Sensei Bill” taught me,” Ted said, making quotes around the word ‘Sensei Bill’.

 

“Okay, it was a dumb threat. Stop rubbing it in. I’m sure if he could do it over again, he’d say… a**.” Paul said, Bill nodding in agreement.

 

“Uh-uh, Uh-uh. You know, if you want to kill a snake, what do you do? Huh? You cut off its head. Where does the fish rot from? The head! Take out the head, and the whole thing goes down. That’s why a fisherman always goes for… The head!” Ted said, mock swinging his hand at Bill, causing Bill to smack his hand. “Ow come on, Bill come on!”

 

Alice and Deb started laughing again at this.

 

“Give me that. This is supposed to relax us not make us kill each other!” Paul said, taking the bottle from Ted and handing it to Bill.

 

“Whatever!” Ted snapped.

 

“MOOD!” Deb yelled, making Alice start laughing again.

~

“I can’t believe this,” Ted muttered to himself, staring at the wall.

 

“Can’t believe what?” Bill asked, stepping closer to Ted.

 

“Nothing. F**k off,” Ted muttered, glaring over at Bill.

 

“Is something wrong?” Bill asked.

 

“No, Bill. F**k off,” Ted said, repeating what he said before.

 

“You seem upset,” Bill said.

 

“What do you care?” Ted asked as Bill took another sip from the bottle.

 

“I just… I just want to know…” Bill muttered.

 

“Know what ?” Ted asked, making a grab for the bottle. Bill pulled it away, however.

 

“I want to know why you’re such an a**hole,” Bill said.

 

“Give me the bottle and I’ll tell you,” Ted offered. Bill hesitated but handed it over, allowing Ted to take a long sip. The alcohol burning as it made its way down his throat.

 

“Because If I’ve learned anything from this life, Bill. I’ve learned that if you’re an a**hole people avoid you. If people avoid you, you don’t worry about getting hurt,” Ted said. Why was he talking so much? How drunk was he?

 

“Getting hurt? Have you been hurt before?” Bill asked.

 

“Doesn’t matter. We’re all gonna die at the hands of our friends,” ted muttered, laying down across the two chairs he had been using earlier.

 

“You shouldn’t think like that, ted. If you ever need someone to talk to-” Bill started, only for lightning to cut him off.

 

“Lightning?” Ted asked, sitting up to see Charlotte and Sam.

 

“Oh my God,” Emma said.

 

“Charlotte?” Ted asked.

 

“Oh my god” Bill muttered.

 

“It is time,” she said before she started singing. “To diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiie!”

 

Ted stared at two of his old friends. Fake Sam started playing an air guitar, his brain bouncing a bit from where it was exposed but it did look like it had healed up a bit while Fake Charlotte held out a long note, her shirt allowing her organs to hang out of her stomach.

 

“Sorry to interrupt, But we got bones to pluck. The time for chaos is long past o-ver-due. Death isn't optional, In fact, it’s optimal. Your time is up and now we go through you!”  she sang as she and Sam rushed towards them.

 

“We tried to convince you In so-lil-o-quy! But now we'll kill you, With more than harmony! Just uh-” Ted’s heart sank as he realized his best friend was gone.

 

“Join us, And die,”

 

“Charlotte?” Emma asked.

 

“Charlotte?” Bill said

 

“ Join us, And die. Join us, And die. All you gotta do is…” 

 

“Charlotte, wai-” Ted started, putting down the bottle.

 

“What’s wrong with them?” Ted heard Emma asked.

 

“Join us, And die. Join us, And die. Join us, And die. All you gotta do is!” they sang as Charlotte charged Ted and Bill. 

 

“AHH!” Ted yelled as he managed to grab Bills’ arm and drag him towards the middle of the room, Paul did the same with Emma.

 

“Here's how it’s gonna go. We're gonna kick your a**. And then we're gonna- F***ing kick your a**,” What had this thing done to Charlotte?

 

“We're gonna puke all that goo into your mouth where your food! And all your cells will renew,” 

 

“Come On!” Paul yelled as he dragged Emma away.

 

“Bill!” Ted yelled as he dragged Bill toward the other end of the room.

 

“and be enhanced!”

 

“What’s wrong with her shirt???” Emma yelled.

 

“It's a death-like process that you gotta see,” Charlotte sang.

 

“Ah- Ah- Ah- Ah- Ah!” Sam sang, startling Ted, what with how he actually did sound good for once.

 

“EW!” Emma yelled.

 

“Your own body, Is your-” 

 

“Front-row seeeeaaaaaaat!”Charlotte and Sam sang. Ted started looking for an escape, finding none. He did, however, notice a door behind Emma and Paul. They could escape and get the Professor, maybe.

 

“To die! Join us, And die. Join us, And die. Join us, And die,” they sang as they started toward Bill, who Ted had inched away from in an attempt to get to the bar and maybe find a weapon.

 

“All you gotta do is,”

 

“Bill!” Paul yelled.

 

“Bill?!” Emma yelled.

 

“Join us, And die,”

 

“No, No!” Bill yelled, looking for an escape.

 

“Join us, And die,”

 

“Bill run!” Paul and Emma both yelled. Ted paused, looking between the bar and Bill. He felt the world stop for a minute. Which would be better? Run for himself or save Bill for Emma and Paul.

 

“Join us,” Ted knew that the two preferred Bill to him. Everyone did.

 

“He Has A Daughter!” Emma yelled.

 

“And die,”

 

“WAIT!” Emma screamed.

 

“Join us and,” Ted pushed Bill out of the way.

 

“Punch it!” 

 

“AUGH!” Ted yelled as pain blossomed from his stomach.

 

“Squeeze it!”


“Oh!” he gasped as Charlotte wrapped his arm his neck. 

 

“Crush it!”

 

“Ah!” he yelled. He had never handled pain well.

 

“Kill it!”

 

“Ugh!”

 

“Ride it!”

 

Ted tried to crawl away only for Sam to grab his leg and drag him back before stepping on his ankle, which also caused an immense amount of pain.

 

“Drag it! Wind it up,” The pressure on Teds’ ankle increased as Sam brought up his other leg and Ted heard his ankle snap.

 

“Kick its nuts!”

 

“UGH!” Sam yelled before stepping away.

 

“Here's how it's gonna go—” Sam started as the professor came in and shot Sam.

Chapter Text

When Charlotte opened her eyes she had no idea where she was. She was laying on a couch in a dimly lit room with dark velvet ceilings. She didn’t move for a minute, just laid there, trying to understand.

 

Last time she had been aware of everything, she had been with Sam. He’d been singing. She’d saved him and now she was… wherever she was. Sam had… Sam had hurt her? She was conflicted, to say the least.

 

After another minute, she sat up slowly, hearing a murmur of ‘Charlotte!’ As she felt a hand land on her shoulder and side, making her gasp and tense up.

 

“Charlotte, Char, baby, relax it’s just me. You’re ok!” Someone said beside her, her headshot to the side and she immediately recognized her husband as some kind of weird ghost thing.

 

“S-Sam?” Charlotte asked as she pushed herself away a few feet, the hands-on her side and shoulder disappeared.

 

“Charlotte, it’s ok! Everything’s ok! Just breathe, ok?” Sam asked. Charlotte took a minute breath and calmed down a bit.

 

She nodded and followed his advice while Sam sighed.

 

“Char. Before anything else, I want to say I’m sorry. For… for everything. I should have been there for you after what happened and instead I turned to drinking like that f***ing a**hole I said I’d never be like and I took it out on you. Basically, I’m sorry for being an a**hole, Charlotte. I know a stupid apology shouldn’t be enough and I know I don’t deserve you, but I hope you’ll forgive me,” Sam said, looking down. 

 

“Sam,” Charlotte started as she felt her throat tighten. “Did you cheat on me?” 

 

“What?” Sam asked.

 

“You heard me,” Charlotte said, looking down at the ground with tears welling behind her eyes. She had honestly not believed Sam had cheated on her. Not when Paul said he say a barista at Beanies had him a coffee cup with her number, not when Bill said he drove past Sam to see someone all but hanging on him, not when Ted and Melissa and Mr. Davidson all came to her with similar stories. Not till she saw the hearts scribbled on the coffee cup in Sams’ squad car.

 

“Charlotte, baby,” Sam started while placing his on her face gently and turning her head up to look at him. “Charlotte, dear, I promise I would never , not in a million years, cheat on you,” Sam promised. Charlotte stared into his eyes and realized she had been right before she got jealous. 

 

Before she knew it, tears were streaming down her face and breath was wavering. She leaned forward suddenly, hiding her face in his chest as she cried. She felt two arms wrap around her and sweet nothings were said as she quietly sobs.

 

“It’s alright, Char. Everything’s gonna be alright. I promise everything is fine,” Sam whispered.

 

“N-no it’s n-not,” Charlotte sobbed.

 

“Whatever it is, we’ll be fine,” Sam promised.

 

“But- but- I- I-“

 

“It’s ok, dear,” Sam whispered.

 

“Sam, I ch-ch-“ Charlotte started.

 

“Char, if this is about you and Ted, I don’t care. As long as you promise never to do that again,” Sam murmured. Charlottes’ grip on Sam’s jacket tightened and she sobbed harder. The arms wrapped around Charlotte tightened as a kiss was pressed to her forehead.

 

“I- I pr- pro- omi- is I- I- I-” Charlotte whimpered.

 

“Hey, hey,” Sam said, pulling away so he was still hugging her but could look at her. He removed an arm from around her and wiped at her tears, smiling softly. “It’s all ok, Char. Everything is fine, I promise. It’s fine,”

 

“I- I’m so… s- so sorry, S- Sam,” Charlotte whispered.

 

“It’s fine, Char,” Sam whispered.

 

“I do- don’t deserve y- you,” Charlotte sniffled.

 

“Of course you do. You deserve the world, Char. I love you,” Sam said, hugging Charlotte tight. 

 

“I- I love you, t- too, Sam,” Charlotte whispered.

 

“I pr- promise I’ll b- be better, S- Sam,” Charlotte whispered.

 

“You’re already great, Char,” Sam whispered.

 

“You’re already great,”

Chapter Text

“Oh, F**k!” Henry yelled as he stood up, scaring the crap out of the Working Boys.

 

“Oh F**k, oh f**k, oh f**k-” Henry muttered before taking another of his cigarette as he started pacing back and forth.

 

“If that’s the case, I need to get rid of him. But what if… that girl figures out my plan? She’d probably try to stop me. How do I even kill it? Can it die?” Henry’s mumbling drifted quieter and quieter as he stared at the floor.

 

“Is… Henry ok?” Greg asked as Henry took another drag trying to calm down.

 

“F**k, f**k, F**k, F**K F**K!” he yelled as he slid his arms across one of the tablespaces, knocking everything to the ground before falling to his knees.

 

“Henry?” The Working Boys yelled as they all rushed towards him.

 

“Good God, Henry. Get it together. You should know what to do here,” Henry muttered as he ran his hands through his hair, the cigarette now extinguished on the floor. He took a few deep breaths as he pressed the palms of his hands to his eyes.

 

“Is he ok?” Steve whispered.

 

“I’m… I’m not sure. I’ve never seen him like this,” Stu muttered.

 

“I don’t think anyone has,” Leighton added.

 

“They would have known what to do. Any of them should have made it. Not me,”

 

Henry let out a weak chuckle. “Godda**it. Why me? Why did I make it? I barely made it through the last infection? Any of them should have made it…” Henry whispered.

 

“God! Why me? I’m not strong enough!” Henry yelled, throwing a beaker near his feet at the wall.

 

“Henry, calm down,” the group tried, attempting to comfort him however they could.

 

“I’m never… strong enough,” Henry muttered, shaking his head. After another minute, he stood up and made his way towards the box where Stu had found the script of Working Boys. He shuffled through it for a minute before pulling out a football and a picture.

 

“I’m sorry…” Henry whispered, staring at the picture as tears streamed down his face.

 

“God, what happened to him?” Mark asked.

 

“We did,” Chad said, standing and walking towards Henry.

 

“What?” Stu asked.

 

“We did this to him. We were all he had and we left him and he never moved on. He couldn’t,” Chad said, grabbing a fake of the picture and holding it up, showing the others it was a picture of them.

 

“It couldn’t be stopped, Chad. We couldn’t just not die,” Greg said.

 

“I’m not saying it could be stopped, Greg. I’m saying We did this,” Chad snapped, throwing the fake picture to the ground. The frame shattered, making Steve, Stu, and Leighton flinch.

 

“Chad, calm down before something happens,” Mark said, narrowing his eyes. The fake shattered frame flickered a bit before disappearing.

 

“Fine. Whatever,” Chad snapped before floating away.

 

“Hey, where’d Henry go?” Leighton asked. Indeed, they had been so distracted, they hadn’t realized Henry had left.

 

-

 

As Henry made his way down the hall to where they had left… Sam. Was he really Sam? Did he classify as a real human anymore? Was he even in there? Was Sam dead or merely unconscious, trapped in his mind like something from that movie, Get out?

 

He took the long way around in an attempt to not run into… Sam’s wife. He hadn’t actually caught her name. He knew Paul- Emma had introduced them-, Ted- who had decided to come visit Henry in his Lab earlier-, and the infected Sam- through obvious reasons-. 

 

As he was walking into the living room, holding his revolver in his hand in case Sam tried anything, he tried to calm his nerves. Not that he should have anything to worry about, Ted and… the other guy had handcuffed him to a chair. This thing wasn’t some kind of superhuman, just sick. It should be fine-

 

He wasn't in the chair and there was a pool of blood on the floor, leading to another hallway. 

 

His hands started shaking. What if someone was hurt? What if it was Emma? What if everyone was infected and they were coming after him now? 

 

These thoughts and a hundred more rushed through his mind until he managed to steel his nerves and creep down the hallway. 

 

He had done right in designing this place. The only hiding spots were hidden in ways only he’d know how to get to, the hall was almost completely bare, and there were mirrors at every hall intersection in order to peer around the corner without getting attacked. 

 

He followed the blood trail down the halls until it ended outside a closet door. Another good design. All the doors opened out into the hallway, as well as could be locked from either the hallway or the inside. He stood there for a long minute, listening for anything. Breathing, movement, maybe humming. He glanced down to the bottom of the door, able to see light peeking out from under.

 

He took another deep breath before trying the door. It was unlocked. He checked his gun once more before forcing the door open.

 

No one was in there. He breathed a sigh of relief and took a minute to breathe and look around. All the jackets that had been hung in there were thrown on the floor as if looking for something and a large pool of blood. He quickly checked underneath a box of shoes in there, relieved to find the gun normally hidden there still where it was supposed to be.

 

“Where could you be?” Henry asked himself. Looking around, his eyes landed on the camera in the ceiling and he grinned.

 

“Alexa,” he yelled, hearing the familiar chimes of the robot assistant, “Pull up security footage from the last twenty minutes in the lab.”

 

He walked briskly and sent a quick glance into the bar where Emma and Paul were sitting on the floor while Ted and… the other guy were sitting at the other side of the room.

 

“Guess I know who’s infected,” Henry muttered as he kept walking. He made it to his lab and quickly sat down at the computer. 

 

“Alright, ya Ba***rds, where are you?” Henry asked aloud before pulling out and lighting another cigarette. For a second, he thought he heard a laugh. It kind of sounded like… one of them. He sent a quick glance around the room- taking a drag from the cigarette as he did- before looking back to the computer.

 

After maybe five minutes of fast-forwarding, he found them.

 

They had followed from the main room. There was something terrifying about watching yourself being stalked, knowing they had been behind you, they could have killed you, and you would have never known.

 

They had followed him from the main room when he was on his way back to the lab and stopped right before the bar. They had stood there for a few minutes, perfectly still as blue dripped from… the girls stomach onto the floor.

 

After four minutes, they shared sinister grins before walking in.

 

Right then, there was a scream.

 

Henry shoved himself to his feet and ran towards the door. His feet pounding against the floor as he ran. He reached for the pocket he kept- his gun!

 

He’d left the F***ING REVOLVER!

 

Thinking fast, he realized that he might not have time to run to the lab and back so he might not have time to run to the lab and back before someone got hurt. Instead, he ran into a nearby room- a guest bedroom Emma used occasionally- ripped a drawer out from the dresser, and pulled a shotgun- already loaded- out from under the drawer before running towards the bar again.

 

As he made his in, he saw Sam and… her. He still didn’t know her name. In those few milliseconds he started to wonder.

 

Could he really kill someone? Could he so easily end the life of someone who only needed help?

 

His eyes flicked from Emma- the sweet girl who had walked him away from the edge of death- who looked so scared, Paul -the stranger who seemed really protective and clearly deserved to live- who was standing between Emma the other guy and Sam, the other guy- Bill, he remembered suddenly- who was looking around as if trying to find something to defend himself, and Ted -who was on the ground, clearly in pain- who, despite clearly being an a**hole, just seemed scared, like he was trying to protect himself.

 

“Here’s how it’s gonna go-“ Sam started before Henry shot him.

 

The girl froze for a minute before screaming in a sort of musical key, right before Henry shot her too.

 

“Oh My God! Professor!” he heard Emma yell as he took a few steps closer to the two cadavers.

 

“You killed Charlotte!” Emma yelled. ‘Charlotte was her name? Quick, think up something to explain!’  

 

“Wrong,” he said as he ripped the cigarette from its place between his lips. ‘Yeah. That’s totally helpful, Hen,’

 

“You shot her!” Paul yelled. ‘Got It!’

 

“I Shot A Charle- Ton !” 

 

‘Nailed it.’

Chapter Text

Ted didn’t know how to feel. He felt a lot of things right now. Betrayed, hurt, horrified, guilty. He felt bad.

 

Two of his oldest friends, two of the only three people who knew why he was such an a**hole.

 

If he hadn't left Charlotte she wouldn’t have been infected. She wouldn’t be twitching on the floor in front of him. His stomach turned. He was gonna be sick.

 

He was still on the floor, he realized. He slowly pushed himself to his feet, only for a burning hot pain to sear through his ankle, making him fall flat on his a**. He did, however, manage to keep from yelling out in pain. 

 

Ted was quick to notice the pitiful look Henry gave him. Ted hated those d**ned pitiful looks. He’d get them in high school from his friends, and he’s getting them now from this a**hole who just- Ted’s eyes flickered to Charlotte and Sam before his anger deflated- … saved his life. He just sighed and shook his head.

 

“Oh, my god professor!” Emma yelled. Teds’ eyes flickered to where Emma, Paul, and Bill were standing on the other end of the room. When had they gotten there? Probably when Ted was getting the s**t beat out of them.

 

“You killed Charlotte!” Emma yelled as Ted stood up again. Slower, this time. He managed to put a good bit of weight on his bad leg with only a mild bit of pain. Supporting himself on the wall, he managed to get closer to where Paul, Emma, and Bill were.

 

“Wrong,” Ted heard the professor say in the overly dramatic way he talked.

 

“You shot her! Paul yelled. Bill gave Ted a pitiful look as his eyes flickered to Teds’ ankle.

“I shot a Charle-Ton!” Henry said, waiting for a response from them.

 

“Don’t give me that look,” Ted muttered to Bill.

 

“Ahh…” Henry said, sounding slightly annoyed. Ted didn’t look at him, deciding he’d rather have a drink then deal with people.

 

“What do you mean?” Bill whispered.

“The Charlotte you knew and loved was gone the minute a note came out of her mouth,” Henry started.

 

“That pitiful look you’re giving me. It’s pathetic,” Ted growled back.

 

“After examining that blue s**t It didn’t take long for me to decipher that, Sam was no longer human but part of the alien brew genetically reconstructed from the inside out,” Henry continued. Bill was quiet for a minute.

 

“My concern?” he whispered back, incredulously.

 

“They’re wearing our skins to fool us!” a pause from Henry, which Ted used to glare at Bill before moving to the other side of Paul. “... Which means any one of you could be one of them.”

 

“Whoah, woah, woah, woah, woah,” Emma Paul and Bill said while backing up. Ted, who could barely walk already, froze. He’d always hated guns. 

 

“So we’ll gonna have a little test to see who’s still human and who’s a musical doppelganger,” Henry said, taking a step towards them. Paul, Emma, and Bill took another step while Ted didn’t move.

 

“Uh,” Ted said like a genius.

 

“What?” Emma asked, looking at her Professor like he was crazy. Ted couldn’t help but blame her.

 

“I want you all to sing 16 bars right now!” Henry yelled. Ted sent Bill, Paul, and Emma a confused look. ‘Was he serious?’

 

“No professor, professor we’re not aliens-” Emma started, trying to calm down her eccentric Professor.

 

“Sing the beginning of Moana!” Henry yelled, cocking the gun and pointing it at the group.

“Whaat?” Paul yelled at the same time Emma yelled a similar “What?” Bill, maybe realizing Ted couldn’t move, grabbed his arm and pulled him back a bit, giving him a slight bit of support as he did.

 

“I Said Sing God D**n it!” Henry yelled. The group started stammering for a response. Ted had never seen Moana- he’d been curius, but it would have been weird for a forty year old man to go see a children movie alone and he didn’t have netflix or even the money to waste on a TV or movie website- so he had no idea what the song was.

 

“Uh, Moana,” Paul started as he tried making some gestures. Ted immediately started copying him, as did Bill and Emma.

 

“Moana,” Emma and Bill mimicked while Ted just kind of grunted along, feeling like an idiot.

 

“Make way make way,” Paul and Emma sang.

 

“Make way,” Bill mirrored.

 

“Uh it’s uh consider the coconut cocoa ho ho,” Paul sang.

 

“Ho ho,” Ted and Emma mirrored, Ted realizing Bill wasn’t really singing anymore.

 

“Uh consider its trees, uh,” Paul sang as Ted’s brain finally recognized how bad they sounded. And Yikes were they bad.

 

“Ho ho,” Ted guessed.

 

“The island gives us what we - “ Emma and Bill tried.

 

“And no one leaves,” Paul, Emma, and Ted finished. Ted’s ankle was burning just from standing on it but the only nearby chair was on the other side of the crazy man with a gun.

 

“I didn’t like that movie,” Paul complained as Ted realized Bill was still singing.

 

“It’s The circle of liiiiiiiiiiiffe and it,” he sang badly.

 

“That’s not it,” Emma told him.

 

“Ok,” Bill muttered, dropping his arms.

 

“Alright… That was terrible,” Henry said, lowering the gun.

 

“No s**t, Sherlock,” Ted muttered. Paul smacked his arm, nearly knocking him off balance which hurt oh so much. Not that Ted would ever let Paul know that.

 

“ Not a single one of you were on pitch, which means, You’re still human. These... things their, their tactics is to hide amongst us and as their numbers grow, they become more bold and as we’ve seen,” The over dramatic bada** professor uncocked the gun as he talked, “violent.” 

 

Ted managed to limp over to the chair and collapsed into. Luckily, the bottle of s**ty booze he’d been drinking earlier was right next to it. He picked it up and took a sip as he noticed Henry send a look to his ankle. Ted, who hadn’t actually looked at the thing, looked down in mock curiosity. Only for his eyes to widen as he saw the state it was in. 

 

His ankle was badly bruised, swelling, and the bone looked like it was put in wrong. Of course, he was also wearing low shoes and socks so it was even more obvious as the bone was poking out over the top of the shoe unnaturally. He’d probably need to get that fixed up. Not that he’d ask for help with that. He wasn’t a little kid, he could do it himself.

 

Ted’s eyes flashed back up to the Professor, who also looked like he was gonna say something, to ask for bandages and probably a splint, when a phone ringing grabbed everyone's attention.

 

All eyes turned to Bill who was fumbling through his pocket for his phone, which he found and quickly answered.

 

“Alice?” he asked, pausing for a second. “Alice oh, thank god. I’ve never been more happy in my life, your mother left me and moved you to Clivesdale,”

 

“Is your ankle ok?” Henry asked him.

 

“What?” Bill asked.

 

“Does it matter?” Ted asked, taking another drink.

 

“No, no. Alice I saw you get on the bus to Clivesdale this morning,”

 

“It does if you want to survive this god forsaken thing,” Henry said.

 

“What? You got o-? Got off?”

 

“Is that a threat?” Ted asked.

 

“To go see Deb? God D**n it alice! If Deb jumped off a bridge, would you-? Okay, okay, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I know you’re scared,”

 

“It’s not. It’s just more likely you’ll live if you’re uninjered,” Henry said.

 

“What’s wrong with Deb?”

 

“You think we’re all gonna make it?” Ted asked with a snort.

 

“She’s doing what?”

 

“You don’t?” Henry asked. Ted went silent for a minute, listening to Bill talk.

 

“Alice? Okay listen to me. You get away from her you understand? You get far away,”

 

“Milo Murphy’s law, professor,” Ted said.

 

“No, this has nothing to do with me not liking Deb. Right now, you need to run and hide. Okay? Where are you?”

 

“What do you mean?” Henry asked suspiciously.

 

“No, no, you stay there. I’m coming to you.

 

“Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong,”

 

“No no, don’t- don’t you say…”

“And right now, everything seems to be pretty f**king wrong,” Ted said.

 

“Everything’s going to be fine,”

 

“That’s a pessimistic way to live,” Henry said as Ted took another drink.

 

“I love you, too.

 

“Life is pretty f**king pessimistic,” Ted said as Bill hung up.

 

“Give me, give me some bread and some water. I KNEW we were gonna need a designated driver!” Bill said, looking distraught. Henry rushed behind the bar before offering a baguette and a cup of water.

 

“What’s happening, Bill?” Paul asked while Ted continued to drink, enjoying the burn in his throat. Ted considered asking Henry why he had a baguette behind the bar, but  quickly decided he didn’t care.

 

“It’s Alice. She’s stuck in Hatchetfield. Dang it! I need to take the car. She’s in Hatchetfield High. She’s locked herself in the choir room,” Bill explained as he took a sip of water and a bite of the baguette. Ted froze for a second. 

 

Hatchetfield High? Going there would be certain suicide. Ted shouldn’t care. He really shouldn’t. He had avoided trouble all his life by not caring. But for some reason he did. He was stuck in this building, probably couldn’t run. If anyone needed to leave, he’d be the only one who couldn’t. Meaning if they left and got hurt, he’d be stuck here alone.

 

Ted had never handled isolation well. He always had to be around someone. Always had to see people. Isolation was not an option if he wanted to keep a somewhat stable mental state.

 

“And you’re gonna save her?” Ted asked. Hoping maybe he could have convinced Bill to stay. “GI Bill?... You’re gonna run and gun your way through a city of singing zombie motherf**kers, Wake up Bill. She’s already dead.”

 

“Don’t you dare, Ted!” Bill snapped. Not that his anger affected Ted. Any attention is better than no attention.

 

“You’re gonna get there and she’s gonna be dead and you’re gonna die too and that’s exactly what’s gonna happen If you try to go back through downtown,” Ted said, leaning forward on the chair.

 

“But what else am I supposed to do?” Bill asked, sounding desperate.

 

“Don’t go through downtown. Cut through Pinebrook,” Paul said suddenly. Ted knew about that way. He’d just been hoping no one else did.

 

“What?” Bill asked.

 

“Pinebrook Rich neighborhood, fancy houses. Huge yards,” Paul explained.

 

“Yes. Avoid densely populated areas,” Henry added.

 

“Take Evergreen, cut through the park, hop a curb, and you’re in the teachers parking lot,” Paul continued.

 

“Right! Yes, and the windows to the staff lounge is always open so they can smoke, just slide in and out, used to be my old escape route,” Emma said, rushing to join them.

 

“Okay. Okay this is a lot of directions,” Bill said.

 

“Don’t bother he’s gonna get lost,” Ted spoke up, trying to get them not to go.

 

“You are such a f***ing creep. You know that?” Emma asked. She was right, he knew. But he didn’t stop.

 

“Oh, I’m a f**king creep?” Ted asked sarcastically.

 

“Yeah,” Emma said.

 

“I’m a f**king creep? Listen, sweetheart. The world has changed, alright? There are no ‘creeps’. There are no ‘heroes’. There are only people who are alive and people who are f**king DEAD !” Ted yelled before throwing the now empty bottle at the wall, making everyone flinch. “And Bill’s daughter? … She’s dead… What? I’m only saying what we all know is true! Right Paul?” Ted asked, hoping he’d know what was really going on with Ted and would stop Paul.

 

“I know that the chances are slim to nil. And I know that Bill doesn’t know the shortcut. Bill if you go, you’re not gonna make it. Which is why I’m gonna go with you to get your daughter back,” Paul said, nodding. Ted couldn’t stop it. He pushed himself to his feet, hissing in pain as he did, before making his way behind the bar for another bottle.

 

“Y- You’d do that for me, Paul?” Bill asked.

 

“Hey, it’s not like you’re asking me to go see Mamma Mia,” Paul said, making Bill chuckle a little bit.

 

“Well, hey, let’s go. If we haul a** we can be there and back in twenty minutes!” Emma said, grinning.

 

“No, emma. You stay here. I have a theory on how these aliens can be stopped, but I’ll need an extra pair of hands in the lab. Paul, Bill,” Henry paused for a minute before offering the gun. “Godspeed.”

 

Emma and Paul talked for a minute while Henry walked over.

 

“Don’t you think that’s enough?” He asked, nodding towards the half empty bottle.

 

“Do you think I care?” Ted asked, taking another long gulp.

 

“You don’t think they’re gonna make it?” Henry asked.

 

“Do you?” Ted said.

 

“I hope so,” Henry said. They didn’t say anything for a minute before Henry’s eyes flicked back to his ankle. It still stung but not as much as before. Almost like a bitter tasting food.

 

“Alright, lets take care of your ankle,” he said, grabbing Ted’s arm and leading the way to a chair.

 

“I can do it myself,” Ted grumbled, but didn’t fight him.

 

“Yes, but I can do it. You’ve been through enough. Just relax,” Henry said as he forced him into a chair.

 

“Whatever,”

Chapter Text

Deb had her arms wrapped around Alice in a hug as they walked after Bill and Paul.

 

“D- Deb. What if- What if I hurt my d- dad!” Alice whimpered.

 

“You won’t. Your dad is super strong, he’ll make it,” Deb whispered back.

 

“Deb, I was a- I was a brat to him! If- If I had just listened to him then- then this wouldn’t be happening!” Alice ranted.

 

“Hey, hey. Calm down, Al. It’s all gonna be ok! Everything’s gonna be fine, Al. I promise,” Deb said, kissing her girlfriend’s cheek.

 

“How long do you think this walk’s gonna take?” Alice asked after a minute.

 

“Maybe twenty minutes?” Deb said with a shrug.

 

Alice nodded sadly.

-

“There we go!” Henry said as he finished wrapping Ted’s foot.

 

“Think his foot will be ok?” Emma asked, wrinkling her nose slightly.

 

“Wha do you care?” Ted asked, sounding more relaxed then either of the two had ever heard him.

 

“I’m just asking,” Emma said with a shrug.

 

“Yes, his foot will be fine. However, I do think it’d be beneficial for Ted to be down in the lab with us, Emma,” Henry said, getting groans from both Ted and Emma.

 

“What for ?” Ted asked, but he didn’t sound to upset.

 

“Well, for one thing, if anything were to…” Henry’s eyes flickered to where Charlotte and Sam had laid. They were in the lab now, but the hard wood floor was stained blue where they had been. “Happen, then it’s best we be together.

 

“Whatever,” Emma groaned before she turned to the door, pausing in the doorway.

 

“Can you walk?” Henry asked.

 

“I dunno,” Ted said before slowly getting to his feet. He seemed pretty sober for having had three bottles of tequila. He even managed to take a few long steps, getting halfway to the door, before his bad leg just gave out. Henry managed to grab Ted before he collapsed and Emma took a few steps closer to help steady him. Neither of the two seemed to notice his flinch as the two grabbed him.

 

“Let go of me, I’ve got it,” Ted snapped, thrashing and trying to get out of their grips. While the two would have loved to, it was obvious he really couldn’t make it.

 

“Dude, F***ing chill out,” Emma said sounding a mix of concerned and irritated.

 

“Let go!” Ted yelled, sounding more panicked this time.

 

“Ted, Calm Down.” Henry sent a look to Emma before using his ‘teacher voice’. His voice sounding firm and serious, leaving little room for arguing. Immediately after he said that, Ted went still. Just… completely frozen. He stopped arguing. Stopped talking. Something about this resonated deep in Henry, who tried to ignore it.

 

“Ted? You ok, man?” Emma asked, sharing a concerned and confused look with Henry. Ted nodded, a quick, jerking, movement that was over in less than a second.

 

“How about we get to the laband sit you down,” Henry offered, getting nothing more then another quick nod. Henry and Emma shared a look, adjusted their grips, and made the way to the lab.

=

Getting there, Ted had instantly relaxed the minute Henry and Emma had set him down and stepped away.

 

“You ok, Ted?” Emma asked as she stepped behind a curtain that surrounded the two lab tables where Sam and Charlotte laid. Emma knew exactly what Henry needed to do and she was not looking forward to helping.

 

“Course I am, why wouln’t I be?” Ted asked from the couch.

 

“You kind of… Froze up,” Emma said with a shrug as she went to wash her hands and put on gloves.

 

They got no response from Ted for a minute until Henry spoke up.

 

“So, Ted. Why are you in Hatchetfield?” he asked. Silence for another minute. Emma was kind of starting to suspect he was dead or asleep.

 

“It seemed like a good way to get away,” Ted said with a shrug.

 

“Seemed?” Emma asked.

 

“Well, the thing I was getting away from found me,” Ted said, sounding distant. Emma and Henry shared a look before Henry started cutting into Sam's stomach.

 

“What found you, Ted?” Henry asked.

 

“The f**king a**holes who call themselves my family,” Ted muttered.

 

“What?” Henry and Emma both asked, Henry pausing the scalpel.

 

“It’s a long story,” Ted hummed.

 

“We have time,” Emma said as Henry got back to work.

 

“My ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ and ‘brother’. I lived in Hatchetfield most of my life. They were a**holes, but I had a few friends here who were worth it. I was kicked out at seventeen but I got a scholarship for some college in California in an attempt to get away from them. When they found out I'd be making bank if I went through with this, they moved after me in an attempt to keep living life how they had. I moved back here in the middle of the night without telling anyone, got any odd job I could. Somehow, they found me again. They’re back in town. I was trying to save up money to move across the country, but-” Ted stopped talking suddenly.

 

“Ted?” Henry asked.

 

“Don’t tell anyone I said any of this,” Ted said.

 

“Of course,” Henry said.

 

“Your brother. What’s he look like?” Emma asked.

 

“Why do you care?” Ted asked suspiciously.

 

“So if I see him, I can avoid the a**hole,” Emma said.

 

Ted did end up explaining the guy, long blonde hair, tall, letterman jacket.

 

“Hey, Henry,” Ted called.

 

“Yeah?” Henry asked.

 

“You got any food? I haven’t had s**t since, like, seven this morning and that was a yogurt from work,” Ted complained.

 

“Your work gives you yogurt?” Emma asked.

 

“Nope. Someone just brings in yogurts and doesn’t notice one goes missing every other day,” Ted chukled.

 

“I think there’s some chips in a cabinet near the sink. You need help?” Henry asked.

 

“Nah. I got it,” Ted said. Emma and Henry heard a groan as he stood up.

Paul and Bill climbed through the window while Alice and Deb managed to step right through the wall.

 

“Alice? Alice? Sweetie, where are you?” Bill called the minute he got in the hallway.

 

“Bill! Be quiet! Be quiet, Bill, okay?” Paul said as he rushed to keep up with Bill.

 

“We gotta find her Paul!” Bill said, looking around as if he’d see her.

 

“We will but, but you’re gonna have to shut up, alright? This whole school could be crawling with those things. You screaming is gonna get us killed and then who’s gonna save Alice?” Paul rationed.

 

“Right, Right. Sorry Paul it’s just… she’s all I have,” Bill said, nodding slowly.

 

“I know. Just, just try to stay calm and follow me, okay?” Paul asked, leading the way down the hall.

 

“You know, she’s a good kid Paul. She’s smart and I respect her choices, but if we’re being honest, I don’t like Deb,” a sigh from Alice and Deb, “She’s just, she’s always on her phone, and I don’t know I just think Alice can do better,” Bill explained.

 

“Yeah, sure Bill,” Paul said, nodding along.

 

“This morning, the knucklehead that I am, I said, ‘Why don’t you try dating someone at your own school in Clivesdale?’ And she said ‘You just don’t like Ded,’ and what was I supposed to do lie?” he asked.

 

“At least your dad’s pretty honest,”Deb said. Alice nodded.

 

“So I said ‘Why don’t you try dating someone like Grace Chastity?’ and she goes ‘No! Grace Chastity is a nerdy prude!’ And I said, ‘One. I said date someone like her, Two.  That is not a very nice thing to say.’ and suddenly I'm defending Grace Chastity of all people, and she says ‘You just want Grace Chastity to be your daughter!’ and I said, ‘Well at least she’s nice to me at church!’” Deb and Alice chuckled at his retelling a bit, considering the little foot stomp at the end was extremely over dramatic. “And I think that fight is why she got off the bus to go see Deb. Oh god Paul, I’m the reason they trapped her. It’s my  fault.” 

 

“No. No, listen to me Bill, okay? This is not your fault,” Paul said, grabbing Bill by the shoulders and making them lock eye contact.

 

“Yes it is,” someone said from behind them.

 

Alice and Deb were upset- but not surprised- to find that it was fake Alice. Her light pink jacket replaced by a dark pink one that was unbuttoned. Bill and Paul, however, were really surprised.

 

“Alice?” Bill asked, taking a step closer.

 

“It’s all your fault. That’s the last thought I had before they broke down the door,” Fake Alice said, nodding towards the door behind her which was down on the ground.

 

The two men didn’t notice- since they were a little distracted- but Deb and Alice picked up on the fact the choir room doors had literally just been unscrewed from the hinges and laid on the floor.

Chapter Text

Henry had sent Emma and Ted to the kitchen the minute he noticed the weird organ that wasn’t supposed to exist. He heard it now as he stood at a table staring as this extra gut, the music. A soothing melody that almost made him feel like everything was okay. Everything was going to be okay. He shook his head, reminding himself that it wasn’t going to be ok. Emma and Ted were going to get killed. Their blood would be on his hand.

 

“D**n it,” Henry muttered before going to light another cigarette. He knew the smell freaked Emma out for… reasons… so he had cut down smoking around her.

 

It was weird, Henry realized. Being so close to someone after so long. A part of him saw the girl as his daughter.

 

Every year, during the week of... the Working Boys Incident, Henry would fall into a fit of depression. He didn’t know how to let go of something.

 

He would forget to eat, wouldn’t go to work. He would just hide inside and regret everything.

 

Emma had realized he was missing one week and bought him groceries. Upon realizing the mood he was in- he never had the energy to act like everything was fine when he was like that- she had come back the next day to give him something. An Alexa. She had taught him how it works and set Alexa to remind him to shower and eat. It had been helpful and much appreciated. He really had been considering just quitting it all.

 

After that, they’d hung out a lot more. Emma would help him grade things and Henry would let her come over to watch Disney movies or listen to musicals not many people knew about when the two got too stressed.

 

“Henry~,” someone said from behind him. He spun around to see Charlotte smiling him creepily.

 

“What? Your dead!” Henry yelled.

 

“Dead? Why, Henry, what makes you think we’re alive you old fart,” Charlotte said, her tone turning from sweet and comforting to sour and cold at the end.

 

“What do you want?” Henry asked as Charlotte stood up. She had been handcuffed to a chair, so now Henry had a pretty good idea of what happened with Sam.

 

“Oh, Henry. It’s not what I want. It’s what You want,” she said, taking a step closer to him.

 

“What I want? You don’t know anything about what I want,” Henry growled.

 

“Of course we do. Did you know that we can infect anyone? As long as their brain and some skin are left, of course. Our infection helps everyone. Mends broken bones, cures deadly illnesses… Bring people back from the dead...” Charlotte walked closer and Henry stepped back until his back collided with one of his counters.

 

“That’s impossible. You’re Lying!” Henry yelled, his hands searching the countertops behind him for anything that could help.

 

“I’m not lying, Henry. Anything is possible. You said it yourself… ‘Once Confined To The Realm Of Science Fiction, She Is Now Science Fact!’... Now, were you talking about that silly old Alexa, or your future Queen?” Charlotte asked.

 

“I’m not falling for this,” Henry growled, his eyes narrowing. Charlotte watched him for a minute, he sickeningly sweet smile turning to a frown as her bright blue eyes narrowed.

 

“Alexa? Turn on the outer security cameras and bring up the feed in the lab,” she called, smiling again as Henry’s brows furrowed in confusion. Her head turned to face the camera feed and her smile only grew.

 

“See for yourself,”


“I'm not your girl anymore,” Fake Alice sang. “I'm not that tween that you drove here for. I'm not your girl anymore. I overtook her body... with an infectious spore,”

 

A third ghost in a yellow dress popped out from the choir room, only to freeze at the sight of two more ghosts.

 

“You left me out of your sight for one second and look what happens, nightmare time. It's worse than you could imagine. Not sex and not drugs. Just alien invading minds. No more family vacays together. 'Cause your only daughter's under the weather. And if you actually paid attention to me,”

 

“Alice, what is going on?”

 

“Beatrice?” Deb asked.

 

“Deb? Alice?” Beatrice- aka Bea- asked at the same time.

 

“Hey! How are you?” Alice asked, happy to recognize another friend and not focus on the terrifying stuff happening behind her.

 

“I’m alright. Not like this is the weirdest thing to happen to me,” Bea said with a sort of shrug that just kind of looked like her head shrank down to her shoulders. “How about you two?”

 

“I’m pretty good, all things considered,” Alice said, smiling softly.

 

“Just a normal Tuesday,” Deb shrugged.

 

“You'd see, I'm not your seed,”

 

“Alice I-I’m here to take you home”

 

“I'm not your angsty teen. No matter what you believe, the apple's fallen far from the tree. It's not my fault anymore. No more curfews to be late for. It's not my fault anymore. No more being worried and waiting by the door,”

 

“Wait, is that you two?” Alice asked, pointing to the Fake Deb and Bea who had appeared out from the choir room as well.

 

“Yup. I’d say we look pretty hot. If… not for the fact we’re dead,” Bea said. Deb nodded.

 

“Did you know that I wanted to live with you? O-ooh”

 

“Look what happens, nightmare time!”

 

“And when you needed to fight, you gave her that too. Ah-ooh!

 

“Aliens invading minds!”

 

“We also sound pretty legit,” Deb said. Alice nodded but didn’t seem to be paying attention as she stared at her dad- who just looked so concerned- sadly.

 

“Did you know mom let Deb sleep over?”

 

“What?”

 

“And you're right about Deb — she's a hardcore stoner,”

 

“I Knew It!”

 

“And if you wonder what led your daughter astray… Well, daddy wasn't here to stay!” Fake Alice sang as Tears came to the real Alice’s eyes.

 

“Not your seed! 

 

“Alice, whatever I said this morning I’m sorry!”

 

“I'm not your perfect teen!”

 

“You can break out of it, I know- I know you can!”

 

“I'm fucking sevente-en! At least I was before you left me…”

 

“Bill, we need to leave, right now,” Paul said, grabbing Bill’s arms.

 

“Back off, Paul. We’re not leaving without Alice,” Bill snapped, trying to turn back to Alice.

 

“That’s not your daughter, Bill,” Paul said, looking over to Alice sadly himself.

 

“Alice?” Bill asked.

 

In a moment of pure emotion, Alice charged at the fake her in an attempt to… do something, only to suddenly vanish. She felt immense pain all over her body- like she’d been stabbed all over with needles and then had lemon juice pored over her- and smelled nothing but salt and ginger. The tears in her eyes appeared in Fake Alices and she realized what had happened. She’d managed to possess herself. She attempted to tell her dad to ‘Run! Please! I can’t hold her back!’ but before she managed to open her mouth, her arm moved and a jolt of pain shot down, sending her back to the ghost world as she lost control.

 

Her ears rang in high pitches and her vision swam with black spots as she faintly heard Deb and Bea screaming her name. A hand was placed on her shoulder and she hissed in pain as she heard Deb apologize, fake hers’ voice bearly audible to her in the background as her head pounded and her bones felt like they were made of lead. She was so tired, too. Was this what Sam felt when he possessed himself. The slightest movement had been agony to her, while Sam had moved and even called Charlotte’s name! The ringing in her ears faded as she heard her fake singing.

 

“Now maybe you'll listen to me.”

 

“Listen to me, listen to me.”

 

“Or do you let me bleed?”

 

“Let me bleed!”

 

“Now your daughter's not a girl no more!”

 

“Girl no more, girl no more!”

 

“Not at all your seed!”

 

“'Cause I'm not your girl anymore…”

 

Alices’ eyes finally registered as her vision flickered from Deb and Bea to her dad who looked just… terrible. Like every emotion inside him was gone.

 

"I can’t do it, Paul. I can’t live in a world without my daughter,” Bill said as tears welled up in his eyes. Deb and Bea looked over their shoulders to where Alice was looking as Paul’s own eyes widened in panic.


Henry Hidgens hesitated as Charlotte stepped back, allowing him to look over at the monitor, and his heart dropped to his stomach as his eyes registered what he was seeing.


“Bill? Whatever you’re thinking, stop it,” Paul said, repeating something Bill would say to him whenever he was early into a panic attack. Paul had seen that look in his best friend’s eyes before only once, and he’d never wanted to see it again.


The Working Boys crammed around the monitor in an attempt to see the screen, their eyes registering what they saw only seconds before Henry did and they quickly tried to force his eyes away from the screen as his hands started shaking.


“I can’t live knowing I’m the reason they got to her,” Bill said as Deb registered what he was talking about and tried to get Alices’ attention away from him.

“Alice? Alice. Ally, baby, look at me, don’t look at your dad, look at me,” she instructed, trying to gently turn her girlfriends face away from what was about to happen.


Henry couldn’t tear his eyes away from the camera as the other six working boys stared up at him from the monitor. They looked terrible with their bodies still in the process of being remade by the Aliens, but it was them. His hands were shaking and he didn’t know if he could keep himself standing any longer.


Bill could faintly hear his best friend’s mutter of ‘No’ as he brought the gun slowly to the bottom of his head. His grip tightening as Paul tried to steal his escape away from him.

“Let Me Do It, Paul!” he yelled as he started to lose his grip.


“So, Henry. Was I lying?” Charlotte asked teasingly. Chad turned and attempted to punch her in the face, only for his hand to pass right through as Henry turned glossy eyes over to her.

Henry was quiet for a minute, and the Working Boys were concerned he might actually turn himself right now.

“Yes. You were.”


Alice relaxed into Deb as Paul managed to wrestle the gun away from Bill.

“No, man! No!” Paul yelled as he pushed Bill further away from where the fakes were still frozen and threw the gun on the ground.

“Bill, Look at me,” Paul said with a soft smile as she relaxed too, not noticing the tingling feeling down her neck.


Henry watched as Charlotte’s victorious smirk turned to a frown.

“What?” she asked with narrowed eyes.

“You were lying. Those aren’t my friends. Those aren’t My Working Boys. They’re… Gone. Those are fakes,” Henry growled, his voice shaking a bit. Charlotte’s frown deepened.


“You’re my best friend. I’m not gonna let you die,” Paul promised. Alice smiled and breathed a sigh of relief.


“Fine,” Charlotte said as a sudden smile crossed her features. The working Boys relaxed, assuming she’d given up.

Henry was so caught off guard, he wasn’t able to stop the Purple slime that went flying from her mouth and landed on his face as she spit on him.


A gunshot rang out in the Hatchetfield Highschool hallway and blood splattered the wall as Bill crashed to the floor.


The music Henry’d been hearing was louder than before as that last bit of contact with the Alien Infection seemingly broke the camels back and he crashed to the floor, feeling weak.


Bill was Dead before he hit the floor.


The infection was fighting Henry with full force. And he was losing.


Alice screamed as Paul crashed to the ground in shock, Deb quickly grabbing her girlfriends hands and pulling her up as Bea turned her away from her dad on the floor.

“Alice! Alice, Baby, it’s okay. We gotta go. Come on, your dad’s gonna be fine, he’s just taking a nap. He’s at the theater right now, come on. We can go see him,” Deb said as she and Bea tried to walk Alice away from her dad.

“I- I- Deb- I- I Sh-” Alice stuttered between sobs.

“Alice, Alice, It’s okay. Let’s go, It’ll all be okay,” Deb said as Alice broke down sobbing, walking her girlfriend out of that particular hallway.


“Are you enjoying this, Henry?” She asked as he gasped and withered on the floor.

“It’s a slight variation of the Blue S**t. You won’t be infected because of this… But you’ll want to be. You’ll be begging for us to tear you to pieces so you’ll finally be happy and free from this pain… So you can finally release, so to speak. And you will be. But not until we say so, Henry. But Don’t worry. You’ll be with your Working Boys In due time. You’ll be with them soon,” Charlotte said with mock comfort as she stood over Henry, who gasped on the ground, the Working boys trying their hardest to comfort him.

Shakily, his hand reached under the counter as he groaned.

“That… May d**ned well be the case, but… You won’t be here to see it,” he growled, aiming the hidden gun at her as she paled.

“Goodnight, Sweet B***h,” he growled as he pulled the trigger.

Chapter Text

Paul smiled as he walked into work. He hadn’t had any Christmas plans- hadn’t even decorated his house- so seeing the office all decked out in bright lights, paper snowflakes stuck to the wall and hanging from the ceiling, red and green wrapping paper wrapped around the doors, at least one tiny plastic snowman on every single flat surface, a fully decorated Christmas tree in the middle of the reception area and candy canes littered about, made Paul smile in awe. None of this had been here yesterday. As far as Paul was aware, the only Christmas thing planned was a secret Santa between him, Bill, Ted, Melissa, Charlotte, and Mr. Davidson- he’d gotten Bill, and had his gift wrapped neatly in hand.

“Morning, Melissa,” Paul said, dropping the gift into a small pile beside the Christmas tree before she could see what it looked like.

“Morning, Paul. What do you think of the office?” Melissa asked.

“It looks great! Did you do this?” Paul asked.

“Me, Charlotte and her husband, Sam,” Melissa explained, smiling as Paul looked around again.

“Yeah, this is beautiful, Melissa. You did a great job with this. How long did it take?” Paul asked.

“A few hours… But it was fun,” Melissa said, waving hi to whoever had just walked in.

“Well, I’m gonna head to my desk and get to work, but really, great job,” Paul said.

“Alright, Happy Holidays, Paul,” Melissa called.

“Happy Holidays, Melissa,” Paul called, quickly making his way down the hall, counting out the two dozen bells of holly that lined the walls as he did. Making it to his desk, he found one of those little pre-cooked Christmas cookies and a candy cane set out with a little handmade paper snowflake saying ’Happy Holidays’. Paul smiled brightly. This was the first time he’d gotten… Anything for Christmas in years, and it made him so happy.

“Happy Holidays, Paul,” Charlotte called from behind him.

“Happy Holidays, Charlotte. You, Sam, and Melissa did great on the decorations,” Paul said, making Charlotte smile and thank him.

“Oh, I’m so excited for the Christmas party tonight,” Charlotte said, grinning as she sat down her bag.

“Me too, I haven’t been to a Christmas party in years,” Paul said, smiling happily.

“Oh! It’ll be extra fun, then. I think there’s some Hot Cocoa powder in the break room. Want some?” Charlotte asked. Paul looked over his desk quickly, grabbed the little cookie, and nodded, taking a bit as he did.

“Sure, Char. That sounds lovely,” he said, standing up.

The two made their way over to the break room to make their drinks, Ted and Bill joining in halfway.

“Happy holidays, guys,” Mr. Davidson said, dragging Melissa in behind him.

“Happy Holidays, Mr. Davidson,” Paul called with a smile.

“So, I promised Carol and Oliver I’d be home soon, so we’ll only be here till twelve,” Mr. Davidson explained.

“Oliver?” Melissa asked.

“Yeah. My son. He came out to me recently,” Mr. Davidson said, smiling proudly.

“Oh! That’s great! I’m glad Oliver trust you enough to come out,” Charlotte said, patting at her stomachs little baby bump softly.

“I know. I’m so proud,” Mr. Davidson said happily. The others congratulated him until Ted ended up complaining about being at work on Christmas.

“I still can’t believe that just because we missed one too many days, we have to come in on Christmas Day. It’s Bulls**t,”  Ted complained.

“I’m sorry, do you have some friends none of us know of and some kind of great party set for tonight? Because as far as I’m aware, your Christmas plans were to hide in your house, abusing your liver,” Mr. Davidson said. Ted scoffed, taking a long sip of whatever was in his mug.

“Ok… should we do secret Santa, then?” Bill asked.

“Yeah! I can bring the gifts in here,” Melissa offered.

“If you don’t mind?” Mr. Davidson asked. Melissa was halfway out the door before Mr. Davidson had even finished talking yelling a quick ‘Of Course!’ Over her shoulder as she went.

She came back a few minutes later with six gifts in hand. The shiny blue box from Paul, a rectangular box wrapped in pink with a bow, a circular one wrapped in green and silver, an oddly wrapped, lumpy looking red package, A plain wrapped yellow box that had almost run out of wrapping paper, and a neatly wrapped, checkered patterned box.

“How do we decide who’s first?” Ted asked.

“How about someone grabs one at random, and whoever’s name is on it, that person goes?” Charlotte offered. Everyone agreed and after another minute of debate, it was decided Paul would grab first. After a few seconds of self debate, he grabbed the checkered box and read the name on the tag.

“Mr. Davidson, this is yours,” Paul said, holding out the box. 

Mr. Davidson looked surprised before grinning and grabbing it, ripping the wrapping paper off to find a cardboard box. Lifting the lid off, he pulled out a red apron with ‘F**k The Chef, but not near the food’ In pink and a red chef hat with pink hearts.

“This is f**king great. Whoever got me this, thank you so much. I can’t wait for Carol to see me in this, it’s is f**king amazing!” Mr. Davidson complimented. Melissa smiled a bit harder but said nothing.

“Ok… Mr. Davidson, you wanna pick next?” Melissa asked.

“Sure,” he said before grabbing at the dark blue wrapped gift from Paul.

“Bill! You’re up,” Mr. Davidson said, handing over the box. 

Bill smiled as he picked it up, spinning it carefully in his hands a few times, before peeling off the paper, pulling a few pictures out.

Paul had spent hours going through Bills’ baby pictures of Alice and cropping it out so his ex-wife wasn’t in the picture. The results were three pictures of a very tiny and adorable baby Alice and her happy dad.

Bill stared for a minute, his eyes tearing and his mouth agape with amazement, before hugging the three pictures close to his chest.

“Th-thank you to… to whoever got me these… these are… Thank you,” he said, sniffling in between words happily. Paul smiled to himself, happy that Bill loved it.

Bill wiped at his nose a bit before carefully setting the three pictures back down, away from the others.

“Bill, you wanna go next?” Charlotte asked.

Bill nodded before picking up the circular gift.

“Melissa, your turn,” he said, handing it to her. She smiled brightly as she yanked at the wrapping paper, ripping it slightly as she revealed a volleyball with words and sentences written on it, as well as a little index card.

“Merry Christmas, Melissa. Please enjoy a ‘compliment ball’ as thanks for all the nice words and kindness you give to everyone in the office,” Melissa read aloud before her face split into the biggest grin ever.

“Aww… Thank you so much! I love it,” she said, spinning the volleyball around to read some of the compliments.

“Is it my turn to pick one?” Melissa asked after a minute.

“Sure,” Mr. Davidson said. Melissa hesitated before picking up the red and lumpy gift.

“Oh! Char, this is for you!” She said, handing it over.

Charlotte hesitated a minute before carefully unwrapping it, revealing two red headbands with white dotted bows. One was big enough for Charlotte, while the other was maybe big enough for a baby’s head.

“Aww… It’s so cute,” Charlotte said, pulling the bigger one on quickly before pressing the smaller one over top her baby bump, earning some laughs from the group.

“I love it. Thank you,” she said with a smile.

“Is it my turn?” She asked.

“Go for it,” Bill said. Charlotte picked up the yellow gift that’d barely been wrapped.

“Paul, this is yours,” she said, handing it to him.

Paul hesitated before opening it, pulling out an index card and a few CDs.

“Merry Christmas, Paul. I got some calming music for your anxiety. Also, sorry for the s**ty wrapping job, I didn’t have money for things like wrapping paper,” he read aloud.

“The wrapping job is fine, and... thanks for the gift,” Paul said, smiling awkwardly.

“Cool. Ted, it’s your turn to grab,” Bill said. Ted nodded, picking up the pink wrapped gift.

“It’s mine,” he said before slowly ripping the paper off.

The others could only see the back of a picture frame and his face, as his expression turned to one of mild curiosity, to one of shock. He didn’t say anything for a minute- in fact, he’d been uncharacteristically quiet the whole day- before muttering a quiet ‘Thanks for the picture,’ and standing up, pressing the picture against his chest so no one could see it.

“Ted? Where are you going?” Charlotte asked.

“I don’t feel good. I’m going home,” he said as he started to walk away.

“Ok… Merry Christmas, Ted. See you in a week,” Melissa called.

The others followed with their own chorus of ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy Holidays’ as Ted took the three flights of stairs down to the ground floor, and started the thirty-minute walk home.

The December wind was bitter and cold- especially since he didn’t actually own any clothing for the cold Michigan winters- but he figured he’d rather focus on how he was starting to lose feeling in his finger then the memories that came flooding back.

Looking up, he caught sight of the orange and brown sign for Beanies and- on a whim- he walked in, figuring a Chai Iced Tea might soothe his nerves.

Beanies was really empty and Ted couldn’t help but feel bad for the Beanie employees who also had to work on Christmas.

“Hi, what can I get for you?” The Beanie employee- Zoey-  asked.

“Chai Iced Tea would be great, thanks,” Ted said, pulling out his wallet to see two ones. D**n. He needed three more dollars, or he’d have to use his credit card.

“Anything else?” She asked.

“No, that’s all,” he said as he checked his pockets for any ones.

“That’ll be 4.90,” she said.

“Alright gimme a minute,” he grunted, pulling two more ones out of his back pocket.

“What are you doing getting coffee on Christmas by yourself?” She asked. He set the frame image down on the counter as he checked his pockets again.

“Apparently, I’m going bankrupt,” he said.

“Your credit card broken or something?” Zoey asked.

“Can’t use it. My parents track it and if they see I’m here, I’m totally f**ked,” he explained.

“You live with your parents?” Zoey asked with a scoff.

“Nope. They’ve been looking for me for years. In another year I’ll be able to get a new card they can’t track. Until then, I’m stuck with cash… Jesus Christ I sware I had more,” Ted said, muttering the last part to himself angrily. He wasn’t aware of why he was telling a Beanie employee about this, but he felt a little better.

“Hey.. you’re short ninety cents? How about this. Next time you come here, gimme a dollar and we’ll call it even. Deal?” Zoey asked. Ted stalled before slowly nodding yes, finding the whole experience to be embarrassing.

“Cool. I’ll take that,” she said, grabbing Ted’s four dollars and popping it into the register.

“Ok, Sir, your tea will be done in a minute,” she said.

“Thanks,” Ted said, grabbing the frame and hiding it against his chest again.

“No problem. Do you… not have a jacket?” Zoey asked.

“Don’t have the money,” Ted shrugged, moving towards the pickup bar.

“You’re gonna freeze, ya know,” Zoey said as she brewed up his drink.

“It’s fine. I live close enough that I’m not outside more than thirty minutes at a time,” Ted explained.

“You still should have, like, at least a jacket. I can’t imagine walking around without a jacket,” Zoey said shuddering at the thought.

“I’ll live,” Ted said, his fingers absent-mindedly trailed the back of the frame.

“So… what’s that?” Zoey asked.

“S’a picture. A friend gave it to me and I just… wasn’t expecting it,” Ted explained. He looked down at the picture of him, John Macnamara, Charlotte and Sam all posed together in front of their high school.

Sam and Charlotte we’re sitting in front of Ted and John- who we’re back to back while standing- as Sam had an arm over Charlottes’ shoulder and they were all smiling.

Ted remembered that moment perfectly. He remembered they were celebrating passing their finals and that John had decided for them to take a picture to commemorate this moment. Charlotte and Ted had been all for it, while Sam didn’t want to at first, meaning Ted and John had to drag him into it and then Charlotte had trapped him there with a hug.

Ted also remembered that just a few hours later he was beaten into an inch of his life by his mom and brother. He remembered the broken bones and having to come up with a lie as to what happened when asked by hospital employees. He remembered his dad- a cop- threatening to shoot him right there on the ground because ‘Queers’ shouldn’t be allowed to live.

Ted was knocked from his thoughts when another Beanie employee accidentally bumped into him.

“Sorry,” she called as she walked out the door.

“Sorry about Emma, she’s always in a rush to leave when she’s off the clock. Here’s your Chai Iced Tea,” Emma heard Zoey say as she rushed down the street. She ignored it, however, sending more focus to the large, bulky bag she could barely carry as she called out for the Uber she’d called a few minutes ago.

“Emma?” The young driver asked.

“Yeah. Deb?” Emma asked.

“Yup. Hope on in,” Deb said, waving for Emma to get in.

“Thanks,” Emma said as she sat down.

“Just to clarify, I am taking you to…” Deb trailer off, pulling up the address. “Sixteen- Thirty Three Twisted street, right?”

“That’s the place,” Emma said.

“Perfect,” Deb said as she pulled into traffic.

“Any plans for the holidays?” Deb asked.

“I’m spending the rest of Christmas break at a friends’ house. How about you?” Emma asked.

“I don’t have anyone to celebrate Holidays with, so after this, I’m driving to Clivesdale to pick up my girlfriend. She wanted to spend Hannakua with her dad but she can’t get here on her own, her dad has work and her mom refuses to drive her, so I offered,” Deb explained.

“How sweet,” Emma said with a soft smile. The two spent the rest of the drive happily chatting until they pulled up to the gates.

“You can drop me here,” Emma explained as Debs’ eyes widened.

“You know the guy who owns the Hatchetfield Fortress?” She asked.

“Yeah. And If I don’t hurry up he’s gonna be ticked. How much do I owe you?” Emma asked.

“Twenty,” Deb answered before accepting the Twenty dollar bill Emma handed to her.

“Merry Christmas,” Deb called as Emma got out.

“Happy Hannakua,” Emma called before closing the car door. Deb drove off to go grab her girlfriend as Emma adjusted her grip on the giant package before hitting the door buzzer. A minute went by before she got a response.

“Hello?” Was called through the speakers.

“Hi, Professor Hidgens. It’s me, Emma. Can I come in?” She asked. Another minute of silence before he responded.

“Emma! Of- of course! Come in,” he said as the door opened. As the gate opened, Emma awkwardly shuffled up the path and to his front door. She light kicked at the door to signify she was there and before long the door was being opened.

“Hi, Professor. Anywhere I can set this down?” Emma asked, her arms starting to tremble from both the strain of carrying this thing and the cold.

“Of course. Just right in here, let me help,” he said and Emma felt some of the weight from the bag disappear as he grabbed the other end and guided her towards the dining room table.

They set the bag down and Emma let out a sigh of relief before spinning around to her Biology Professor.

“Emma! I can’t believe you actually came,” he said, smiling as he looked around the living room. Emma followed his gaze to find books placed down, empty cans, a few cups, chip wrappers and a bunch of papers all over the place.

“Sorry about the mess. I didn’t expect to have anyone over,” he apologized, smiling sheepishly.

“You’re fine, Professor. Don’t worry about it,” Emma said with a smile. Henry smiled back, his overly stressed expression vanishing as he relaxed a little bit, allowing his shoulders to drop and his jaw to unclench.

“So what’s with the bag?” He asked, nodding to Emma's package.

“Oh! Right, I brought you something. Well, more like some things. But I hope you like ‘em,” she said as she moved some stuff from the coffee table and gestured for him to sit down, before moving the bag in front of him. 

Henry Hidgens waited for Emma to sit down beside him before reaching into the bag and pulling out the first thing he could get a proper hold on.

A small- maybe one and a half foot- Christmas tree made of sparkly green tensile with little Christmas lights built into it.

“Is this a Christmas tree?” He asked, smiling.

“You didn’t have one. Besides, I know you don’t waste money on things that could be damaging to your future survival, so I spent like two hours making it solar-powered,” she explained as she hooked a batter that was connected to a solar panel to the tree, lighting up the rainbow lights.

“Emma… I love it,” he said, turning the tree a bit and fluffing up the back ‘leaves’ to give it more volume.

“Great. Cause there’s more,” Emma said. The Professor smiled before reaching into the bag again and pulling out a rectangle wrapped in glossy, neon dotted wrapping paper.

“What’s this?” He asked.

“A gift. Open it,” she said with a smile. Henry hesitated before pulling the paper off, revealing three hardcover books.

“Is this Les Miserables? And The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? And The Count of Monte Christo?” He asked, looking between the three thick books.

“Remember when I came over and we spent the day listening to musicals and you said you wanted to read these three,” Emma said, her grin brightening as her Professors face split into a bigger grin.

“You remembered?” He asked.

“Yeah. It was hard to forget how happy the thought of reading them made you,” Emma said. They sat in silence for a minute. Henry staring down at the books in wonder while Emma just enjoyed how happy he looked.

“Ok. I got you one more thing,” Emma said, causing Henry to set the books carefully to the side before reaching in and pulling out a gingerbread making set that made a smaller version of his house.

“I found this website that made custom gingerbread houses and had them make a copy of your house,” Emma explained.

“Emma… this is amazing… my expectation for this Christmas was my sitting here grading students' papers. Not having any kind of celebration or gifts…” he said, enjoying the smile Emma sent him.

“Of course, Professor,” Emma smiled. Henry stood up suddenly- startling Emma- as he rushed off down the hall.

“I’ll be right back,” he yelled over his shoulder, leaving Emma sitting alone.

He came back two minutes later with a small wrapped gift that could fit in the palm of her hand.

“Professor, you didn’t have to get me anything,” Emma said as she turned it over in her hands a few times.

“Of course I did. I mean, it’s not much, but of course, I’m going to give you a gift for Christmas,” Henry said, watching Emma toy with the corners of the wrapping paper.

“We’ll go on, open it,” Henry said, watching as Emma gave a shy smile before taking the wrapping paper off quickly, her smile brightening immensely as two woven cloth bracelets became a clear image in her eyes. The bracelets themselves were black with dark blue outlines and one had the two Pac Man ghosts while the other had Pac Man himself, eating orbs on his escape.

“Wow, Professor. These are great!” Emma said happily.

“I’m glad you like it. It took me a while to learn how to make the pattern properly. I figured since you said you never wanted a tattoo, I could make you these friendship bracelets and you could give one to a friend. Who needs a Be More Chill Pac Man tattoo, when a bracelet is essentially the same without the ‘this is forever’ bit,” Henry rambled.

“So I can give this other one to anyone?” She asked, holding up the Pac Man bracelet.

“Absolutely. It’s yours, of course,” Henry explained. Emma smiles before holding out the bracelet- the ghost one already partially around her wrist- for him to take.

“Then it’s yours, Professor,” Emma smiled softly.

“Really?” He asked in surprise.

“Of course. Now, what do you say we build this Gingerbread Fortress?”

-

Five hours later and the sun had set. 

Emma Perkins and Henry Hidgens sat a foot away from each other on Henry’s couch, watching and Criticizing Christmas movies while they drank cocoa that made them feel all warm inside.

Charlotte was home with Sam, curled up on the couch listening to the fire crackle in their fireplace and their spouses breathing as they fantasize about their future with children.

Paul was over with Bill, Alice, and Deb. The four were in Bills kitchen talking and laughing about whatever came to mind as Bills ac kept them safe from the outsides bitter cold.

Melissa was home, music from her most recent hyper fixation playing from her phone as she sat beside her own fireplace, reading some book she loved for the seven-hundredth time.

Mr. Davidson was in the living room, watching as Oliver paraded around happily in his new Skin-tone binder that Carol and him had bought for Christmas, enjoying the truly genuine smile on Oliver’s face and the giddiness him and Carol couldn’t seem to get rid of as their sons' excitement spread like flames.

Ted was at a bar, sitting by himself as he people watched and drank, thinking up ways to avoid the family he so needed to be free from as liquor burned its way down his throat.

Chapter Text

Henry sat up slowly with a groan as the feeling of his joints being stabbed and his muscles being enflamed slowly faded away. He didn’t move to stand up, leaning against the counter behind him. His lungs burned with every intake of breath and refused to properly fill up, leaving him feeling out of breath. He tried to focus on his breathing, but his head was too fuzzy.

‘In… Out… In… Out… Out- No, In… Out… In… In-... D**n it!’

Music was just playing in his head. A hundred voices ringing in his head over and over and over. A simple yet repetitive melody that played until it got lost in echos and distortion that was just screaming for his limited attention as his eyes burned and his head throbbed.

Eventually, the mindless singing about how he’d be under its control turned to Emma and Ted and how he had to go and turn them. Catch them and let them get infected now. Now, now, now now, Now, Now, NOW, NOW, NOW, NOW, NOW, NOW, NOW!

“Shut Up…” he muttered quietly. When the alien virus didn’t listen to him- not that he expected it to- he repeated his request for it to shut up. When it still didn’t work, he brought his hands up to his ears, attempting to block out the noise and trying to yell louder than the brain-numbing melody so he didn’t have to listen.

He was lucky the lab was soundproof, he would have thought if he could focus. Because Emma and Ted could be right outside the door and wouldn’t hear as he begged and screamed for the music to shut up as it changed from topic to topic, trying to convince him to join the Hive.

Eventually, it settled on world peace as an option. Talking of how this would make the world better. And slowly, like someone who had been kidnapped and only told lies about a cult for months, he started to believe it.

-

Bill groaned quietly as he slowly opened his eyes, looking around to find himself in the Starlight Theater. He shook his head fuzzily, feeling as if he were floating in a fog. He closed his eyes again, listening as some people talked, nothing catching his attention except for the word ‘dad’.

‘Huh… I’m a dad… I wonder how Alice is. She’s probably having fun in Clivesdale… She’s not in Clivesdale… She just called me… She was in danger-’

The second that thought entered his head, he sat up and looked around again. The stadium was mostly empty except for three weird-looking ghosts who were sitting on the stage talking, not having noticed him yet.

He briefly wondered what he was doing here when he remembered what had just happened at her school. He stood up, determined to go find Alice when the doors on the far side of the theater slammed open, letting in two more of those ghosts. One had short brown hair and an orange beanie, similar to Deb’s. The other had long brown hair and a pink sweater. Despite how different the second one looked, Bill recognized her.

Alice ran up to him, tackling him in a hug.

"DAD!” She yelled between sobs. Bill, unsure of what to say, held his daughter. Deb stood nearby. Smiling softly at the scene.

-

Emma glanced over at Ted with a sigh. They had moved to the living room, where Ted was laid out on the couch, while Emma was sat in an armchair a few feet away, a baseball bat next to her and a gun on the arm of the couch in case either of them needed to defend themselves.

“What’s with the look, Crabby Barista?” Ted asked, not turning away from the ceiling to look at her.

“You’re just so… weird,” Emma said, shaking her head softly.

“Wow. Thanks,” he said sarcastically.

“I didn’t mean it like that. I mean… from what I’ve seen of you, you’re an a**hole. I didn’t think you were capable of caring for anyone,” Emma started.

“And the compliments just keep on coming. Look, Snappy, is there a point to this or are you just gonna keep insulting me. Cuz if it’s the latter, I’d rather get s**t faced,” he said.

“Yeah, there’s a point. A**hole. I was gonna say that you clearly care. You didn’t deserve what you got,” Emma said. 

Ted was silent for a few minutes and Emma looked over to see if he had fallen asleep. He was staring at the ceiling with glazed-over eyes.

“Ted?” she asked.

“Look…” he started before sighing. He didn’t say anything for a minute before continuing. “Look, Bitter-Unsweet coffee, I appreciate the pity but if you could just… Not tell the others. It’s none of their business and I’d like to keep it that way. M’kay?” Ted asked.

“I…” Emma started before trailing off when he turned to glare at her. “Okay.”

They both sat in silence for another two minutes.

“Have you ever told anyone this?” Emma asked.

“When I was younger, my friends knew. They weren’t able to do anything…” he trailed off. “I don’t really think they cared, though.”

All conversation ended after that. Emma was never good at comforting people, and this was no exception. Another few minutes passed before Ted rotated on the couch to a sitting position. Emma watched as he stood up and started slowly stumbling away.

“Where ya going?” she asked.

“Bathroom. I’ll be right back,” was all he said before leaving the room completely.

Emma sighed and slouched back in her chair further before realizing that Henry had been quiet for a while. So, she got up and went to check on him. Leaving the baseball bat in the living room as she went.

-

She found Henry sitting in the lab, smoking a cigarette. She ignored her unease and stepped forward, noting the flask full of blue s**t that he was staring intently at.

“Professor?” she asked.

His head shot around as he turned to look at Emma, and he grinned.

“Emma!” he yelled, holding up the flask and discarding his cigarette as he stood and turned to face her completely.

“It’s Remarkable! Simply Remarkable! Tell me, Emma, how do you explain an entire race of beings spontaneously bursting into song and dance? How do they all know the lyrics? Th- The choreography?” he asked her. She silently groaned.

“I don’t know, they’re all getting orders from the mothership?” she guessed. Henry froze for a second before spinning around to face her.

“You’re not far off! What we’re dealing with here is a collective consciousness! On one level, they are individuals. But on another, they are appendages of a much larger organism all connected by a central brain,” he explained in his overdramatic, flamboyant way.

“And the brain came down in the meteor?” Emma guessed.

“Or!” Henry started, “It is the meteor.”

“Oh… Kay? Um… Okay and so it wants to kill us all so it can resurrect us as part of its sh**ty musical?” she asked, trying to make sure she understood.

“That’s…” Henry paused, looking conflicted for a second. “One way of putting it. You could also say it’s uniting us in one common purpose. Think! Emma, this entity were to spread to the entire planet, why… it could achieve what over fifty thousand years of human civilization never could…” he said, causing Emma to eye him carefully. “World peace.”

“Okay… but how do we stop it?” she asked, trying to subtly remind him that this was bad. Henry wouldn’t look at her now.

“Yes… of course… Stop it.”

“Okay, um. All right, all right. So this all started with the meteor. It is the brain. So, if we take it out… will all these things just die?” she guessed.

“That’s a sound theory, Emma… Which is why it must never leave this room,” he said.

Emma turned to him. “What?” She asked before noticing the syringe in his hand.

“Shh, don’t fight it,” he said softly as he advanced.

“No no no no noo…” she said, droning off as he shoved the needle in her neck. Passing out a few seconds later.

-

When Ted came back from the bathroom to find the living room empty, he didn’t think much of it. Coffee girl had her own life, after all. He made his way back over to the couch and laid back down, folding his arms under his head like a pillow and laying his feet on the opposite arm of the couch.

He sat in silence for a few minutes, the only sound being the ticking of the clock, which he glanced at every other minute. Even if he figured Alice, Bill, and Paul wouldn’t come back, he wanted them to. Desperately.

Charlotte was gone. He had none of his old friends left. Sam and him had drifted apart after high school and started hating each other after what happened with Charlotte and her kid. 

John had gone off to join the army and Ted had never heard from him again.

Even if Ted was rude to Bill and Paul, he still had nice moments with them. He still-

Ted was knocked from his thoughts by Henry coming into the room, mumbling to himself. He hadn’t noticed Ted yet.

“Hey, Professor,” Ted called from where he was laying the couch.

“Oh, Ted. Hello,” he said, his hands fidgeting slightly.

“How’s the lab stuff goin’?” Ted asked.

“It’s- It’s going good. Emma’s down there now, making sure I get a break and don’t overwork myself,” Henry said. 

Ted nodded, his eyes flickering to the clock and noticing the fact that Paul and Bill had been gone for close to forty minutes.

“How’s your leg doing?” Henry asked.

“It’s doing better,” Ted nodded.

“Good… Good…” Henry said, his eyes flicking to something Ted couldn’t see on the coffee table behind him.

“Look, Ted. I’m sorry in advance,” Henry said, stepping closer and pulling something out of his pocket.

“Sorry? Sorry for what?” Ted asked, recognizing that Henry had pulled out a needle. 

Henry went to inject it into his neck and Ted brought up his hands to catch Henry’s wrist. They wrestled for a few minutes, Ted trying to stop Henry and Henry trying to inject Ted with some sort of tranquilizer.

Ted had almost overpowered him when Henry managed to kick him in his bad leg. Ted yelled out in pain and dropped his arms in an attempt to grab his leg when Henry got the syringe into his neck.

“I’m sorry,” Henry muttered as everything went black for Ted.

Chapter Text

Emma groaned as she woke up, looking around. She was in a darkly lit room she didn’t recognize and… was… tied to a chair. She noticed Ted tied up in a chair to her back and stiffened, quietly wondering where Henry was.

“Hey,” she whispered, trying to wake up Ted. He snored softly and she silently cursed before slamming the back of her chair against his.

“Hey!” She whispered much louder.

“Huh, wha-?” Ted grumbled, slowly raising his head up. “Wha- what the f**k?” he grumbled, looking around.

“So, you’re finally awake,” Henry said as he came walking in. Ted was facing Henry, leading to Emma trying to shift her chair around so she was next to him and he was a barrier between her and the Professor. Ted shifted his head around a bit, looking more panicked as he realized the situation he was in.

“Professor Hidgens, what are you doing?” Emma asked.

“Exactly what needs to be done!” he said, and Emma noticed the cobalt blue that was rimming the iris in his eyes. He was infected, at least partially.

“ALEXA!” He yelled, getting a chime from Alexa. “Open the Gates. Turn off the Fences. Shut It All Down!” Electricity buzzed as Henry crossed the room to some security screens nearby.

“No Professor! The Fences Are The Only Things Protecting Us!” Emma yelled. She could make out people opening the gate and coming in on the security cameras on the far side of some kind of table covered in a white sheet. One of the men- the one in the leather jacket- looked a lot like how Ted had described his brother. She hoped Ted couldn’t see the screens.

“Protecting us from What, Emma? From the ‘End of the World’? What’s protecting us from nuclear Holocaust? Climate Change? Overpopulation?” Henry knelt down in front of Emma and Ted, who exchanged concerned looks. 

“Emma… The world was already doomed. Not by them. But by us… I was trying to save something that couldn’t be saved...” Henry’s eyes traveled between Emma and Ted, almost regretfully.

“Until now,” he stood up, heading towards the small table covered in a white sheet. “But before we can get reborn into a better world… First, we must say our goodbyes…” He finished, turning to look at them.

“No!” Emma quietly gasped, trying to lean away from where Henry was as he slowly stepped closer.

“No, Please!” Ted muttered, scooching his chair a bit and nudging the Emmas chair to mover her a bit too. Henry stared at them both for a minute.

“Alexa,” he called. Getting a chime in response. “After all these years in isolation, with you as one of my only companions… I’ve come to love you as much as any friend of flesh and bone.”

Ted and Emma shared some ‘What the f**k’ looks. 

“Which is why it pains me to have to do this…” he continued.

“Alexa… Initiate self-destruct,” he said. Nothing happened for a second and Emma opened her mouth- to tell him Alexa couldn’t do that- when the Amazon echo in the room popped like an overheated can of hair spray. Causing Emma and Ted to jump back and scream.

“What- how-?” Emma asked.

“I upgraded Alexa a few years ago in case something happened,” Henry explained. Emma and Ted stared at him for a minute.

“WHY?” Emma yelled.

“It was perfectly reasonable at the time,” Henry said. 

“Please, Please Professor. Can you just let us go?” Ted asked, staring at the smoke emitting from where the Amazon Echo had once been.

“I’m afraid I can’t do that, Ted,” he said, his eyes still flashing blue. 

“Don’t you see that in order for humanity to survive it must evolve. That’s what these visitors from the stars have brought us… Salvation. We must join them. This is our second chance…” His eyes traveled to a picture frame next to the security screens. Emma had seen that picture a hundred times before, as it was normally in the lab. It was a picture of Henry and some of his college friends playing football. “My second chance…”

“Professor… think about what you’re doing,” Emma said. Henry looked over at her to see her nodding to the camera screens, and he looked there. Recognizing- same as she had- who was most likely Ted’s brother. Ted leaned over, trying to see what it was, but didn’t seem to be able to see properly.

“Emma…” he started, looking sick almost. “Did you know that long before I was a biologist, I had a much truer and deeper passion?” he asked, stepping closer to the covered table. Emma had an idea of where this was going, but she didn’t like it. She shook her head no but couldn’t find it in her to look away.

“Yes… My first love was… and always will be… Musical Theater!” Hey yelled as he pulled off the sheet, revealing it wasn’t a small table, but a keyboard. For a second, Emma thought she heard a chuckle from someone else, but she was too shocked to react to it.

“Oh… GOD no.”

“Th-...” Ted started, looking around for a second like ‘what the f**k’. “This guy is f**king NUTS!” Ted yelled. Emma closed her eyes and sighed out of her nose.

“After examining that creature you once called Charlotte, I made a fascinating discovery. These aliens… They- they possess a highly specialized gland that allows them to communicate through rhythmic frequencies. They’re Drawn… To MUSIC! Like a moth to the flame,” Henry explained.

“No,”

“No… don’t f**king do it!”

“Please!”

“Don’t You F**king Do It!”

Henry looked at them both for a second. He almost looked like he would stop then and there, when blue flashed through his eyes, harsher than before. He grit his teeth, causing Ted and Emma to both fall silent.

“This Is Humanities Eleventh Hour!” he yelled, sitting down in the most flamboyant way possible. “And I’ve Prepared Something For The Occasion…”

Ted turned to look at Emma, and the look he sent her was indescribable, but also matched the shock and horror and confusion she was feeling.

Henry played a few keys on the keyboard, causing Ted and Emma to turn back to him.

“Oh god. Nononononono…” Ted muttered.

It's… A… Show stoppin' number,” he sang, playing his keyboard as he sang. “A real show stopper. A show stoppin' number, come on. Something to shock 'em, to bring them a-crawling… A big-time box-office draw. With the press and the glamour, we'll kill the reviews. Spotlight on Mr. Ingenue. So fill up your Tumblr, Got a show stoppin' number for you.”

“Professor, please, if they find us they will kill us!” She said, trying to stress to him this was bad, watching out of the corner of her eyes as Ted looked around anxiously, nodding along to what Emma said. Henry, of course, ignored her.

“A show stoppin' number,” he sang as he stood up.

“Oh God,” Emma muttered.

“Is something you die for. A real catchy earworm-y tune,” he continued as Emma looked down at the ground, wondering if this was really how she was going to die.

“An award-winning score,” Emma looked up as Ted suddenly sat up stiff, and she saw that her Biology Professor was ripping off his jacket the same way a porn star removed their Sex-buddies jacket. “That seeps in and out of your pores!”

“No- NO!” Emma yelled as Ted turned to look at her in shock before turning back to The Professor.

“A ditty to make the chorus girls swoooooooon,” he sang as he tossed his jacket to the side. 

“It'll unify humanity in a thundering chorus! No exits from this Broadway venuuuue,” he sang as Emma noticed Ted was bobbing his head in time to the beat that was pre-recorded on Henry’s keyboard.

“So crash those shiny cymbals, Got a show stoppin' hymnal for you,” Henry sang. Emma shook her head at Ted as the music went quiet for a few seconds. Henry looked over at them and smiled.

“This song's pretty good, huh? I bet you didn't know I was also a composer. In fact, while I've been preparing for the apocalypse I've also been writing my own musical…” he explained, kicking at the ground softly. He bit his lip before suddenly turning to them. 

“Do you mind if I give you the pitch?” he asked excitedly, clapping his hands together once.

“We don't have time-” Emma started, not really sure he would fall for that since what could they possibly be late for?

“F**king go for it!” Ted said, cutting her off as he sat up a bit more and leaned forward in his seat.

Emma sighed before turning to glare at him, kicking his leg as well. He looked over at her and whispered: “Is now a bad time to mention I actually really like musicals?” Emma groaned as Henry kept talking.

“It's called: Working Boys: A New Musical. It's the story of a group of old college chums. Sure, they found success in the business world. Still, they can't help but long for the simpler times,” Ted leaned back in his chair a bit, smiling wistfully. Emma- on the other hand- kind of wished she was already dead. “Back in that beat-up old house at the edge of campus. But those glory days, they're gone for good…” he trailed off, making Ted frowned. Emma bit back a groan.

“Or... are they?” Ted all but jumped in his seat, looking between Emma and Henry excitedly as Henry crossed to the center of the room. “This here... is the title number!”

“Business calls, I'm up to my a** in s**t… What is this business? Markets are crashing and I'm at the edge of my wits, I just can't take it! When all I want to do,” Henry sang, jumping into the big dance that looked way to complicated for someone of… Henry’s age. She glanced over at Ted and fought the urge to kick him again as he was dancing in his seat excitedly.

“Is spend the day with Greg… And Steve… And Stu… And Mark… And Leighton… And Chad…” Henry had Ted’s full attention and Emma was still absolutely bewildered that this was even a scenario in her life.

“Ring, ring. The phone rings,” Henry said as Ted looked up at him. “I answer it!”

As Henry crossed the room towards his keyboard, Emma lost her internal battle and kicked Ted in the leg again. He sent her an unamused look before turning back to her Professor.

“Oh, hey Greg... I'm swamped... With business... Stocks, bonds, golden parachutes... Remember those days on the football field, Greg? Last week feels like ages ago,” Henry mused softly.

“What? Today? After work? On the football field? The old stomping ground, eh Greg?” Ted was ecstatic and absolutely enamored with the musical at this point. “Just you.. and me... and Steve... and Stu... and Mark, and Leighton…” Henry’s eyes almost stopped flashing cobalt and went back to his normal icy blue color, Emma noticed.

“And Chad,” him and Ted said at the same. Emma kicked Ted a third time, but he didn’t even look at her, too enamored with this musical.

Henry paused for another minute as his eyes flashed cobalt again.

“Five o'clock. I'll see you then, Greg…” he said, acting as if he was hanging up a phone. “I'll see you then…” his eyes flickered to a clock on the wall and Emma followed his gaze, noting that it was maybe fifteen minutes away from five o’clock according to that clock, but it was also probably a lot later considering that particular clock was always off time.

“All I want to do, Is spend that day with Steve and— Five o'clock can't come soon enough,” Emma and Ted watched in shock and- just a little- amazement as Henry performed his next bit, with Emma being slightly concerned that he should stop because he was still an old man who might get hurt. “Five o'clock can't come soon enough. Five o'clock can't come soon enough. I can't wait to get home, To my boys.”

Emma and Ted shared another look as the music went back to before he had played the music for his song.

“A show stoppin' number, a real show stopper. An aria to rule them all,” Emma had to look away as Henry’s dance involved too much hip-swaying for her to appreciate.

“They'll throw us their money at full price admission,” she looked to Ted who at least seemed to be enjoying himself, and briefly wondered if her Professor had set this up so he wouldn’t freak out if that really was Ted’s brother on the monitors.

“The world will come tumblin' down. Hamilton, move over, Your new competition's in town.”

“Hey, Henry!” the guy who looked like Ted’s brother said as he popped his head into the room. 

The response from Ted had been immediate. He had frozen and gone back to anxiously looking around. Whether he was looking for an escape or anyone else, she didn’t know. She looked over to Henry, to see his eyes were almost completely cobalt.

“Greg! Is that really you?” he asked after a pause.

“Professor, no! That's not Greg!” Emma yelled. Ted shook his head mutely next to her.

“Been a long time…” Ted’s brother said, his eyes flickering to Ted as he grinned darkly. Ted shrank down in his seat a tiny bit.

“Hey, boys, wanna toss that pig-skin around?” someone else asked as they came in the entrance behind Emma and Ted. She didn’t recognize him and she doubted Ted did either, as he seemed too panicked about his brother.

“Oh god, no,” Ted muttered quietly.

“Stu! You haven't aged a day! Is it five o'clock already? It must be!” Henry said, not noticing Ted and Emma’s panic. Or maybe he did and was just too far gone at this point.

“Come on, Henry. We've got some catching up to do,” the fake Stu said.

“Working boys, we're up in our a** in s**t,” Emma noticed this time that Ted was not enjoying the musical. “What is this business? Five o'clock can't come soon enough. Five o'clock can't come soon enough. Five o'clock can't come soon enough. I can't wait to get home, To my boooooooooys!”

Ted’s brother and the fake Stu dragged Henry out of the room, and she fought back a whimper, realizing this might be how she died. Tied up next to Ted by her favorite teacher and ripped apart by- as Ted had put it earlier- Singing Zombie Motherf**kers.

“Help! Please!” She screamed once they were out of sight.

“Oh! Please! Please, Please, God! If You Save Me Right Now I Promise I’ll Be A better Person! Please!” Ted yelled next to her.

They both felt someone start messing with their restraints and jumped with a yell at the sudden feeling.

“It’s okay, guys. I’m here!” Paul said from behind them. They both turned to look at him in excitement, yelling his name.

“Shh,” he said as he finished untying Emma and stood her up before working at Ted’s restraints. “We gotta get out of here while they’re distracted,” he explained as he untied Ted as well, who started crossing the room.

“Should I take this chair?” she asked, picking it up and following Paul, who had dashed across the room, closing the door Henry, Ted’s brother, and fake Stu had gone down before sitting the chair under the handle so it wouldn’t open.

“Yes!” Paul said as he took Emma’s chair and set it next to his and against the wall, so the door wouldn’t open all the way.

“I’ll get the piano!”  Ted called before dragging the keyboard over so it could be added to the mix.

The three went to leave when Emma’s eyes landed on the monitors Henry had been using earlier. She could see Henry on one of the screens.

There was no audio, but it wasn’t hard to see what was going on. It wasn’t hard to make out as his delight turned to terror as his stomach was ripped open. 

Chapter Text

Henry wasn’t surprised to find his end to be a gruesome death, it didn’t even hurt that much compared to what he was feeling from the hive infection.

He wasn’t, however, expecting to wake up in the Hatchetfield Theater, with six ghost looking figures standing over him.

He had screamed, admitted. And then screamed again when he saw he was in a similar state to the others.

“Henry! Henry, Relax!” One of them yelled. His voice sounded similar. Almost like…

“Chad?” Henry asked. The ghost who resembled Chad smiled.

“Yup. Nice to see ya too, Henry,” Chad grinned wider as Henry took a minute to look over the others.

“Greg? Mark? Stu? Steve?” He asked, looking between the four. They each smiled and he was quick to jump up, wrapping all of them in a hug which they happily returned, and he fought back the desire to start crying. His eyes traveled between them until they landed on someone a little behind Stu.

“Leighton!” he exclaimed, quickly passing Stu and hugging the smallest of the group. Leighton seemed surprised at first, but also returned the hug.

“It’s… it’s great to see you all again. You have no idea what my life has been like since you all… “ Henry trailed off, but they understood what he had been going to say. He refused to cry right now.

“We have a slight idea,” Steve muttered.

“Yeah. After we became infected we woke up here and spent, like, two hours trying to find out where you lived and another hour getting there,” Stu explained.

“Cool place, by the way,” Greg added. Henry seemed to almost pale.

“How much did you guys see?” He asked slowly. He refused to cry right now.

“A lot,” Leighton muttered.

“Did you really become a shut in?” Chad asked. He jumped away from Mark with a mutter of ‘ow’.

“I was a shut in before we were friends. Are you really surprised that I was one after you left?” Henry asked. But it almost sounded weak. Henry refused  to cry right now.

“We just… expected you to have moved on, is all,” Mark said. An uneasy silence settled around them.

“I liked your Musical, Henry,” Leighton said, smiling. Henry smiled back.

“Thanks. I’ve spent a lot of time on it,” Henry joked. He refused to cry right now.

 

-

 

Sam and Charlotte were just about to leave the private room they’d been in, when a figure flickered into existence. Another ghost with caramel brown hair in a ponytail, a black hat on his head and wearing a bulletproof jacket.

“Should we leave?” Charlotte asked after a minute.

“I’m not sure. I mean, someone probably should tell him what’s going on, right?” Sam asked.

“I guess,” she shrugged. Another minute passed in silence, until Charlotte stepped closer to him.

“He looks a little like you, doesn’t he Sam?” Charlotte said. Sam squinted at the other man before shaking his head.

“I don’t see it,” Sam said with a shrug. Charlotte went to say something else, when she froze suddenly.

“Oh! You’re awake,” she said, turning and smiling at the guy. He didn’t smile back.

“Where am I?” he asked instead. Sam stepped closer to Charlotte in case the guy tried anything.

“Oh! You’re in the Hatchetfield Theater. That’s where everyone wakes up,” Charlotte explained. This guy didn’t have any obvious signs of how he’d been infected. He didn’t have any obvious wounds, or the tell-tale blue around his mouth like anyone who had died from the infection with no physical wounds. He eyed the top of Sam’s head and Charlotte’s free hanging intestines warily.

“Woke up?” he asked.

“Yeah. Everyone who’s gotten infected has woken up here,” Sam explained. The guy was quiet for a minute.

“What’s your name?” Sam asked. The guy locked eyes with him and nothing was said for a minute.

“General McNamara,” he said, not looking away.

“McNamara? Like, John McNamara?” Charlotte asked, causing both Sam and John to turn to her.

“Yes,” John said, eyeing her suspiciously as it clicked in Sam’s head.

“John! It’s me, Charlotte,” Charlotte said, smiling. John’s eyes widened.

“Charlotte?” he asked, starting to smile the slightest bit.

“I just said so,” Charlotte teased. John’s grin widened as he dashed forward, scooping up Charlotte and spinning her around in a hug. Sam smiled a bit as Charlotte giggled, reaching a hand up to fix her bow- which had partially fallen out- as he set her down. John’s eyes traveled to Sam, who grinned.

“Sam,” John said.

“Come here,” Sam said, accepting the hug from John. A few seconds passed before Charlotte giggled again. They both turned to him and she giggled again.

“Sorry. It’s just- you don’t have arms- it looks like you’re just bumping into each other-” she said before breaking out in giggles again. Sam and John shared amused looks before all three sitting down on the little couch.

“I can’t believe you’re in Hatchetfield, John. After you left, I didn’t think you’d ever come back,” Charlotte said.

“Yeah. I joined the army and was stationed in a base outside Hatchetfield, right on the road leading here from Clivesdale,” John explained. “How’s the married life going?”

“It’s… “Charlotte started, unsure how to continue.

“We’ve had a few issues, but we’re working them out now,” Sam said. John looked between the two, knowing there was something more, but didn’t push it.

“If you don’t mind my asking, what happened to you two? Like, how’d you get infected?” John asked.

“Oh, well one of my friends bash my head in with a band stand,”Sam said casually.

“I was serenaded and then had my stomach ripped out,” Charlotte added. John nodded.

“One of my men got too close to one of those things when I was talking to Paul. After I sent Paul on his way, he took us all out,” John explained. Charlotte’s head shot up again.

“Paul? You saw him?” Charlotte asked.

“Yeah. He had gone looking for a friend's kid. He said he was going to run back to grab some girl, then he was going to go for the evac-chopper,” John explained.

“Alice! Is she okay?” Charlotte asked. Sam grimaced from behind her until she turned to look at him.

“Not… exactly. I met her earlier this morning…” Sam said. She frowned before suddenly looking up again.

“Do you think the others are okay? The Professor and Paul and Emma and Bill and Ted?” She asked. The last name got the most attention from John.

“Teddy?” He asked, using the old nickname Ted hated.

“Yeah! He works with me. He’d stayed with the Professor since he got hurt,” Charlotte explained.

“Well, let's go see if he’s fine. If he’s with Paul and that girl- Emma- , then he’s going to Oakley park, that’s where the evac- chopper is landing,” John explained.

“Okay, let's go then,” Charlotte said, standing up happily. Sam and John both stood up, Sam a little slower then the other two.

They walked out of the room only for someone to bump into Charlotte, knocking her to the ground.

“Oh! Sorry!” The short girl said as Sam and John rushed to help Charlotte up. A short haired guy with a blue hole in his head also rushed from behind the girl to help up Charlotte.

“It’s fine. I’m-“ Charlotte looked up at the short haired man and froze.

“Bill?” She asked. He stared at her a second before recognizing her as well.

“Charlotte?” He asked. She smiled softly and the two quickly hugged. The girl who’d knocked over Charlotte looked between Bill and Charlotte, slightly embarrassed. Her and the girl next to her looked at John, and then Sam, and he recognized them.

“Hi, Sam,” Alice said. Deb waved from next to her.

“Hi kids,” he said before turning to John. “That’s Alice, the kid Char was asking about, and her girlfriend Deb,” John explained. John nodded before turning to the two girls and Charlottes co-worker.

“Nice to meet you three. I’m John McNamara,” he introduced himself. Bill and Alice smiled.

“I’m Bill. As Sam said, this is my daughter Alice and her girlfriend Deb,” Bill introduces.

“Hi,” Alice smiled. Deb still nodded.

The group spent another few minutes talking until Charlotte explained where they were going. Bill, Alice, and Deb agreed to come with them as well, since it was nice to have friends around.

 

The group made their way out of the building and towards Oakley Park.

Chapter Text

Despite the dull stabbing pain in his leg, Ted ran. He ran until him and Paul and Emma couldn’t run anymore. They all took a minute to breathe. Ted’s head was still spinning from Working Boys and his brother… but one thing stood out the most to him. Henry had wanted a second chance. He’d wanted to make things right with someone. Ted looked between Emma and Paul, who could have left him to give themselves more time to escape.

“Come on guys, there’s a helicopter coming to pick us up. We gotta get to Oakley park in-” Paul checked a watch Ted was pretty sure didn’t belong to him, “Oh s**t! It’s 10:52. We’re gonna have to huff it.”

“Wait, Paul. I gotta say something,” Ted said, stealing his will.

“Not now, Ted-” Paul started.

“Yes, Now!” Ted snapped before taking a moment to calm down. “... Today, uh, today has, uh, has broken me... I’m ashamed of how I acted earlier... With Bill... Well s**t, I wanted to abandon Erica back there,” He said, feeling like an idiot for saying the wrong name, but it was too late now.

“Emma!” Emma said.

“Gesundheit…” he joked before becoming serious again. “And Paul... I wish I could be brave like you,” he admitted.

“Shut the f**k up dude. We gotta go!” Emma yelled. He almost winced.

“But you see, I deserve any kind of abuse you guys also want to give me, alright? Because I- Come here-” he said. Paul and Emma stepped slightly closer. 

“I’ve been a grade-A a**hole. But I swear-! Come on,” he grabbed Paul and Emma’s hands. “I swear I am going to be a better person because today has taught me something and it’s what’s really important in this life. And it’s the people you care about, you know?” 

Emma and Paul shared a look similar to the looks he and Emma had exchanged during the Professor’s freak out. Before he got into it. He bit back a sigh and shoved Emma away, turning to Paul.

“Hey, Paul? I have always considered you one of my best friends-” he started, only for someone else to cut him off.

“wORKING BOYS YOU’RE UP TO YOUR A** IN S**T!” Ted’s Brother yelled as he popped up, Grabbing Paul and Pulling him away.

Ted screamed, freezing in place. He wouldn’t have moved at all if Emma hadn’t shoved herself in front of him. That was all it took for him to start backpedaling away.

“Okay, I’m just gonna run away now!” he yelled, stepping even further from Emma.

“Get the f**k back here-” Emma yelled.

“I Can’t! I Hate You Okay Bye!” Ted yelled over her.

“You Coward!” he heard her yell. And she wasn’t wrong.

“Hey, I said I’d Be A Better Person, I’m Still Not A Good Person!” he yelled, his eyes flickering back to where his brother had been.

“UGH!” Emma groaned before running toward where Paul had been taken. She vanished from view and he considered staying behind for them when a scream made him completely lose it and start running.

And despite the fact Ted had said he wanted to be a better person and the concern- not that he’d ever tell anyone- he felt for Paul, the fear of his brother won and he was running. Farther and farther away from Paul and Emma.

“Bye!” he yelled, wondering if they actually were dead. But with that scream, how could they not be. He had one thought about going back. And it was a simple one. “F******ck That!”

He ran a bit more until he made it to the center of Oakley Park. Gasping for breath and his leg flaming with pain.

“Okay, alright. I just gotta get to that chopper,” he muttered to himself as he was gasping for breath.

“What? Huh?” he asked, his eyes registering something in the distance.

Men and Women in all-black outfits, holding guns.

Soldiers.

“Oh Yeah! The Military! Oh Yes! Over Here! Over Here!” he yelled, gaining their attention as they stepped closer. “Oh, Yes! Just save me! I’m the only one that survived, Everyone else is dead,” He briefly wondered if that was true. He figured they were.

“Oh. I tell ya. Oh man, you guys are a sight for sore eyes. Huh? You know, I always support the troops- That’s number one,” Ted faintly heard footsteps behind him. 

“And number two, I bleed red, white, and b-” Ted said, only to be cut off by the sound of a gunshot and the feeling of something sharp cutting through his neck.

The pain came first, but the inability to completely fill his lungs- leaving Ted gasping for breath- was so much worse.

“I don't know what you've been told,” someone sang as a hand was slammed down on Ted’s right shoulder, a face appearing in his vision to his left. Bright blue eyes being the most attention-grabbing of this man’s figures.

“But Americans should fit a mold,” he continued. Ted gagged, feeling something coming up his throat, some of it landing on his tongue as he coughed some more of it out. Registering the metallic taste as blood. He gagged again, trying to remove the blood from and clear out his throat for maximum oxygen intake.

“There's a war to be fought in this country,” he sang as Ted saw him start bringing his hand up towards Ted’s face. Something blue shining in his palm. Ted registered what it was. The Blue s**t.

“No... N-no!” Ted whimpered between gagging and trying to suck down air. He tried to hold off the guy- but between Ted’s office job, lack of exercise, and the hole in his neck, and this soldier's life in the army- the winner, however, was clear as this soldier overpowered him.

“Against those that are far too bold,” he felt the slime-like material traveled down his throat, clogging up his airway. He choked a bit more, gagging worse as the slime slid over the hole straight through his neck, stinging as it mixed with his blood.

As black-rimmed his vision, he found it almost ironic. Not only had he been killed by someone who he had thought was going to save him, but this probably wouldn’t have happened if he’d stayed to help Paul and Emma. He was a deserter. Like an old civil war soldier who hadn’t wanted to fight and had tried to flee. And he’d been treated the same.

“A two-party system left and right,” was the last thing he heard before losing consciousness completely.

 

-

 

As the ghostly group approached Oakley Park, they passed Paul and- who John assumed- was Emma.

“Thank you, Emma,” Paul was saying, confirming John’s suspicions.

“They’re alive!” Bill said, smiling a bit.

“Yeah, but where’s the a**hole?” Deb asked, pointing out the lack of a whole person from the group. John hadn’t heard her talk much, but from what she had said he knew she was just a generally relaxed person. John looked around, trying to see if he could locate his old friend, but he didn’t see him.

As the two survivors approached the Park, Paul froze. John saw himself and his troops marching along the park and singing, one of them in the middle of pulling on his helmet as he performed.

“Oh God no,” he said. “General McNamara they got you too.”

“Who’s General McNamara?” Emma asked, looking over the soldiers.

“He was a good man,” Paul said, which surprised John because, admittedly, he had been a bit of a menace to Paul by destroying his iPhone. And technically John did knock him out and threaten him with his firearm, which he realized Paul didn’t have. All of the soldiers turned to Paul and Emma.

“Sir, it’s Paul!” All of them yelled.

“Wha-?” Emma started to yell, only for Paul to push himself partially in front of her.

“Just Run, Emma. Run!” Paul yelled. They both broke off into a sprint. Staying around the edge of the park instead of going out the gate they’d come in.

“Why- why are they still in the park? Why didn’t they leave the park?” Bill asked.

“They’re probably desperate to get on the evac,” Sam said.

“You can’t run,” John’s body sang, his other soldiers echoing what he said a few seconds after he did until it was a distorted mess.

“Because our borders are closed,” it continued.

“You’re staring down a gun,” fake continued as John noticed something was off.

“Oh my god, we have to get out of here!” Emma yelled.

“Then Go back to the Gate!” Alice yelled. 

“But the helicopter is going to meet us here!” Paul said, looking around for an answer.

“Or they could jump the fence. It’s not that high up,” Sam added.

John ignored them, trying to figure out what was off.

“Then what are we supposed to do? Just go through them?” Emma yelled, sounding close to panic.

“Oh, Jeez, I don’t- I don’t know!” Paul yelled as well.

“Cause you're easily disposed,” John looked around, trying to figure it out.

“Just run for it!” Paul said.

“We missed our chance, they’re moving!” Emma yelled.

“The final solution. It's a charted course at the whim of our own evolution!” Two soldiers grabbed for Paul and Emma, Paul grabbed Emma and pulled her under the soldiers' arms. 

“Paul?” Emma asked as they both started stepping away from the ones who’d tried to grab him, stepping deeper into the grouping of soldiers in the process.

“Singularity had through a pre-destined self-destruction!”

Paul pulled Emma with him in their attempted escape.

“Pau- Paul wa-watch out!” Emma yelled.

“NO!” several of the group yelled, realizing what was about to happen.

“So that we may rebuild and experience a new construction!” John paused his search for whatever was out of place as Paul bumped into his body and spun around nervously, trying to backpedal both out of the situation and John's reach.

One of John’s soldiers- one he didn’t recognize but looked familiar- grabbed Emma, while another two grabbed Paul’s legs, trapping him there.

“Yeah, we're great again,” his body smirked before picking up Paul by the neck, clearly aiming to just suffocate him and not wanting to risk his neck snapping.

Several of his soldiers ‘Whoah-oh-oh’ed’ as Paul grabbed at John’s hands desperately.

“HOLY S**T! Look At Emma!” Deb yelled, causing the others to look over at the still uninfected female. Emma wrestled out of the familiar soldiers’ grip before stealing the gun from his grasp. The guy backed up, holding up his hands in a ‘Don’t shoot’ motion. Emma’s eyes softened just the slightest bit and she turned away from him.

Her eyes traveled over to John and they narrowed. She cocked the guy before shooting him in the shoulder. His body dropped Paul and he moved away- as did the two soldiers holding up Paul. 

Paul choked and gagged as his lungs filled with air again. Emma rushed towards him, grabbing his arm to help steady him. Her eyes turned to the sky as the sound of a helicopter filled their ears.

“Paul! The Helicopter!” She yelled. 

The soldiers who weren’t John took off at a slow march, and that’s when he realized what was off. There was an extra soldier. One more then there should have been.

He didn’t have much time to think about it when Paul and Emma both took off running towards where it landed. The ghost shared looks and took off after them. John could hear his body as it finished its song.

“We're great again, No answers to be found… We're great again, No answers… To be found,”

 

-

 

When Ted woke up in the Hatchetfield Theater, he didn’t even question it. Okay, he questioned it a little bit. He crept into one of the bathrooms and looked himself over, taking a few extra minutes to look over the hole in his neck.

“That looks painful,” another ghost said as he came in behind Ted. He had dark brown hair and glasses.

“Yup,” Ted said, eyeing the guy suspiciously until it clicked why he looked familiar.

“I’m David Davidson,” the guy introduced. 

“Ted,” was all he responded. His bosses' eyes widened. 

“Ted! Nice to see you. I didn’t recognize you,” he said.

“Yeah. I wouldn’t recognize me either with the whole neck thing. Kind of draws attention away from my face,” Ted said sarcastically.

“Ya’know, I passed Charlotte and Bill like twenty minutes ago. They were headin’ out to look for Paul, I think,” Mr. Davidson added.

“Oh, didja? Cool…” Ted said. They both trailed off and were silent for a minute.

“You know what? I might go out myself,” Ted said.

“Oh yeah?” Mr. Davidson asked.

“Yeah, why not. If anyone asks I went looking for them too. They’ll probably be somewhere around Oakley Park,” Ted said.

“Okay. See ya, Ted,” Mr. Davidson called. Ted grunted in response before slipping out of the bathroom.

He looked around the hallway before quickly rushing upstairs, finding himself in the hallway that led to all the private viewing booths. 

He peeked into the closest one, finding a Blonde lady with a blue-lined hole through her forehead screaming to the other guy, four blonde boys leaning half over the handles. He quickly closed the curtain again before heading toward the next room.

He went to open it when he overheard some of the noises going on in the next room and decided to just nope out before he even got in.

The third room had a row of seven seats, all of which were empty. 

 

He looked around again before slipping behind the curtain, letting out a sigh as he felt properly alone. He glanced over the railing towards the stage and sighed again before sitting down against the wall.

He felt small, part of why he never liked being alone. He briefly wondered if Charlotte and Bill would look him before figuring they wouldn’t. He was an a**hole after all.

He sat there and breathed. Listening to silence.

Chapter Text

The ghosts who were following Paul and Emma stopped just short of getting on the helicopter. They didn’t even know if they could leave town, so taking a helicopter out wasn’t the best idea. They watched as Emma and Paul climbed in.

The group watched them pull into the sky, Emma at one point appearing at the door, giving the finger to Hatchetfield.

“Okay, so they escaped… but where did Ted go?” Bill asked.

“Maybe he got separated?” Charlotte guessed.

“Or maybe he got infected…” Sam said.

“Wait, what happened to the Professor?” Alice asked.

“Oh yeah!” Charlotte said.

“What Professor?” John asked.

“Emma took the others to hide at her biology professor’s house. Maybe Ted hid there since his leg is all f**ked. I mean, what better place to hide then the Hatchetfield Fortress?” Deb said.

“Well, should we go check?” Charlotte asked.

“I guess we sho-“ John started, only for a faint gunshot to cut him off. He looked towards the sound of the noise and took off running when he saw the helicopter coming down.

“Holy S**t!” Deb and Sam both yelled as they all took off running after him.

The helicopter crashed to the ground, sending Emma and the pilot flying out of the door and window like they were ragdolls. Paul stayed in place as he was- apparently- the only person who had buckled. Paul groaned as he slowly sat up, shaking his head to clear his mind before looking around. When he noticed Emma missing, he started fumbling with his seatbelt.

“Emma!” he yelled, getting himself unbuckled before hopping out of the helicopter. “Emma!”

“Ugh!” Emma groaned as she dragged herself into view, a metal pipe- half soaked in blood- going right through her leg. Alice paled at the sight and hid her face in Deb’s shoulder, Bill stepping in front of the two girls to shield their view. Charlotte leaned into Sam’s side. 

“Emma!” Paul yelled, rushing over to her.

“Aaauggh! Oh!” Emma groaned as she stopped pulling herself along.

“Oh, God. Emma, your leg!” he said, trying to kneel down beside her.

“Oh, f**k! Ugh!” she groaned. Paul looked around anxiously.

“Emma… I hate to say this right now, but this is what seatbelts are for,” Paul said apologetically.

“Sh*****t!” Emma cussed. Deb peaked over Bill’s shoulder before kissing Alice’s forehead.

“Emma. Emma, we’re still in Hatchetfield, we need to get to the shore! We need to find a boat or something,” he said, going to pick her up.

“No- No! Augh!” she groaned from the contact, her hands tightening into fists as she gritted her teeth in pain. Paul winced and immediately retracted from contact, giving her an apologetic look.

“Paul, I can’t make it. I’m not getting off the island,” she said sadly. Paul glanced around again, panic evident on his face. 

John couldn’t help but feel bad. Paul had risked his life to save this girl, and just because John had f**ked up while waiting for Paul, this man might lose Emma or become infected himself.

“No, But Emma, those things are gonna find us. Okay, so…” Paul trailed off awkwardly, glancing around nervously again.

“You gotta f**king kill them before they do... the meteor. You gotta- you got to destroy the meteor, Paul. It’s like your friend said, you know. The hive mind?” Emma said, looking up at him.

“Which friend? Bill, Ted, Charlotte?” Paul asked.

“I don’t know your friends f***ing names! You take the head off the whole thing goes down,” Emma said.

Charlotte eyed Bill.

“That was Ted?” she asked him.

“That was Ted,” Bill nodded. Alice and Deb giggled.

“We were there for that,” Alice giggled.

“Guy went f***ing Nuts,” Deb laughed.

“Okay,” Paul muttered, tapping his wrist together a few times as he stood up and looked around.

“Hold it together, Paul,” Bill muttered.

“Augh,” Emma groaned, shifting slightly.

“Okay... okay…” he muttered, spotting something in the plane wreckage and rushing over to grab it, revealing a belt of grenades. “So I just need to... get to the starlight theater, destroy the meteor, and all these things will drop dead?” Paul asked her nervously.

“Yeah, I sure as s**t hope so. Ugh,” Emma groaned. Paul rushed to her side again, kneeling down.

“You stay here and try to hang on,” Paul said, patting her shoulder softly.

“Hey... Paul?” she asked, sitting up a bit more. “Um, I know why you came into Beanies all those times... instead of just going to Starbucks. And it wasn’t cause you liked our s**t coffee.”

Paul sent a half-smile awkwardly.

“Our coffee was s**t,” Emma said, chuckling softly. Paul nodded

“Beanies? Has it gone downhill?” John asked.

“Kinda, yeah,” Sam nodded.

“Cause we didn’t care,” Emma continued. Paul tried to shush her, but she didn’t listen.

“And sometimes we would spit in it... And you might have drank my spit but, I didn’t know you back then and I wish I did... Anyway, if we get through this, I would like to just see a nice, SILENT movie with you. But in case we don’t, kiss me?” Emma asked him.

“Finally!” Charlotte cheered. Bill laughed as John and Sam exchanged confused looks.

“Paul’s been going to Beanies for a while now because he liked Emma,” Bill explained. John and Sam both nodded.

“Okay,” Paul said a little awkwardly.

They leaned closer, only for Emma to start coughing and spit blood in his face.

Charlotte, Sam, John, and Bill all groaned or gagged, while Emma groaned from pain after clearing her lungs.

“Oh… oh, Emma,” Paul said after wiping some of the blood from his face.

“Oh... yeah... that was a lot of blood... I think that’s... I think that’s all of it, though... So get back in here…” she said, grabbing Paul by the tie.

“No thanks... no, I’m sorry,” Paul apologized as Emma let go of his tie.

“Yeah, you’re right, f**k it. Get out of here,” Emma said, waving him off. 

“Okay, byeeeeee” Paul called as he walked away.

“Least that wasn’t Ted. Ted might have still gone for it,” Sam joked. Charlotte gagged.

“Aw, f**k Sam! No! I Don't Want That Mental Image!” John groaned. Sam chuckled.

Paul quickly came back, holding a few small, yellow flowers in his hands. She looked up at him.

“I know I said I was gonna go, but I felt really awkward about that exit and then I saw these,” he said, holding out the flowers to Emma.

“Yellow flowers?” She asked.

“What? No- no, they’re Honeysuckle. You can eat the nectar, it’s super sweet,” Paul explained. He grabbed and ate one of them to show her. She hesitantly ate one and smiled.

“These aren’t that bad. Thanks, Paul,” she smiled. He smiled back.

“Okay, I’m gonna go destroy the meteor. Bye!” he called before running off.

“See ya,” she called, leaning against some of the rubble from the pain before enjoying another flower.

“That was nice,” Alice said, still hiding behind her dad.

“So, should we follow Paul?” Bill asked.

“Probably,” John said.

“Yay,” Deb said in a not that excited tone as she and Alice started walking. “Back to the theater.”

“Back to the theater,” John repeated.

-

Ted heard people- both actual people, all infected corpses, and the ghostly after people- walking around in the main seating area of the theater. It was never higher than a whisper, which made him tense.

He hadn't, however, expected anyone to come into the room he was in. Which is why when he heard a group of guys walking down the hall, he didn’t think much of it. Nor did he think much of it when they stopped outside of his room.

The talking got louder for a minute, then stopped.

“Hello?” Someone asked. Ted’s head shot up to see seven other victims of the Apotheosis.

“Are you alright?” one of them asked. Ted wasn’t sure which one, but he was pretty sure it wasn’t the one who’d spoken the first time.

“Yeah. Just needed a place to clear my head. I’ll get out of here,” Ted said, moving quickly to pass them. He was out of the room and in the hall before any of them could say anything, but one of them- one with grey hair and a black turtleneck- did follow him out.

“Ted?” he asked. Ted froze before turning to him, trying to see if he recognized the guy when it clicked.

“Nope. Don’t know any ‘Ted’. Sorry, Doc,” he said before rushing to leave again.

“Ted- wait,” the Professor said and he felt something grab his invisible arm. He flinched away and the hand released.

“Sorry. I- I’m sorry, Ted. For going insane. For tying you up. For letting your brother almost kill you,” Ted flinched, but it wasn’t as obvious this time. “For almost killing you myself. I wasn’t in the right state of mind.”

“It’s fine, Hen,” Ted said.

“It’s not though. I got so obsessed with the idea that I could see them-“ he nodded his head towards his six friends who were watching. “And that I might be able to save something for once.”

“Henry, Professor Dude, Listen. It’s fine. Really. Look, you didn’t kill me. And besides, I think you got your comeuppance for acting so d**n nuts. So just drop it, okay? It’s fine,” Ted said before turning to leave again.

“Have you seen your friends?” one of Henry’s friends asked.

“I don’t have any friends,” he said, looking at them over his shoulder.

“Huh. That must be why that group of people you were with all of today went looking for you.

“See you later, Henry,” Ted said before vanishing down the hall.

Chapter Text

There weren’t that many people in the theater. A lot of them had left after a while, so the theater was basically empty. Ted has recognized a few other people, but hadn’t let them see him long enough to figure out who he was. A few Beanies employees, Mr. Davidson and his family, etc. Luckily, no one from his family was around.

Ted just wanted to wander in his thoughts, alone. Which was why he was starting to get pi**ed off with Henry, as he had followed Ted down the hall.

“Leave me alone, Henry,” Ted called, not looking back.

“You’re not in the right state of mind for that,” Henry said.

“Oh and what do you think I’m gonna do? Kill myself?” Ted asked, spinning around to face the Professor. “I’m already dead, dumba**. I don’t really think that’s something you need to worry about.”

“Ted-“ Henry started, only to cut himself off. “Ted, look at that.”

Ted glanced around, but saw nothing. “Look at what?” He asked.

“That!” Henry insisted, his shoulders bouncing slightly as he- presumably- pointed at something.

“We don’t have f**king arms, Henry. What the f**k are you talking about?” Ted asked, annoyance clear in his tone.

Henry groaned and stepped towards Ted, spinning him around with the instructions ‘look at the door.’

Ted followed his instructions and looked where he was told, freezing as he recognized the figures standing there. One of them was Henry, his black turtleneck slightly ruffled but otherwise fine. One was the manager from Beanies, a bit of the blue s**t on her face. And one was Mr. Davidson, his hair a bit messed up, but otherwise fine.

“What the f**k,” Ted muttered.

“Did he change my shirt?” Henry muttered to himself.

“That’s your biggest concern? Not ‘what the f**k are they doing here?’ Or they f**k are they doing?’ But ‘did he change his shirt?’. I think there are bigger priorities, Henry,” Ted said.

The singing corpses made their way towards the theater where the meteor had crashed, humming some eerie tune as they went, with Henry and Ted following along.

As they walked into the theater, someone called Henry’s name. Henry and Ted looked up, seeing Henry’s friend up where their seats were.

“Henry, Our bodies are up here! They’re just sitting here!” One of them called.

“Stu, my body is down here too! It’s walking toward the stage! I’m going to follow him!” Henry called back.

“Okay! Don’t do anything dumb!” Another one called.

“Me? Do something dumb? Chad, I would Never!” Henry called before spinning around elegantly to follow himself. Ted blinked before turning around- almost tripping over his feet and falling over- and followed Henry.

“Stu? And Chad? Like ‘The Working Boys’ Stu and Chad?” Ted asked. Henry turned to face him and nodded.

“Yeah. It was supposed to be a musical about the success we achieved after college,” Henry explained.

“Well, what happened?” Ted asked.

“They all got sick and…” Henry trailed off, but Ted understood.

“That sucks,” Ted muttered.

“It did,” Henry said softly.

“So what? They died and you became a paranoid shut in?” Ted asked.

“Basically,” Henry said, the slightest bit of hurt in her voice. “I feel like I shouldn’t have been the one to make it. They all had goals and lives. Families and friends besides us. I didn’t have any of that. My only goal was that musical,” Henry said.

“I’ll be honest, that musical was f**king great. What I heard of it was, at least,” Ted said. Their zombies were slow, so they’d only just gotten to the stage.

“Thanks,” Henry said, smiling.

“Yeah. Don’t say you have nothing to live for. You’ve done a hell of a lot in your life,” Ted said. Henry was quiet for a minute.

“And what? You haven’t?” Henry asked. Ted scoffed.

“Look at me. I’m almost forty years old, no degree, no friends, a dead end job, no ambitions,” Ted scoffed. “I’ve done nothing but f**k up in life- Literally and figuratively. So, no. I’ve done nothing, I have nothing.”

The zombies had finally gotten on stage.

“That’s a depressing way to live,” Henry muttered.

“I’m content,” Ted shrugged.

Henry’s body stood in front of the meteor, Beanie manager and David Davidson standing on either side of him. Then they just froze.

“What are they doing?” Henry asked.

“F**k If I know,” Ted muttered.

“Ted! Hey!” someone else called. Ted bit back a groan before turning to who’d spoken. Mr. Davidson had a small gaggle of ghosts following him. Ted assumed two of them were his wife and son, and one of them might have been Melissa, but he had no f**king clue who the other two ladies were.

“Hey, Mr. Davidson,” Ted called. The others he was with all looked at the hole in Ted’s neck. 

“Jesus Christ! The F**k happened to your neck?” One of the two he didn’t recognize asked.

“Zoey! Don’t be mean,” Melissa chastised. Ted recognized the name, and he could kind of see her being the coffee barista from Beanies. Which meant the other one was probably the manager, Nora.

“But that is a fair point, what did happen?” Henry asked. Ted scoffed.

“Well what does it look like? I was shot in the neck,” Ted said.

“Sounds painful,” Mr. Davidson’s kid said.

“Yeah, whatever. What are you guys doing here?” Ted asked.

“Well, we were walking around the theater and your body just passed by us with Bill and some girl in a Green Peace outfit,” Melissa started.

“We followed them around for a bit until we heard you guys talking,” Nora finished.

“Also, you were wearing, like, army gear or something. It was weird,”

“Really?” Ted asked. “Did they really f**king dress me up for their dumba** song?” He scoffed and shook his head.

”Really, Ted? That’s your concern? Not ‘What are they doing?’ But that they dressed you up?” Henry said, mocking Ted from earlier.

Ted locked eyes with Henry for a full minute. “Bitch.” Was all Ted said before looking back at them.

“Well someone’s snappy,” Zoey muttered.

“You should see him in a bad mood,” Mr. Davidson said.

“Hey, look! What am I doing here?” Nora said, suddenly noticing herself.

“Hey, I’m here too!” Mr. Davidson said.

“Yeah, we followed them here,” Henry said.

“What are they doing?” Zoey asked.

“No idea,” Henry said.

“Hey, Ted. What happened to you going out to look for Charlotte and Bill?” Mr. Davidson asked.

“Got a little side tracked,” Ted muttered, his eyes trained on the door.

“There they are,” he said as three more musical zombies walked in. Specifically Ted- dressed in a vest and helmet like the army guys he saw, but his shirt, tie, pants, and shoes were still the same- Bill, with a hole through his forehead- which made Ted feel sick- and the Green Peace girl he’d seen around a few times.

“Oh, s**t. What happened to Bill?” Ted asked. 

“No idea,” Melissa frowned and shrugged.

“At least it was probably quick. A human won’t survive long enough to feel the pain with a shot like that,” Henry said quietly. Ted hadn’t seen how he had died, but he’d heard the screaming and if the intestines were any indicator…

“Unlike the choking,” Mr. Davidson’s son said.

“Or having your insides beaten into putty,” Zoey muttered.

“Or a shot to the neck, as I learned earlier,” Ted said. There was a moment where no one talked, leaving the only sounds to be the shuffling of the musical corpses as they walked, and the eerie tune they were all humming.

“This sucks, doesn’t it,” Mr. Davidson said.

“You’re just now noticing?” Carol asked.

“Did you hear the word?” Mr. Davidson sang before anyone could respond.

“What’s the word?” Nora and Henry sang.

“Not another f**king song!” Ted groaned.

“He’s a coming!” Mr. Davidson sang.

“Who’s a coming?” Henry and Nora sang.

“Paul’s a coming!” Mr. Davidson sang.

“Wait, what?” Ted asked

“Why would do that?” Henry asked.

Other people said stuff too, all talking over each other, but Ted could only hear himself and Henry.

“Paul’s a coming? The star of the show! Let him come!” They all sang.

“Word,” Henry sang.

“What’s the word?” Davidson and Nora asked.

“He’s a coming,” Henry continued.

“Who’s a coming?”

“Paul’s a coming.”

“F**k,” Ted muttered.

“Paul’s a coming?”

“The star of the show! Let him come!”

The infected all walked off. Henry and Noras’ bodies walked behind the curtains and Mr. Davidson’s hid behind the meteor. Ted’s body stripped itself of the army gear- draping it over Bill, who was slumped down in one of the seats- before walking just to the left of the stage and crouching down, GreenPeace girl doing the same to the right.

“Well, there’s one good thing about Paul coming here. It means Charlotte and Bill will be here too,” Melissa said. 

Ted paused for a minute. He didn’t want to see them yet. He’d been such a**holes to them earlier, the last time they’d seen him.

“Gotta go,” Ted said, starting to walk out the main door, walking away from Henry and past Mr. Davidson and his legion of friends.

“Ted? Ted, where are you going?” Mr. Davidson asked.

“Got something to attend to. See ya!” Ted called over his shoulder.

“Ted, you’re dead! What do you have to do?” Henry asked.

“Something that’s not here, byeeeee!” He said, about to go through the door, when it opened, revealing Paul, with the easily recognizable Bill, Charlotte, and Sam. Three other people with them as well.

“F**k,” Ted said.

Chapter Text

Charlotte followed Paul as he carefully crept around the theater, making his way down the hall towards the main theater.

“This is terrifying,” Alice muttered.

“Could be worse. It could be us in that scenario,” Sam said.

“Copper’s got a point,” Deb said.

Everyone went quiet for a minute, 

“Where is everyone?” Bill asked quietly.

“Who knows. It was so full earlier,” John said, his eyes narrowing suspiciously.

Paul paused again, his eyes flickering around nervously before approaching the door. He took a few slow, deep breaths before throwing the door open.

The place was in absolute disrepair. There was a large hole through the ceiling, allowing a draft, the curtains were tattered and ripped, and the meteor was half embedded in the stage with a faint blue cloud around it. Most surprising was a grouping of other infected civilians, with one of them standing right in front of the door they were coming in as if he was about to leave. Some of the ones in the back looked familiar. Charlotte could easily recognize Melissa and Mr. Davidson and she’d met Carol and Oliver for dinner a few times after her marriage started getting strained. She didn’t recognize the two other girls, but Melissa probably did. The guy who had been about to leave almost looked familiar to Charlotte, but she was a little distracted by the hole in his neck.

“F**k,” the guy muttered. And he sounded familiar to Charlotte too. Almost like…

“The Old Starlight Theater,” Paul said to himself before starting the slow shuffle towards the stage.

“Ted?” Charlotte asked.

“Hey, Char. Gotta go, Bye!” Ted said, trying to shove past the group. The group who was by the stage yelled for Ted to ‘Wait Up!’. 

“There it is,” Paul said, stopping in the middle of the aisle. “The meteor.”

“I’m grabbing your shoulder,” John warned before grabbing Ted’s shoulder.

“Let Go!” Ted snapped.

“Ted, relax,” John instructed. Ted went still for a second, his breathing shallow and his eyes flickering between them all until they laned on Paul.

“Paul, F**king Move!” he yelled suddenly. The others turned to Paul as Bills’ body stood up from under some clothes it was hidden under right next to Paul.

“We’ve Been Waiting for you, Paul!” Bill said, grabbing for Paul who jumped back, blue blood oozing from the hole in his head. Alice whimpered and Charlotte turned back to see the girl whisper an apology to her dad.

“Bill,” Paul started, his face going pale and his voice a whimper. “St-stay Back,”

“Watch Out, Paul!” Teds’ body said as it arrived from stage Right, a hole in his neck that had blue s**t dripping out with every exhale.“He Might Kick Your Head!”

“And that would be a Ladi-da-da-Dah!” The Beanies manager sang as she came out from the opposite end of the stage.

“Ted!” Paul said, looking between the three corpses and turning paler. He did eye the girl with a slight hint of confusion, however. “Emma’s Boss.”

“Nora! He’s been coming to my Beanies for forever, basically and he doesn’t know my name?” Nora asked.

“Paul doesn’t pay much attention,” Ted said. Charlotte stepped deeper into the theater and the others followed, except Ted who seemed to have been dragged in by John.

“That’s Right, Paul! All Your Best Friends Are Here,” The Professors’ body said as he appeared as well.

“I’m not that stupid,” One ghost said, who Charlotte recognized as Professor Hidgens.

“Hi, Professor!” She smiled.

“Hello, Charlotte. Sorry for… shooting you and your husband in the head,” he said awkwardly.

“You what?” Sam asked.

“After you got infected, you both tried to kill Bill, Paul, Emma, and me. Professor shot you guys in the head to save us,” Ted explained.

“Yeah. Ted risked his life for me,” Bill said.

“I did no such thing. They changed their minds and went for me,” Ted said like he didn’t care.

“Yeah, well, whatever happened, You both beat the f***ing s**t out of Ted. Think you broke his ankle too,” Deb said.

“Who cares! We’re Dead!” Ted snapped, irritated.

“We’re happy now!” Mr. Davidson said as he came out from behind the meteor. “We got what we wanted.”

“No… No. Mr. Davidson didn’t want to become a mindless alien slave,” Paul started.

“Oh no,” Melissa said suddenly. “I already heard this in his song,” she said, much quieter.

“He wanted to be choked by his wife. While he jerked off,” Paul said, glaring between the alien slaves he’d once called his friends. 

“Well ain’t that a way to have your kink exposed,” ted said, loud enough for everyone to hear. Everyone’s reactions were immediate. John groaned and shoved Ted slightly while Sam laughed. Carol turned to look at her husband, who was smartly avoiding her gaze. Their son Oliver, Alice, Deb, Zoey, Nora and Melissa were all bright red in the face and looking anywhere but David and Carol. Charlotte also felt her face burning as Professor Hidgens let out a tired sigh.

“It’s like one of my freshmen classes,” The Professor muttered.

“Come here,” Carol said as she started walking off. Mr. Davidson gave a panicked look before following after.

“What do I do?” Oliver asked their retreating figures. “Do I stay here? Or…”

“Stay there,” Carol demanded.

“Well, I’m going to put a stop to all this,” Paul said, fidgeting with his belt of grenades.

“Back off, Greenpeace girl! I pull this Pin and you’re all toast!” Paul insisted.

“You wouldn’t do that, Paul!” Nora said.

“I sure as hell will,” Paul warned them.

“And what about you?” Mr. Davidson asked. “You’d die too, is that what you want?” Paul looked between the fakes nervously.

“It doesn’t matter what I want,” he insisted.

“We think it does, Paul,” Bill said.

“And we wanna hear about it,” Ted added.

“Eh,” the real Ted said.

“In Fact,” Mr. Davidson continued, “We think there’s a song in you yet!”

“Knowing Paul, there’s not,” Bill muttered.

“What's in your soul?” Mr. Davidson sang as he approached Paul, slamming his hands down on Pauls’ shoulders, making him jump.

“Is your heart so damp and bleak,” he continued, the Greenpeace girl approaching him as well and rubbing Pauls’ face with the back of her hands.

“That you won’t give us a peek of your soul?”  he finished before both him and the Greenpeace girl both walked away, Nora approaching him as they walked away.

“Just let it out! There's a voice inside of you,” Nora sang as Bill felt Pauls’ face as he passed by.

“On the edge of coming through,” Nora felt Pauls’ back.

“What's it about?” They both walked away but Paul made a slow attempt to grab Bill, stopping at the last second sadly.

“And I know it's a singular voice, Paul,” Professor Hidgens placed a hand Pauls’ shoulder as Ted stroked Pauls’ face before they both started to walk away.

“Okay, but what’s happening?” Sam asked.

“I think the infection is trying to Seduce Paul into joining them... by seducing them with our bodies?” Ted guessed.

“You've just got to give up your choice!” The Professor sang.

“Just let it out,” they sang as Pauls’ hand jerked to the side.

“Let it out,” Paul tried to stop his hand with his other hand.

“Let it out!” Paul looked around with a panicked expression.

“Let it out, let it out,” Paul tried to stop from dancing, only to fail. “Let it out!” Paul gave a to wide to be normal smile and his hips swayed to the side.

“Nice form,” Professor Henry said. The others turned to him. “Don’t give me that look, I’m a theater kid through and through.”

“Just let it out, let it out, let it out!” Paul groaned, curling in on himself and turning away from the seats. “Let it out, Let it out-”

“Neveeeeeeeeeeer!” Paul sang as he spun around with his hands outstretched. Charlotte and the others all let out various forms of ‘no!’

Paul brought his hands up to his face, his wrist tapping together in a panic.

“It’s Your Proximity To The Meteor, Paul. The Air In Here Is Thick With Its Spores. Feel Your Apotheosis Begin As They Take Root In Your Mind! Did You Really Think We’d Let You Kill Us? You’ll Be One Of Us Before You Can Pull That Pin!” The Professors’ body said in the most dramatic way possible.

“He’s almost more dramatic then you are, Professor,” Alice said.

“I don’t think anyone’s more dramatic then Henry. You should have seen his musical earlier,” Ted said. Henry scoffed.

“What was that?” Paul asked.

“I JUST said what happened!” Henry said.

“You let it out,” Greenpeace girl said.

“That makes no sense,” Deb said.

“Pauls’ brain is probably fried,” John added.

“Was that a note,” Paul asked as they started swaying.

“Or just a sound? Am I finally coming round to rhyming scheme?” Paul sang, his voice rising in pitch as he did a little shimmy to the music they couldn’t hear.

“Oh god! Just-” Paul muttered before his voice raised in pitch as he sang again. “Stop it!”

“I’m split in two! Is this me,” his voice raised again in an over-excited tone “Or is this you? Am I dead?”

“I’m coming apart-” he whimpered. “At the seams!”

“La da da da da da da da da” he sang, doing another little dance.

“-NO!” he yelled, going even paler in terror.

“No no no no no no no!” He sang, doing the dance where you have your hands on your knees before bringing his hands up in excitement.

“Just let it out,” they sang as Paul clamped his hands over his mouth in horror.

“Let it out, let it out!” Paul started dry heaving as his knees quaked.

“Paul!” Bill said in concern.

“Let it out,” Paul collapsed, choking and dry heaving.

“Let it out, let it out!” Paul grasped at his mouth and throat, trying to clear his airway. Ted looked almost sympathetic for a second, and Charlotte turned to look at him. When he noticed her looking, however, he narrowed his eyes and she looked away.

“Just let it out, let it out, let it out!” Paul groaned as he grasped at his chest, still dry heaving.

“Let it out, let it out,” The infected kneeled down as Paul slowly sat up, still breathing shallowly.

“I’ve never been happy…” Paul said slowly. 

“Wouldn’t that be nice?” he sang.

“Is this the secret?” His eyes traveled around sadly.

“Singing and dancing through life?” He smiled

“Is my integrity worth anything at all?” He shook his head.

“But happiness can’t come before its fall!”

“Am I crazy?” he asked as he got to his feet, messing with the grenades.

“Maybe I’ve always been,” he sang.

“Become what I’ve hated?” he almost growled, his eyes traveling to the bodies of Bill and Ted.

“Or maybe I never did,” he stopped messing with the grenades, spinning around as he sang. “It’s awful freeing now,”

“To share the hate I felt. But what will I let in if I-” he started, only to stop just short of singing again.

“Let it out? Let it out, let it out!” The infected sang as they stood up, Paul going back to messing with one of the grenades again.

“Am I crazy?” Paul sang before going back to talking. “I don't think so.”

“Let it out, let it out, let it out!” they sang as he freed one of the grenades.

“Maybe I've always been!” He sang.

“Just let it out, let it out, let it out!”

“God help me out!” Paul whimpered out.

“Let it out, let it out—”

“If I let it-” Paul started as their bodies approached. “Ooooooooouuuuuuuuuut!”

“We will not be resisted!” They said as they cornered Paul.

“Paul! Throw The Grenade!” Someone yelled, Charlotte didn’t pay attention to who.

“I Don't. Like,” Paul pulled the pin from the grenade. “Musicals!” He yelled, spinning around and throwing it at the meteor.

The infected paled and Paul narrowed his eyes before it exploded. Sending rubble and people flying.

“PAUL!” Bill yelled as Paul went flying backward, something in his body snapping as he hit the ground. His head turned at an odd angle as his neck- most likely- snapped. There were also burn marks from the explosion, and large gashes on his face and sides from pieces of the rock and shrapnel flying against him.

“Jesus f**k,” Ted muttered.

None of the infected moved, and the meteor looked like it was gone.

“Did it work?” Alice asked. 

Chapter Text

“Did it work?” Bills’ daughter asked. Henry glanced around for a minute.

“Should something be happening?” The young boy asked.

“Assumably, something should happen… right?” Someone else asked.

“Assumably, yes. Something should be happening. What that something is, however, I have no idea…” Henry said.

“Henry, Are You Okay?” Leighton called down.

“Fine! Everything’s Fine! What About Up There?” Henry called up.

“We’re Fine!” Leighton called down.

“Yeah, But Something Weird’s Happened! Our Bodies Just Went Slack! They’re Not Moving!” Stu added.

“Weird…” Henry said, looking around until his eyes were drawn to the stage.

“I’m going to check something,” Henry said before hoisting himself up and onto the stage.

“Professor, what are you doing?” Bill asked.

“Checking the meteor,” Henry said, making his way closer to where the meteor had once been.

“But the meteor exploded… didn’t it?” the other guy with Charlotte asked- he was probably her husband.

“That’s what should have happened, yes. But mayhaps something else happened. Something that’s kept us from returning to our bodies, if returning is even a possibility,” Henry explained.

“So we might be stuck like this forever?” Bills’ daughter asked, her voice pitched high in panic.

“Shh, It’s okay Alice,” Bill calmed her.

Henry knelt down beside where the meteor had been. The rock itself was gone, except for some rubble piled up under the stage.

“See anything?” the guy who’d grabbed Ted asked.

“I don’t… see… anything… It’d be easier if I could actually move that rubble, however,” Henry mused.

“What doesn’t someone just posses themselves and move it?” the other young girl asked.

Henry looked up from the rubble and towards her to see everyone except for Charlottes’ husband Alice and were staring at Deb in confusion.

“What did you say?” Henry asked.

“Yeah. We can possess our bodies. I did so earlier when fake me was doing that jazz song,” Sam said.

“And I possessed myself earlier when dad was trying to talk to me… It’s really painful,” Alice admitted.

“Aww, baby girl,” Bill said as he- probably- hugged her.

“I mean… it’s worth a shot, isn’t it?” Nora asked.

“Yeah, well while you guys do that I’m gonna get out of here,” Ted said, moving to leave. Henry bit back a groan.

“Ted, you can’t just leave now! This could be important,” Bill said as he rushed to catch Ted.

“Don’t care,” he called over his shoulder.

“D**n it, Ted! Stop running away!” Charlottes’ husband called as he also rushed after Ted.

“No Thank you, I rather like being a coward,” Ted called. Henry side and hopped off the stage, rushing to follow Ted.

“Ted, Please!” Charlotte called. Ted was already down the hall, Charlotte right on his heels when she spoke. He spun around, startling Charlotte back a step.

“What do you care, Charlotte? Leave me alone. All of you, just leave me Alone!” he snapped.

“Ted-” Henry started.

“No, Professor. F**k off!” he yelled.

“Henry, you’re acting like a f***ing child. Calm down,” Charlottes’ husband said, stepping between Charlotte and Ted.

“Sam-” Charlotte tried.

“Well I’d rather be a child then the guy who basically f**king neglected and emotionally abused his wife,” Ted growled, his eyes narrowing toward the man who could probably break him in two if provoked.

“Ted-” Charlotte tried again.

“What happened?” The guy who looked a lot like Sam asked.

“John, not right now, please-” Charlotte tried a third time.

“Oh, Sammy here hasn’t told you? When Charlotte lost her baby, Sam here went f**king nuts,” Ted said, his voice void of anything but anger. “Destroyed the nursery, started yelling at her and then just straight f**king ignoring her. Maybe that’s why Charlotte came to me. Because you were to busy being a little b***h to try to help her. Because you only care about yourself-” Ted started. Henry couldn’t see Sams’ hands- because no one could see anyones arms- but he could see Sams’ movements, and was about ninety percent sure Sam was about to launch his fist into Teds’ nose with how his shoulders tensed up.

“Ted, look out!” Henry yelled at the same time someone else yelled something, meaning Henrys’ voice was drowned out.

“Both Of You Stop, Right Now!” The other guy- who Charlotte had referred to as John- commanded, his tone leaving no room for debate. Ted tensed up, falling silent and freezing at the same time, but Sam didn’t stop. Meaning Sams’ fist met with Teds’ face, sending him to the ground. Teds’ head making a loud crack as it hit the linoleum tile.

Everyone was frozen for a minute, staring at the scene until Ted let out a slight, almost minute, whimper.

“Oww,” Ted groaned from his place on the floor of the Starlight Theater, red blood- much better than the blue blood marking the deaths of everyone- running down from his nose like a miniature waterfall. “Oh, f**k.”

“Sam!” John yelled, shoving him back a bit before kneeling down beside Ted. Henry rushed forward as well, also kneeling down to see if he was okay. He lifted up Teds’ head, checking the underside to see if his skull was cracked. It didn’t seem to be, but it was also entirely possible he had a concussion.

“Sam, how could you!” Charlotte yelled as Bill kept his daughter and the other two teens from getting to close, in case anything else happened. The other three women- Melissa, Nora, and Zoey if Henry remembered correctly, though he had no idea who was who- also staying back.

“He was Edging Me On, Charlotte! He wanted Me to Hit him!” Sam argued back, but he didn’t sound too sure of his argument. 

“So? If someone’s suicidal you don’t give them a f***ing gun, do you?” John asked, giving a pointed look to Sam, who at least had the decency to look ashamed. Ted let out a noise that was either a groan or a whimper from his spot on the ground and John sighed.

“It Is very Likely He Has At Least A Minor Concussion… And If By Some Miracle He Does Not, He’s At Least Got One Hell Of A Headache,” Henry informed the others. John looked around again with a sigh before speaking up.

“I think I’m going to get him out of here. Set him up in that room I woke up in,” John said.

“Noo…” Ted mumbled, clearly dazed. “‘M fine… ‘ll be fine…”

“Ted,  shut up,” John said, sounding somewhat fond.

“I can help you move him,” Henry offered.

“You should stay here and see if anyone can get that rubble moved. I can take care of Ted,” John said.

“I could help,” Charlotte offered meekly.

“I think Ted needs some time alone, Char,” John said. She nodded sadly and John nodded the others back into the theater.

Henry was the last to leave, looking back as John talked to Ted softly.

“Hey, I’m gonna pick you up, okay?” John said. Ted mumbled something incoherent and John smiled before seeming to scoop Ted up bridal style and walking down the hall where Henry had originally followed Ted from.

“Okay… so what now?” Melissa or Nora or Zoey- Henry still didn’t know- asked.

“We should… try to find our bodies if they were here and see if we can possess them so we can move that rubble and see if the infection is truly gone,” Henry said.

“That shouldn’t be too hard, right?” Charlotte asked.

“I… guess not,” Bill muttered.

They got to work, looking around for any of their corpses. The first one they find hidden under the rubble being David Davidson.

“Hey, where did my dad go?” The young boy asked.

“Um…” one of the young women said. “I’ll go check.”

She walked down the hall he’d disappeared from before the song and everything exploded.

“Should we keep looking until she comes back?” Sam asked.

“Probably,” Henry said before they got back to work.

While she was gone, the others found the bodies of Nora, Ted, Greenpeace girl- who the young boy said was named Regina- and Henrys’ own body. Unfortunately, all of them were out of commission. Henry and Teds’ bodies would both fall apart if they got up to much, being as some heavy-looking rubble were on-top of their injuries. Nora’s body had rubble pinning down bot her legs, and Regin had rubble pinning down both her arms. The Working Boys weren’t really an option either, as they were so far away. Melissa- Bill had asked Henry which girl was which-, responding to the groups’ questions of where David was with nothing more than a quiet mumble of ‘He’s a little busy right now’.

“Okay then. Bill, you’re up,” Henry said.

“How do I… how do I possess myself?” Bill asked.

“Um… when I did it I just kind of rushed at myself and took over. But I was super emotional so I don’t know if that has anything to do with it,” Alice said with a shrug.

“When I did it, I was just really determined to stop him from hurting anyone, But I also ran into him,” Sam admitted.

Bill nodded and nervously looked at himself before looking back at them.

“Can you guys not watch me? It makes me nervous,” he said, avoiding anyones’ eye contact.

“Really-?” Sam started, only for Charlotte to cut him off.

“Of course, Bill,” she said before nudging Nora, who was next to her. Henry turned so he wasn’t looking at Bill and Henry couldn’t help but scoff as it was clear that they would be having a few conversations in the near future.

A few minutes later, Bill was groaning and quietly cursed and they turned to see him stumbling around slowly.

“Bill! You did it!” Charlotte said, only for Bill to suddenly appear as his body collapsed again. He was breathing hard and seemed a little shakey.

“Dad? Are you okay?” Alice asked, rushing closer to him.

“Yeah- yeah, Alice. I’m fine… I’m fine, sweetheart,”  he said, smiling shakily.

“I couldn’t see you guys. It was- who’s that?” Bill asked, looking at someone over Henrys’ shoulder. Henry turned, half-expecting to David Davidson and his wife. Instead, however, it was a ghost with messy black hair, slouched over in a seat directly in front of the stage. The group approached him, finding that he was wearing a white shirt and a black tie, his head tilted from an odd angle as if his neck was broken.

Henry glanced between the only other unmoving corpse on in the area and the ghost.

“Well, there’s only one option of who it could be, isn’t there,” Henry mused softly, nodding his head towards the body. “Paul.”

Chapter Text

Paul opened his eyes slowly, noticing the decrepit stage in front of him, meaning he’d definitely blown it up. He closed his eyes again as they felt like a ton of brick was weighing them down and the light was hurting his head. His ears were ringing, which made sense as an explosion had just gone off right next to his head. He moved his arms and legs slowly, still not opening his eyes. He could still feel the necessary limbs and- besides a stinging feeling throughout his body- he couldn’t feel any terrible pain. His neck hurt, though.  Like, a lot. Almost like his head wasn’t on his neck right. It almost felt like that time he’d broken his arm, as when the doctor had tried to set it the bones didn’t want to fit together right. But it wouldn’t make sense if his neck was broken. If his neck was broken, he wouldn’t be able to move his head at all and would probably be paralyzed or dead. And he wasn’t either of those things. The ringing in his ears slowly faded away, and he could hear voices talking.

“-What is he doing here? Aren’t we only here ‘cause of the infection? He wasn’t infected. In fact, the infection is gone… isn’t it?” a female asked. She was talking quickly and with a hint of panic. It almost sounded like Melissa.

“Calm Down. While Yes He Did Destroy The Meteor, It Is Quite Possible He Didn’t Destroy All Of It. That’s Why I Wanted To Move That Rubble. To See If The Blue S**t Has Burrowed Down In An Attempt To Save Itself In Case Something Like This Happened. Which Would Explain Why We’re Still Here,” another voice answered, sounding a lot like the nut-job professor from earlier.

“If that’s the case, why did it take him so long to get here? I’ve been here all day and it hasn’t taken more than a few minutes for people to show up afterward. For him, it’s been nearly half an hour,” a younger male voice asked. Paul didn’t recognize it.

“Well, My Theory Is That While, He Did Indeed Destroy The Meteor And the Majority Of That S**t, There Was Still A Small Bit Left. It Merely Took Him So Long To Arrive Because The Virus Is Weakened And Took Longer To Infect Him,” the same voice from before answered.

“So… the virus is still about?” someone who sounded like Charlotte asked.

“In Short… Yes.”

“Oh, No. Paul’s gonna be so disappointed,” someone who sounded like Bill said. Hearing Bill- who Paul had basically gotten killed- hurt Pauls’ heart, as he’d failed his best friend.

“He’s not gonna be the only one,” someone else who sounded kind of familiar said.

“Sam! Don’t be rude,” The lady who sounded like Charlotte chastised. “He risked his life trying to destroy this thing.”

“Hey, guys?” someone who sounded like Alice said. “I think he’s waking up.”

Everything went still for a minute and Paul tensed.

“Paul? Paul, are you okay?” the guy who sounded like Bill asked from in front of him.

He slowly opened his eyes, only to scream at the sight of a specter in front of him. He threw himself backward over the seat with another scream, his back hitting the ground between the two rows of seats and his head smacked into the seat.

“Paul, calm down!” someone yelled, but Paul was confused from the explosion and being thrown across a room and scared from losing control of himself and tired from all the running around and losing all his friends and- and-

Paul was finding it harder and harder to breathe. He was hyperventilating. He felt like his lungs were refusing to fill up all the way like there was a clamp around his chest, limiting his air intake more and more until he’d never be able to breathe again. His vision was going blurry and speckled with black dots and he couldn’t focus.

Paul wanted to breathe. He wanted to breathe. He wanted to. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t, he couldn’t he couldn’t. 

“-aul? Paul? Paul, can you hear me? Can you hear me, Paul?” It was Bill’s voice. The same voice that Bill had used to talk to him a hundred times before.

Paul nodded. He didn’t even care that this thing using Bills’ voice might not be Bill. He just wanted to breathe again.

“Okay, okay, okay, Paul. Everything is fine. Everything is going to be fine. I’m going to count to four, okay? And when I count to four, I want you to breathe in. While I count, I want you to breathe in. Okay?” Paul shook his head. He couldn’t do that. He couldn’t, he couldn’t.

“Paul, Paul. Listen to me. You may think you can’t do it, but you can. Okay? You’ve done it before, you can do it now. Okay? One… Two… Thre-” Bill counted. Paul tried breathing slowly but his breath hitched and he couldn’t get back.

“Whoa, whoa, it’s okay. It’s okay. Let’s try again. Okay? Okay… One… Two… Three… Four…” Paul did it this time.

“Great! You did great. Okay, now you gotta hold your breath for seven seconds. Okay? I’m going to count for seven seconds. Okay?” Bill asked.

“C-can’t,” Paul whimpered, his breathing picking up again.  

“Yes. Yes, you can. Okay, we’re gonna start over at four, and then I’m going to count straight to seven, Okay? Okay,” Bill said. Paul managed to breathe in this time.

“One… Two… Three… Four… Five… Six-” Bill stopped counting when Paul gasped for breath. They tried three more times until Paul got it right.

“Alright, Paul. You’re doing fantastic. Now I’m going to count to eight, and you’re going to breathe out. Okay? Okay,” It took another four tries before Bill was able to count down all the way.

“Alright. You’re doing great, Paul. We’re going to just continue that pattern until you’ve calmed down. Okay?” Paul managed to nod shakily.

“One… Two… Three… Four… One… Two… Three… Four… Five… Six… Seven… One… Two… Three… Four… Five… Six… Seven… Eight…” Bill counted.

Paul managed to slow down his breathing after a while. Slowly opening his eyes. The ghost who sounded like Bill was still there, but Paul didn’t have the energy to panic again.

“Paul, are you okay?” Bill asked. Paul nodded slowly.

“Ye-yeah… yeah. I’m fine… I- I’m fine” Paul rambled, looking between them anxiously.

“You had quite a freakout,” Charlotte said.

“I’m fine… I’m fine…” Paul mumbled. Looking around again.

“It’s a long story,” Bill said.

“I think we have time,” the guy next to Charlotte scoffed.

-

General John McNamara or PEIP often thought back to moments when he was in high school with Charlotte and Ted and Sam. He missed those times when he and Ted would tease Sam or when he would pick up Charlotte and run across the football field, Sam chasing after him with Ted trying and failing to stop Sam because he was laughing too hard.

Which is why it was so… unusual to John. It was so unusual to see Ted and Sam so… angry at each other.

John recognized what Ted was doing. Ted was doing the same thing he did in high school when he would edge people on by acting like an A**hole. He figured if people were yelling and hitting him, then he wouldn’t be weak.

“Oh, Sammy here hasn’t told you? When Charlotte lost her baby, Sam here went f**king nuts,” Ted said, surprising John. Charlotte and Sam had both said their marriage was fine earlier. While he’d been suspicious, he had decided not to question it at the time. “Destroyed the nursery, started yelling at her and then just straight f**king ignoring her. Maybe that’s why Charlotte came to me. Because you were to busy being a little b***h to try to help her. Because you only care about yourself-”

John had always had a sixth sense about when a fight was about to break out. Meaning he knew Sam was about to break Teds’ nose.

“Ted, look out!” The grey-haired guy in a turtle neck yelled. 

“Both Of You Stop, Right Now!” John yelled out in his- as Schaffer put it- ‘General Voice’ at the same time the other guy yelled, his voice being drowned out by John’s own.

Ted went still and mute, meaning he was the perfect target for Sam and his fist. Teds’ head thudding against the hard ground.

John didn’t move for a minute, staring at Sam until Ted whimpered in pain. He murmured both an ‘ow’ and ‘f**k’ before John was getting straight to work.

“Sam!” John yelled as he gave Sam a hard shove before kneeling down beside his high school friend. The old guy rushed forward as well, kneeling down across from John and lifting up Teds’ head.

“Sam, how could you!” Charlotte yelled. John glanced up, looking over his shoulders to see the others had stayed out of the way in case of another conflict.

“He was Edging Me On, Charlotte! He wanted Me to Hit him!” Sam argued back, but John noticed the unease in his tone.

“So? If someone’s suicidal you don’t give them a f***ing gun, do you?” John snapped as he glared at Sam. Ted whimpered from his spot on the ground, turning his head away from Sams’ voice and John sighed.

“It Is very Likely He Has At Least A Minor Concussion… And If By Some Miracle He Does Not, He’s At Least Got One Hell Of A Headache,” The old guy informed him. John glanced around. If he had a concussion, the noises the others were making would probably be hurting his head. It was better to get Ted someplace where he could relax alone. He sighed again, remembering that room he woke up in.

“I think I’m going to get him out of here. Set him up in that room I woke up in,” He explained.

“Noo…” Ted mumbled, sounding like he had when the group had gotten drunk as teenagers, insisting he would be fine going back to his s**t hole of a home. “‘M fine… ‘ll be fine…”

“Ted, shut up,” John said, hoping he didn’t sound too mean.

“I can help you move him,” The old guy offered.

“You should stay here and see if anyone can get that rubble moved. I can take care of Ted,” John said, figuring Ted would want to be alone.

“I could help,” Charlotte offered meekly. John felt a little bad saying no to her.

“I think Ted needs some time alone, Char,” John explained, not looking at her. A moment passed before he nodded for the other to leave.

The old guy was the last one to leave. John waited until the shouldn’t have been able to hear him before he talked to Ted.

“Hey, I’m gonna pick you up, okay?” John said softly. 

“I cn’ walk… ‘m fine… f**k off…”Ted mumbled.  John smiled before carefully scooping up Ted in his arms and making his way down the hall.

He was almost back to the room he’d woken up in when some guys stopped him.

“Hey, is Hen- holy s**t. Is he okay? What’s going o down there?” the guy in the lettermen jacket asked.

“There was a small argument. Ted should be fine. The guy down there said he might have a concussion, however,” John explained.

“Which guy?” another one of them asked.

“Um… Silver Hair, turtleneck,” John said.

“Henry. Is he alright?” The shortest guy in the group asked.

“Dude’s fine. Now, if you’ll excuse me,” John said, going to move around them.

“Oh, sorry! Have a nice day,” one of them called, John didn’t pay attention to which one.

“You too,” he called, making it to his room.

He laid down Ted on the little couch as Ted groaned again.

“You never know when to stop picking fights, do you?” John asked softly.

“Sam… can go… f**k himself…” Ted mumbled.

“You know, Ted. It’s weird,” John said.

“Wha’?” Ted hummed.

“You and Sam were such good friends when I left. What happened?” John asked.

“You lef’... They stopped talkin’ to me to an’ moved on with their lives… ‘til one day Char came cryin’ into work… it’s not been the same since…” Ted mumbled half dazed. John digested that for a moment.

“How’s your head?” John asked.

“Ugh… f**k…” Ted muttered.

“Looked like quite the hit,” John added.

“F**k you…” Ted muttered, earning a chuckle from John.

For the time, it was just the two of them. And that seemed to be all either of the two friends needed.

Chapter Text

A few hours after the meteor had been destroyed, army soldiers had shown up. They’d been going around, collecting any musical corpse they could find and taking them to the military base where John had explained they’d either be tested on or destroyed. Not only had the soldiers collected their doubles, but Emma had also vanished since they arrived, leading everyone who was worried about her to assume the army had rescued her.

About a week had passed since then and a lot of people had gotten into some kind of routine. Either going about like nothing had happened or spending their days doing whatever they would on a day off. 

Henry had tried explaining that the infection was definitely still about, even it didn’t explain why none of the musical doubles had moved once since the meteor was destroyed- except for Bills’ body, from when Bill had possessed himself, but he was too weak to move the rubble as Henry had wanted, so it’d been mostly guessing- but to many people didn’t understand what that meant.

Bill had seen The Professor and his friends around a few times since then- getting drunk or playing football- but they all mostly stayed in the Hatchetfield Fortress, trying to understand this alien virus more. Bill had only talked to him a few times since.

Paul hadn’t wanted to be alone, so Bill had let the anxious man stay at his home, along with Deb. Alice had seemed so happy to be staying with her dad- which warmed Bills’ heart- and told him that she did indeed want to live with him more.

Charlotte and Sam had gone to their own home a while back, saying they had a lot of things to talk about. Bill hadn’t seen them since.

John, who Bill didn’t know all that well, was seen often around town, talking to the other soldiers who’d been infected or to civilians to see if they were okay. He’d even joined Bill and Paul once when the two were out for drinks. Apparently, he was staying at Teds’ place.

Ted hadn’t said anything to Bill, or anyone. He’d just left. John had said that Ted was fine, but Bill wasn’t too sure. Especially after Henry had mentioned something about Teds’ family before suddenly changing the subject, and when Paul had mentioned something Ted had said before he’d died. But Bill knew his presence mostly infuriated the other man and had stayed away.

The Davidsons had also vanished into their home- but Bill had seen their son Oliver around once or twice- and Bill figured they were happy. Considering how giddy Mr. Davidson had been before they all left.

Melissa had invited Nora and Zoey- the two Beanies employees he’d met- to stay at her house, and they’d all been seen around town constantly.

“Hey, Dad?” Alice asked, startling Bill from his thoughts.

“Yeah, baby?” he asked, turning to look at her.

“Are you okay? You’ve been staring at that wall for a while now,” Alice said.

“I’m fine. Just thinking,” he said. Alice nodded and smiled.

“Understandable… Me and Deb were gonna play a game and wanted to see if you’d like to join us,” she said. Bill smiled.

“I would love that,”

 

-

 

Henry laughed as he caught the football, thrown to him by Mark.

Life had been pretty good for him lately. He’d told the Working Boys how he’d blamed himself for their deaths. They’d told him it wasn’t his fault, and that they would always be his best friends. He had all his friends back, and a part of him knew that if he were to somehow lose them again, he’d be better off then before. He’d know how to keep living this time. Knowing that Mark didn’t blame him for taking to long to notice he was sick. Knowing that Chad didn’t despise him for not being able to help him. Steve didn’t hate him for not helping him like he had before. Greg didn’t hate him for not curing him. Stu didn’t hate him for failing to save his life. Leighton didn’t blame him for taking too long to get back to him.

None of them hated him, and that was what he needed.

He threw the football to Leighton and smiled.

‘I am strong enough.’

 

-

 

Charlotte and Sam were curled up on the couch together, both having just woken up from a nap. Charlotte hadn’t felt this relaxed in a long time. Not since…

“Hey, Sammy?” Charlotte asked.

“Hmm…” he hummed, looking at her.

“If we- if this is ever fixed and we’re not ghost anymore… Would you- I mean, should we try for another baby?” Charlotte asked, looking out the window. She felt his hand on her face as he turned her to look at him.

“Charlotte, I would love to try for another baby, but only if you want to. If you’re scared of trying again, we could always adopt. If you truly want this, then I would happily try for another baby with you,” Sam said softly. They shared a smile and a quick kiss before Charlotte spoke again.

“I’d love to try for another baby.”

 

-

 

John said his goodbyes to some of the other soldiers who he’d failed. He watched them walk out of the bar, before standing up himself and starting to make his way outside.

It was truly beautiful outside, and a part of John wished he was back home with his husband, enjoying the day as they would probably do something cheesy like a picnic. Another part of him wished he was back in high school, not worrying about the future and just messing around with Charlotte, Sam, and Ted. He crushed down both those feelings and walked back to Teds’ place. The TV was on- Ted had left it on the morning before everything went to s**t and they were able to manipulate the channel playing- and Ted was watching it, half asleep.

“I know now that everyone is like this there are no real responsibilities but are you really just going to spend the rest of your afterlife drunk, watching tv, or asleep?” John asked.

“Yeah, that sounds pretty nice,” Ted mused.

“Smart-a**,” John muttered.

“Self-Righteous soldier,” Ted responded. John laughed. 

 

-

 

Emma yawned from her spot on the hospital bed. She’d been here about a week, ever since those PEIP officials found her on Hatchetfield.

“Can I get up, yet?” Emma asked the nurse- who said her name was Jamie.

“No, not yet. Sorry,” she responded from where she was checking the IV in Emmas’ arm.

“Come on! I feel fine. Isn’t that enough?” Emma asked.

“Unfortunately, no,” Jamie responded. Emma groaned again.

“Luckily, you should be back in action sometime next week,” Jamie added. Emma nodded.

“Hey, wait. Where’d the other nurse lady go? Rose Faith?” Emma asked.

“She was needed on Hatchetfield. She should be back before you leave,” Jamie informed her. Emma nodded and sighed.

She was bored as s**t.

Chapter Text

Paul wasn’t feeling well. Sure, ever since he’d woken up he’d been feeling off, but he had felt particularly bad all morning. Not only did his neck ache from being broken-  seven different ways, from what he’d heard from one of those army soldiers- but there had been a tingling feeling in the base of his neck all morning. 

“Are you feeling okay, Paul?” Alice asked.

“Yeah… My neck just feels all tingly,” Paul shrugged.

“Yours too?” Deb asked.

“Yeah…? Why? What does the tingling mean?” Paul asked.

“It means you’re singing,” Bill answered, making Paul freeze.

“What? No. What if, what if-” Pauls’ thoughts started spiraling and if it wasn’t for Bill reminding him to breathe, he might have had a full-blown panic attack. A knock at the door stole Pauls’ attention and Alice was up, coming back as the last of the panic Paul felt ebbed away into nothing.

“Mr. McNamara’s here,” Alice said, nodding to John behind her. “Said he knows where Emma is.” Paul felt his heart jump to his throat as he greeted the General.

“Hey, General McNamara,” Bill and Deb said.

 

-

 

Emma sighed as she filled up the turquoise backpack with the few possessions she had, the radio playing nearby. She was glad to be back to her feet, but a part of her would miss Hatchetfield. Not just Hatchetfield, but all the people there who she didn’t completely despise. Like Paul… She’d really wanted to see that movie with him. But a part of her knew to never live in the past. That’s what had gotten her to Hatchetfield again in the first place. That was the reason her leg was f**ked six ways from Sunday.

She let her mind wander as she finished packing.

“This is the Morning Clivesdale News with Rachel and Rod. It’s been two weeks since tragedy struck our sister city of Hatchetfield-” The radio said.

“Two weeks? I felt like I was in that bed for two months,” Emma muttered to herself.

“Candlelight vigils line the streets, as Clivesdale citizens try to make sense of this unspeakable loss. Every last man, woman, and child in Hatchetfield, gone in the blink of an eye-”

“Except this one,” Emma muttered bitterly, looking around the overly white room in annoyance.

“A meteor and a ruptured gas line was all it took to wipe them off the map. But it will take much, much more to wipe them from our hearts.” The radio continued. Emma decided she was tired of listening to it before turning off the radio completely.

A few minutes passed in silence before Rose Faith- who had returned from Hatchetfield last night- came in to escort her out.

“Well, thanks for everything,” Emma said with a half-smiled. Rose Faith just hummed. She’d been a lot quieter since she got back, but Emma found she didn’t really care.

Emma was walked into a room with a lot of blue- she hated that color- and a woman in all black. Colonel Schaffer, who Emma had met a few times, was nice enough. Emma appreciated the help Schaffer had given her but also wished Schaffer had let her had a little bit more say in her new life. 

“How’s that leg doing, Kelly?” Schaffer asked. Her leg ached and she had a limp now, but Emma didn’t feel like complaining. About her leg, at least. There were other things she was hoping to complain about. Like her new name.

“Uh yeah, why’d it have to be Kelly? I liked my old name,” Emma complained. “Couldn’t you have picked something similar, like Emma… ly or… that’s all I can think of.”

“That’s a negative, Kelly,” Schaffer informed her. “You’ll get used to it. In the meantime, we can’t have anyone making any connections between you and Emma Perkins, who perished in the Hatchetfield Catastrophe.”

“Yeah, that was the other thing. You couldn’t even have given me a cool death?” Emma asked. “Like, Emma Perkins, her flesh melted off while she was shielding children. Ya know, something heroic? I mean, it was my idea to blow up the meteor after all.”

“And Uncle Sam is not ungrateful,” Schaffer said with a nod before turning to Emma. “Here, Kelly. This is for you,” she said, holding out a manilla envelope.

“Inside you’ll find a new passport, social security card, and the deed to a five-acre plot of land in Colorado.” Emma opened it, looking between the different items as she listened to Schaffer listing off the contents. “Green. Fertile. Hell of a place to grow some cannabis.” 

“Thanks,” Emma smiled as she packed the envelope into her backpack, adjusting the straps as she pulled it back on.

“Um, Colonel Schaffer… You’re sure there were no other survivors?” Emma asked.

“We’ve been through this, Kelly, there were no survivors,” Schaffer said. “Save for one Pocket-Sized squirrel we found burrowed in the chest of a local woodworker.”

“Aww!” Emma said, her face breaking into a wide grin. “Peanuts! I’m glad he got out of there.”

“Now THAT is a story we can disclose to the public. In the wake of a tragedy like this, little bit of good news goes a long way,” Schaffer said with a smile.

“Yeah, it’s just um… Paul,” Emma said, trailing off sadly.

“He was a good man, Kelly,” Schaffer said. “If not for his sacrifice, the outbreak would have spread to the mainland. It was contained in Hatchetfield, but if it had gotten loose here in Clivesdale, there’d be no stopping it…”

They were both silent for a few moments, reflecting on the past. 

“Goodbye, Kelly,” Schaffer said, saluting Emma- who was starting to feel like Kelly wasn’t a real word anymore-. Emma gave a salute back. “Good luck with the pot farm.”

“Thanks,” Emma said.

“Oh! One more thing. You’ll be escorted to Colorado by a Mr. Ben Bridges,” Schaffer informed her. “He’s waiting outside.”

“Oh, I don’t know any Ben Bridges,” Emma said.

“Well, according to our records, you two were very good friends. People would like to say it’d become something more,” Schaffer said before turning to leave. Emma frowned, feeling uneasy by that weird departure. But brushed it off when she heard the door open.

She looked over to see-

“Oh my god!” Emma said, smiling as he approached her. “Paul!” She brought her hands up to her had for a second before rushing forward, him doing the same.

“You made it! Haha! We Made It!” she cheered, wrapping her arms around him in a hug.

“Emma, I’m sorry. You Lost,” he sang, making Emmas’ blood run cold. She looked into his eyes, meeting a bright cobalt shade of blue instead of the pale blue his eyes should have been.

 

-

 

Paul had followed John across the bridge to Clivesdale- which was open but heavily guarded by more PEIP soldiers- and to a PEIP facility in Clivesdale, where Emma was being treated for her leg. Along the way, John had reiterated that Paul couldn’t tell anyone that PEIP was anything other than a standard military base.

“So, how’d you find Emma?” Paul asked, looking around the white-tiled hallways with beige walls.

“I had wanted to see my-... someone dear to me, and as I was looking for them, I found Emma in the hospital wing,” John informed him, making a right turn down another identical hallway.

“Oh… well thanks, General McNamara,” Paul said. The General nodded, turning down another hallway.

The silence passed for another few minutes, which made Paul feel uneasy.

“So, If you don’t mind me asking, who were- who were you looking for?” Paul asked. John didn’t answer for another minute and which made Paul more anxious. He felt like ants were crawling under his skin. Had he over-stepped one of those imaginary borders most people seemed able to recognize? Had he offended the general somehow? Thinking back on the scenario, he didn’t think he’d said anything wrong, but was his tone off? Had he sounded rude in some way? Paul knew that Bill never got irritated with him because of his tone. Paul started tapping his wrist together in an attempt to calm down. But this wasn’t Bill. This was General John McNamara. The same guy who’d aimed his gun at Paul before authorizing him to use it. Maybe in the army things like social cues were different to non-army people and somehow Paul had been rude somehow. Maybe-

“My husband,” John said, cutting off Paul and his panicked train of thought.

“I- I’m sorry?” Paul asked, not registering what John had said as his mind was still reeling.

“I said I was looking for my husband. I wanted to see him,” John said.

“I didn’t- I didn’t know you were married,” Paul said, unsure of how else to continue the conversation.

“Yup. Most people assume I’m single, which can be amusing at times… and infuriating at others,” John said before stopping outside of another room.

“Emma should be in here,” John informed him.

“Thank Yo- Thank you, General McNamara,” Paul said.

“Of course. Now if you excuse me, I need to go do something,” John said, turning to leave. Paul nodded anxiously.

“Bye, general McNamara,” he called.

“Goodbye, Paul,” John responded before disappearing down another hall. Paul looked around nervously again before entering the room. Emma was there, packing up a light blue backpack with a few nicknacks and items, the radio playing as she packed. Occasionally making sarcastic remarks to whatever Rob said on the radio- Rachel never saying a word- which Paul would smile sadly at. Even if he’d failed everyone in Hatchetfield, at least he’d bought her enough time to escape. Eventually, she turned off the radio and sat in silence until a nurse came in and helped her limp into another nearby room.

Paul listened to Emma criticize her new name and how she died, as this other lady explained her new life in Colorado, the fate of Peanuts, the Hatchetfield pocket squirrel, and as they both talked about him before going silent.

As Schaffer informed Emma how she would be escorted to Colorado by someone, Paul felt the tingling feeling in his neck start again. It felt wrong, like a shirt with an odd texture was being brushed against the base of his neck. He wanted the feeling to stop, but couldn’t stop it.

He was looking down at the ground, rubbing his neck with his hand when the door opened. He didn’t care much at first until Emma yelled ‘oh my god’, startling him.

“Paul!” Emma yelled, and Paul glanced up. A part of him hoping he could see her, until that part of him dropped to his stomach as he saw himself, standing in the doorway. Emma was ecstatic to see him, not realizing he should be dead and that that wasn’t ACTUALLY Him.

Paul was frozen in a panic, unable to move as Emma and his Body hugged. Unable to move as his body started singing.

“Emma, I'm sorry. You lost,” he sang.

Paul was unable to move as Emma looked at him, confusion clear in her eyes as she said his name. That confusion turning to panic as the realization hit her.

“Emma, I’m sorry,” it sang, grabbing Emmas’ hands, its smile never wavering. “You lost your way.”

“Paul, you’re scaring me,” Emma said. And that’s what got Paul- the REAL Paul- to snap out of it. Because Paul never wanted to hurt everyone, and he was hurting Emma now, even if he couldn’t stop it.

“What if I told you I made it,” It sang as it started dancing Emma around the room- which had to hurt like hell because she’d had a hole through her leg just two weeks ago. “And this is the life that I chose?”

“What?” Emma asked as it spun her out.

“Would you even believe it, Emma?” It asked as she grabbed at its hand, trying to free her wrist. Paul tried to help as well, but it didn’t do much as Emma was pulled close to it.”Do you believe in ghosts?”

“What?” Emma asked again, looking around for an escape.

“What if I told you a story, That settled all the dust? I'm still the man you trust,” It sang as it pulled Emma toward the center of the room.

“No… No,” Emma muttered.

“It's inevitable for us!” It smiled. Emma still tried to pull away.

“No! Get away from me! You’re not Paul, you're one of them!” She yelled at him.

“Before, I had no ambition,” it sang stepping in front of the exit. Paul tried to pull Emma away from his body, but it didn’t work. “But now my life is a song!”

The Professor appeared in the doorway next to Paul, having an identical smile on his face. 

“Don't you want to see me happy? It asked as they both chased after Emma, who was now limping away from them. Only for her- and Paul- to scream as they both suddenly noticed the nurse who had helped Emma earlier. “Is it so tragically wrong?”

“What if the only choice is,” It sang as Mr. Davidson, Nora, Ted, and Bill also entered the room, all smiling and dancing. “You have to sing to survive?”

“We must go on with the show,” It sang, pulling Emma close before shoving her away. Paul tried to help steady her as she nearly tripped. “It's inevitable.”

The Colonel lady appeared in the door, gun drawn, only for the nurse to rip inter like a child going after a pinata. Emma screamed again and Paul thought he might be sick.

“To know what I want now!” It sang as Schaffer collapsed.

“Know what you want now,” The other mindless vessels sang.

“Emma, I want you To join the party!” It sang as Schaffers’ body got up, the red dripping off of her turning blue.

“Aren't you going to tip me?” Paul asked before the others started running around the room with a chorus of “Get your cup of coffee!”

“Look at the fun we're having already!” It called as Emma ran out into the hallway. 

“I found my calling, You can do the same now!” It sang as  Paul chased after her, watching in confusion as she ignored the other hallways and went back into the room they were all in.

“Put your words to lyrics, And you're playin' the game now!” It called.

“Is This A F***ing LOOP?!” she yelled. Paul suddenly remembered that Professor Hidgens had said the Infection might be able to cause hallucinations.

“It’s all there is and all there ever was!” It sang as Emma looked for another escape.

“What The F**k!” Emma gasped, rushing past them to the other side of the room again.

“Emma!” The mindless drones all sang, causing Emma to scream.

“Let me puke in your mouth, Em” It sang, making Paul gag. “Just open your food bin, girl And you can join the hive! By showing those-”

“Hands!” They all sang together in one of the songs Paul had hated the most. “Show me those jazz hands! Get ’em up or you're s**t outta luck! Show me your hands! Show me those jazz hands! Or I might be inclined-”

“To plant my seed!” It sang as Bill and Teds’ bodies charged at Emma, grabbing her wrist as she screamed No a few times.

“Ooooooooooooooo” The other drones called as they went toward the back wall.

“The hive needs to feed!” Pauls’ body continued as Emma was dragged toward the middle of the room.

“Ooooooooooooooo” The others continued. Paul felt entirely useless.

“Happiness is guaranteed!” It continued, which Paul hated because that was a god d**ned lie.

“Ooooooooooooooo” They sang as they all formed a line.

“If you just give us one last-” It continued before the others started a kickline.

“Show-stopping number!” They sang as Emma started screaming. Pauls’ body doing its own kickline as it approached Emma. “With Emma front and center! A kickline is inevitable!”

“What if I told you a story,” They sang as Henry grabbed Emmas’ shoulders and dragged her back toward the middle of the room before they all started circling her. “How the world became peaceful and just?”

They all started approaching her and Paul panicked. He couldn’t do anything. He couldn’t help her.  He was useless.

“It was inevitable! Inevitable!” They all sang as they approached Emma, her falling over in her haste to escape. “Inevitable!”

“The apotheosis is upon—” Pauls’ body said.

“Us!” They all yelled as Emma screamed. Paul backed up, terrified. He watched as they started ripping Emma to pieces, before turning and running. As FAST as he could. He wasn’t sure where he was going. He just had to get far away.

Chapter Text

HEY! BEFORE THE CHAPTER STARTS, READ THE  CHAPTER NOTE, IT HAS IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE BOOK! ENJOY!

 

 

Xander Lee looked up from the formula on the board as the sound of a scuffle stole his attention. He looked around his lab, trying to find the source of the noise, only to realize it was coming from the hallway. He crossed the room and poked his head outside. The noise now gone as the only thing he could hear was the ventilation system. He didn’t see anything in either direction. He didn’t see anyONE in either direction. Xander brushed it up to his mind playing tricks on him for not getting enough sleep, and was about to get back to work when he noticed something. A single drop of blood on the floor. Just... right there on the floor.

He was about to go investigate, about to step closer, when the radio in his lab blared to life. He looked back into the hallway one last time before approaching the radio.

“-lo?... He- o? An- ne… the- ? He-lo?” It cackled. Xander glanced at the door before picking up the talkie for the radio.

“Hello? This Is theoretical physicist, Xander Lee. Please adjust your radio frequency and try again,” Xander said. Static was Xanders’ only response for a couple of moments and he went to repeat his message, where a much clearer voice played through the radio.

“Hello? Hello, hello, can you hear me now?” he asked.

“I can indeed. Who is this?” Xander asked.

“I’m Luther March, I’m up at the front door. Everything’s gone to s**t man,” Luther said.

“What do you mean? What’s going on?” Xander asked.

“Well, remember those people we brought in last week? The ones with the alien virus?” he asked.

“Of course. Why?” Xander asked.

“They woke up. A bunch of them walked off base. I saw Colonel Schaffer with them. They tore apart the other guy guarding the door. They’re In Clivesdale,” Luther said as Xanders’ blood went cold.

This was the one thing he’d been working non-stop to prevent since the initial outbreak. And it was Out? In Hatchetfield, this could have been handled easily. But with it in Clivesdale? Well, the whole world was f**ked. All the other branches of PEIP were too far away to do anything. The closets branch being in New York- but always had one job or another to keep them busy- and the other branches being far away, like the one in Oregon, One in the Southwest- the branch, much like the place it was surveying, hard to specifically locate- and one in Florida. There was no way anyone could get from those places and to Clivesdale before the infection was out of Michigan. And even if they could, with how many people would be infected at that point, they wouldn’t be able to stop it. Unless they bombed everything, and there was no way that would happen. If humanity had any hope for stopping this, it would need to be from the inside. Which was impossible with how the infection left the being with no control of themself. Unless- unless… 

Xanders’ eyes traveled toward the formula he’d been working on. He’d been so close to finishing. If he was right, he needed only a few more minutes to finish it, and a few hours to bring the formula to life. He just needed-

A scream from the radio stole his attention and he jumped.

“Luther? Luther, are you there? Are you there, Luther? Luther?” Xander asked, not getting any response. The radio crackled for a minute before someone else spoke.

“Xander, Love, it’s me. If you tell me where you are, I’ll come to join you. You’ll reach a peaceful end. It’ll all be over. We’ll be together again. No more work getting in the way,” the voice offered softly. Xander heard shuffling again. Coming from the door. 

Xander thought fast, rushing toward the door and hitting the button to shut it, which made the room completely airtight. Xander was completely locked in now. Which was fine, as a minute later someone was slamming at the door, trying to get in.

“Xander, Love. Answer me,” The voice called again.

“I can’t. You’re not my husband. I’m not giving up just because you asked nicely,” Xander answered the radio.

“Xander, don’t choose the hard way,” the voice cautioned. “It won’t end well for you.”

Xander ignored the voice, switching the radio off before turning back to his formula. There was enough air in the room for a few days, but those things would probably find a way in before that. Not that Xander needed a few days. He just needed a few hours.

-

Emma woke up in the Starlight Theater, her whole body aching. When she woke up she was surrounded by so many ghosts, all giving her a smile- either excited to see her or a sad grin- it’d alarmed her. Her initial thought had been this was her own personal purgatory. Surrounded by terrifying strangers- most of whom who’d clearly been brutally mutilated- who wished her harm. 

“F**k.” That train of thought was why that was the first thing she’d said upon waking up…

“Nice to see you too, Emily,” the sarcastic voice of Ted had said.

“What the f**k happened?” Emma asked, looking between them.

“You died,” Bill answered, his voice more sympathetic then Ted. 

“What? But I was just in Clivesdale- Did I Die In F***ing Clivesdale?” She asked. When she got a nod in response she cussed again, before noticing someone was missing.

“But if- If everyone’s here? Where’s Paul?” Emma asked.

“He went to see you in Clivesdale. He’s probably not back yet,” Charlotte explained.

“Well then I’m gonna go look for him,” Emma said, rushing to leave.

“Okay, But-” Henry started, but Emma was already gone. “Well, Bye Then.”

-

As Xander worked at his formula and Emma was reunited with Paul, the infection spread. Leaching out of Michigan to the other bordering states in just two short hours. From there it grew, Spilling into Canada not long after. The White House was taken six hours after the initial outbreak. California and Mexico were both taken four hours after that. From there, planes spread to Japan and England. All of Europe was taken before the day was over. Africa, Asia, and South America were taken by the next morning. Anyone not infected was quickly discovered and turned.

The infection covered the world, Singing and Dancing coming with it.

One man’s personal hell being the new world.

It was a really bad place, for The Guy- Turned Ghost- Who Didn’t Like Musicals.