19 Chapter 18: Checking up on a Body and Investigating the Factory
Joshua entered a store house that was a ways away from the mansion near the backside of the fence. It had been a few days since the broadcast and they had managed to finish their ditch work around the fence outside the farm. At this point they were in the process of building miniature look out towers with the left over wood from the storage house and were planning to use them for surveillance at all times. On the other hand they had been using the chat room to keep in touch with other people and up to date on everything going on outside the area.
In the afternoons they would continue to grind levels for the ladies, but in the past four days they hadn't leveled up a single time. At this point they were no longer running into zombies around town as they had either already been killed by them or had wandered off in another direction. So the rate at which they were growing stronger had slowed down quite a bit. This left Joshua to focus more on figuring out about the situation around them. One of his ways to do that was the body lying in the middle of the storage room.
George's corpse was lying on a table chained down as tightly as possible. His upper body was bare letting the world see his accumulated mass of fat and his face still looked like someone who had a painful death. Whatever poison Madalyn had used on him must have been excruciating in the amount she had given him. Joshua had decided to keep an eye on George's body for one reason and one reason only. Over the years he had seen movies or read stories where during a zombie apocalypse whenever a person died, as long as their body was still intact they would come back as a zombie. It didn't matter whether they were bitten or not they would still return from the dead.
Looking at George's chest Joshua could already tell what he had feared would come true. There were the same black tendrils starting to spread their way on George's body, but instead of spreading from bite marks they had started to branch out from the heart. It was also clear that the process took much longer than when someone had been bitten. Instead of a day like with the bite victims it had already been a week and George had just recently started showing signs of the change.
'Damn, I was hoping this wouldn't be the case.' Joshua thought with a sigh. He took one more look for any other signs of turning before leaving the room and locking it. He was getting ready to start heading back towards the mansion when he could hear a sudden clutter from the noise makers on the other side of the fence. Alarmed at the sound Joshua immediately realized what it meant. He rushed towards the back exit of the fence and started going in the direction of the forest where the noise had originated from. When he got close he could see a single zombie tangled up in a wire as it struggled to get free. It was covered in an odd cloak that looked like a uniform to prevent sparks from injuring someone. Every attempt it made at breaking free would create more noise to alert the others so Joshua put the creature out of its misery.
As he started heading back he could see a small crowd of people at the gate waiting for him. Some of them had brought weapons to fight if anything had gone wrong, but they were relieved when they saw it had been taken care of. "It seems the first zombie has made it to camp. I'm surprised it happened so soon." Joshua said getting a few nods in return.
Among the crowd Dave had also come to see what was going on. He suddenly had a frown on his face before bringing up a certain point. "I don't think this zombie came from town. It must have come from the factory instead. The town is still too far away and if it came from there then it would have turned up at the front side of the fence not all the way over here on the back."
"So you think the factory is not only infested with the creatures of the haze, but also zombies now?" Joshua asked getting a nod in response. "Well looks like I'll have to go check out the place. Now that the ditches are finished and the perimeter of the mansion is well defended I and a few others can go check the place out. In the meantime, Dave you and your brothers are in charge of things around here while I'm gone. Though that honestly just means you're in charge." The group of people got a chuckle out of Joshua's last words before they locked the gate and headed back towards the mansion.
'Natalie can you hear me?' Joshua thought aloud towards the mental link with his companion.
'Yes I can, why what's happened?' Natalie's voice resounded in his head leaving no one around him aware of the conversation he was having.
'I need you to let Madalyn know to meet up with us on the other side of the farm today. There's been a change of plans, we're going to investigate the factory today instead of our usual training near town. Oh and tell Laura and Nathan as well, we'll meet up at the back gate in fifteen minutes.' Joshua thought back and waited for her response.
'Alright I'm letting them all know now. We will meet you there.' Her voice once again sounded in his mind before fading away. Joshua still found this way of communication off putting, but was slowly getting used to it. The ability to have silent conversations from any distance was way too beneficial to not use. Joshua went back to his room in the mansion and gathered his gear just in case they encountered large crowds of either the creatures or the zombies. After a quick check to make sure everything was still in good condition he headed back towards the rear gate. He only had to wait a few minutes before the others arrived.
"So we're finally going to check out the factory?" Nathan said excitedly.
"Yep, we found a zombie coming towards the farm from this direction just a little while ago. That can only mean that there must have been some coming from the factory. There aren't any other sources close enough for zombies to start reaching here in the area." Joshua replied and the others nodded at his explanation.
"Well I'll lead the way then." Natalie said as she started to walk ahead. "Seeing as I'm probably the only one here who knows where it is." The group walked for a while and hadn't ran in to any other zombies in the area as of yet. Not to long into their trip they were able to run into Madalyn who had been heading their direction. They all greeted each other normally, except for the cold shoulder Madalyn and Laura gave each other. Joshua sighed at the interaction, but put the matter aside to deal with more pressing concerns. As they started to walk again Joshua started to ask Nathan how the conversation on the chat box had been going which eventually led to Nathan asking about George.
"You still plan on telling people about the situation with George?" Nathan asked as the rest of the group became interested in the subject.
"What about that bastard?" Madalyn said. Her voice tried to stay calm, but you could still hear a tinge of anger whenever his name was brought up.
"Well I've been doing a test with him actually." Joshua replied only to get a stare from Madalyn telling him to continue. "We all know that if you get bitten then eventually you'll turn in to a zombie after the bite kills you. What I wanted to know was whether it mattered if you were bitten or not. I wanted to know if even if you died without being attacked by those things if you would still turn in the end."
"Well what was the result?" Laura asked seeing as how Joshua's expression didn't seem to look to good.
"I'm afraid that it wasn't what I hoped for, instead if you die even without getting bitten you will still end up turning into an undead. The process just takes much longer." Joshua replied.
"Well how long do you think it will take?" Nathan asked he had the fear that this might be a possibility as well. "Maybe we should burn the body before it completely changes."
"I'm sure his friends from town didn't agree with you guys keeping the body around." Madalyn said with a patronizing smirk.
"The only reason I haven't burned the body yet is the fact that we still don't know if there will be any differences between it and other zombies that were bitten. After we find that out then Laura can burn it for the experience. Oh and as for your remark Madalyn, no they didn't agree at first. They wanted to have the body buried, but I explained how that idea could back fire if the body came back to life, so for now they've agreed to let me do my test." Joshua said before putting his focus back on his surroundings. Madalyn simply huffed at the stupidity of the town people before letting the subject go.
It took about an hour for the group to make their way towards the Factory. Unlike the straight line road towards town the factory had many back roads to get towards it. So even though it was a fifteen mile drive by car, walking through the forest cut that time span down greatly on foot in comparison to the walk towards town. When they came within view of the factory they could immediately tell that the place was going to be a problem in the future. The area had a light purple haze to it like the town, but it wasn't spread nearly as far out and was nowhere near as dense. Even from a fairly great distance away Joshua was still able to make out the shape of the factory building inside of it.
The building was rather large as it stood at least three stories worth high with glass windows near the top and two entrances to it. The front entrance was a pair of rather large thick metal doors that looked like they hadn't budged in days. On the other hand the back entrance had scratch marks with a door that was barely holding together. The glass on the door was broken through and you could see signs that something had crawled through it. On the outside you could see a few zombies moving around as they headed away from the factory, but there were none of the creatures in sight. Each of the zombies were wearing torn up cloaks to cover their bodies.
"Looks like they started to break through the back door. We'll probably have to get a look through the window if we want to see what's inside. I don't think the front entrance or back entrance were unlocked at the time everything started." Natalie said as she took in the situation ahead of them.
"Yeah, must mean the people who are zombies here must have been trapped inside the building originally." Joshua said as he started to wonder how many people around the world were stuck in such impossible situations.
"Well what's the plan? I'm sure you don't want to just stand around here and look at them." Madalyn said as she pulled out her daggers.
"Well there seems to only be three zombies wondering outside that means one for each of you. I'll lure them over for you guys to kill them and then I'll climb the side of the building and get a look in through the windows." Joshua explained before making sure everyone understood what to do. He took his machetes from where he had them strapped to his waist and rushed over towards the zombies. When he got close enough they all turned his direction and started screaming at him before charging his way. With the zombies he didn't have to worry about keeping pace with them sense they would sprint towards him and would keep following him as long as he was within their site.
When he got far enough away from the factory and within range of the girls being able to kill them he stepped aside and watched as an arrow, throwing knife, and small ball of flame flew by in the zombie's direction. Before he turned around the three bodies crumbled to the floor. "It seems you guys are getting better at this." Joshua said as they walked over to him.
"Of course we are, we've been fighting these things for a week already." Madalyn said with confidence, although she still held a smile on her face at the compliment. The only one who seemed to ignore his statement was Laura.
"Alright I'm going to go get a look on the inside, if you see any creatures forming near me feel free to take them out for me." Joshua said before heading back towards the factory. He found a location on the side where he could easily scale the building with some of the hand holds from lights, indentions or other parts on the surface of the wall. After a few minutes of struggle he was able to pull his self-up high enough to look inside one of the windows.
The scene on the inside was similar to the mayor's office back in town, but on a much smaller scale. There was a large purple egg in the center of the room with a hoard of the creatures hanging around it. The egg was not even half the size of the one back in town as it might have only been a foot or so taller than Joshua, but it still gave off an odd rhythmic heart beat as it dispensed the purple haze into the air. This time along with the creatures Joshua was able to spot several zombies wandering the room, at least thirty of them. All of them were males wearing specifically designed factory cloaks like the zombie that he had found trapped this morning.
Taking a deep breath at the scene Joshua took one last look to scope out the place before climbing back down and heading over to the others. "Well how was it?" Nathan asked as he arrived back where everyone was waiting for him.
"Not good. There was and egg similar to the one in town that we expect to be the boss for the area. It was much smaller, but was still able to produce the haze on a smaller scale. There were also at least thirty or so zombies walking around inside." Joshua explained.
"Well we know we can't harm the eggs before they've hatched, but we weren't told that there would be more eggs outside of towns and major cities. I mean I could see there being one at a large resort or amusement park or something, but not a small factory like this." Natalie said as she tried to wrap her head around the revelation.
"I think it might be a sub boss!" Nathan shouted out in surprise.
"A what? Stop speaking in terms of your games so the rest of us know what you mean." Madalyn said trying to hold in her frustration at Nathan using weird comparisons for almost everything they ran in to.
"Oh come on Josh you know what I mean. There like the stronger mobs you have to face before taking down the big bad boss at the end. It makes sense seeing that the girls' levels are starting to stagnate already at level five. If we kept farming for another week or two we could probably get to level six but level seven would take months and anything beyond that would take years." Nathan explained.
"So you think these sub bosses are supposed to help people grind there levels faster? It would make sense, but if they're supposed to help people level up and their so few of them in comparison to everything else then they would have to be…" Joshua started to say before Nathan interrupted him.
"Then they would be extremely strong. If the boss is supposedly a level twenty when the max level we can grind is nine then we should at least expect whatever this thing is to be at level ten or higher." Nathan said. His deduction was probably right and that worried the others.
"Well if we do have to kill it for leveling when the time comes then will just have to be prepared for it." Joshua paused for a moment and a bright smile spread across his face. "I think I have just the plan for it."