This is Issue #63 of Dead Frontier by Walkerbait22, titled Propaganda. This is the third issue in Volume 11.
Issue 63 - PropagandaEdit
The rain has started to come down harder, forcing Lienne and Devon to move to the truck’s interior. Cole and Alec still haven’t figured out how to get the tire back on, with the rain making it even more difficult. Cole throws the wrench on the ground in frustration.
“How’s it going?” Lienne shouts from the driver’s side window, with a blast of thunder making their ears ring soon after.
“I...something’s wrong!” Cole says. “I haven’t done this in awhile, honestly.”
"Great. Just great," Devon says. "Look." She points out the windshield to a small group of infected turning the corner onto their street. They grunt and look in the survivors direction, then begin to limp toward them. Lienne is ready to take them out; she reaches into the backseat for the axe, but Devon grabs her by the shoulder firmly.
"Don't," Devon warns. Lienne slowly turns and sees that the small group is slowly growing much larger--larger than anything she's dealt with before. She sets the axe back down.
Cole can hear the eerie groaning over the sound of the rain; he twists his head and his heart falls. He pats Alec on the shoulder: "Get in the car."
"Look, man. I've almost got--" Alec starts before he turns and sees what everyone else is seeing. "Ho-ly shit. Okay." Cole lifts Alec to his feet and they hop into the backseat.
"Do we...wait it out?" Devon asks as the infected get closer. "They...they can fucking see us."
"We wait," Cole says.
"Waiting for what? To be surrounded?"
"Lienne and me will get close," Alec says, "and you two pick them off, and then we’ll get the tire back on. C'mon." He grabs his riot shield and a machete; Lienne follows his lead, grabbing one of the old broomsticks with a large kitchen knife attached.
"What are you waiting for?" Lienne says to Cole and Devon. "Get your guns."
"They're crazy," Cole mutters, but he and Devon still grab their pistols. They set up in front of the truck, aiming and firing as Lienne and Alec head close. Alec twists the shield onto his stump and smashes an infected in the face, disorienting it. He follows up with a blade to the head, simultaneously bashing two others with the shield. A few feet beside him, Lienne is hacking and slashing like a maniac; in one wild swing, the knife blade decapitates two rotten heads. Always aim for the head. A swing from the broomstick glides over Alec's head, barely missing a chance to take a chunk out of his skull.
"Sorry!" Lienne yells, bringing the blade down on a fat infected's forehead. One next to her drops from a shot fired by Cole.
"There's too many!" Cole shouts out. "Fall back!" He fires another shot at an infected about to grab hold of Alec. Alec sets his feet and lunges forward with his shield, sending several infected flying like bowling pins.
"Lienne, let's go!" Alec calls out as he scoots backward toward the car, slashing at the shoulder of an infected reaching out to him. But his words fly over Lienne's head; she's focused, in a frenzy, out for blood. These things need to die, and she's going to kill them.
"Lienne!" Cole shouts. But she spins the broomstick 360 degrees and takes out a full circle of corpses surrounding her. "What the fuck! Stop!"
One grabs onto her back, but Devon fires a clean shot through its skull. This is the point where Lienne realizes she's made a mistake; she's surrounded, and with no way out. She backs up towards a building, hacking away almost blindly as the rain soaks her face.
Cole flings open the driver's side door and starts up the car. The engine roars to life, and he presses hard on the horn. The blaring makes the infected snap their heads towards the truck; Cole keeps the horn pressed down as Lienne uses this opportunity to escape. She slices two in the neck and jumps over them as they fall. The other infected around her begin to come to, now ignoring the blaring and focusing on the meal just a few feet in front of them.
"Grab everything, and let's go!" Cole orders. They hastily snatch up as many packs and weapons as they can carry, and once Lienne reaches them they sprint away from the horde.
Their feet splash against the newly-formed puddles. They run for a while; every few seconds they look behind them, although they've since outran the infected. Cole stops, panting, and doubles over with his hands on his knees. Everyone stops with him, their wet hair matted against their faces.
"What...do we do now?!" Devon yells over the pounding rain and a clap of thunder.
"We're going...to the hotel!" Cole responds. "We have to. We...we're closer to the Hyatt than we are...to the office."
"Can we...rest for a second? I mean--" Alec starts.
"We can't. There's a fucking stampede of those things...a few blocks away...and we can't wait for the storm to get worse...We're going."
They walk through the thundering rain, getting more soaked by the second, until the rain finally lets back some. A sliver of the sun peaks from behind the ugly grey clouds.
After a few miles, they make a left, and are greeted by a street with steel walls on either side, blocking the entrances to the skyscrapers that rise high above the ground. There's a metal green sign at the corner of the street; on it, the words "Hyatt Regency - straight ahead. Enjoy your stay." On each wall, posters are spread out at even intervals. They're propaganda posters, similar to those used during the Cold War. Cole inspects one: a bright blue sky is the backdrop, with the foreground an illustration of a dark-skinned man. He looks heroic, charismatic. At the top, HYATT REGENCY is spelled out in bold letters, and under it ALEXANDER TRUSTS YOU!
"What the hell..." Cole mutters.
"I know, right?" Devon responds. "This is like...so cool, and creepy. All at the same time."
The posters continue to appear, some more outrageous than others, as they follow the path lined out for them. When they finally do reach Wacker Drive, they realize they haven’t seen an infected for miles. The city is neither crawling with people nor dead; it’s just empty.
A block away from where the hotel should be located, it's a more unpleasant sight. Four soldiers stand at the intersection, stone faced and with rifles drawn.
"State your business," one of the soldiers says. He's brown-haired, with light eyes. His voice is deep and booming.
"We...we’re looking for the Hyatt. The Regency?" Alec explains. “Cash Benton and Duke sent us. Cool guys.”
"Oh," the soldier says, his spirit now a lot more cheery and welcoming. "Regency Radio listeners, eh? Always good, always good. State your names."
"I'm Devon Welsh."
"Very nice," the soldier says. "I'm Marsh, by the way. Please, hand all weapons over. Me and my buddy here’ll escort you there. Welcome to the Regency."
In the lobby of the office building, Hiro sets his feet and squints at the dartboard in front of him. Behind him, Tora grabs his shoulders firmly. “You’ve got this, Hiro. Think about all of the gummy worms. Me and Adam are counting on you. Come on.”
“He’s not gonna hit it. He’s gonna miss, he’s gonna miss, he’s totally gonna miss,” Billie taunts.
“Those gummy worms are gonna be delicious Hiro...” Chloe says. “Just miss it, save us all some time. You know we’re gonna win.”
“Forget about them, Hiro,” Adam says. “You’ve got this.”
“Adam’s a liar!” Robbie says. “Miss, man! Miss!”
Hiro blocks their taunts from his head, gets in the zone. This is for the extra gummy worms, man. Fuck them.
He throws the dart with what he thinks to be a perfect throw, aiming for the bullseye. But the needle bounces off the dartboard. It hits the floor, eliciting a cheer from the winning team: Billie, Adam, and Chloe.
“Dammit,” Hiro mutters. He failed. Again. He feels more angry than he knows he should be, and instead of congratulating everyone else like Adam and Chloe are, he kicks the chair at his feet, sending it flying to the wall, where it leaves a small hole.
“Hiro, come on, man,” Robbie says.
“What do you mean ‘come on?’” Hiro spits back. “You’re all fucking cheaters, man.”
“We’re not cheaters ‘cause you’re bad,” Chloe says with a smirk, but Hiro doesn’t find the humor in it.
“You’re one to talk.”
“Okay, okay,” Robbie interjects. “No one cheated, and no one’s bad. All just fun and games.”
“We lost. It was fair,” Tora adds. “Don’t get all pissy, you big baby. Geez.”
“Enjoy your fucking gummy worms, and when you want a fair rematch, we can talk,” Hiro says before picking up the chair and returning upstairs.
“Holy. Shit,” Billie says. “He does know we’ll share, right? My God, he’s like a little girl.”
“It’s not about the candy,” Tora says, prepared to defend her brother if needed. “He was a wrestler, into sports and stuff. He’s always been competitive and weirdly angsty. He never grew up.”
“Yeah. Well, it shows. He should probably get his shit together, because it’s getting really fucking tiring,” Adam interjects.
“Don’t you think I know that? It’s tiring for me, too, and I’m done with it...If one of you wants to go say something, go ahead.”
“Shit...Hell naw,” Robbie adds. “He won’t listen to you, he’s not gonna listen to us. Let him mope. Nobody gives a shit.”
Marsh leads them to the Hyatt Regency. The hotel's interior begins with a lavish lobby with sky high ceilings. A chandelier hangs from the top, and the floor is covered with unbelievably soft red and gold carpet. In the center, a high escalator leads to an upper floor. Around them, people mingle, wearing nice clothes and hats. They only glance at Cole, Devon, Lienne, and Alec's presence. Just more newcomers.
Marsh and the other 'soldier', named Porter, lead them through the lobby. They're slightly embarrassed, given that they are wet and dirty while everyone else is clean shaven and well-dressed. Marsh nods a hello to some people sitting around a circle of couches and heads to the escalator. Porter stops to shake hands and chat with a baseball cap wearing guy on the steps, as Marsh continues to lead.
“Nice, eh?” Marsh says.
“Yeah. Understatement,” Devon responds. “How many people did you say lived here?”
“Uh...a few hundred.”
“And they’re all fed and everything?”
“No empty bellies in this place, ma’am.”
“Wow, I even saw a fat guy. Oh my God, there’s another one. This is amazing.”
“We’ve got fat guys, kids, old people, whoever. They’ve all got a room and breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We’re actually have a life here. No more worrying,” Marsh says.
“Who’s that Alexander guy? Leader right?” Alec asks.
“Yep. Alexander Brinkley. Former boxer turned politician. Nicest guy you’ll ever meet.” He continues on, rambling more about the greatness of the Hyatt. He seems to take pride in it.
“I can’t believe this,” Lienne mutters to herself.
“Right?” Cole responds. “To think people have been living like this...”
“We can actually stop worrying now. We can stop worrying. Wow. There’s probably not even a single infected within a mile of this place.”
“Maybe we can finally start over,” Cole says with a smile.
After introductions with several other residents, who also boast about the Hyatt and how amazing it’s been to them, they reach the office of the acclaimed Alexander. Marsh opens the giant, wooden double doors to a large room that’s since been converted to an office. "Alexander?" Marsh says. A man sitting at a desk, scribbling wildly, looks up. His tired eyes light up instantly
He smiles: "So, we've got guests.”
Alexander cheerfully provides the four with clean clothes and offers them drinks. They sit around one of the large tables in the cafeteria; it’s adorned with a beautiful blue tablecloth. Cole downs the water Alexander hands him in a few seconds, as do Lienne, Alec, and Devon. “Nice to meet you all.” Alexander’s voice is warm and inviting. The friendliness he exudes draws them in. “Not to sound rude, but I’d assume you own a car? Yet you came here soaking wet...”
“We do,” Cole corrects. “Infected overwhelmed us and we had to ditch it.”
“Oh. That’s too bad. I’ll send some guys out to get it right away.” Alexander takes a sip of his water, and looks at them over his cup. “Marsh told me you came across Regency Radio.”
“We did. With Cash Benton, and Duke.”
“Yep. That’s Cash and Duke. Quite the characters. But we thought they were the best one for the job, urging people to make the trip here. Very persuasive, eh? What was it that sold you? The pool?”
“It was the pool,” Alec assures, grinning
“A little cold to swim, but maybe you’ll get the change soon enough. But I’d like to know about you.”
“We’re a part of a small group. There’s us, and a few others back at this abandoned office building,” Cole explains. “We’re...getting by. But not without some hang ups. We...and it sounds kind of greedy, but we’d love to stay here. It’s amazing, what you’ve done with this place.”
“You’re more than welcome, of course! Along with everyone else you need to bring back. And don’t worry, I’ll send some more people out to fetch them as well.” The four look dumbfounded, and Alexander grins. “Sincerity and friendliness aren’t lost, even today. As long as we live, it’ll be here, fighting against the evil that stands right on its doorstep. I assure you.”