"Well that's a pretty good defensive front"
It was all Camden utter as he gazed at the barricade inside the apartment, Oliver had led them inside Ian had asked (with much curiosity laced within his voice) why there were none of the dead roaming the upper floors.
"Well, I'll show you" Oliver smiled.
So he did. He showed them a barricade made of the majority of the furniture of the floors above, sofa's bed's, chairs, (even a large plasma screen TV) had been stacked and stuck together with duck tape to the railings opposite the stairs. The mass mob of objects glued together had formed an impenetrable blockade in Camden's large green eyes.
Carl and Oliver burst out laughing and Camden's awe-struck comment, "Were sitting on a high rise fort knox here people" He told them his easy smile maintained on his face. "How did you make this thing sir" Bradley asked timidly, his head poking over his father's back.
"Hell there were more of us and they could build this thing fast" Oliver said beaming, but his head cocked downwards slightly as did his smile. "But they got nabbed by those stumblers" he admitted.
"Stumblers?" Ian asked interested.
"It's what we called them. What have you been calling them?" Oliver asked raising an eyebrow.
"Zombies" Bradley suggested after a short silence, Camden was about to give the exact same answer.
Oliver threw his head back in laughter "Zombies!" he bellowed, Camden give a label to te white eyed "Zombies" or "Stumblers" Camden thought adding it to his expanding vocabulary for things to label the black blooded beings. "Now that's original" he beamed,
Carl smiled over at Camden, Carl now seemed at ease which also put Camden at ease. Despite the hundreds and thousands of zombies below them, all funneled onto the staircase their rotting arms reaching out to a laughing Oliver wanting to rip his head off.
Yet despite the force of hundreds of bodies pressing against the barricade it didn't budge an inch Camden knew they were safe here.
"Where'd you get that rope from earlier, not something you'd usually find lying around here" Ian asked Oliver oddly, Oliver didn't answer but the white haired man did "You guys are lucky I just came back from a trek in the Alps I always keep my climbing equipment on me" he spun the long climbing rope around his head as he spoke. "Good times" he added vaguely, before he turned back to Oliver.
"Well I told you Zombies was more simple name for them" The White haired man said Oliver's eyes reached him as his little girl next to him laughed at his matter of fact tone of voice. Camden didn't know why but he got a twinge of deja vu whenever he glanced at the young blonde girl. "Well, I still prefer..."
"Perhaps we better go show them the food" Oliver's wife interrupted rather coldly, She had none of her husband's light optimism. "Okay, not many pretty things to look at here anyway" Oliver joked referencing the zombies behind him before he set off.
Camden could see why he was leader of the group now.
Oliver's mannerisms and nature were identical to that of his own brothers, Carl's reassurance over Camden was an effect that Oliver seemed to have on the rest of the group, hardly phrased from the zombies in his sight he seemed to skip along the corridors his wife next to him rather the opposite, his son a rather talkative boy who was chatting merrily to the white haired man.
The food was all stored in one room, piles and piles of canned food, and whatever else Camden's eyes could swallow. "Fucking hell were all gonna be obese as that goth over there by the time this whole thing has blown over" Carl hissed to him, a little too loudly. Camden tensed, fearful the goth girl in the shadows had heard him.
"Don't say that so loud" He hissed back.
Carl was silent, although once again through the darkness Camden caught a critical brown eye glaring at him.
"If she's got a problem she might as well just tell us already" Carl muttered lousily inspecting his nails. Camden was still ashamed of what he did, but he found it rich of Mariam to be glaring at him after what she had done.
"She did it too save all of you" A small voice in Camden's head reminded him.
Deciding not to dwell on topics of grief for too long, he stood tall by his brother's side, ignoring Mariam's glares. As long as his brother was around he could hope, he could live he had something to live for.
Convinced they had enough food and bottled water to last for weeks. They departed, Camden in the knowledge they had found a safe haven. "Well we all better cleaned up for dinner tonight" Oliver told them.
It was after this comment that the majority of adults and Camden realised they were walking around with the rancid black blood plastered onto their clothes, realising how disgusting it was and finally over his post-traumatic shock Camden decided to clean up his act.
Carl left him as he took a turn in the shower, the elderly widow took all their dirty clothes "I'll be able to wash them for you boys and girls, for now just grab what you can off the pile to wear in the meantime" So the survivors (after freezing showers) squeezed themselves into plain crumpled clothes amassed in a small pile. Camden managed to find his sizes before stepping into a shower.
Because there was a lack of electricity the water was chillingly cold, yet Camden could cope with this as he scrubbed himself raw, the sights he had witnessed today made him shiver a hell of a lot worse than a ten minute snow like shower ever could, despite this he exited the shower with chattering teeth, the blood on his fingers washed away with cold water and down the plughole yet it left nasty looking scabs on them, his hip was bruised with a large blotchy blue one just as he feared, yet he was alive.
Unlike the boy. Unlike Danny.
"Refreshed?" Carl asked him as Camden returned to him, wearing white feeling rather fresh and new with this colour Camden nodded.
Camden and Carl hung out on the roof again for the next couple of hours in silence. The sky was growing darker, more clogged with clouds with each passing hour the sun setting slowly. The sirens grew more muted in the distance with strong gales began to funnel down his ears, partially blocked out the general moan of the dead population.
"I thought that was it for you, right there" Carl thought aloud suddenly pointing at the spot Camden had been lifted a few hours ago. "I thought so too" Camden admitted, as Carl gazed there for a few more minutes before his face spilt into a large smirk "But it ain't like a Marshall to go down like that were fighters, fuck, we'll get through this with or without these people" Carl told him.
"These people seem nice, besides are you still planning on growing wings?" he asked his brother sarcastically. "Well, where would I fly too?" Carl asked, looking at the desolate and smouldering city below him as the grey clouds created a grey haze across the miserable buildings in Delham these looming death traps being the only thing that they could see across the skyline.
"Exactly, that's why were best off here" Camden said firmly.
A few more minutes past, the swollen clouds looked ready to let loose, but before the first raindrop could land on Camden's slender nose the White haired guy called them.
"Hey dude! Oliver wants us all downstairs"
"Coming" Camden told him he sprang up glad for something to do, Carl trailing his every step.
It turned out Oliver had amassed a giant table, and the elderly widow had amassed dinner.
"Enjoy" She told them all.
Fifteen people ate in leisure. The rain began to pelt at the windows, soon it turned into a torrent as lighting lashed outside the windows and thunder rumbled. However to Camden he only felt more cosy and relaxed in this warm environment as it grew darker the elderly widow lit some candles and these flickering flames illuminated the table. When dinner was finished Oliver addressed the group, all feeling more talkative on fuller stomachs.
"So I thought we'd play a little game" He told them.
Everyone seemed to turn to another person.
"A little getting to know each other game seeing if this things last, none of us are going anywhere or sprouting wings any time soon" Oliver mused, with his words Camden shot a smirk at a scowling Carl as Oliver had unwittingly de-bunked Carl's earlier fantasy of growing wings to escape.
"So, we'll have each other's name, age and occupation nothing too personal there" Oliver boomed, Without even waiting for a response he chuffed on "For example, Hi, I'm Oliver Mitchell, I'm 40 years of age and I was formally an IT worker an office job basically, boring as sh..." (his wife gave him a sharp glare at this) "stuff..." he finished lamely, aware of his listening son and the other two children in the room.
As he sat down to a whistle from the white haired man "Nice one Ol, but I already knew your name!"
"We've only known each other for a few hours, and half of that was killing those stumblers that were on these upper three floors, then these guys show up..." (he pointed at Ian as an example) "It's best if we get to know each other better now" the white haired man seemed satisfied with the response.
Following her husband's example, "Steph" stood up, her dark eyes surveyed everyone before she spoke with a small smile on her face. "My Name's Stephanie Mitchell, I'm 39 and I'm a full time housewife married to this oaf" she said playfully towards her husband, he grinned childishly at her "Funny, it was ogre last time" he said. "It will be troll if you carry on" she said sternly before she sat down, the two exchanged smiles, despite their polarised personalities Camden could see two people in love alright.
Their son jumped up as his mother had sat down.
"Hey, name's Stanley Mitchell, I'm 13 and I play football" He boomed, a massive smirk identical to his father's on his face as he sat down again as his father ruffled his messy blonde hair. Again Camden thought longingly of his desire for children as hyperactive as that Stanley seemed who was fidgeting in his seat, he seemed like a well raised young man.
As Stanley sat, Ian rose, his broad chest bloated outwards in pride. "Ian Moore, 55, I'm a local vicar, you can count on me" he said merrily yet there was something about his smile that rang false with his last five words.
Bradley rose up, as Ian fell back into his seat his back was slouched similar to Camden's.
"Bradley Moore, 11, I'm go to school and It's boring." He said quite flatly, he sat down his eyes finding Camden's for a second, Camden smiled lightly back at him.
No one knew who was going to stand up next, so the loud white haired man did.
"Quincey Jones! 27 and proud! An artist a bit of an odd occupation but my art makes me money and that's all that matters, I also like a travel a helluva lot and it's lucky I like climbing big rocks, or else my equipment wouldn't have saved some of you guys" he sat down proudly with his statement as the small blonde girl beside him stood.
"Rose Jones, 10, Quincey's my older brother, and I go to school a lot... and that's it!" she finished with a bright smile flinging herself backwards next to her big brother. The girl's name didn't ring any bells to him, but he was certain he had seen her face before.
Someone else stood.
"Heather, 19, used to work in Asda, and it sucked" she said bluntly, tossing her long dyed blue and black fringe out of her face, she sat back down again observing everyone else.
The next woman rose, Mariam.
"Mariam Jiinid, 45, my daughter Sandy she's only 10 months old, I used to be a housewife, my husband used to work in a shop..." she stopped there, before carrying on "I know what I did back on the rope was disgraceful but..."
"It's okay" Oliver said in a soothing voice "You did what you had to, no one hear is judging you, you are welcome here".
Mariam muttered a short "thanks" with a face full of gratitude, she sat herself down once again, the elderly widow next to her stood up.
"Well young un's it's Victoria Emerson, 67 years of age, and boy do I feel it, used to a wide range of jobs, but now I'm happily retired and single" she added with a cheeky wink, causing Quincey to laugh, she sat down after that muttering kind words to Mariam next to her.
The next woman stood, her back as straight as a board. "Delilah Jenkings, 29, reporter" she said so formally she may as well still been on air she sat curtly after this. Camden found it odd he didn't notice the rather attractive women, she made a good job of keeping quiet.
Or how he had completely forgotten about him.
The man in the mask remained sitting. Quincey spoke for him.
"I think his name's Antonio, he only speaks Spanish though" Quincey said.
"Sí me llamo Antonio por qué me está mirando?" the Spanish man muttered through his mask.
"He wouldn't remove the mask either when I tried to get it off him" Quincey explained.
"We'll get round to him" Oliver said, as Antonio's single eye rolled after him, he looked rather panicked Camden decided to spare the confused Spanish man any more hassle.
He stood up as all attention found him.
"Camden Marshall, 30, A postman in case you couldn't tell" He tipped of his cap (which wasn't covered in blood and which he put back onto his bald head) and sat down again, he caught a few smiles coming his way, He knew people would know he was a postman, his blood stained uniform he was wearing earlier should have told everyone that.
Camden waited for Carl to respond, Carl looked oddly frozen Camden coughed just before Oliver could speak. "And this is my brother Carl, usually as loud as a foghorn his just acting funny lately" Camden laughed as he sat himself down in a very good mood.
He caught Victoria looking at him very oddly.
There was an unnerving silence, the rain lashed outside, thunder rumbled.
Why were people staring at him so peculiarly? he began to shrink into himself, their eyes darting from Carl back to Camden.
Finally Victoria spoke up.
"Carl's a funny name for chair my lad" She uttered.
"What are you talking about? Carl's right there" Camden said rather angrily he was fed up of odd stares for the day.
"I did want to talk to you about it" Mariam said sadly, Carl's eyes seemed to burn as Camden turned on her. "About what?" he spat.
"You, talking to yourself all the time" She said firmly.
This created a nauseating silence to Camden's ears.
"But, Carl's right..." Camden began.
"Camden!" He turned to see Stephanie had yelled at him.
"No one's there" she finished.
Camden gazed back at his seat. Carl was there indeed what sort of trick were these people playing? "Mum, what's he talking about?" Stanley asked, a confused expression on his face. "Nothing honey, just... nothing" Stephanie reassured him Stanley however didn't look convinced.
"Are you feeling... okay?" Oliver asked, in the voice of man treading on eggshells.
Everybody tensed up, Camden felt all sets of nervous eyes upon him couldn't they see? Carl was right there! In his chair! He looked up and smiled at Camden.
Camden blinked, Camden tried to convince himself his brother was in the chair but these people had done it, they had revealed to him the truth he didn't want to see.
His brother laughed, his face melted he could see all the muscles and veins sticking out from them. "Soorrrrryyyyy brooooootttthhheerrr" he hissed as his blood turned black. Camden seemed to gasp in horror as he stood up and backed away from the table.
"Is he alright?"
"Dude's what's a matter?"
"Somebody do something! Grab him!"
All distant voices. Camden blinked again, He was gazing at a white coffin His brother's pale corpse inside of it.
He blinked again.
There was no Carl Marshall. There never had been.
The true horror the situation collapsed on Camden's shoulders, clasping his head in his hands he let out a roar of pure terror as he shook his head rapidly, tears screaming down his pale face.
"CAMDEN! CALM DOWN!"
A blonde fat figure was running towards him, Camden ran for his life, away from him away from the confused and terrified people who were observing him.
He ran into an empty room and ducked under the bed, rocking himself back and forth, the thunderstorm roaring outside.
"I can't cope with this... I can't cope with this..." Was all he could think.