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There's No Place Like Hell

Chapter Text

Hell is empty and all of the devils are here-William Shakespear

We're all in the same game, just different levels. We're all dealing with the same hell, just different devils.-Unknown

Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.-C.S. Lewis

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EXCERPT DOCUMENTATION AND COMMENT ON INFLUENCING HUMAN SURVIVAL BEHAVIOR PROJECT

e. The project is ready to begin. Subjects have been carefully chosen and have been altered for project. The subjects have been already placed in radiation zone for assessements on survival based testing. The long period testings are ready to begin.

 

Note: (Blurred information)-Radiation levels in chosen testing areas are phenomonial. Radiation will be controlled at certain levels. Observations suggested at protected levels......(blurred information)

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Note Inquiry: (J.Lawyler/censored time frame)-The psychochemicals levels are too high for the safety of the observation agents. Suggested opinions are a must see. If we are not careful, the radiation outbreak will spiral out of control. The radiated compound agents will be allowed for release later in program once subjects gain awareness of surroundings.

Percautions of radiation are to be taken. We do not want to risk losing control of this project.

I question, however, on the subjects chosen for the project. The psychological trauma many of these subjects are questionable. It may prove to be futile for subjects on the cases of subjects 00014-886, 00023-645, 00034-592, 00012-456, 00045-888, and 00073-666. I am unsure of these projects' assessments. They prove to be too dangerous. The nature of these subjects are impossible to predict. I suggest percautions of observation agents in field are taken.

 

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(Blurred Information)
From: jblair850003457@ruststeamproject.com
To: 0000023453827marqiplier@ruststeamproject.com
Subject: Security Breech TIP/Illegal Activity

There has been a been a problem with the project. You have been discovered. They are coming for you. Get out! Expose the project, Marq! Expose it before pyschochemicals are approved for warfare! You know what will happen if it is approved!

Those.....those criminals! The monsters! They will destroy the word as we know it! If those pyschochemicals are approved......if they get out, it will be the apocalypse......

 

They are coming! I will hit send now! Get out before they come for you too!

(Email sent)

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Note: Security breech has been contained. Twenty five breechs found and have been approved to enter project as subjects.

(Censored information) has approved of new subjects to recieve memory altercation and submitted into radiation zone.

The security breech assailiants will be assessed soon and entered in radiation zone for the psychological survival project; approved for life term exile in project until termination.

No one must know..........

Chapter Text

There was nothing more disorienting than to wake up in the middle of a field, the burning sun beating down on his naked body and to allow bugs biting at his flesh. It was how he woke up what seemed an hour ago, though he wasn't sure how much time had passed.

But to make worse, it was the blank information his groggy, seeming to be drugged mind that was most disconcerting.

He had woken up in that field, not knowing where he was or how he got into this place......this almost vague abandoned field in the wilderness. There was nothing for miles from what he could see. Only rolling hills of wheat colored grass with high trees standing as tall as twenty or thirty feet. There were rocky hills and mountains making up the valley he was in and seemed to stretch for miles to come. There seemed to be woods here and there in the valley from where he sat under the shade of the tree. He hadn't moved very far from where he had woken up.

He sat there, thinking and just wondering. Where was he? How did he get there? Why was he there? Why did he have some kind of number tattooed on his arm? And more importantly, who the hell was he?

He couldn't remember. It was all a blank. Everything. He couldn't remember who he was, where he was from, how he got there in that field. It was nothing. It wasn't like he didn't know anything, however. He just couldn't remember the details of his life or of his whereabouts.

He had an idea of what his name was because when he did wake up, there was a bag with him. Some kind of back pack had been sitting next to him after he calmed himself from the mere panic attack he had before when he realized he was suffering from amnesia. He had looked inside it and found only a few things.

Medikit, a canteen of water, what seemed to be jerky, which he ate and drank carefully, leaving a little until he could figure things out, what looked like a torch, a flint and steel and there had been a good sized rock inside, as well. Why the hell did he have a rock? What was a rock going to do?
There was a name written in ink on the beige colored pack and it said Mark.

So.......was his name Mark?

It somewhat felt right. He figured it was his name. His name was Mark. That was the only thing he could think of that might have given him some kind of clue of who he was.

After sitting there under the shade of the tree to gather his bearings, Mark looked himself over, and even felt his head. He was somewhat a short guy, probably only 5'8". He did have a good bone structure, average build with slightly wide shoulders and torso. He was a strong fellow, as he figured out. He did have a two pack stomach. He did not have hair at all, though. Not a single strand other than his eyebrows, which he plucked a few strands to see their color. They were black.

He was completely bald, as if someone had skinned shaved his hair right off.

The number on his arm read 00034-628. He still didn't understand that bit.

Well, after his observation of himself, Mark finally pushed himself to his bare feet and looked around the open field. He needed to search his place, see if he couldn't find out any information about where he was. He hoped he could find someone else here that might shed light on his situation.
And it was hours later before he found anything.

From his walk to where he was now, Mark had seen that it was only woods and fields, wilderness all around him. It was so quiet here with the exception of birds and the clicking of what he figured to be June bugs. He had seen all kinds of wild life. From squirrels to deer and even wild boars. He had seen a bear in the distance and even a few wolves but he kept his distance well away from them. He did not need to be attacked by wild animals right now.

There were birds flying in the sky, high above his head, diving and souring. He wished he could be a bird right now. He would fly so high to see his surroundings and find out if there were even any other people here.

And finally, he came to what seemed like a structure. He saw buildings in what looked like a base of some kind. There were walls surrounding the buildings, with what looked like guard stations at the openings into the compound.

However, judging by the over growth of foliage and the rust color of the gleaming metal roofs of each of the buildings; it had been abandoned for years.

There didn't seem to be anyone there, however. It looked completely abandoned.

Wait........

Mark squinted his eyes when he finally saw movement in the compound. He had to lean forward to try and see better and saw someone......running from building to building. It looked like they were in quite of a hurry.

Shrugging his sun beaten and slowly burning shoulders, he figured this was his chance. He needed answers and it seemed like this was his one good chance to get them. He began making his way down the hill towards the compound.

It was about five feet away from the compound walls did Mark feel the shift in the air. There was something wrong. His skin was starting to tingle and burn. He felt itchy all of a sudden as he moved closer to entering the compound. He didn't know what it was though. But he kept moving until he finally entered the compound, looking around and hoping to find the person he had seen running around the place.

"Hello?! Anyone here?!" Mark decided to call out as he began wandering the grounds, scratching at his skin where it was starting to burn and itch. "Hello?! I saw you running around down here from up on the hill! I need help! I am lost and confused! Can anyone help me?!"

His voice echoed and bounced off of stone and metal walls but he received no answer.

Frustrated, Mark began walking the old road that lead into the compound. He was surrounded by large buildings. They were at least two or three stories high. A few were smaller and he could see walls were missing. The overgrowth of grass was thick here. It was like no one had been here for years.

What was this place? Why was it here? What happened to it? Where was everyone........?

Mark suddenly stopped and stared with growing wide eyes when he noticed something near one of the buildings. He saw......bullet holes in the walls. Like......there had been a fire fight here.

What the hell happened here?!

And......was that.......?!

Yes, it was clearly a body slumped to the ground. There was a rotting corpse just lying there, almost completely naked if not for ragged pants on its lower half. It seemed like the body had been there for months, left to just decay. The smell was horrendous. It smelled like burnt flesh and it made Mark want to gag as he stumbled.

Ooooh, he was starting to feel dizzy. It was like seeing that body was wrecking havoc on his mind now and he felt like throwing up. His skin was burning and itchy and he wanted nothing more than to just scratch it right off.

What the hell was happening?! What did happen here?!

Suddenly there was movement and Mark looked towards it, hoping to see someone there.

But to his growing horror, it was that decaying, rotting corpse that was moving. It was like it was waking up from a nap, shifting and moving until it now stood up. It turned its head and looked right at him with rotting eyes. It was like it sensed him there. It growled and began moving towards him.
"What the fuck......?!" Mark yelped now stumbling back as he backed away from the now moving corpse. He could only stare in horror at it, his brain swollen and confused by what he was seeing.

And before he knew it, the living undead corpse ran at him after a guttural snarl. It just ran at him at a speed that seemed impossible.

A yelp escaped from Mark as he stumbled back, trying to retreat quickly from the corpse that was upon him in seconds. He screamed as he felt, tripping over his own feet and covered his own head as the snarling......person, beast jumped towards him.

Suddenly there was a loud twang sound and something embedded into the skull of the lunging corpse beast. It went crashing to the ground, all sounds and movement stopping from it.

Mark looked up, shocked and saw an arrow sticking out of the skull of the corpse. It was dead.......again and it didn't seem to be moving any more.
Just then he heard the pounding of feet and he jerked to see a rather large guy coming towards him, looking hurried. He was a somewhat plump but also well built guy, slightly taller than himself. He was almost naked with a somewhat large belly hanging over beige colored pants and well worn brown boots. He wore no shirt and his skin was well tanned, yet red at the same time. He was almost completely bald but there were hints of brown hair growing on his head and he had dark brown eyes that were wild with panic and anxiety. He was definitely in a hurry. He had a pack on his back, as well as what looked like an arrows casing. A bow was in his hand as he ran up.

"Hurry and stand up, you moron! We got to leave! The others more than likely heard that! Get the fuck up!" The man said hurriedly, now moving to run at the gates of the compound. He only stopped when Mark didn't move to follow or even get to his feet. "Get the fuck up or I will leave you here to die!"

Mark staggered to his feet, now hurrying to follow. He felt so dizzy and his skin was burning. He could barely see straight now. He felt sick. "Wh-what.......what is going on?! Who are you?! Where am I......where are we?!" He was now shooting the questions out that came to mind.

Swearing, the large man hurried over to Mark and swung one of his arms around his neck. He was sweating and it was kind of gross with skin to kin contact but it didn't seem to bother the ma at all like it did Mark. He just braced the now confused man against him and forced him to run.

It was then that Mark heard the growls and snarls and he barely had time to glance behind him and this stranger to see running corpses coming after them.

"Shit! There's more of them........!" He gasped now moving to run with the man.

"Yeah, shut the fuck up! We need to get away from the Rust as fast as we can! We need to get to the river now!" The man snapped as he forced Mark to run as fast as they could out of the compound.

Stumbling but running at the same time, Mark saw them run out of the compound, heading towards trees. He only barely realized that the snarls were dying behind them as the man rushed them both through bushes and tree lines until they came to a river bank nearby.

It was there, the man practically threw him into the cold water, making him gasp and splutter as he was engulfed. He came up gasping and spluttering, turning to glare and demand answers from the man but stopped short when he saw the man rushing and began splashing himself, as if washing himself.

"Wash yourself off! The Rust is on you, idiot!"

"Wh-wha.......?!" Mark was saying in anger, annoyance and confusion. He paused long enough to realize the cold water was helping the burning and itching. He sat there for a moment before jumping to hear more splashes. He turned with a jerk to see more men jumping into the river, splashing their selves and completely ignoring the other two as the rushed their selves to bathing.

"Just fucking wash yourself off. I'll try and answer questions but you need to get the Rust off of yourself." The large man said, though was glancing carefully at the other men in the river. He was definitely on guard as he washed himself off.

Frowning, Mark slowly began following the instructions and began wiping water all over his naked body, washing himself off.

It was moments later did the man finish and waited for Mark to finish, all the while, watching the other bathing men carefully. He was fingering his bow and arrows, as if waiting for trouble to start by the other men.

But when they finished their own bathing and left, he relaxed and turned back to Mark.

"Who are you?" Mark asked as he finally finished his bath before clambering out of the river. "What did you mean the Rust?"

"Let me guess. You just woke up confused as hell, having no idea who you were, no idea of where you were or where here was, right?" The big guy asked as he just stood there, still somewhat tensed and not relaxed.

Mark nodded looking confused but leapt his distance from the man. He did not know what was going on or anything. But he could tell the man was on his guard with him and he did not want to startle him to shoot an arrow at him.

"Okay. So here is the deal." The man said now moving to the shade of the trees bit not relaxing. "Same thing happened to me, to all of us. I woke up in this place with nothing in my head but my name. Which, I am Bob, by the way. What I was talking about was the Rust." He motioned back towards the compound that was now a good mile away. "The Rust is what everyone calls the radiation in that place. It's some kind of......radiation disease that burns you away and makes you like those things back there. Zombies, I guess you can say. It kills you slowly, like corroding rust and when you die, you become a living undead thing like a zombie. That compound back there is surrounded by it."

Slowly, Mark nodded taking it all in. He was still confused as hell. But it....was somewhat making sense. Though he honestly wouldn't have believed it if he hadn't seen that corpse getting up. "Where are we, Bob?" He asked slowly.

"Ah, yeah. I have no idea but before I say anything else, do you remember your name?" Bob asked, carefully.

Mark shook his head but pulled his now sopping wet pack from his back and showed the name to Bob. "I guess I am Mark. I have no idea what is going on or anything." He stated.

Slowly, Bob nodded before he shrugged and finally relaxed completely, putting his bow away. "Yeah, you and me both. But to summon it up in a way as I understand it, the world ended, man." He stated.

"What?" Mark asked bewildered.

Bob shrugged again. "I mean there is nothing. Zip. Zilch. Zero. You woke up to the apocalypse aftermath. According to what I know, this is the world now. This place.....it is like some kind of small country or really big island. It is all that is left of mankind. Apparently, the world ended with only a hand full of people left. The Rust, I guess, killed off everyone else. I can only tell you some. I don't know everything. You'd have to talk to Zombie to get all of the info." He explained.

Mark stared at him. "Who?" He blurted out still confused as hell.

"Yeah, um......I'll explain on the way. I could just leave you here to yourself but......give it one day and your dead." Bob stated, grimacing. "This place, this river is neutral land but once you leave, I am sure one of the other clans will kill you. Probably the Blood Splatter clan. Those guys are fucking assholes and they will kill you for everything you have. Even for your own flesh. They do eat other people to survive." He sighed before motioning to Mark. "Come on. I'll explain what I can on the way back Home. And you better hope Zombie will let you stay. Because if he doesn't, you are all on your own."

Confused as hell, Mark moved to go with Bob, though still confused as hell. He didn't understand anything. What the fuck was going on? Why couldn't he remember anything?

"Who is Zombie?" He asked again as they began walking.

Chapter Text

"Okay, so let me get this straight. We wake up in this place with nothing on our backs but these packs, no memories, nothing. This place is majorly radiated with some kind of plague of radiation disease you call the Rust because it corrodes things and people who are long exposed to it. And it might even be the reason we can't remember anything. Is that right?"

"Yeah......something like that." Bob said after he had explained things to Mark.

He had spent the past hour telling his new companion about what to expect in this place and theories of what was happening. It was all a jumble of information that may or may not have been true. But it was something to run by.

Basically, all Bob told Mark was that this place, this island or small country was all that they knew. There was a vast ocean all around the land mass, trapping them there and there seemed to have been some kind of plague that may or may not have wiped out all of human kind other than the hundred men that lived on the land mass.

A few of the men in the hundred head count claimed that they had not woken up on this land mass but elsewhere. They were the only sources of information that was provided that the world as they all knew was gone, devastatedly wiped out by this.....Rust radiation plague. The disease had killed millions of people and now it was unknown of how many people survived this plague.

The land mass that Bob now claimed as home was said to be the safest place to be from the radiation plague.

True, there were spots where the radiation was nasty and dangerous but according to those few survivors of else where, the land mass was the place to be because there was nothing left every where else. No life existed elsewhere. It was just this land mass left.

It still didn't add up to Mark's opinion but what did he know other than the past two hours of what he did know.

"So, who is Zombie? And why is his name Zombie? Isn't that kind of ironic seeing that you said those creatures back there were Zombies?" Mark asked after thinking some of what Bob had said.

Bob snorted as he lead the way across a field with trees here and there. "Pretty much. I think his name is actually Tyson or something. But we all call him Zombie because he is, like, the best at surviving this whole thing. He has killed more zombies, I think than any one else on this god forsaken island thing. He is so fucking hard to kill. A lot of people have tried but he is so fucking hard to kill. Like zombies, I guess. It is either that or the nae is cool and he just goes by it. He is kind of a menacing guy even if he doesn't look like it." He told him with a shrug. "Anyway, Zombie is kind of our leader of our little group. He calls the shots, mostly. He protects the group pretty well. He does suicide runs and always survives. If it weren't for him, I am pretty sure a lot of us would be dead right now."

"Okay. So......what do you mean group? Isn't everyone trying to survive together? Or trying to figure out what to do from here? Or how to get off this land mass to find help?" Mark asked frowning.

Shrugging, Bob shook his head atthe same time as they walked. "Dude, I don't think there is any help out there. I mean, yeah. There might be some life elsewhere because planes do fly over and make supply drops. But they never land here and there has been some notes found in the supplies. Whoever is flying the planes claim that this is the safest place for us. They said that we can't leave because thereis nothing out there. They said that where they come from is so riddled with Rust that we would never survive. They give us enough to survive. So we kind of leave it at that.

"As for the whole groups thing, no. A lot of the other groups don't trust each other and a lot of them are fucking killing machines. Take the Blood Splatter clan. They are a large group who want to rule everyone that is left. Their leader, some asshole named Midas wanted to be.....like the king of everyone left alive. He wanted to run everything. From what I know," Bob explained. "When the first survivors started out here, they were one group trying to survive. I think Zombie was one of the firsts here too because he knows Midas pretty well. And they are like super rivals or enemies. They hate each other.

"Anyway, when the group started out, they had to choose who was going to lead and Midas wanted to be leader. He started out as leader but then everything went down hill. He sat on his ass all of the time, ordering people about and when someone finally decided to say something." Bob ran his finger across his throat.

"He started killing people." Mark said in understanding.

Bob nodded. "Yep. Midas would kill anyone who questioned his leadership. He wanted to make slaves. Even got a little.....eh.....how do I say this?" He paused grimacing. "Basically what you have to understand, Mark, is we are all that is left of mankind. Or something. Every single person still alive on this land mass are men. There are no women. Not a single one. I think some of the men here haven't seen a woman in the past five years, and according to Zombie, that is how long all of them even been here."

"Uh......so, you are basically saying........?" Mark was saying frowning in unease.

"Humans are going extinct, man. We are all guys. So companionship tends to lean towards sausage fests." Bob said grimacing, his face slight pink from embarrassment. "It gets lonely here so a lot of guys kind of turned towards each other. And Midas wanted to fuck other guys. He forced himself on a lot of them in the beginning. I think he tried it once on Zombie once but that didn't work out so well. Zombie doesn't talk about it, like ever. But from what some of us figured out by what Midas says whenever we end up facing the Blood Splatters, Zombie bested him. Beat the shit out of him and some kind of civil war broke out. Now there are groups all over the place. At the most part, a lot of the groups stick to their own. But there are some, kind of like our group who serve as peace keepers and help protect the weaker groups who gets attacked by jerk off groups like the Blood Splatters, who kill whoever the hell they want."

Mark grimaced but understood what he meant. He liked the idea that they protected weaker people from bullies like these Blood Splatters. He didn't like the sound of them at all. He didn't like the idea of someone thinking they were better than anyone else and wanting slaves and stuff. Especially in a world as chaotic as this one seemed to be.

"So.....why aren't there any women left? Are you sure they are all dead?" Mark asked frowning as he looked over at Bob.

Again, Bob shrugged as he glanced back. "They have to be. It has been like five years since the Rust outbreak started. And not once has a woman showed up here. That is what everyone says any way. Some of the others said that the female population must have been killed off because......well, I don't want to say they were the weaker of mankind but I really don't see any other option. And it has been years since we saw any kind of girl. Young, old, whatever." He said with a sigh.

"Man, so we are going to die off because of this whole Rust shit? That is totally not fair. And we don't have women to keep our species going. Not cool." Mark grumbled ashe trudged along before hissing when he stubbed his foot once again. "God damn it. Wish I had some clothes or something. Why am I naked, anyway? Did you......?" He was saying.

Bob nodded looking back at him. "Yep. We all showed up in our birthday suits. Every single one. No worries though. Once we get Home, I am sure Zombie won't mind us giving you clothes. He wouldn't turn you away or anything. That is why I am pretty sure you'll be joining the group. That is if you want." He said looking back at Mark.

"I have no idea what is even going on, Bob. I don't know anything about surviving out in the wildrness. I don't know where we are or why we are here. So if I am welcomed to stay, that would be great." Mark stated with a sigh before frowning as he noticed something. He looked off towards the distance and tensed up. "Uh, wolves. Wolves. There are wolves coming this way." He said in rising panic now.

Bob looked and tensed, himself when he saw a small hunting pack of six wolves running across the field. He did not, however, raise the bow or an arrow as they came rather close. Especially when the wolves halted when they noticed the two just merely a good fifty feet away.

"Are you......uh....gonna......?" Mark was asking uneasily now moving slightly behind the one armed man.

Shaking his head as he stared at the wolves watching them, Bob tried to stay as relaxed as he could. "No. I know these ones. They won't attack us if we don't attack them. Trust me. Attacking these wolves would do no good." He said quietly to Mark.

"They're wild animals, aren't they? What if they....." Mark was asking again.

"These wolves belong to a pack just at the foot hills near our camp. They are wild but they also kind of belong to this hermit guy tjat is only a quarter a mile away from here. We don't know him well. I don't think any one, not even Zombie has ever talked to this guy. He stays in his own camp with these wolves guarding him. No one ever tries to kill them because it is a full pack these ones belong to. The last time anyone killed one of these wolves, they were hunted down by the wolves and even the guy and was killed." Bob explained. "Trust me, Mark. We don't want to mess with Wolf Pack's pack."

Mark gaped at the larger man in front of him. "Who?" He asked bewildered.

"Wolf Pack. The hermit guy. That's what everyone calls him. We have seen him hunt with these wolves, as if he is a part of their pack." Bob told him. "We don't know his name because no one has ever talked to him. And we have to call him something so everyone calls him Wolf Pack. We don't mess with him or his wolves. We leave him alone and he leaves us alone."

"So.......how do you know these are his wolves?"

"Because they're not attacking us. Any of the wild animals here attack. Even some the deer attacks some times. The wolves even attack the very second they see anything or anyone. But these ones......" Bob paused shrugging before pointing at the rather large white wolf that seemed to be the leader of the pack. "See that one? He is like the alpha male. He has been seen with Wolf Pack a lot. He seems to listen to him and the pack listens to him. I think they're just hunting right now. So as soon as they leave, we can keep going." He stated.

The wolves stood there, cocking their ears at the two men and staring and growling at them before the large white wolf turned with a jerk and started running again. The other five were immediately following after without another backwards glance.

Breathing with relief, Bob looked back at Mark and smiled with a shrug. "Okay. Let's get going then. Camp should only be half a mile away now. We are almost there. We will probably run into Slender soon. He scouts out intruders with JD. Don't react if they point a gun at you though. Just stay quiet and relaxed and let me do all the talking. You won't get shot unless you try anything." He told him before starting to walk on.

Mark tensed up at hearing that. "Uh......sh-shot?! You have guns and you are armed with a bow and arrows?! What the fuck?!" He yelped before hurrying after.

Chapter Text

It was now in view, Mark saw across the field. The Home camp that Bob claimed to be from. And he did have to admit but he was impressed with it. It was near the mountains but not close enough for someone to climb onto the large rocks and jump onto the roof.

There were probably ten different buildings built completely out of thick wood and even metal. Most of them were smaller than the obvious main building. Some were mere shacks just sitting around of the larger building, or rather fortress that Mark had to say what it looked like. Some were larger but still one story buildings. And some were two or three stories. But the main building, itself, was very large.

The main building, or rather fortress, seemed to be five stories high with a tower serving as the sixth story. There was a plateform up there with a roof covering it.

It was that did Bob call the look out. He explained that was where Zombie spent most of his time when he wasn't too busy running everything.

Around the entire camp were spiked log fences that didn't look to inviting but Bob ensured Mark that they were there to keep enemies and even some zombies out of their compound when they were unwanted. There were two gates, one at the front and one at the back. It was probably there did the occupants of the compound slipped out to do raids or go hunting.

From the distance that the two were at, however, Mark could only barely make out a few people, men wandering about the compound. Some were even leaving to move over to trees, where some were hacking away at the trunks with what looked like axes.

"So, this is it, right?" Mark asked finally.

Bob nodded as he glanced at his new companion with a smile before leading the way towards the compound. "Yup. Home sweet home. Like I said, let me do all of the talking. Try and look as less menacing as you can, all right? Some of the others don't like strangers that much. We never know who is with what clan. I know you're not because you could have killed me any time on our way here." He stated.

Mark gave him a wild look as if he was crazy. "Wha-?! You're armed! I'm not! All I have is a rock!" He said flabbergasted.

Bob laughed looking at him. "And rocks, especially hand rocks can be weapons. Dude, we all started out with those things. Whoever keeps dropping us off here gives us rocks to use as weapons." He said with a shrug.

"Dude, that is just fucking stupid. They give you guns right, in supply drops?" He recieved a nod. "So why the fuck didn't they give you or any of us gun?!" He blurted out.

Bob shrugged. "Don't know. There is a theory running around that they did that just for us to adapt. I think it has to do with survival and all. They give us bare nessessities and a rock and allow us to figure out how to survive on our own in the beginning. That whole shit. Believe me, I thought it was bull shit too in the beginning but as we go, it starts making sense. Any way let's......." he was saying.

At that time, Mark did start hearing running foot steps coming from behind. He hadn't thought of it, thinking it might have been nothing but an animal close by. But then he heard a click, as if soomeone was loading a gun and then he turned around just in time seeing a man lunging at Bob with a rock while another had a gun aimed.

Therefore, seeing that his new companion was in danger, Mark reacted quickly and leapt in the way while shouting a warning. He just reacted by instinct and for it, he was rewarded with a sickening crunch as the rock slammed against the side of his head.

He collapsed with a cry of pain, his hands now gripping at his head to cover the now bloody lump he felt under his palms.

"Fuck!" Bob shouted somewhere near by and there was scuffling and shouts. There was definitely a struggling. "You fucking Splatters! Back the fuck.....oooof! Ow! Fuckers! Get off of me, you dipshit!"

Mark was seeing black and red through his eyelids and he tried to look, pulling a part one of his to see that Bob was in deed in a struggle with one of the men. The man was on his back, keeping the larger man from reaching one of the arrows to try and shoot him with. He had the rock in his other hand and he was now attempting to try and bash Bob's head in with it. But because of the struggle, all he was doing was bashing Bob's arms and hands.

Groaning and feeling his head spinning, Mark just laid there for a moment, trying to gather his bearings. He felt himself blacking out.

There was a rustle of weeds and grass and he opened his eyes again. His vision was blurry bit he did see a dark hole, a gun pointed right at his face. It was the other man.

"Fuck! No! He is new, you assholes! Get the fuck away from him!" Bob wasshouting as he kept struggling to dislodge the man on his back. He almost collapsed to his knee from he weight.

"Hmm. New, huh? Well.....he is a purty thing. Maybe we should kill you and then take him back to our place. I'm sure Midas would like this one. He can be trained in our ways. Russ, kill that fat boy. We'll take this one back......" the man with the gun was saying.

Suddenly there was gun shots, making Mark jump on the ground and blink several times as growing darkness was creeping up on him. He was fading yet flinching as he heard more gun shots and distant shouting. He heard a loud thump and a muffled scream as he faded.

"Bob! Are you okay?! Whoa! Who is this?!" Someone new shouted as they approached.

"Mark! Mark!" Bob shouted now coming closer to Mark where he laid. He wasnext to him in seconds, grabbing at his bare shoulders and lifting him up. "Oh, fuck! He's hurt pretty bad! He took a blow to the head! Wade! Do you have a medikit with you?!"

At that time, Mark faded and he fell unconscious, his barely open eyes taking in the sight of several men crowding around him and Bob. He distinctively remember seeing one of them, armed with a gun, moving to kneel beside him. He remembered seeing the most greenest eyes and black hair before darkness consumed him.

And then he was completely out.

 

Honestly, Mark didn't know how long he was out or why he was even out. He did know of how much his head hurt when he finally came to. He felt the dull pain in the back of his head where he had been hit.

What he didn't remember right away was of why his head hurt. He just felt the pain and that was it.

Waking up was almost too hard but it slowly got easier as the pain in his head increased. He groaned as he was forced to wake even more, his hands now reaching to cup his head where it hurt the most. Andhis hands met cloth. He froze for a second as he registered what he was feeling, his eyes still closed.

His head......it was bandaged. His body......was kind of warm. It was engulfed in warmth of cloth and it took a moment for his memories to catch ip to his mind. He remembered what happened. He remembered waking up, naked in the middle of nowhere, where ever here was. He rememberedmeeting a guy named Bob. He rememberedwhat Bob said to him about their situation. He rememberedthey had been on the way o where Bob lived with other men.

And he remembered the attack.

After that, not so much.

Finally peeling his eyes open, Mark as met with darkness and a wooden cieling above him. He stared up at it for a moment before lowering his hands and looking around. He was in a small wooden room, lying inside......a sleeping back. His head was on a soft pillow, which he was glad for.

The room, itself was small but big enough for him to get up and move around. There was what looked like a stone stove set up the corner where a pipe chiminy was stretched up through the cieling where there was a hole so smoke could trail out of the building. There were no windows so it was.kind of dark in the room. The only source.of light was the stove. There was a fire inside it, keeping the room nice and toasty.

It was kind of chilly so it must have been after the sun went down. There was a slight red glow through the cracks of the wooden walls and there were sounds of foot steps outside the room.

Mark slowly sat up and looked around, bewildered. He could barely see the room but did notice that it was small. Not too small but not large either. He was uneasy to see no door. Or at least he couldn't see the door. He frowned taking in everything before flinching when he heard voices.

The voices were coming from outside the room and supposibly the small building, itself. There were a few of them. It sounded like most were just distant from where he was but it was two just outside the small shack.

".........woke up." One of the closer voices spoke and it sounded very young. Probably a voice of a young adult or a teenager. It was male and it did remind Mark that Bob said there were only men in this place.

"Okay. Go get Bob and tell him his new friend is awake. I am going to go speak to this new guy. And then get to bed, JP. You have a raid tomorrow with JD and Wade." Another voice said and it was quite a pleasant one if not stern.

"Awwww, come on, Zee! I wanna stay up longer! Can't I......?" The younger voice was saying.

"No. You have a long day tomorrow and you need as much rest as you can get. Now go get Bob like I told you and then go home and sleep. When I get done talking to the new guy and I come to your place and find you still awake, I will knock you out, myself and make you sleep. Now, go!" The stern man said again.

There was a string of grumbles but the younger man was obviously leaving.

Mark sat there, frozen with anxiety. He listened hard, hearing foot steps moving around before one of the parts in the wooden wall in front of him rattled. And then the hidden door opened.

A man stepped into the room, pausing as he glanced at Mark before closing the door. Mark was treated to the man's appearence and he was not ashamed or embarrassed to say, this guy was quite a handsome fellow.

The man was tall, perhaps even taller than Mark was. He had a good average but also toned build, making it clear he was a strong one. He had toned muscles for an average guy and it was clear he worked in hard labor to keep in shape. He had short black hair with an almost triangular style on top, a strand of black bangs hung over very green eyes. They were seriously the color of summer green leaves. He wore beige pants and a black shirt that seemed to have had the sleeves ripped off to make shift as a tank top. He did have a gun strapped to his waist with a rope and a home made leather holster to keep it in.

The man, himself, had quite a handsome, clean shaven face, if not just a little scruff on his chin. He had a slight scar above one pencil thin black eyebrow but other than that, he was almost perfectly shaped.

Green met dark brown and the man smiled as he turned to face Mark, his arms folded across his chest. He seemed to thinking deeply about something before he moved over to the side where a pail had been sitting that Mark hadn't noticed before. He picked up a tin can hidden behind it and filled it with something before making his way over to Mark.

"Hello, Mark. How are you feeling?" The man spoke now offering the can to the other.

Hesistating, Mark paused bfore taking the can and looking inside it. His thirst quenched when he saw water and he immediately took a drink before looking back at the man. "Uh....okay. My head hurts but it's kind of going away. Who are you? Where am I? What happened?" He asked uneasily.

The man croached down near Mark but did retreat at a more comfortable distance for both of them. "You and Bob were attacked by two members of the Blood Splatter clan. They almost killed you both but we chased one of them off. The other one, the one who had been pointing a gun at you is dead. I shot him before he could kill you. Or at least cause you any harm." He then offered his hand to Mark. "I am Zombie. The kind of...leader of this group, I guess. Bob told me how he found you and what you did to save him from Russ. And for that, I thank you greatly. He is the best shot with the bows and arrows and the most handy when it comes to hunting for food. It wastes less meat when we use the bow and arrows."

Mark took Zombie's hand and shook it before pulling back. "How long have I been out?" He asked frowning.

Zombie shrugged with a light smile. "A couple hours, give or take. Seems like Russ hit you pretty hard." He then held up three fingers. "And just to make sure you don't have a concussion or anything, how many fingers am I holding up?" He asked sounding more amused than concerned.

Mark gave him a blank look, knowing he was joking. He decided to humor him though by squinting his eyes at his fingers. "Uh......three hundred, I think." He said before looking at Zombie, who laughed and dropped his hand.

"Okay, you definitely have a concussion. To remedy that, want some food? I am pretty sure you're hungry by now." Zombie said very amused.

Mark shrugged with a weak smile, even as his rather curling stomach answered for him. It had rumbled so loud at the mentioning of being hungry that even Zombie heard it. The two of them both laughed as they both climbed to their feet, thogh Mark did have to pause when he stood up too fast.

It was then Zombie held something out and it was revealed to be pants.

Smiling in embarrassment, Mark took the pants with embarrassment and put them on. He was grateful to all that was being offered to him as it was. "Thank you, Zombie. So what now? Bob said....you might let me stay with your lot. I mean if it's all right." He said grimacing.

However, Zombie just smiled at him his hands now in his pockets as he waited for Mark to settle himself. "Yeah, you can stay. But you have to pull you're own weight around hwre. Everyone works hard to jelp the group survive. We need everyone to contribute to our own survival." He stated.

Matk just nodded in understand. He had already gotten that part from Bob. So he already agreed. "I don't know what I can do to help. I am not even sure what I am even good at or how to survive as it is. Speaking of which, Bob said you're the one to ask about this whole situtation. So what the heck is goi g on?" He asked frowning.

Zombie nodded before clapping the new guy on the bare back. "Come on. Let's get you something to eat and then I will explain." He said and lead Mark out of the building where they met Bob.

It was growing darker outside. There were torches lit to illuminate the entire compound and a few camp fires. There were a few men out and about still, some just sitting around the fires to stay warm and conversing with each other. They only paused when they noticed the new guy with their leader, some just watching.

At the most part, Mark ignored them or just stared back as he walked with Zombie and Bob, only to pause when a tall, thin guy came walking up. He was a good built man, maybe not as well as Zombie but he was at least in shape. He did......Mark noticed right away, have rather big ears though and it was almost comical the way they stuck out a little. His hair was ginger brown yet really short as it was kept that way. He had soft brown eyes that sparkled in friendliness and cheer. And he was dressed in a torn and worn white shirt and beige pants.

His name, as he introduced himself, was Wade. And he was a little goofy but friendly nonetheless.

Finally they reached a rather large bonfire where the most delicious smell was coming from. It was seen that there were many slabs of meat on the fire, cooking wonderfully. Two men were there and they were both arguing in two different languages. It was all gibberish to Mark but very comical the way the two looked.

One man was almost just as tall as Mark and he did have unkempt brown hair. He was a small but good built character, did have a few scars here and there. He wore only pants and they were kind of dirty with fire ashes and soot, so he seemed to be the one who did most of the fire keeping or cooking.

The other man was tall and kind of slender but rather good looking. His har was somewhat dirty blonde with a few sun kissed blonde high lights in his hair with bangs hanging over water blue eyes. He had a little bit of scruff on his cheeks and chin but looked good with it.

While the shorter one was speaking in what sounded like German the other was speaking in Swedish.

Mark recognized the languages but had no idea what the hell the other two were even saying. It didn't seem that the two knew what the other was saying but probably just arguing to hear them selves talk.

"Raed, Pewds, what are you arguing about now?" Zombie asked as they approached but did seem amused. Both stopped talking at once and looked at the approaching few. Then at once, they pointed at each other.

"He's being annoying and trying to steal another piece of meat!" One said.

"He won't let me have some meat!" The other said loudly.

"You were trying to steal it! It is not my fault you burned yourself!" The second complained.

"Okay, you guys. Knock it off." Zombie said wearily as he shook his head and he looked at Mark. "Raed, our new friend could use some food. Mind setting him up some?"

Raed nodded grinning as he looked at Mark and waved. "Yeah, sure! Hi! I'm Raed!" He said cheerfully before moving towards the fire.

Mark waved back then looked at Zombie as he waited. "So.....what exactly is going on here? Bob said you could explain." He said frowning.

Zombie nodded slowly before motioning to the fire. "Let's have a seat, Mark. This is going to take a little while to explain. I will tell you everything you need to know while you are eating." He told him and they all sat down to listen.

Chapter Text

While Mark was eating, Zombie began to explain. It was almost the same thing that Bob had told him. Just with a little more details.

"So you're saying that everything is gone. This island is all that is left because the outside world has been wiped out from the Rust plague and we are all that is left." Mark said gravely.

Zombie nodded solemnly. "We believe it was a biological warfare virus that got out of control. It devastated the world, killed millions of people and reanimated their corpses into zombies. Becoming the living dead." He said softly. "We believe the last remaining government officials sent all survivors to this island to survive the Rust. The amnesia part is an effect from the Rust. I guess, it just messed with our memory and so far no one here remembers what happened before we got there. Even myself. I don't remember my life before coming here." He told Mark.

Mark slowly nodded, taking it all in. "So.....what is with the clans then? All of the groups? And that Blood Splatter clan? What the hell is their problem?" He asked frowning.

Smiling faintly, Zombie just shrugged. "Each of us have our own groups. People we trust. Most of them are just small groups made out one to three or four people. But the big ones, like ours and the Blood Splatters have at least ten to twenty people. It is just the way it is. We trust trust each other and try to keep the peace here. That's what our group does. People like Midas and his group are the ones who just don't care about others and will kill people for fun or to cannibalize them. Midas and his group said they were surviving in their own way. But that's bullshit. There are animals all over the island. There is vegetables and fruits found all over. It's not that hard to find food or hunt. It's easier to kill someone for food but it still is wrong. And the Blood Splatters don't care."

Mark hesistated as he glanced to where Bob was sitting on a log, checking out his bow and arrows. "......So....you were one of the first people here, weren't you? So you've known Midas for a long time, right?" He asked uncertainly.

Everyone e around the camp fire stopped what they were doing just to stare flabbergasted at Mark.

But Zombie snorted as if amused as he sent a glance at Bob before looking at Mark. "Yeah. I am and I have. I suppose that would reach your ears eventually. So I am just going to clear the water now." He said as he folded his hands together and leaned against his knees. "Yes. Midas did try and pull something on me when the survivors were one group. No, he did not succeed. I kicked his face in and left with others who were sick of his demands. I started this group and we have been enemies with Midas and his group ever since." He stated firmly.

Mark blushed in embarrassment but nodded. "Okay. What now? How do we even escape from this island? How do we even know that the Rust is still out there? How do we even know the rest of the world is really dead?" He asked frowning.

Everyone was quiet but it was once again, Zombie who shook his head. "We don't know, Mark. Believe me, I ask those questions alot. But there is no way off the island. Not without one of those planes that fly over. I have looked for ways off the island." He told him gravely. "We get people like you once in a while. Used to get them every day and eventually once a week or a month. But you are the first person we have seen that is new in the past year since we have been here. If that isn't saying something, then I don't know what is. I really believe we are the last survivors in the world." He said with a tired sigh.

"So....it's true then? No women? Just us, men? How can a virus like this kill off all women and just leave men? There has to be women alive." Mark said worriedly.

Zombie glanced around at his fellow men, who grimaced and looked down. "I don't know how to answer that, Mark. But in the past ten years since the Rust supposibly broke out, we have only seen men. No woman has ever been seen on the island. I've asked around the other clans with the exception of Midas. No one has ever seen one in the past ten years. And I highly doubt the Blood Splatters has any. Midas would guard them like treasure but also brag about how he has one. They're gone as far as I can tell." He said wearily.

Mark huffed folding his arms. "What.. ..what about Wolf Pack? Bob told me about that guy when we saw some of his wolves on our way here. What's his story?" He asked.

And strangley, Zombie smiled softly, shaking his head. "Wolf Pack keeps to himself. No one has ever talked to him. Not even me. He and his wolves stick their selves. Only once in a while he has offered help when we get into it with Midas and his group. He never talks to us though. He has rescued some of our people before when they get cornered by the Blood Splatters. JP has had an up close and personal experience with that big white wolf of Wolf Pack ' s before." He stated.

Mark just frowned at the name.

A man off to the side that Mark hadn't been introduced to yet snorted. "Yeah, I remember that. JP and I were hunting some deer when the Splatters came at us. The sons of bitch ' s nearly took off with him while I was pinned in a fight with three of them. The wolves came out and ran them off while that big white one had JP covered, as if protecting a cub." He spoke.

"Who is JP? And I don't think I got your name." Mark said looking at the man with shaggy brown hair and was wearing deer skin pants and no shirt.

"Oh! That's right! I'm JD. JP is my younger brother. We don't remember each other but we look alike and I'm older than him so we figured we are siblings. Sometimes people call him Jip and me Jade so not to mix us up." He explained.

"JP is the youngest on the entire island. He's sixteen from what we gather. He is in bed." Zombie spoke up again before smirking and tilting his head off towards the shadows. "Or at least, he's SUPPOSE TO BE!" He called loudly towards one of the buildings near by.

There was a loud groan, the eavsdropper knowing he was busted. Everyone else laughed.

"Oh, come on, Zombie! I just want to see the new guy!" The rather young voice from before called from the shadows.

Zombie laughed as he looked over to the shadows before waving over to the hidden person. "All right. Come on out, JP. Come meet Mark and then go to bed like I told you too. You and JD gas a raid tomorrow at dawn and you're going to be gone most of the day. So you need to get some sleep " He called over in a slight serious but amused way.

Immediately, the boy came out from the shadows into the fire light.

And he was young, all right.

JP was just a boy, in his mid teens by the looks of it. He was much smaller than everyone else. Lithe, slender and short with a mop of brown hair and blue eyes. He was well tanned from being in the sun too much but he was young. He wore baggy patch work pants and a baggy shirt that obviously had seen better days. He was a good looking kid though and he looked healthy enough.

"Mark, this is our youngest member of the band, JP. JP, this our new guy, Mark." Zombie said with a smile.

JP and Mark shared smiles and waves of greeting. But then the boy yelped when his older brother stood up and put him in a headlock.

"Ow! JD! LEMME GO!" JP whined as his hair was ruffled mercilessly.

JD just laughed as he gave him one helluva noogie. "Hey! Next time Zombie says go to bed, you go to bed! Meeting the new guy or not. You are the youngest and you are still not used to running ragged like the rest of us." He said before finally releasing his younger brother.

JP pouted now rubbing his abused head. "That's because you guys are a bunch of mother hens and you won't let me do anything." He grumbled before looking at Mark and smiling. "So.....yeah. it's nice to meet you, Mark. Welcome to the group! Maybe tomorrow, you can ome with me and JD on our raid."

"One step at a time, JP." Bob said with a snort. "He just got here. We gotta make sure he can fight first before sending him out into the wild on raids."

"Fight?" Mark asked now stiffening.

Zombie grimaced but nodded. "Unfortunately. We have to make sure you can defend yourself in case you run into the. Look Splatters again. That, or some of the other unfriendly clans. The Blood Splatters are not the only ones who attack people. They don't kill people for their meat like the Splatters do but they will try and loot you for whatever you find or are carrying around. Its.....it's unfortunately a dog eat dog world. We try to get people not to hurt others but some of them just don't care about other lives. So if you are going to stay here, we do need to test you out. Starting tomorrow, after breakfast, I will have some of the other guys test run you. If you're up for it, of course. It's mostly sparring. And you won't get hurt. And if you do get some cuts, bumps or bruises, we do have medical kits on hand at all times." He tried to reassure him.

Mark slowly nodded but did understand it. He knew that in a world like this, he was going to have to know how to defend himself and even others. "Okay. Sounds good to me then." He stated.

Zombie just smiled and nodded his approval, which did make Mark feel much better. He felt like he wanted to make Zombie happy with him. After all, he was the leader, wasn't he?

"Okay. So eat up and then I'll take you back to the shack you can call home from now on." Zombie stated clapping a hand to his knee before standing up. He, however, paused to give JP. "JP, bed. Now." He ordered sternly.

JP whined but turned tail and stomped all the way over.

"Hey, uh, Zombie. One more question." Mark said looking up at the leader, making him look back. "Has anyone thought about looking around those facilities for answers on this place? You know, about our situation?"

Zombie paused but shook his head. "We can't. We have tried looking for anything like old files or documents but the Rust is so thick in those radiation sites that it's impossible to stay in there too long. Besides, we have tried making runs in each of the buildings and found nothing. I'm afraid we won't know all of the answers like we really hope for." He stated with a grimace. "Sorry."

Mark just shook his head. "It's okay. It just....it just feels like something is missing from all of this. I just get the feeling there has to be more to it. Like, if those planes come through here all of the time, how are they surviving out there if it's too dangerous. Why aren't they dead yet and are always making supply drops?" He asked.

Everyone else blinked in surprise and it was obvious it made them think twice about it now.

But Zombie smiled and shrugged. "I see your point, Mark. But there is no way of knowing unless we can get one of the planes to land and get them to talk to us. They never land though. It's like they are afraid of us or something. They just make the drops and then fly away. But I get what you are saying. It is fishy and I wish we can get more answers. But right now, we can't. Anyway, eat up and then go get some rest." He told him before turning to walk away. "Hey, Bob. Mind taking him back to his new shcak? There is something I got to do."

"Yep. Got it, Zombie." Bob said waving at him.

Zombie nodded before heading towards the big building without another word.

Mark stared after Zombie and then looked at Bob. "What's he going to do?" He asked curiously.

It was the guy named Pewds who shrugged. "Talk to Wolf Pack." He merely stated.

Mark blinked at him in surprise. "Hih?! But I thought you said.....!" He was saying.

"Morse code through torch light." Wade interrupted as he ate some of his share of the meat. "He uses fire signals to talk to Wolf Pack. They do it every night. Talk to each other or something. I guess they figured out some kind of code or something. Zombie is really curious about Wolf. But he won't come near us to talk. It's just a thing between them or something."

Mark slowly nodded. "Okay. Does anyone know what Wolf Pack even looks like?" He asked still curious.

Everyone shook their heads.

"Nope. He's always completely covered in deer skin and even does have a wolf pelt. I heard rumors that the pelt he wears was the mother of the wolves he has with him. Something about her being killed when the wolves were cubs and Wolf Pack found them." Red stated his piece.

"Yeah, it's mostly rumors but we really believe that's what happened. He bonded with the wolves when they were cubs and that's why he is their Alpha." Wade said shrugging.

It made sense to Mark at least.

Still, hearing more about this Wolf Pack made Mark more curious.