It was yet another afternoon where Joshua and his companions were headed towards town for some more grinding. The task had become fairly tedious without much reward for the time, but they all knew it was necessary if they wanted to survive. It had been a week since they had checked out the factory. There hadn't been any similar cases at the farm of stray zombies popping up since they had pushed a couple of large metal trash containers in front of the door back at the factory. The problem it posed couldn't be solved at the moment so they just fixed the immediate issue of zombies trickling out by closing the one exit they could get out from.
Since the grinding was starting to take a toll on everyone mentally, Joshua decided he could use some of their time together near town to train them in using their equipment and fighting barehanded. He spent time teaching Laura how to use the spear properly and even how to fight with it in close range if necessary. He showed Madalyn how to handle her daggers more efficiently and where the best spots were for her to aim so that her poison would spread more effectively. Although the poison couldn't kill the creatures or zombies it would make them incredibly sluggish for a time. His studies in the health field were extremely helpful in her case. Lastly he taught Natalie how to fight in close quarters. He especially focused on teaching her how to use her small body as an advantage. After fighting so many people smaller then him throughout his life he had a hang of what worked against bigger opponents and what didn't.
Joshua even spent a little time teaching Nathan a thing or two, but unlike the girls who had a leveling system that made their bodies stronger and made it easier for them to learn Nathan was much harder to teach. His body was still immature and frail so he didn't really have the muscles mass to do many of the things Joshua wanted to teach him. This left only some basic fighting styles and proper positioning on the table. By the end of the training and grinding session everyone was once again exhausted. Luckily all their work had paid off and the group of girls had all reached level six. Knowing level seven was a long ways away they decided to head back a little earlier.
When they arrived back at the farm they could see the drastic difference in the place. There was a nice ditch line all the way along the outside of the fence, they were filled with nails and left over barbed wire to hinder anything that tumbled in. There were now towers along the fence line so people could see over it and fire down arrows if need be. In total six towers stood high, two at each gate and one on each side of the fence without an entrance. The only clear pathways in would lead towards the gates which were thick and sturdy enough to handle a car crashing into them let alone zombies.
The rest of the day went by rather smoothly as there were still no signs of threats in the area as of yet. After dinner it was time to start the night shifts for watch. Now that Joshua had a little bit more trust in some of the older townsfolk he and the Carsen brothers weren't the only ones keeping watch. For the first half of nights there would be a total of seven people on watch duty. One man in each tower who would each take turns walking along the fence for signs of activity. The last person would be Joshua who scouted around the outside of the farm for anything out of the ordinary. The second watch group consisted of eight people,while two of a combination of the Carsen brothers and Thomas would take up Joshua's job.
Deep into the night Joshua had already made a couple of rounds around the forested area surrounding the farm and had yet to find anything out of place. He still had a while to go on his shift so he decided to scout out a little further in a different direction than he had gone before. This time he was moving in the direction of where the Carsen brothers would form groups to go find supplies on a daily cycle. Since he had never been a part of one of these scouting groups he had for the most part avoided the area up until now.
The place was heavily forested at first in a similar way as the direction towards the factory. It stayed that way for quite a while until Joshua came upon a clearing. The grass in the area was rather high as it shuddered in waves thanks to the heavy gust of wind rolling through. If animals were still around Joshua might have had to worry about snakes in the high brush, but was lucky that wasn't a problem. He glanced around the area to see if there were any signs of zombies roaming through the area, but if there were any signs then they were blown away by the heavy winds.
As Joshua started to walk further into the clearing and explored the place he began to hear a faint humming sound as he went deeper into the grass. The further in he went the louder the humming became. At first it was nothing more than a fickle sound at the edge of his surroundings, but now it was starting to become louder as if someone was slowly raising the volume on a television. Soon he came across something unexpected. He stepped out of the grass into an area where there was a large dirt patch. The spot looked as though it had been singed in flames so that nothing would grow into its territory for the foreseeable future.
Dead center of the scarred earth was something that just didn't seem to fit the area. There right in the middle of the patch in front of Joshua was a large stairway that lead down into darkness. Joshua stood outside of the stairway and could hear the humming sound coming from within. It didn't sound evil or deadly, but the entire set up seemed strange. At first Joshua thought of going back and waking the others up or asking if anyone had noticed the scene when they had scouted the place, but he had the nagging feeling that it would just up and vanish if he left.
Taking a deep breath to compose himself Joshua made the decision to head in alone knowing full well it was reckless. It wasn't often that he made such choices, but with the girls level stagnating and not knowing when the boss might wake up Joshua was starting to get antsy about their whole situation. People around the world were dying in droves and things were only going to get worse. That's why he sucked it up and made the brave yet stupid decision.
Moving down the steps he descended into the dark unknown. The only things he could here was the humming sound along with his own breathing and footsteps. He eventually found himself stepping into a cave as he took his last step off of the stairway. There was a dripping sound from a stalactite growing from the ceiling. It dripped into a large puddle towards the side of the darkened room with a few stalagmites starting to grow back in response.
At the far end of the room he could see a small subtle light peering through from the other side of a large door. The door was made of some type of metal that had carvings that drew out a weird picture on the front that Joshua couldn't recognize. Those patterns spread out from the door and started to cover the walls in a ruins like style that continued to spread out until he could no longer see them do to the darkness of the place.
Joshua followed his urge to walk over towards the door so he could peer through and see what exactly was giving off the dim light. What he saw on the other side was a much bigger room with several balls of light that were a range of all different sizes. As he got a closer look he could start to see shapes inside the light spheres. The first shape he saw was that of a small dog then another was that of a cat. Soon he was starting to make out the shapes of several animals ranging from house pets to farm animals to wild animals like bears and deer. They all looked like they were going through some type of hibernating process.
Just as he started to make out more of the forms in the room suddenly his view through the door was covered up by a weird large object that had a furry texture to it. He stepped back at the sudden intrusion and looked on at the culprit of his surprise. For a moment he thought it was something like a rug suddenly covering the inside of the door, but what happened next destroyed that theory. The fur suddenly opened up into what appeared to be a giant eye. The eye itself was as large as Joshua was tall. It stared back into his eyes for a moment before a loud rumbling noise surrounded the area.
Joshua froze up as a wave of blood lust filled the air. It was so strong it made him feel like he was stuck in cement. Throughout his life Joshua had come across killing intent before, it was a feeling that exceptional martial artist would give off when they took a fight seriously. It could also be felt when you're on the wrong side of a gun when someone had every intention to kill you. At times like that Joshua would hardly react at all, in fact his own fighting spirit would rise up and usually effect his opponent more in the end. His father had been putting him on the wrong side of it ever since he turned ten years old and started training him seriously.
All of that felt like child's play in comparison. He felt as though the devil himself was starring him down and that deep rumble was starting to sound more and more like laughter to him. His body started to get covered in cold sweat as his legs stumbled back and his eyes widened in horror. It felt like several minutes went by before whatever was on the other side of the door let out a loud snort before moving and settling down to where the window was covered by the large amount of fur on its body.
Joshua took several deep breaths after he rushed back up the stairs in abject terror. It took a while for him to calm his heart down as he sat on the ground in the tall grass far away from the stairs. He looked at his watch to see that it was almost time for the end of his shift so he started heading back towards the mansion. When he returned he immediately went to his room to try to sleep off that terrifying feeling he had gotten from his encounter. He would tell Laura and the others in the morning and they would go check the place out.
Throughout the night Joshua kept twisting and turning in bed as he kept having visions of his trip down the stairs and into the eyesight of that demon. He was so agitated that he nearly fell out of bed on multiple occasions. Seeing that he couldn't get back to sleep he just dragged his body downstairs for an early bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee. He waited patiently for others to wake up as he read through the chat box on the laptop that Nathan had left on the table for people to skim through. It was much of the same with people asking for help or people speaking of sightings of new zombies spreading into their regions outside of cities.
When one of the men came into start making breakfast for everyone Joshua gave him a waive hello and good morning before heading outside to clear his head. By the time everyone was up and ready to start the day Joshua went ahead and pulled his small group aside to tell them what happened. He got two looks of worry and fear along with one look of subtle disbelief. They all decided to head over later when Madalyn would join them for training to check the place out. The rest were worried sense if it was something that could cause someone like Joshua to be in such a state then how bad would it be for them.
Later in the afternoon the group all met up on the road before turning back towards the side of the farm where the clearing was. It took them a while to find it once again, but when they did all they could see was a small burnt stretch of land. There were no longer stairs, but there were still signs that the spot was not normal. As everyone tried to investigate Joshua could still hear the deep rumble in his ears as if the sound of the wind was teasing him.