I Hear You
Welcome to the first piece of fiction I’m posting to Miscellany, which is going to be GKG’s random story collection. And for this first piece, I decided to post the story I’d been waffling around with because I wasn’t sure I should post it at all, ever, anywhere. Yes, that story.
So, with that in mind, a disclaimer: I DON’T HATE MARK! I don’t even dislike Mark, I’m one of his many, many loyal subscribers! And anyway, this isn’t RPF, this is fiction using the characters Mark, Jack, Bob and Wade were all playing in their two Left4Dead 2 videos. The videos were funny – especially watching Mark trying to use the Healing Gnome to bludgeon zombies with – but he did keep running ahead and the other guys were playfully giving him shit for it, and that gave me one of my (imaginarily)patented What If These Characters Were Real?IP ideas and so I wrote this little zombie horror story. Which I will warn you now is not funny at all and may in fact be kind of disturbing, so read at your own risk.
It was all Mark’s fault, of course. Nobody was ever denying that, not even him. There we were, trying to make our way out of one of the fucking epicenters of the not-so-cool-once-you’re-in-it zombie apocalypse, and the stupid bastard wouldn’t stop running ahead of everyone else, leaving the rest of us behind. Not on purpose, but because he was just that freaked. The guy just completely lost his shit every time we stepped outside and got ready to run, and then he’d be off like a rabbit with a dog chasing it.
Jack had come damn close to kicking his ass for doing that – a couple of times, in fact. Not that Jack was a hardass or anything most of the time, he wasn’t. He was Irish and sounded like the comic-relief drinking buddy from a funny movie on a good day and like a really nasty movie pirate on a bad one. He’d been the keeper of our morale, the planner, the guy who always kept his cool when we were outside and running, and the only one who had the giant brass balls to stand his ground to take down one of the Tanks when they started coming for us. That’s what we got by being near what had once been an Army base, a tradeoff: We had all the weapons in the goddamn world, but some of the zombies in the area were motherfucking huge bastards in shredded uniforms. We called them Tanks, because they were just that hard to stop once they started coming at you.
It wasn’t a Tank that finally took out Jack, though. It was an undead dogpile.
And it was all Mark’s fault, because he’d gone sprinting off ahead and that time Jack had gone running after him because Wade and I were pinned down but okay and we thought Mark was in trouble. We could hear Jack cursing over the radio as he ran…and then all of a sudden, he stopped. It was like everything stopped, just for a second. And then he said, clear as day, “Mark, ye cowardly bastard, I’ll be comin’ after you for this, just see if I don’t.”
That was the last time we ever saw Jack alive. Not the last time we ever saw him, mind you, just the last time we ever saw him alive.
At first, we didn’t believe Mark when he started saying Jack was still out there. I even decked him for it once, even though Wade and I were pretty sure the guy was just losing it thanks to an overload of guilt and fear. He claimed Jack was following us, stalking us. He said Jack would call him on the radio when he was on watch and we were asleep, that Jack would sing sometimes and other times he’d just laugh. Yeah, we were really sure Mark was just cracking up, and I won’t deny we’d considered ditching him a few times. We didn’t, though.
We finally made it to the rendezvous point at the airport, and of course the whole fucking place was just swimming in zombies and we were mowing down everything in sight trying to get to the plane. We made it, though, and we pulled aboard a few stragglers who almost didn’t…and then I heard it. Over my radio.
It was Jack’s voice singing one of the songs of his homeland, a song I’d heard him sing many a night while he was on watch and the rest of us couldn’t sleep. And then the singing stopped, and I heard a chuckle…and then Jack’s voice said, gruff but still clear as day, “Ye may have made it out, Marky-moo, but Jackaboy is still comin’ for you.”
I ripped my helmet off and threw it across the back of the plane. Beside me, Wade was white as milk, and when I looked past him I saw Mark on the floor with his knees drawn up to his chest, rocking back and forth. “You heard him, you heard him…”
Yes, we had. And it still makes me sick just to think about it. The hunger apparently drowns out every other impulse in a zombified brain…unless that brain is already drowning in something else. In Jack’s case, hatred for the man who got him killed by running ahead, by slamming shut a door that should have been open, by leaving him stranded in the middle of a horde of zombies with no one to help him blast a path to safety.
We’d been at Base Camp 109 for a month when I started to feel watched. Wade felt it too, and finally we decided to go talk to Mark about it and found him a gibbering mess. “He’s here, he’s here, he’s here…”
“Did you see him?” Wade wanted to know. Mark gibbered, and Wade – even-tempered, not-so-violent Wade – slapped him like the little bitch he was. “Did. You. See. Him.”
And Mark started to laugh. “Outside. He’s outside. Watching. He came to my w-window.”
We checked. Sure enough, there was a handprint on the outside of Mark’s window. We reported it, but they wrote it off as someone pranking Mark. Because zombies don’t know people, right? They’re just eating machines.
Jack knew us, though. And I know that because the next morning I woke up and saw the handwriting on the wall. BYE-BYE BOB, it said in bloody letters a foot high. I managed not to piss myself and ran to find Wade. He hadn’t been awake yet, but his wall had been defaced the same way by the same bloody hand. BYE-BYE WADE.
Mark was gone when we reached his room, and his door was wide open. RUN MARKY RUN was written on the wall, and there were bloody handprints all over the blanket. We’d given the alarm on the way over, so people were running everywhere and they found Mark pretty quickly. Dead, of course, just torn apart like a pack of wild animals had gotten to him – or one dead Irishman with a machete, anyway. They eventually found the place where Jack had scaled the wall to get in and then out again, but they never found any sign of him afterwards and he never came back.
Or at least, we hope he won’t. Because sometimes, late at night, I still wake up thinking I heard that familiar voice singing.