This is Issue #48 of Dead Frontier by Walkerbait22, titled Grand Prize. This is the finale of Volume 8.
Issue 48 - Grand PrizeEdit
Hannah continuously spits on the floor, trying to get the taste of Ackerman and Charlie out of her mouth, but it still lingers. She's still crouched in the corner, as far away from the door as possible, when the single light dangling from the ceiling goes out. But instead of burning out, it's flipped off by some outside source. Hannah moves deeper into the corner when she hears the stomping of footsteps coming down the stairs, accompanied by the all too familiar groaning of an infected.
The door opens, and the light from the stairwell allows her to see. It's Ackerman, once again, and she fills with a rage so severe it's almost unbearable. But that feeling doesn't last long, for she at once sees the infected he has on a leash. That rage mixes with intense fear.
"Calm down, boy," Dylan says to the infected. "Have fun. Try not to die." He says that last part with an unnerving nonchalance. He carefully removes the leash and lets the infected loose in the room, and slams the door shut. It's pitch black, except for the sliver of light under the door.
For a split second, Hannah actually considers just letting the fucking thing eat her. But that thought quickly passes; a painful, slow death being eaten alive doesn't sound too pleasant, and she can't even imagine turning into one of them.
She leaps to her feet and runs to the opposite end of the room. The infected is confused for a moment, but uses its sense of smell to track her down again. Hannah considers continuing to use this tactic, but realizes she can't run around forever. They don't get tired; she does.
In a moment of desperation, she yells and runs toward it. It's all skin and bones, so she takes the infected to the ground easily. She smashes her fist through it's face--literally. She feels her fist puncture its eye socket; her hand is quickly a mess of blood and dead skin. She gags and continues her assault. Kneeing, punching, kicking its face until she knows, for sure, it's dead--for good this time.
Her breaths come in heavy bursts and she scoots to the wall. The lights flicker back on about ten minutes later, and she can finally see what she's done. From the neck down, the infected is the same as any other. But the head is just mush; its brain and blood stain her hands and clothes.
Dylan enters a short while later, and he claps. "Very nice. Now, I know that must've been tough. I wasn't expecting you to come out alive, really. But you did, and that garners a reward, don't you think? So, you win the grand prize of..." He pulls a large knife from his weapons belt. "A missing appendage! You lucky girl."
Hannah spends the rest of the night passed out. She tries to remember, but once again her memories are blocked by a stubborn wall. She recalls Charlie entering the room, and extreme pain. And Dylan, with a knife. When she finally moves after waking up, everything comes rushing back. Her face hurts at the slightest movement, and it's obvious at least a few of her ribs are bruised badly. And she remembers Dylan letting her out to use the bathroom, but he added to her humiliation by watching her the whole time.
Then she feels a sharp pain in her arm. She looks down and feels like she could pass out again. It's just a stump where her hand used to be, covered now with a bandage. She fainted while Dylan cauterized it, for the pain was too unbearable.
Her hand isn't there, but she swears she can feel herself moving her fingers.
Cole, Adam, Chloe, Robbie, Dwight, Finn, and Billie are making their way through the woods the next morning after a night of sleeping in the cars. Their best guess is that Charlie's "camp" is somewhere in this direction, but their cars would have no way of maneuvering through the trees. And they seem to be correct; after a few minutes of walking they see a sloppily painted skull on a tree with the initials CB in blood red.
"Yeah. Really fucking scary," Dwight scoffs. The more they walk, the more frequent the signs become, until they see a large wall smack dab in the middle of the forest, stretching around in a large circle.
Adam points ahead, and everyone sees the one guard sitting atop the wall. He's obnoxiously buff, with tattoos all down his arms. One can't really call him a guard, since he seems to be lounging with a pair of headphones around his head.
They spend a few moments going over the best plan of action. After a few minutes of hushed bickering, even though they are a good ways away from the wall and there'd be no way of hearing them speak, Dwight sets his rifle against a tree and looks for a rock. He picks up a small stone and lobs it at the gate, and immediately after he hides back behind the tree.
The stone hits the guard on the neck. He winces and holds the spot where he was hit. After pulling off his headphones he jumps off the wall and opens the gate, leaving this entrance completely vulnerable.
Dwight rustles the branches a little bit to lead the guard to their direction. It takes him long enough, but the guard finally gets close enough for Dwight to make a move. He grabs him by the neck and places a gun to his head. "Your guy Charlie's got a girl in there. Tell me where she's at." Dwight notices the look on the guards face. "And don't you dare yell."
"There's no girl here, man," the guard croaks out. "This place is for men only. Those able to fight."
"Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. I can snap your neck, I hope you understand that."
"Okay. Fuck. Just calm down. She's in Charlie's basement. It's the biggest cabin, toward the north side of the land. Let me the hell g--" SNAP. The guard falls to the floor. Dwight stabs him in the head to prevent reanimation.
They ease their way to the gate. The guard left it open slightly, so Cole peaks in. They seem to be at a back entrance; further ahead, there's another wall with more guards. There's not much activity, but it's still early morning, so that could be why. There's no telling how many people could actually be there.
Cole sees an obnoxiously large cabin near the north wall. He makes a slight motion with his head, and Dwight lobs something over the wall. Soon after, there's an explosion and panic.
Dwight, Billie, Cole, and Adam rush in, while Robbie, Finn, and Chloe stay near the wall.
Adam and Cole make a run for the Charlie's. They weave around the other cabins, hoping to stay out of sight, while the few men around them yell frantically. Dwight and Billie hide behind a lone cement building, picking off whoever they can.
A wide-eyed man exits one of the cabins, right in front of Adam and Cole. Cole fires a shot in his face and continues running. A bullet whizzes past Adam's ear; he feels his heart drop to his chest.
Right there, in front of them, is the cabin. It's locked, but Cole kicks it with everything he has and rushes inside with Adam. He closes it behind them, and they dive to the floor as bullets destroy the wooden door.
The bullets slowly fade, and Adam and Cole stand, surveying their surroundings. The cabin’s gorgeous, with a large main room, a fireplace, and a hallway. Adam has a handgun while Cole has a shotgun similar Billie's, and they move down the hall. It's eerily silent; they wonder if they somehow ventured into the wrong house.
Adam sees a small red rug at the end of the hall and pushes it away; this reveals a door and he pulls it up. Cole is nervously clutching his gun as he makes his way down the creaking wooden steps. He sees the single light bulb dangling from the ceiling, and Hannah cowering in the corner. Adam looks away when he sees her, shaken by her bruised face and missing hand.
Cole runs toward the corner and crouches in front of her. To his surprise, she screams. "Hannah, it's me. It's Cole. Adam's here, too, okay?" The words aren't registering in her brain. She turns violent, kicking at him, yelling, screaming. That's when he sees the bandage wrapped around her stump and inhales sharply.
"Hannah! Just look at me!" She finally looks at him, really looks at him. Then at Adam, and her moment of mania fades. "Come on, we need to go." He and Adam lift her by the arms, the shotgun slung across Cole's shoulder.
The guide her up the stairs when the front door flings open. It's Charlie, who was talking to desk as the firefight exploded, his eyes filled with confusion and rage. The gunshots continue to ring out outside. He doesn't have his gun--he remembers leaving it on the desk in his bedroom--so he grabs the nearest weapon: a coat rack. Helping Hannah walk, Adam and Cole aren't able to reach their guns fast enough. Charlie swings the coat rack and it hits Cole in his temple. He yells, and his grip on Hannah is gone. She falls, and so does Adam as he tries to keep her up.
Charlie sees Adam ready to point his gun, and he lifts the coat rack over his head, ready to bring it down on Adam's face. Adam rolls out of the way just fast enough, and the wooden rack smashes the ground where his head was just a few seconds ago. He scurries away on his back as Charlie looms over him.
Cole's vision is fuzzy as he struggles to stand. He can feel the blood dripping down the side of his face. Charlie turns, and once again smashes the end of the coat rack across his face. Charlie rips Cole's shotgun from the ground, and aims it at Cole's face. He stares down the barrel, waiting for his face to be blown off. But then there's a shot, and in the small space, it makes their ears ring. A bullet rips through Charlie's back, and the pain makes him freeze up. There's another, and this time it hits him in the neck. He drops the shotgun, grabbing his neck. Cole kicks him in the midsection, and Charlie falls onto his back, gasping for air.
Adam sits on the floor, sweaty and wide eyed, his pistol shaking in his hands. He stumbles to his feet, realizing that the gunshots outside are beginning to fade. He rushes to Hannah first and helps her stand. "Are you okay?" She nods and leans against the wall, clutching her sore ribs. Then he offers Cole his hand and pulls him up. "You alright?"
"...Yeah, come on--" Cole starts, holding his head, but his eyes shift to Hannah, who grabs an empty whiskey bottle from near the couch. She gets on her knees painfully on front of a dying Charlie and smashes the bottle over his face as hard as she can given her limited strength. The bottles breaks, leaving shards stuck into the skin all over Charlie's face. He stops moving, but Hannah still uses the jagged remnants of the bottle to stab him in the chest. She starts to sob, and stabs him a few more times with the bloody bottle.
"Hannah, we need to leave!" Adam says, almost on the verge of tears. He grabs her by the shoulder to lifts her to her feet. He lifts her into his arms and runs with Cole as Billie and Dwight provide cover fire from behind the cement building.
"Two at on your right!" Dwight calls out. Billie hits them both with two bursts from her rifle.
Billie notices him out of the corner of her eye, a man peeking out from behind a small cabin, aiming directly at them. But the moment is so fleeting she has no time to call put. There's just another gunshot, and blood splatter her jacket as a bullet goes through Dwight's head.
Dylan reloads after firing at the intruders. He thinks he hit the big guy, Dwight, but isn't sure.
Billie has barely any time to react to Dwight's death; she sees Cole, Adam, and Hannah running toward the back wall and she follows.
"OPEN THE GATE!" Adam yells. Finn, Robbie, and Chloe make a collective effort to open the large gates and let them through. All they've heard is yelling and gunshots; they have no idea if they've even got Hannah. But then they see Adam carrying her and almost leap with joy. Finn and Chloe begin running back to the cars while Robbie provides a bit of cover fire.
Adam, Cole, and Hannah make it out, but Billie's the last one. She's running as fast as she possibly can, but a bullet finds her back and goes through her stomach.