Sometimes it's footsteps,
heavy, feet of an elephant
I hear them both -
6 feet isn't that deep
Whispers, prayers for return
but I never left.
Gone in matter, not soul
I remain deadly awake
You can't know the death you live
down here -
Sometimes, I wish I was cremated.
heavy, feet of an elephant
I hear them both -
6 feet isn't that deep
Whispers, prayers for return
but I never left.
Gone in matter, not soul
I remain deadly awake
You can't know the death you live
down here -
Sometimes, I wish I was cremated.
Four Fall Recipes
Destination Of The Month: Elegant Farmer - Harvest Festival
Take a moment - close your eyes even - and imagine the perfect fall day. Maybe it’s indoors, windows open with a sweatshirt and sweatpants on sipping on some hot apple cider. Maybe it’s apple picking with your family, or finding the perfectly plump pumpkin. Now, I give you a place where all these wonderful fall things are combined - The Elegant Farmer.
Not only do you see opportunities for delicious fresh picked apples and plenty of things to do, but the fresh grown and homemade food is absolutely spectacular.Stop by the Donut Shack for freshly baked cider donuts; the best cider donuts you’ll ever eat in your life.
But most importantly...
try the pie!
Named the best pie in America by the Wall Street Journal, Gourmet, Milwaukee Magazine, and the Food Network, The Elegant Farmer takes pride in its delicious masterpieces. They ship to any place in America, one of their fantastic pies in a bag. Which is, quite literally, a pie you bake in a bag.
Go back to your perfect fall day. Now, imagine yourself at the Elegant Farmer, located at 1545 Main Street, Mukwonago, WI, 53149. Now you see the similarities, don’t you? So why not relive these perfect fall memories? The Harvest Fest is open on weekends until October 23, and is waiting for you to arrive.
Breaking point: A zombie-apocalypse Suspense
Location: New York University
“How much time?” Eddie asked concerningly, hunched over the centrifuge that whirred in front of him, analyzing the code that went through on the holographic display. He was once more hopeful, just like the previous two years before the screen on that machine read failure. He muttered under his breath, “This has to work… we don’t have much time…”
Behind him was a monitor that lit up the dim room, illuminating a well-dressed figure with his jacket and tie undone, wiping his brow of sweat. He was reading a side monitor, a 3D holographic visual of the power grid with varying charts displayed on it.
The man glared at Eddie worryingly and opened his mouth to talk, but paused all he saw was a sweaty, conflicted figure blanketed in the dark, intently eyeing the one idle of hope that kept him going. He decided to change the subject, and tried to comfort him by saying, “Hey, it’s gonna work this time. It has to.”
“How much time do I have before the power runs out, Thomas?” Eddie said impatiently, ignoring the comforting remark. He was completely focused on making sure the centrifuge didn’t explode or create another mutation.
“Oh,” Thomas said, pretending to forget. “Yeah, well… there’s only about…” he started typing something into the search bar to organize the fluctuating data into a simple timer. Thomas curled his lips in, and looked at Eddie’s fingers tapping quickly on the counter on his monitor before cautiously saying, “You have about two days. Today and-”
He was cut off with a beeping sound that went off from the machine, and Eddie yelled at the top of his lungs in anger and bashed the machine off the table. The glass shattered and the test tubes spilled out a mushy substance that twitched and pulsed, while the glitchy display showed in bold over the sequence “FAILED”. Thomas watched and twitched as Eddie threw papers and smashing flasks at the floor. He went to open his mouth, but stopped when Eddie toppled a nearby machine to the ground, and then just stood there looking down with tight fists.
Not looking back or moving to fix his hair, Eddie asked, “Two days?”
Thomas stared blankly before shivering himself back to reality and stuttering, “Uh- uh, yeah.” He glanced over at the monitor on his side, and quickly came back to say, “To be ex- exact, about 36 hours, 24 minutes.”
Eddie let his fists drop, lifelessly pulled out the stool in front of him, and lazily plopped himself into it to face the startled man before him. He looked away, out of the corner of his eye, to see the inanimate machines in the dark behind him, but was attracted to the light that was visible from the frosted glass in the door. Then he was reminded to look at the one inside the lab room with the black tarp draped in front of it. The tarp was pulled up in the bottom-left corner, allowing thick cables to run through and power the light inside. Three talons covered in decaying flesh and slime could be seen through the gap.
Thomas realized who Eddie was looking at, and tried to comfort him by saying softly, “Eddie... you’re gonna do it.”
“No, I’m not!” Eddie yelled with watery eyes, standing up and sliding the chair over. He kept looking over in that direction, torturing himself by knowing who was behind that tarp. “I can’t save her… or humanity.”
“Eddie, you are gonna save her,” Thomas said definitively. “You are the only person in the world that I know of who can do this. One: You’re intelligent, achieving degrees that someone on the level of my father would’ve strived towards, allowing you to make the cure. Two: you’re knowledgeable of the zombies and how they work individually and separately, so you’re able to protect yourself, and three... you’re the only person with the cure inside of you.”
Eddie face dropped, having the truth that he tried so hard to push back shoved right out into the open. He beamed down at his right arm, and his other hand instinctively reached over and slowly rolled back the shirt to show the faded scars of jagged rows of teeth. Staring at them made him remember how painful it was, and made Eddie flinch and shake his arm, rolling down his sleeve to hide the mark. A shiver was sent down his spine, and his head jerked again in the thought, and he let his gaze focus once more on the tarp.
“If you say that I’m all that, Thomas...” Eddie said, holding back tears. He let his words hang for his friend as he strided towards the tarp, and threw it out of place to reveal the figure behind it.
“Oh my God...” Thomas said in horror.
The deformed woman was about eight feet high, strapped into a chair unconscious with metal cables forcefully drilled into the walls. Her head was down low, showing her spiked head and few long strands of hair dangling in front of the darkened face. When her pointy teeth clicked, she made a low squawking sound, and her claws and talons twitched, trying to make her stand up from Eddie’s presence. The light that shined from above was what kept her in place. Eddie painfully looked at her for a few seconds, letting the emotions build up, and looked down to let a teardrop fall.
Still looking down and with his eyes closed, he yelled angrily to himself and Thomas, “Why can’t I save my mom?!”
Thomas, dumbfounded by the revelation, said, “You told me you had her, but I didn’t realize she was a… a Reaper?!”
“Yeah! She is!” Eddie said, turning to march over to the monitor. He got in front of the camera and said, “But if I told you she was the worst of the variants, then you would’ve had her killed!”
Thomas just looked away, not wanting to make eye-contact.“You’re right…”
“I know I am!” Eddie said. “Cuz I’m the smart-ass genius here right!? I- I wish that she wasn’t some Reaper - I wish she was at least a Jogger, Crawler, Big Guy, or even a Leaper - but that didn’t happen! Honestly, I wish she didn’t turn at all! But I have to live with it - with her - every single day to try and save her!”
Eddie stopped, taking shaky and quick breaths, and covered his face as he broke down into tears and fell back into the stool. Thomas leaned back in his chair, absorbing the information, but looked away from Eddie and the tense situation; however, when he looked back he noticed in the frosted glass door a dark outline of someone moving their hands.
“Ed,” Thomas murmured, leaning in. “I think Ben’s at the door.”
“What?” Eddie said, taking his hands off his face. He looked back to see the apparition in the window, and sighed aloud. “Ugh… he probably heard all of that - Ben! Come in, I know you’re there… now.”
He wiped the tears and sweat collected on his face, wiped his hands lazily across his shirt, and folded his arms as the door made a beeping sound and vroomed open. Eddie didn’t turn back, but looked in the reflection of his lense to see the well-built figure wearing a tight white henley shirt and long baggy jeans that were held with his belt and holster. In one hand he was holding the end of his bat, and tapping the end of it into the other.
“Are you… wearing my shirt?” Eddie asked, turning around.
“I thought it looked good on me,” Ben exclaimed, lowering his bat to his side. “So do you really have a Reap- Jesus Christ!” He bounced back as the Reaper twitched, trying and failing to break itself free, but being kept bound by the one light above.
“Wha- well!” he spat out. “I know it’s your mom man, but… man…”
“I know...” Eddie said with mixed emotions. “I kept her... around, to try the experiments on her first, to see if they’d work, but… well…”
“Oh, crap. Man, listen,” Benjamin said, resting his bat on a table by the entrance. He walked up to him to wrap his arm around him, but decided it was best not to, sensing that Eddie needed space to think. “Okay, first off, you need to tell me this kind of crap, okay? Could you imagine if she got loose?”
“Yeah, I know….” Eddie sighed. In the back of his mind he always thought that if she’d broken out, it would mean imminent death for both him and Benjamin. He would only let her out if he needed to, for experiments or other needs.
He pointed to the monitor where Thomas was watching them, and said, “He knew she was here, but not a Reaper. I was just worried on how you’d both… handle her if you knew…”
“Hm,” Benjamin said, looking back at Eddie’s ‘mother’ cautiously.
“Ya know, she told me that I had a purpose…” Eddie started. “As she was… as IT, was happening to her, she told me that I had a purpose. That purpose was to help the world, and she believed in me, so... I have to believe in myself that I can do it… for her.”
“Eddie… jeez, how do I say this,” Benjamin said, looking away from Eddie and back at her for a moment, “dude, for the sake of keeping you SANE, I think you need a break from this, and… just need to let go.”
“What?” Eddie said with infliction, lowering his arms.
“I mean… let me be straight with you, Ed. You have been constantly here, and have had your mom here? And you’re experimenting on her?! You just… you want to save the world?”
“Yes, and I’ll do anything to get her-”
“Stop. Ed,” he said, putting his arms on his shoulders. “You need to let go.”
“I agree,” Thomas spoke up. “You need to end this.”
“What?” Eddie said, looking back on him angrily. “Do you want me to make the damn cure for your dumb scientist’s to replicate?”
“Yes, but… it’s your mom, Eddie. You can’t do that to yourself.”
“I already have!” Eddie yelled, now furious. “Nobody is killing my mom! Alright?! If anyone kills my mother, I will make sure that you BOTH go through hell and back, and never get the cure - if it’s ever even made!”
The room fell silent for a moment, while Eddie went to pace the room in his frustration, and Benjamin and Thomas were both considering the best choice of words to say to Eddie.
“That’s not what I meant,” Benjamin said suddenly.
Eddie turned back, and said angrily while pointing at him, “Then what were you getting at?”
“I meant...” he started slowly, taking a deep breath before continuing, “I meant, that we could send her out before the power goes out - which I also heard by the way - and retrieve her later.
“What do you mean?”
“Remember the tracker that Thomas gave you? The one you never told me why you wanted it?”
“...Yeah,” Eddie said, calming himself.
“We’ll get out of here, and head towards Thomas’s tower,” Benjamin explained. “Then, Thomas can have troops sent to get her, and use the shock mechanism built into the tracker. Right Tom?”
Thomas quickly spit out, “Yeah, sure. There’s also a remote you should have to activate it yourself.”
“Really?” Benjamin said. “Where is that Eddie?”
“Uh…” Eddie said trying to think, intrigued by the plan and trying to concentrate on where the remote was. “It’s in this drawer over here.” He pointed towards a drawer and darted across the floor, with Ben following. Eddie aggressively pulled it out, seeing the little red-button placed in the center of Eddie’s weapons, belt, and equipment.
“Well, there ya go,” Benjamin said. “You could release her, and we’ll capture her later.”
“Ya know, as much I hate the way you’re talking about capturing and releasing,” Eddie said, giving Benjamin an annoyed look. He continued by stating with a clear thought, “I agree with you… that it’s the best thing for now. So, we’ll head over to Thomas later on tomorrow then - right Tom?”
“Uh yeah, totally. You can work on the cure here, as it’s safer here and has the highest percentage rate to not lose power.”
“Uh, okay,” Eddie said, looking back at Benjamin. “So, is this what we're doing now?”
“Yeah, I guess. Sounds good to me,” Benjamin said definitively, before looking directly at Eddie and saying more softly, “Hey, I’m sorry about how I worded things about your mom. I remember how nice she was, and talking about her and what you’re doing to her without me knowing... it’s just, new to me. So… sorry.”
“You’re good man, I understand. And I know... if anything goes wrong,” Eddie said, taking a breath out and glaring somberly at his mother behind the glass. “Let’s just hope nothing goes wrong.”
“Oh, crap-” Thomas said conveniently, looking over at the side monitor to see a red light blinking. “That’s bad… for you two. Oh god.”
“What?” Benjamin asked, understand the scale of the issue. “What’s gonna happen that’s NOT in our favor?”
“You need to get out of there,” Thomas said.
“What’s wrong Tom?” Eddie said, quickly glaring at his mother before quickly turning back and exclaiming, “answer us!”
“Something just happened to the power grid, and I don’t know why yet, but,” Thomas said before looking away from the monitor to look at Eddie. “You’re gonna lose power.”
Both Eddie and Benjamin glared at each-other, both seeing the dread well up in their eyes, rubber-necked to look at the lit alcove holding the beast inside, and looked back at each-other.
“I’m grabbing my bat,” Benjamin exclaimed with fear in his voice as he ran to his bat, located close to Eddie’s mother.
“I’m grabbing the remote,” Eddie said, pulling it out and placing it on the desk. He then pulled out the belt and strapped it around his waist, and examined the clips of ammo and visor’s attached. He pulled one off and put it on his ear, then tapped it to power it on, bringing up a targeting display. He snatched the remote and put it in place of the visor and shuffled it to try and tighten it, but could only make it loosely hang,
“Close enough,” he said to himself, before Benjamin ran back and yelled across the room, “I got my bat.”
“Take this,” he said, using the visor to lock onto Benjamin and throwing the visor in his hand for him to put on. Benjamin caught it as he approached him, and examined it, not recognizing the little earpiece attachment. While he tried to hastily attach it to his ear, Eddie pulled out from the drawer two pistols that were attached to the palm of a glove by a metal disk, which had wires that ran from it to a thin power box on the wrist.
“Eddie,” Thomas said worryingly. “You don’t have much time…”
“How much do we have then?” Eddie hastily asked, glaring at his mother as he sped up putting his gloves on.
“Oh no,” Eddie responded, with dread now consuming him. “Uh… five…”
“What?” Benjamin said, finished attaching the earpiece. “Are you serious right-”
“Four-” Thomas said, not able to break away from the counter.
“Ben - under the table!” Eddie yelled over Thomas as he counted down, realizing it was useless to run to the door. They’d get slaughtered by his mother with the overwhelming strength that he had. He didn’t say anything, just did what he was told, and went under as Eddie slid under and turned the safety off of his guns.
“One-” Thomas said before the screen went blank, and the whirring of the computer died down, making the room falling into silence. Benjamin was frozen in place while Eddie looked back at his mother, seeing the light above flicker and die out.
“Shiiit,” Eddie whispered under his breath. He listened, hearing the growls and squawks get louder as his mother realized she was no longer held bound by the light and quickly rustled free from her straps. The clicking of her claws on the floor and the scratching of her claws across the glass made Benjamin shudder and cover his ears, banging his bat he held on the table.
“Sh!” Eddie whispered angrily to him, to which Benjamin gritted his teeth and widened his eyes, lowering his bat as he looked back. The glass broke, which made both of them jump and grip their weapons. The clicking of her feet became louder as she started searching, flipping over chairs and squawking in anger not finding anything. Eddie’s muscles tensed up as his vision adjusted, allowing him to see the disjointed figure about ten feet away from both of them. He quickly looked away, and looked at the door, calculating in his mind if they’d make it. He glanced down at his belt, remembering the remote that was attached, and quickly added that into his plan.
“Ben,” Eddie whispered with fake confidence, resting and arm on his shoulder. Benjamin jumped, shooting him a look of fear, but then closed his eyes to relax himself, and nodded. Eddie continued, “I’m gonna use the remote on her, and we’re gonna dart for it, okay?”
“What?” Benjamin whispered. “Can’t that be suicide?”
“I don’t know,” Eddie said. “But it’s our only chance-”
He was cut off by a low grumble next to them, followed by five talons that gripped the edge of the table a foot away from Eddie’s left ear. Caught off guard he jumped back, leaping out from under the table and standing up to meet eye contact with his mother, with her blank white eyes that stared back at him in the dark, overwhelming him. He tried to focus on the task at hand, but was frozen in place as his mother arched over and prepared for a lung; the rumbling in her voice rising as she readied her screech. Eddie tried to raise his guns or reach for the remote on his belt, but he couldn’t muster any strength as he stared at her.
“Eddie!” Benjamin yelled, trying to break his focus on his mom. Eddie couldn’t respond, just stared and started to become teary eyed. Benjamin realized he had to take matters into his own hands, and yelled, “For Christ’s sake-”
He reached over to Eddie’s belt, and snatched the remote from it and pressed the button, making his mother scream in pain and fall back trying to claw at the tracker placed inside her. Eddie fell over and screamed in pain from the screaming, while Benjamin fought the painful screech and grabbed Eddie to drag him to the door. Once Eddie was pulled up, Benjamin wrapped his arm around his back and shoved him forward towards the door. Eddie started to come back to reality, fluttering his eyes and dashing for himself out the door. Eddie slid out, with Benjamin coming out closely behind, slamming the door shut and locking it.
Eddie stood there for a moment, whimpering as he breathed out. Benjamin came from behind, resting his hand over him again, asking, “You okay Ed?”
Eddie didn’t answer, and stared out the window that was placed in front of him, looking out at the view of the city that surrounded them. He had his view on one of the towering buildings in the distance, which still shined like a beacon to the city even after all the downfall of humanity: Wilson Industries.
“Tom,” Eddie said, with hope and memory.
Then his eye was drawn to the landscape below the towers, where the crumbling streets were cluttered with worn cars and motorbikes and barricades, but otherwise were empty of people or zombies. However, when Eddie was staring out this time, he saw a large horde of horrific zombies; some in different shapes and sizes running towards the entrances, and others with eight arms crawling alongside the wall with their gaping mouths wide open.
Benjamin leaned in, and was dumbfounded. “Jesus Christ on a bike. When you’re mom yelled-”
“She called out to all other zombies in the area. It’s a defense mechanism Reaper’s have.”
“We’re so dead.”
“No, we’re not,” Eddie said, looking directly at Wilson Industries. “I’m making a call.”
“Oh my god, may lord have our backs,” Benjamin sighed out, looking back and forth through the corridor where the staircases were located. “We need to move.”
“Got ya,” Eddie said, pulling out his phone and dialing. He put his phone next to his ear, listening to the phone only ring once before Thomas answered and frantically said, “Ed!? Are you okay?!””
“Yes, I’m fine, but I need to ask if you can get us out of here?” Eddie said, walking with Benjamin down the hallway, glaring intently at the Wilson Industries before it hid behind the other buildings in front of it.
“I’m coming now,” Thomas responded.
“What?” Eddie said, surprised. “YOU are coming NOW?”
“I’m taking a chopper over, you need to get onto the roof,”
“You’re taking a chopper over?” Eddie said open-mouthed, looking at Benjamin who smirked. “You serious?!”
“Yes! And I need you to get onto the roof. Hold out there while we refuel. I’m getting you- this is my fault!”
“Oh, Tom, don’t put this on-” Eddie said, before being cut off by the lab room door flying off the wall and slamming into the window. The Reaper leaped out and stared intently down the hallway, eyeing the remote in Benjamin’s hand, and then opening one of her clawed fists to show the bloody tracker. She looked at it, while Eddie and Benjamin just watched, and crushed it in her palm, and then let the scraps fall out of here hand.
“Eddie?” Thomas said. “Eddie?!”
“Roof, right?” Eddie choked out; the Reaper hissing and again getting ready to leap.
Eddie looked and met eyes with Benjamin - ready to swing his bat, but slowly backing up. “Roof. Run.”
The phone slipped out of Eddie’s hand in shock as he and Benjamin spun back to dart, and his mother screeched with anger and dominance as she dashed across the floor, her talons scratching across like a chalkboard on the floor filling both Eddie and Benjamin with insecurity.
“Eddie!” Benjamin yelled at him as they continued their sprint. He looked back to make eye-contact with the Reaper and jumped seeing her inch closer, and yelped. “We may have to- to- ya know?”
“What!?” Eddie yelled at the top of his lungs. “Of all times-AGH!”
His mother flew at him, pummeling him down like a football player would, and shoot him out the window.
“ED!!!” Benjamin screamed, powerless to do anything but watch.
She screamed at Eddie as they flew, and suddenly for him time slowed down. He watched as her hand raised high to aline with the sun outside as she prepared to swing down, and saw the intent in her eyes to murder or turn him into one of her own kind. He stared at her, with glossy eyes, and closed them to accept his fate, but did so too soon.
Instead of the harsh claw digging deep into his chest to rip out his flesh and organs, he felt a heating sensation in his back as he crashed through a window a level below from where he was before, and collapsed into the floor. His mother let go from the harsh force, and crashed head-first into the lockers, but swiped her hand to cut at Eddie’s left arm. He yelled out in agony, and on instinct put pressure on it, feeling the massive amount of blood gushing out.
“Ahh… Jeez mom…” he whimpered out, looking at her with tears pouring out of his eyes from the pain felt in his body and mind. He tried to muster enough energy to lift himself up, trying to ignore the searing pain in his leg to keep an eye on his mother, who seemed delusional from the crash. Using used the locker to help slide himself up to stand, he rested his hands to hold himself up, but took notice that his pistols were no longer in his hands. He frantically looked around, glancing at his mom who started to regain her senses, when he caught sight of them lying next to her legs.
“Okay… please work…” he moaned out, putting his balance into his back to raise his hands in the direction of the guns. He eyed both of the disks on the pistols, and tapped them with his thumbs. They lit up a light blue, and created a vibrating sound, and to Eddie’s surprise and amazement watched as his pistols magnetized to the disks into his palms. He sighed out, followed by a single chuckle, before muttering, “Oh thank god…Oh jeez…”
He watched as his mother placed her hands on the ground, and started to pick herself up, shaking her head to clear her hazy vision from the light outside. She made little and large squawks while gaining some control back into her legs, and Eddie immediately knew what that meant.
“Oh, crap, that’s not-NGH!” Eddie hissed, making an effort to turn and walk or run if possible, but stumbled when he put pressure on his wounded leg. He panted, fighting his nerves to stand still and lift his leg back up, but ignored himself and continued to push along, grunting and yelling as he strived down the corridor and turned at the t-intersection ahead. He kept going, and was encouraged when he heard the multiple screeches of Crawlers, followed by the clinks as their ten clawed hands walked across the lockers and ceiling. He tried to speed up if he could, but when hearing the clinks echoing close to the hallway, he hastily barged open a locker and climbed in, followed by the slamming the door.
He silently held his gun up, hearing the clinks echo down the corridor he hid in. He was fairly close to the entrance of the hallway, and didn’t know if they knew how far he had gotten. He glanced out the few vents in the locker, peering around without moving his body to locate the stairwell right outside. His eyes widened eyeing the red double-doors, and wanted to dart for it, but jumped when he saw the clawed hand in the top right of view clamp down and break into the ceiling. It slowly pulled out of the ceiling, as if trying to scare and draw out Eddie, who was trying to control his fast breaths while glancing at the gun safety lock to assure himself they were off.
Then he saw his mother, hunched over, still regaining her senses, but making calls to the other Crawlers. The one he saw dropped off the ceiling, but what he didn’t realize was the seven others that let go and landed on the floor, staring up at the lockers and looking in the vents to make out anybody; preferably Eddie. He looked at the one that landed closest to him, being absolutely stiff and holding his breath as it searched around him. While the other opened up and started pulling off and peering into lockers, this one went up and started to crawl Eddie’s locker, making large bangs that shook up Eddie.
That’s when Eddie made a quick realization that made his heart skip a beat. “It’s toying with me!” he thought, starting to lose his silence and blow air out of his nostrils. He started to shake as the clanking subsided, and only heard his mother and the other Crawlers communicate in the distance. Then he froze up and gasped as it hopped off from it’s position directly in view of the vents, only being able to see its eight insect-like eyes that popped out of its head looking into his. All he could do was watch, as the Crawler tilted its head and squawked curiously at him.
Eddie felt what coming and prepared to be mauled once again, but was proved wrong and completely dumbfounded when he saw the large red doors fly open, with Benjamin and his trusty bat equipped and ready to swing.
“Alright, let’s mess you bastards to extinction,” he said, eyeing how many of them there were.
All eyes of the Crawlers and the Reaper were on Benjamin, screaming out in unison like a war-cry accepting the challenge. So did Eddie. Taking the opportunity of the distracted Crawler in front of him, Eddie yelled at the top of his lungs open and swung the door open with his arm, knocking it to the floor. Without hesitation, he aimed with his visor and released a round of his gun at its head, making the skull splatter across the opposing lockers. He took one step out to allow his visor to target the seven other Crawlers in the corridor, and feel from the pain in his leg and fell to the floor.
Benjamin snapped out of his shock and look at the others, and let out his war-cry and charged at one of the Crawlers, who in return leaped at him. Its claws bragged into his shoulder, but adjusted to the pain continued to swing and bashed into its head.
Although Eddie was on the ground, he still made his usefulness on the ground and gunned down two more crawlers. One started leaping onto the walls crawling sporadically towards him, and in return he aimed and got ready to fire, but he quickly glanced to his right to see the commotion with Benjamin - who crushed another skull in - but specifically at his mother in the distance, watching him intently, only to look menacingly at Benjamin, and then back at him with some sort of smile.
“No!” Eddie yelled across the room, making Benjamin turn back. Eddie yelled at him, “Benjamin- RUN!”
Benjamin turned back to see a claw swipe away his bat to disarm him, and then his legs to disable him. He yelled in pain as he fell to the ground, scrunching up to try and put pressure on the cuts, but was cut short when the Reaper picked him up the throat and barged through the stairwell doors and crawled upward.
“Ben!” Eddie screamed, before being brought back the reality of the three other Crawlers making their way towards him. He said under his breath to them, “Should’a killed me when you had the chance!”
One of them took that as a match and leaped ten feet from the wall to him, only to be put down with one single bullet aimed perfectly through the head. The other two quickly leapt off afterward to use the first as a distraction, but Eddie’s mind was focused, and he shot them both down as well. After glancing at the eight corpses beaten on the floor, he used much of his energy to stand up and ignore the pain, and made his way to the staircase.
He looked up once in the vertical shaft, and called out Ben’s name three times before yelling, “Damn it Ben- are you okay?” The answer came not by an ‘I’m alright’, but a petrifying scream that made Eddie shake. He yelled out to him, “Ben! I’m coming!”
He started up the stairs and glanced back once more upward to see the blood on the top railing with a sign hanging next to it that read “Rooftop Access: Personal Only.” Knowing where he was needing to go, he used the rail and hopped on one foot to allow him to maneuver quicker. He kept bringing his gaze back to the screams he heard from the infected, banging on the red doors now below him. He wiped the sweat with the back of his hand, and looked up at the doorframe coming into view, seeing the welcoming blue sky just outside.
Knowing what would be awaiting him outside, he said to himself, “Oh god, Ben, I - I can’t...”
He kept staring at the doorway, watching as it his mother came into view still holding Benjamin in her large hands, but not doing anything to him; she just breathed heavily and squawking quietly. Eddie watched intently while raising his guns, feeling the confliction build up in him as he realized what had to happen, whether done by him or Benjamin in possible. He reached the top of the stairs and leaned in to catch the doorway, and looked at his mother with mixed emotions.
“Hey!” he yelled to her, gun in view. She shot back him an angered look, and screeched at him in anger, plopping Benjamin to the ground and marching up to stand in front of him. Eddie leaned back a little bit, intimidated by her height, but still kept himself planted in the doorway. She just stared at him expressionless eyes, but didn’t make any action or movement.
Eddie found his voice and softly spoke, “Mom… I’m… I’m sorry.” He raised both of his hands upward and let his tight grip forcefully loose on his gloves, making his mother squawk in confusion, but not break eye-contact. Staring into his mother’s lifeless eyes, he slowly reached one hand over and pulled off his glove and threw it to his side, having it land next to Benjamin. Doing the same for his other glove, visor, and belt, he made eye-contact with Benjamin who was half-awake and confused. Eddie gave him a scared expression, but took a shaky breath and signaled him one almost unnoticeable nod before looking back at his mother.
“I… I can’t anymore… I’m at my edge,” he said. “I tried to protect you mom, but you’re… you’re not her.”
“E-Ed…” Ben coughed out, grabbing his throat.
“So end it,” Eddie said, raising his eyes. “I’m done.”
It just stood there unsure of what to do, and Eddie lowered his arms in shock, but quickly turned it into anger and yelled at it, “Do it you damn thing! You’re not her!”
He pulled back his arm, and slingshot his fist right into the face of the Reaper, knocking out three teeth and flailing it back. It grabbed its face and yelled in agony, but quickly looked back in rage at him to open its disfigured jaw and display its rows of jagged teeth and tentacular tongue to put fear into him; but all Eddie did was stand tall with his head down, teeth gritted, and fists clenched. The beast charged at him, but he didn’t do anything to defend himself, closing his eyes and keeping his arms at his side as his stomach was impaled, followed by him being flung to the roof’s edge. He opened his heavy eyes to look over the edge at the horde down below, and then was snapped back to look angrily into the Reaper’s eyes as he was picked up and held over the edge by the throat.
Eddie grabbed at the claw around his neck, but couldn’t budge free from its grasp, although he wasn’t sure if that was the best idea as he glanced down below as a group in the horde started clustering up. He looked back at her, saying, “Drop me. Show me you’re not her anymore!”
The Reaper screamed at him in response, and that was all he needed to hear. He laughed out through his coughs as she grabbed him tighter. He felt himself being strangled, and almost just wanted to give up, but heard a faint sound of a helicopter propeller spinning off in the distance. He looked back at Ben, who hunched over and covered in blood saw the helicopter, then made eye-contact and nodded. Eddie looked deep into the Reaper’s eyes, hoping one last time to see his mother, but realized that she was gone. Without any context, he spat out, “I’ just… sorry… Ben, now!”
The Reaper spun back to eye Benjamin, with the gun loosely in hand and target locked on, and fired without hesitation. It went through her skull, and showered Eddie and the horde below with blood and tissue. Eddie released himself from his mother’s grasp and went to reach for the ridge, and yelled in pain feeling the muscles in his arm tense up and stretch vigorously. He looked up at the limp figure, who stared shockingly at him as it fell over the edge and pounded into the concrete below. He stared at it, unable to break away from the beast that tormented his life, and started to cry as he felt something lifted off his chest. He looked back as he saw the helicopter come into view and shake the wall he grabbed onto. In the distant doorway he could make out Thomas, who had taken off his clothing and wore protective gear, staring intenty at him hanging on the edge.
He felt a hand reach for his wrist, and it made him jolt back as he looked back to see the Benjamin, washing off the blood on his cheeks with his tears, and extending his arm to grab for Eddie’s hand. He said, “It’s okay, I got you now. It’s over.”
Eddie smiled wryly and laughed through his tears, and threw up his dangling arm and gripped Benjamin’s bloody hand.