Chapter 21 Survival
Lex panicked and jumped backwards as fast as he could, quickly transitioning into a run. The hill was covered in tall grass and randomly growing bushes which made it hard for him to run, not to mention the dark making it difficult for him to see. After running for a few moments when he looked back he noticed that the zombies were moving pretty slowly, and he had opened up a gap between himself and the swarm.
Now, at a distance, he calmed down a little from his initial panic and his brain started working again. Instantly his thoughts went back to the training he had received from Marlo during their first official training. He had to assess the situation and quickly determine the best course of action for himself. He was in an unknown environment, with hostiles incoming, and he did not know their strength or numbers. The terrain on the hill made it difficult for him to see and move, which admittedly also hindered the zombies, hopefully, but it also prevented him from seeing them coming towards him. He also didnt know if all zombies were all slow as the ones chasing him, or if there were any faster ones. He had to…
A hand suddenly gripped his ankle and Lex let out an involuntary scream in fright! He looked down to see a zombie with only an upper torso lying in the grass. With its arm that had gripped him, it was pulling itself closer to bite onto his leg! Lex let out another scream and kicked the zombie on its head, but the zombies head was harder than he expected and he tripped instead! He started panicking again as he fell, and when he turned to look at his leg he was horrified to find the zombie barring its ugly teeth and chomping down towards his leg! He was frozen in horror! There was too little time, there was nothing he could do!
Then…then nothing. The zombie tried to bite his leg but couldnt break through his skin! In that moment Lex was flooded with relief, which was instantly followed by wrath! Without any hesitation he drew the knife strapped to his leg and stabbed the zombie in the skull, instantly killing it. Lex pulled his leg free to observe to see if there was a wound, but all he saw was a hole torn in his tracksuit pants and his leg covered in dirty saliva. That was close, he didnt intend to risk another bite to see if his skins defense kept up. He had to find his way to a clearing, this tall grass was an excellent place for zombies to hide!
The system that had been quiet so far gave out a notification:.
Sudden Quest: Kill 20 zombies before returning to Midnight Inn!
Quest status: 0/20 zombies killed
Quest rewards: 1000MP
Quest failure punishment: none
Lex scoffed and without wasting any time got up and started running again, vigilant this time for any surprise visits from zombies. He liked getting MP but right now he wasnt willing to take any risks. He kept looking in the distance to see if he could find any signs of habitation, so many zombies definitely meant there was or at least used to be a human settlement nearby. And indeed, after he actively started looking for signs he noticed houses in the distance.
Lightning flashed in the sky, followed by a clap of thunder. It seemed like it was going to rain soon, and the sound from the rain should cover the sound of him running, but his visibility would be reduced even further. He should…
His foot fell into a pothole he missed in the darkness and he tripped again. Suddenly Lex felt like forgiving every clumsy character in a horror movie he had ever seen, he was not much better!
“Focus!” he told himself and picked himself back up, ready to run again, only to freeze. Three zombies slowly walked out in front of him from some bushes, if he hadnt tripped he would have run right into them without realizing. He turned to look behind him to see if he could find a way to run around the zombies, but although he could not see any figures he could hear zombies moving in the dark.
He felt conflicted, should he go try and fight the zombies or look for a different route and risk running into even more of them, when he remembered one of Marlos lessons flashed in his mind, “Hesitation means death!”. He turned to look at the zombies with a look of determination. He didnt really need to kill them, just bypass them. In a swift motion he took off his backpack and threw it at the zombie closest to him. The zombie was momentarily blinded by the incoming backpack, and then stumbled backwards into the zombie behind when it was hit. Lex took advantage and bolted, grabbing the backpack with his free hand and swung it hard at the final zombie, knocking it over. He took the opportunity to stab the zombie that had fallen down in its head, and quickly ran past the other two that were starting to reorient themselves.
The entire interaction from when Lex saw the zombies to when he escaped took maybe ten seconds, but Lexs heart was beating as if he had just ran a marathon. He was feeling a mix of fear, excitement and success. But he had only a moment to enjoy the feeling as he noticed more bushes in his path shaking, as if something was trying to go through them. There was no time to waste.
He started running towards the buildings at full speed, this time keeping an eye on his footing as well as the obstructions in his path. At this rate he would be able to reach the buildings in a few minutes. As he got closer he noticed a large, broken fence behind which seemed to be roads. It appeared he was in a park. He grinned, he was almost out. Then he came to a screeching halt. Of course his luck couldnt be so perfect. From behind a tree in his path a zombie stepped out and looked at him, as if observing him. This zombie was larger than the ones he had seen before, and its actions seemed to be deliberate instead of instinctual like the previous ones. It was hiding behind a tree, waiting for him, instead of stumbling towards him like the rest, and even now it was holding back its instincts by just standing there and observing him.
Lex instantly decided to treat this zombie as if it were stronger than the others, and smarter too. This was definitely an upgrade in danger, but Lex couldnt afford to wait. He had to deal with this zombie in its path right now, lest the ones behind him catch up and surround him.
Like last time, Lex took off his backpack in one swift motion and threw it towards the zombie to distract it. But the tactic didnt work, the zombie dodged the backpack and let out a viscous growl as it lurched at Lex. The fight began instantly. Lex did his best to dodge all of the zombies attacks as he couldnt afford to get scratched, while the zombie blocked all of Lexs attacks with its limbs. With Lexs strength he should have been able to cut through a normal zombie, but the blade would get stuck every time he hit bone.
They had only a few exchanges, but every moment Lex felt the pressure building up. If more zombies caught up he would be dead! Theres no way he could fight an entire swarm, and this particular zombie was fast enough that if Lex tried to run he would instantly be caught.
A dilemma! How should he solve it? What should he do? Lex tried to think of solutions but all his focus was on dodging the zombie, how was he supposed to do anything else?
After a couple more attempts at stabbing the zombie failed, Lex made up his mind. He didnt think about it, he didnt plan it, but instinctively he knew that he couldnt afford to wait any longer and had to take a risk if he wanted to escape.
He grabbed the dagger with all his strength as he eyed the zombie, waiting for its next attack. When the attack came, instead of dodging, Lex lunged at the zombie so that its claw would fall on his chest where his synthetic armor could help block the blow, and used all his strength to stab the zombie through the eye. The dagger stabbed the zombie but at the same time Lex felt its claw smash his chest, blowing the air right out of his lungs and throwing him in the distance.
Pain! Sharp pain shot through his chest and he instantly knew that he had broken at least a few ribs. He summoned a bottle of Botlam Dew and drank it, hoping to quickly heal. Much to his chagrin he didnt instantly feel a warm feeling in his chest or his ribs healing, like he read in the novels, but right now he didnt have the time to think about it. He looked at the zombie to find it lying motionless in the ground, his knife sticking out of his skull. With great difficulty he picked himself up, pulled out the knife, picked up his bag and limped towards the city.
He had to hide as quickly as possible, he was not cut out for this zombie slaying business.
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