Chapter 03: True Terror

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These things smelled horrible.

She took a step away from the bodies, towards the nearest door, then another step, slowly trying to come back to herself. She made it to the door and opened it up. Inside was another small apartment. It was empty. She stepped inside, closed the door and locked it firmly behind her. Then she sat down heavily on the bed across the room, trying to gather her thoughts. Not an easy task, given what had just transpired.

Her earpiece crackled again. "Jennifer?"

Mark. She'd forgotten about him. "Mark. Are you okay? What happened?"

"I was attacked by..." he hesitated.

"By what?" Jennifer pressed.

"...a zombie."

She was silent for a long moment. He was right. These things...they were zombies. They fit all the characteristics. Pale skin, black blood, sharp teeth and claws, stumbling, drooling nightmares bent on the eating of flesh...

"Jennifer?...I'm not crazy, I know what I saw."

"I know. I saw them too, Mark. Did you get bit? Did you get any blood on you?"

"No. I didn't. I killed one. Then I...I'm hiding in a storage closet."

"I'm hiding, too. It's fine...God, this changes things a bit...I guess this might be what was throwing off the BioScan, right?"

"Um...yes, yes it's possible. Probable, even. Whatever these things are, I imagine they would screw with the sensors."

"Yeah. At least we have an idea of what happened to the crew...and this does play into my human experimentation theory...look, Mark, I need you to finish raising that lockdown."

"Jennifer, I don't think I can. If there's more of these things out there-"

"Mark. You have to, okay?" She sighed. "Listen, you can still do this. You killed one of them. That's good. That's great. You had your life threatened and you dealt with it. It sucks. I know it sucks. I don't want to leave this room, but I have to. And you have to leave that storage room. We both have jobs to do."

Mark was quiet for a long time. "Okay," he said finally.

"Thank you. Keep in touch with me. Let me know as soon as you've got it lifted, okay? I'm not too far from the survivors."

"All right. I'll let you know."

He sounded like he wanted to say more, but didn't. Jennifer felt a little guilty for making him do this, but she knew her words were true: this had to be done. There was no other way around it. If they were going to make significant progress anywhere on the ship, namely the bridge and, if they needed access to them, the engines or the oxygen plant or something else important, then they had to lift this lockdown. Jennifer took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

She stood up and hefted her wrench.

It was time to take some of her own advice and get to work.

* * *

Mark stared at the closed door.

The fear he was feeling seemed all-consuming. Fucking zombies. There were actual, real undead people onboard this ship with him. And he was very likely trapped here. How the hell could he deal with this?

It didn't matter, he had to.

Besides, he told himself, the primary security center was just down the corridor. If he opened the door and looked out to the right at this moment, he could actually see the door. In his head, he visualized it. Yes, all he had to do was walk like ten feet. But...there was always that but, wasn't there? But what if there were more zombies out there now? But what if the door was locked? But what if there were zombies in the office?

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