It was hardly a surprise when Kat barely stuck around once we got back from the power station. We’d taken a detour to one of the drug stores on the way back, to get the things on Riley’s list, since they were the most important, and Riley had gone off to add them to his meagre medical kit. Maria had gone off to find Dante, to let him know what we’d found out at the power station, which left me on my own. I’d gone back up to my apartment, trying to find a few minutes to relax. The dog was in there waiting for me, wagging its tail happily when I walked in. I sat on the couch, patting its head when it looked up at me. I’d called him Bandit, after an old pet, and had taken his collar off, since it was pretty beaten up. I was still working on finding a replacement.
“Hey, Col” I heard Robin say from the doorway. “Where’s Kat?”
“Where do you think?” I chuckled.
“Nice to see she’s taking part. Me and the others… There’s something we wanna show you”
I got to my feet, following Robin into one of the other apartments, Bandit padding along behind us. Waiting in the apartment was Rae, Joe and Scott, all gathered around a small coffee table. Rae was knelt down in front of it, with what looked like a piece of paper in front of her. The three of them looked up as we walked in, greeting us.
“While you guys were gone, we started brainstorming everything we know about the zombies” Robin explained.
“I thought we weren’t calling them zombies?” I questioned. I certainly wasn’t calling them that.
“It’s easier than saying “them” all the time. Besides, wait til you hear what we’ve come up with” he said, looking at Rae.
She looked up at me, getting to her feet nervously, clutching the paper to her chest. “This was Scott’s idea, not mine, so, I mean, shouldn’t he do this?” she asked.
“I can’t explain the pee thing, though” Scott countered, while I stood there, confused.
Rae took a deep breath. “Okay, so Scott had the idea of writing down everything we know about the, uh, the zombies. We asked everyone, and we still need to ask Kat, Maria and Riley, but we think we’ve got it pretty much covered”
I nodded, and she handed the list to me, apparently losing her nerve. It seemed like it’d been written in a hurry, but it was still legible. Just like we’d suspected back at the power station, the very first item on the list was that these zombies suffered locational damage. Robin explained that he’d been using a few of them as target practice, and had clipped on in the leg. From then on, it’d moved with a limp.
Second, was method of transmission of whatever it was that turned them into zombies. As we’d already established, it was transmitted mainly by bite, but Joe had seem someone turn from blood contact. From what he could remember, the girl that had gotten infected blood straight in her bloodstream had turned a hell of a lot faster than transmission via bite.
They seemed to hunt mainly by sound, which was why we’d set up a strict noise curfew. Things that made excessive noise were frowned upon anyway, but they were banned at night. Rae had a few things to suggest, though, which she informed me they hadn’t written down because they weren’t definite facts, just theories.
“We think they might be nocturnal hunters” she said, her voice a little strained. She was a lot like Kat, except Rae was likable. And she actually helped from the get go. “There’s hardly ever any around in the day, but we don’t know where they go or what they do”
“It’s almost as if they can tell we’re weakest in the dark” Joe added, and Rae nodded.
“They seem to be attracted to scents, as well” Rae said and I frowned. They were still human, how could they smell any better than we could? “You remember last time Robin went out on a supply run, and he was complaining that he needed to pee?” she questioned and I nodded, ignoring Robin chuckling to himself. “Well, he went against the wall when he got back. I didn’t think anything of it, at the time. I couldn’t sleep that night, their howling always keeps me awake, so I got up to get some air. I go and sit on the balcony when I can’t sleep, but I always make sure they can’t see me. There were hundreds of them out there, all fighting with each other, but some of them wouldn’t leave that spot alone”
“Maybe there was something else there? A cat or something” I suggested.
“I thought it might’ve been. So me and Scott… We shouldn’t have done it, at least not without telling anyone, but we snuck out the front, and set up a few control areas. One was spit, one was pee, one was sweat and one was, um, one was… semen” she said, clearing her throat awkwardly. It was kind of sweet, really.
“They ignored the spit, went mainly for the sweat and the, uh”
“I think I get the picture” I said, sparing her the embarrassment a second time.
“Judging by the two they went for the most, we think they might be attracted to pheromones” Joe said.
“Which is bad for all of us because it means none of us can jack off” Robin said, trying to keep a stern face.
Rae’s cheeks lit up, and Joe and Scott both laughed. Robin stopped fighting the laughing fit I knew was trying to burst forth, joining in with Scott and Joe. I smirked a little, trying not to laugh, while Rae just blushed even more. Once we’d calmed down, Rae added the two theories to the list, figuring we might as well let the others know anyway. Which was when I got handed the task of asking Kat and Pet if they knew anything. Great.
I made my way to their apartment, knocking on the door. Rae had gone to see Riley, to ask if he knew anything else, but I doubted he knew much more than me or Robin. He might’ve been able to give us rough estimates of a timescale between infection and turning, but it was doubtful.
“What?” Kat asked tiredly, once she’d opened the door. Was she asleep? It was the middle of the afternoon.
"I need to ask you and Pet some questions" I said.
"It won't take long"
"I'm not waking her" she said, annoyed.
"Kat, this is important"
"Just ask me" she glared.
"Do you know anything about the" I stopped, letting out a sigh. Was I really about to say this? "The zombies?"
Kat was silent for a while. “I met some that operated as a pack” she shrugged, picking at her nails.
That’s really not helpful, Kat. Most of the ones we’d seen had all been in groups.
"Some of them have long legs" a voice said quietly from behind Kat.
I looked behind her, seeing Pet standing there, rubbing her eyes sleepily.
"What do you mean long legs?” I asked softly.
"Like long" she said, holding her arms out wide to demonstrate. "To run fast”
"When did you see them?"
"Out the crack in the window here"
"When?" I repeated.
"When you were out" she said and I nodded thoughtfully.
"Thank you, Pet. Is there anything else?" I asked and she shook her head.
"Now she needs to sleep" Kat said, irritated.
I fought back the urge to glare at her, but it was a losing battle.
"Look at her" Kat frowned, gesturing at Pet who had started falling asleep again.
"Forgive the rest of us for trying to get the upper hand in this mess"
"She's a kid"
"So? So's Rae"
"Please don't fight" Pet said weakly.
"Goodnight, Colligan" Kat said, backing down and shutting the door.
And there I was thinking we were making progress.