Zombie 01 (Hungry)
Katherine Hana Li spin_kick_snap
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The Mount, Ex-LA, Friday Afternoon
The planned ambush of the Mount had been foiled, the Seventeens too impatient to wait until the gate had opened enough to let Mean Green out. The survivors had successfully routed the gangmembers, Gorgon dropping about half of the group before they'd gotten close. And, unbeknownst to most of the Mount, they'd even managed to collect three prisoners and were keeping them down in the holding cells by the Lansing Theater. In earlier years, the solid doors had held reels of archived film. Now the solid doors kept things in instead of out. Usually, these cells served as a holding pen for people who'd gotten drunk or rowdy, participants in the occasional fistfight or someone caught stealing. Now, however, they were holding prisoners of war.

Stealth had sent St. George off to help repair Big Red where it was still sitting on six blown tires. With the most moral of the heroes out of the way, she'd sent Gorgon down to have a little chat with the prisoners, to find out why they were picking fights with the Mount now of all times. He was a few yards away when he saw the puddles. Notches had been cut out the bottom of each door, just high enough to let in air, some light, or a tray of food. Now something like cheap wine was spilling out of two of the slots.

He yanked open the nearest cell. The Seventeen had slit her wrists. Classic side-to-side. The left gash was clean and deep, the right a big ragged. The floor was wet and red, and the red seeped up into her shirt. A single-edge razor blade rested in her hand, the type grocery clerks used in box-cutters. The type that was supposedly hard to get after 9-11, because they were so easy to hide.

Gorgon slammed the door and opened the next cell. The kid, a teenager, had started to cut his throat and chickened out. The razor was on his cot and and his hands were pressed tight over the slash in his neck. "I need a doctor," he blubbered as he squinted against the sunlight. "Please, I'm hurt bad." The blood on his hands was thinned with tears.

"You're not dead," snapped the hero. "You'll be fine for another half hour." He reached forward and grabbed the blade.

"No, please! Please, I need a doctor. I think I'm gonna die!"

Gorgon locked the cell and moved onto the next. This one had done both wrists, too, but he was still standing. No, Gorgon thought. Not still standing. He's already back on his feet. Looked like Doc Connolly's theory was right; people were carrying the virus. The ex turned at the waist in a smooth arc. Its limbs were still fresh and flexible. It stared at him with gray eyes and pulled its lips back from its teeth. One of the front incisors had a pentagram engraved on it.

Thirty seconds passed before Gorgon leaped from the cell and slammed the door. He double-checked to make sure the ex was locked in before keying his walkie-talkie. "Stealth, I know you're always listening in," he announced. "I need you down at the cells. Now."


Stealth
"Why do I need to see this?"

Gorgon
"Because you won't believe me if I just tell you," Gorgon told her. "Just come over here."

Stealth
Her head tilted to the puddles of blood. "Suicide."

Gorgon
"Two of them. They smuggled in razors, but only two of them went through with it."

Stealth
"Regrettable. Call a cleanup crew."

Gorgon
"That's not the problem." He gestured her towards the last door.

Stealth
"Did they rise? I am sure you can deal with them one at a time, and Doctor Connolly would probably like to see them. I have things to do."

Gorgon
"Not more important than this."

Stealth glared at him. Gorgon unlocked the door and swung the cell open.

Stealth
The ex with the engraved tooth was sprawled across the cot. As the midday sun blasted into the small space, it twisted its head up to the door. It lay there with its blank eyes facing the glare.

Gorgon stepped back and Stealth watched it for a moment. "Why isn't it attacking?" she asked the other hero. "Is something wrong with it?"

Ex-Seventeen
"Are you Stealth? It's hard to see with the light. You're just a hot little blob of shadows."

For the first time since Gorgon met her, Stealth froze. He'd done the same thing ten minutes ago.

The dead thing brushed itself off with slow, deliberate motions. Then it stood up from the cot and bowed with a grin. "I come bearing a message," the ex croaked. "From my boss, the King of Los Angeles."

Stealth
"The King of Los Angeles," Stealth repeated.

Ex-Seventeen
Within the cell, the ex nodded. "You wanna hear it now or you need a minute? I know this messes with people the first time they see--"

"Speak."

"The game's changed. We're expanding and you've barely survived until now. You can keep your home here on one condition."

Stealth
"And that is?"

Ex-Seventeen
The ex held up his arm and pointed a pale finger past her. "We want him."

Gorgon raised an eyebrow. "Me?"

"You've fucked with the Seventeens since you first appeared," said the dead ganger. "We owe you big time, all of us. We're gonna torture you for a month, bleed you one drop at a time, and then choke you with your own balls. After you die, you'll come back and we'll do it again."

Gorgon
"I'm shaking," said Gorgon.

Stealth
Stealth held up her hand. Interesting, that macho posturing continued after death, but she hadn't been kidding about having important things to do. "Who is your leader?"

Ex-Seventeen
"He's the King of LA, head of the Seventeens. He rules this city except this one little fort here in Hollywood."

"That doesn't tell us who he is."

"Everyone called him Peasy on the news," grinned the dead thing, "so that's what he's been using."

Stealth
A long moment passed before Stealth tipped her head. "Is there any more to this message?"

Ex-Seventeen
"Figured you'd send a team out for the truck we spiked the other night. Some of our people are taking them hostage right now. You get them when we get the eye-guy."

Stealth
I doubt that will happen.

Ex-Seventeen
It grinned, showing off the pentagram. "I don't. Got a few superpowers of our own these days."


[Content warning for attempted and completed suicide, though the act happens off-screen. Text taken from Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines, Chapters Twelve and Fourteen. NFI, NFB]