|Author's Note: I HOPE this is fast paced and scary instead of dragging and lengthy like I imagine it. Lemme know.|
Duo Maxwell stared across the table at Hilde, swallowing thickly. Her smile, peaceful with her eyes closed, seemed to mock him. He took in a shaky breath and sighed.
She was, indeed, the most beautiful person he'd laid eyes on. More beautiful than Heero in the pitch of battle (and he would never admit he'd felt that way, and neither would Heero, by mutual unspoken agreement.) More beautiful than any of the dancing girls, more beautiful than anyone. And he could only stare at her. And wait.
It had all begun, it would seem, innocently. A night of horror movies in honor of the holiday. One of Duo's favorites had been on, the people in it screaming as the undead ravaged their bodies in the most gory possible ways imaginable. Relena had curled against Heero's side, causing a slightly annoyed, slightly amused smirk to spread across his lips as he put his arm around her shoulder. On another seat, Quatre was doing a fairly humorous (but entirely real) impression of Relena, burying his face into Trowa's side and whimpering as another human was ripped to shreds by onscreen zombies. Wufei sat, arms crossed, scowling at the screen and tutting under his breath, ignoring Catherine next to him, who looked, for her part, thoroughly bored.
Duo and Hilde cheered the zombies on with each kill, reacting as if their team had scored a remarkable goal. One more reason he liked her so much.
Finally, Wufei exploded. "What is it with movie makers?!" He stood, pacing and waving his arms, ranting frantically as he did. "'Shoot them in the head. Cut off their head. Knock their head off.' Is that the only thing they can think of?" Wufei stared around, as if surprised everyone else was still there. "Don't tell me you're frightened by this... this.. nonsense!"
Quatre's timid voice piped up. "It's scary, Wufei! The music gets all low and then suddenly they turn and... and..." he seemed to turn green. "It's just..."
Relena was nodding into Heero's chest.
"Besides," Duo drawled, grinning at his pilot friend. "If movie makers have it so wrong, you won't have to worry about anyone coming to kill you!" Wufei turned to glare at him, but it was the rain of popcorn that stopped his tirade of laughter.
"Leave him alone, Duo!" Even so, she was giggling. "Wufei, not all undead are sorted out by messing up their heads. I mean, vampires can be taken out a lot of ways. A stake to the heart--"
"Fire," contributed Trowa, with a gleam in his eye.
"Cutting off their head does work," sighed Catherine, to which Wufei growled that anything would be destroyed by cutting off the head, that was the problem.
"Sunlight, too," Relena sat up, warming to the subject, only to dive into Heero's arms when a man was pulled apart by a group of zombies, screaming in a croaky voice, "Choke on it! Choke on iiiiit!"
"But this movie," Wufei spat the word as if it had a bad taste, "isn't in the-- I mean... they're so SLOW! How are all of these... creatures catching them?!"
"Numbers," Heero shrugged. "You know how much numbers can compensate for any amount of deficits in an army."
"Aw, man, don't ruin a perfectly good gorefest with tactics, Heero!" Duo threw some of the popcorn he'd been assaulted with in Heero's direction. "Look, Wufei, this is for ent-er-tain-ment. It's not real, it's make believe. None of this could ever happen!"
Suddenly the movie went black, and a piercing tone emitted from the speakers, getting even the ranting Wufei's attention. The somber, slightly frightened face of a television anchorwoman appeared on the screen.
"This.. this is a breaking report from Channel 83 News... Ladies and gentlemen, it is almost impossible to imagine that what I am about to say is true, but... to be honest, there is no way we could make this up. You may want to gather your children to you, but hide their eyes. The images are not pretty..." The news lady teared up, biting her lip. "I wish I could go make sure my daughter was safe, but..."
She shook herself, sighing. "The images you're about to see are not fake. They are real, as incredible as it sounds. And frightening. It is important you remember that it is not faked, it is not a hoax. It is very, very real."
And the woman's image dissolved to show a scene much like the one out of their movie, except there was no musical accompaniment. Only the shaking voice of the newscaster broke the otherwise silence, describing scenes of utmost terror as what appeared to be zombies walked the streets, at first ignored, until a young boy was literally chewn to death as the camera rolled.
The pilots sat, stunned, mute in horror as the anchorwoman came back on, shaken, seemingly hysterical. "This... this is real, people..! I can hear them, even now, banging on the doors, trying to get in. We have been over run! Th-- what was that?!" For, indeed, there was a loud crash somewhere off camera, and the woman screamed as the camera tilted, a male's scream issuing from close to it before a bloody hand flopped in front of the prone camera.
The woman was backed against the wall of the news set, gibbering, when, suddenly, she went silent.
The woman's voice was subdued, but after a few moments, she screamed. "No, no, Emily, not you, too! My baby! My baby!"
The sickly green leg of a young child shuffled onto the camera, approaching the woman who was on her knees, screaming as her worst nightmare came true. The child, visible now, lifted her arms toward her mother, shambling, and the mother screamed again, unmoving, as the child wrapped her arms around the woman's neck, reared back, and struck like a cobra at her throat.
The television shut off, remote held in Quatre's trembling hands.
Silence reigned in the darkened living room, the only sound slightly labored breathing as each man and woman tried to make sense of what they'd just seen. Finally Quatre's voice whispered, shattering the silence.
"It's a hoax, right?"
There was a seeming simultaneous grunt of agreement among the men, except that agreement was far too strong a word. It was more of a hope. It was, after all, Halloween, and such tactics had been used before with varying degrees of success.
Relena spoke softly, in tones that were meant to soothe, to ease panic. "Of course it's a hoax, Quatre. It's too close not to be, don't you think?" She had stood, however, and was walking toward the door to check the lock. "We'll just wait here tonight and not worry about the living d-"
Two grey and green arms crashed through the door, and Relena screamed as cold, clammy hands grabbed her, yanking her into it with bone shattering force, yanking her again and again, using her body to shatter the door to splinters. The six pilots stood and held out their handguns, aiming with steady precision, but unable to shoot as Relena's shattered body was still between them. She screamed again, as a desiccated face pushed through the splintered door and latched onto her neck.
Her struggles slowed even as she pressed against her attacker, she twisted and writhed, but all too soon, before the thought of helping her even occurred to any of them, she stopped struggling and lay limp at the feet of the honest to space zombie pushing through the doorway, grinning through his bloody mouth.
"She's gone," breathed Heero, and Hilde cursed. The group open fired as Catherine screamed, exploding the creature's chest in a hail of lead. The zombie, still smiling, shuffled forward against the deadly current, until one of the bullet's crashed through its skull. It dropped like a rock, twitching and gargling until it was still.
"The fucking movies were right," breathed Wufei, shakily holstering his weapon.
Heero turned, dazed, looking through the room. "Where's Catherine?"
Trowa's reaction was immediate, dashing into the dining room, the door of which had been behind Catherine's seat, and stopping short. Quatre was next to him, and he stumbled back, wretching onto the rug.
Catherine's body was still, her head twisted the wrong way, and Duo swore in a moan, turning to the others. "What in the hell is going on here?"
Heero shook his head, in shock or numb space only knew what, and turned to regard the twisted limbs of Relena, still lying in front of the door. "We're compromised," he muttered. "The front door is wide open."
"It's a choke point, man," Duo said, his voice uncommonly serious. "They have to get through it to get to us. We can hold them there if we have to." Heero nodded, his eyes distant. Wufei, however, trembled in rage.
"I hate this. Waiting. I hate it. We have to do something." He clenched his fists, the right one holding his gun. Quatre looked at him, his own face masking into stone.
"There's nothing to do, Wufei. Not this late. We can't see them coming in the dark."
"They can't see us, either, then!"
"They can smell us." The voice was Trowa's, calm and deadly, detached. "It doesn't matter how they sense us. The darkness is not an advantage he-"
"She's alive!" Hilde pointed at Relena, who's limbs were twitching. Heero knelt next to her, taking her hand. She moaned, gutterally, and arched her back. Heero said nothing until she looked up at him and smiled. Her teeth were covered with blood and pus.
The room seemed to freeze, and Heero tried to pull away, but Relena seemed to be possessed of new strength. Her grip held fast. Heero drew his gun, but Relena moved, swiftly, and bit his inner arm.
Heero fired, once, twice, a third time, ruining Relena's head, then staggered back, clutching his arm, blood oozing from between his fingers. He flexed his other hand, scowling at it.
"It's numb." Even as he spoke, the hand began to tremble, and he swallowed. "Fuck. This isn't happening. Oh, fuck." He only whispered it, and looked up at each of them. None of the rest moved, until Heero stood shakily.
"I'm leaving. If I come back, shoot me. In the head."
"Man..." Duo spit. "No, man. This is fucked up. Stay here. Maybe--"
"No." Heero looked down at Relena's body. "No. Not even if I'm not infected. Someone needs to go for help." Without another word, he stepped through the door, ignoring Wufei's shouts.
Hilde put a hand on Duo's shoulder. "He's very brave, Duo..." she whispered in his ear. "If it was me..." Duo turned and wrapped his arms around her waist, letting her rest her head on his shoulder.
"If... if that ever happens to me..?" She looked into his eyes. "Shoot me. Pull the trigger and don't stop until I'm not moving anymore."
Duo faltered, and Hilde took his face in her hands. "Promise me."
"I..." He swallowed. "OK. OK, Hilde. I won't let you end up like that."
Hilde nodded, laying her forehead on his shoulder. Both jumped when a single shot rang out.
They turned as one, their weapons drawn toward the noise, but it was only Trowa. "Catherine was twitching. I took care of it."
Quatre stumbled toward Trowa and wrapped his arms around the boy, holding him much like Duo held Hilde. The scene held.
Until Trowa screamed in agony, and Quatre came away with a piece of flesh in his mouth, and the windows, simultaneously, shattered.
And that was the last Duo remembered before the haze of sickly red overcame his memory and it was over, bodies on the floor, the other boys gone, and Hilde sitting at the table, leaning back, her eyes closed, smiling serenely, closed mouth unresponsive.
Duo sat across from her, swallowing thickly. She looked so peaceful. Until her head lolled forward, and her eyes opened, dry and sightless, and she smiled a bloody, pus-filled smile.
Duo closed his eyes and groaned. "I'm sorry, Hilde. I'm sorry. I can't do it. I can't do what I promised." Hilde only smiled, and Duo raised the gun.
Closed his eyes against the feel of cold metal at his temple.
And pulled the trigger.