Chapter 58: Battle for the Farmhouse
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Seven of the skeletons zeroed in on Goremaster, Chantelle and Silvia, whilst the other eight clicked and clacked towards Jonathan, Peter, Fran and the two soldiers.

“Smash them!” Jonathan shouted, waving his blade and taking out one skeleton with ease.

On the other side of the living room, Goremaster saw the odds were against them.

“Screw this,” he said, “I’m out of here.”

He made a run for the front door and swung it wide open, only to be confronted by more skeletons.

Undead Horde Attacks! Wave Three (of Three)!

Fifteen more skeletons poured in the front door. Goremaster screamed with frustration and smashed one with his mace before another skeleton scratched at his face with sharpened bone. Goremaster ran back into the living room, his face covered in blood, with the third wave on his heels. He pushed past Silvia and Chantelle and ran for the stairs to the second floor. Chantelle and Silvia took one look at the oncoming horde and followed him.

Jonathan screamed in rage as the numbers in the living room increased. He cut through another skeleton whilst Peter and the soldiers battered three more backwards.

“We have to retreat!” Peter shouted.

“No!” Jonathan screamed, his eyes filled with fury. “I just need to kill another four and I’ll hit level three!”

“That’s no good to us if we’re all dead!” Peter shouted as he pushed three skeletons back using his shovel as a staff.

“The basement!” Fran shouted, “There are all those weapons down in the basement!”

“NO!” Jonathan shouted, slashing at another skeleton but failing to destroy it, “We fight! We fight here!”

“Tactical retreat sounds good to me,” Private Smith shouted as he brought the butt of his automatic rifle down on a skeleton’s skull. He grabbed Jonathan’s by the back of his collar and pulled him along as the small group crashed into the kitchen and through to the side room, then down into the basement.

“Let me go!” Jonathan raged. Fury had overtaken all reason.

“Jonathan, calm down!” Peter shouted, “We need a plan here, we need to think this through or we’re all dead.”

Private Milligan pulled the secret wall closed as the skeletons clacked into the side room and the basement fell into darkness.

*

Goremaster raced up the stairs onto the first floor landing with half a dozen skeletons in pursuit. Silvia and Chantelle close behind. They started to run along the landing but were now faced with three skeletons coming up the stairs from the opposite side. Chantelle lashed out with her hammer as Silvia pulled an empty bookcase from the wall, blocking the skeletons come up the opposite set of stairs.

“Bedroom,” Silvia shouted.

“I’ve got a better idea,” Goremaster snarled.

He grabbed Silvia’s arm and pulled him beside her. Silvia was too startled to pull back as Goremaster dragged her to the edge of the staircase he’d just run up.

“What the hell?” she screamed.

Goremaster kicked her in the stomach, pushing her back down the stairs and into the claws and teeth of the approaching skeletons.

“Cain, what the fuck?” Chantelle shouted as the half a dozen skeletons set upon the one-eyed woman. She screamed as they bit into her.

“Just bought us some time, didn’t I?” Goremaster replied.

Chantelle stared in horror as Silvia died and the skeletons munched on her corpse. The woman’s flesh slithered around their bones, mixing in with the dirt and the insects.

“Well, she wouldn’t have lasted very long with one eye, would she?” Goremaster said.

Chantelle turned to face him.

“You always were an asshole,” she said.

Then she slapped him as hard as she could.

A Righteous Slap

Your slaps may not cause any damage, but they have the power to stun! Goremaster (Level 1 Survivor) is stunned!

Chantelle grabbed Goremaster’s mace from his hand and flung herself into the nearest bedroom, locking the door behind her.

Goremaster raged as the effects of the slap wore off. He tried to pull on the locked door, but got nowhere.

“You bitch! I’m going to kill you!”

He turned and raced across the landing to the nearest door, only to find two of the skeletons had already climbed over the bookshelf’s makeshift barrier. He turned to the stairs he had come up, but the skeletons there were losing interest in Silvia’s corpse and were clacking up the stairs.

“No, no, no!” Goremaster shouted, “I’m not going like this, I’m Goremaster! You hear me! I’m…”

Realising his words were having no effect, he pushed past one of the skeletons and into the opposite bedroom.

Panic and fear overtook him.

Rather than closing the door behind him, he looked for the next safest space he could find. He dived to the ground and crawled under the double bed, screaming about how unfair it was.

The skeletons ignored his protests as they dragged him back out from under the bed and started munching on his body.

*

“Let me back out there!” Jonathan shouted.

“Jonathan, what the hell is wrong with you? Have you got some kind of death wish?” Peter shouted, “There’s at least thirty of those things out there. We need a plan or we’re all dead.”

At the top of the stairs, Private Smith was holding onto the wooden beams that supported the plasterboards that made up the hidden wall.

“This won’t hold for very long,” he shouted down at the group assembled in the basement.

“What’s to think about?” Jonathan continued to rant. “We go out there, we kill them, that’s it!”

Peter stared across at Fran in the barely lit basement, as shadows danced around cast from the light of their mobile phones. Fran shook her head, both of them thinking the same thing. Their apparent leader had lost the plot. The trauma of the previous day had left him with an unbridled fury against the undead, which was overcoming any reason.

“Jonathan, think man, just going back out there is going to get us all killed.”

“If anyone has a plan, now would be a great time,” Private Smith shouted down as the scratching against the plasterboard intensified.

“Creature Compendium,” Fran said, “We need to check that, see if there are any weaknesses we can exploit. Jonathan, you should have skeletons unlocked now since you’ve destroyed a couple. What does it say there?”

Despite the blinding rage caused by the trauma inflicted on him by the system for having been forced to kill an eleven-year-old zombie, Jonathan could see the sense in what Fran was saying. He pushed past his fury to flip to the unlocked skeleton box in the Compendium.

“It says skeletons are weaker but faster than zombies... fifteen hit points each on average... not as infections as zombies, but as they consume flesh, they become tougher until they become full zombies. Also slows them down a bit. Resistances to infection, disease and so on, can’t be drowned – wait, here – susceptibility to fire. ‘Skeletons burn easily and fire based attacks cause plus fifty percent damage.’”

“Right,” Fran said, “That’s something.”

She turned to Private Milligan, “You, you can level up, right?”

“Is this the screen things?”

“Yes it’s the bloody screen things!” Fran shouted at him, “Now pay attention, you’re going to choose a class and it’s going to be magician and then you’re going to choose a spell called Fireball, if it’s available, or anything that can help us out that’s fire based.”

In the gloom, Peter and Jonathan both blinked at Fran.

“She’s right,” Peter said, “Do it, now.”

“Okay, done, uh, there are other spells here. I get to choose one more and a couple of cantrips? I’ve chosen Fireball, what next?”

“Forget the cantrips. They’re minor,” Fran said. “What’s left?”

“Uh, Hold Person, Command Person…”

“Don’t even think about it.”

“Magic Shield, Magic Arrow.”

“What does shield do?”

“Magic Shield, creates a mystical barrier around each of your allies in a ten foot square radius, making them harder to hit. Lasts up to ten minutes or until destroyed.”

“That,” Fran said, “Take that, do it now.”

“Are you sure about this?”

“Just do what Fran says,” Peter nodded, “She’s actually been paying attention.”

“They’re coming through!” Private Smith shouted as a skeletal hand burst through the plasterboard next to his face.

A second claw smashed through next to his waist, slicing through his torso as the first grabbed his face. He tried to break free, screaming in pain, but it was too late. The plasterboard barrier crumbled as the skeletal horde burst through.

“Quickly,” Fran said, “Mana points and cost, how many?”

“Ah, enough for, ah, two fireballs and one shield,” Private Milligan quickly counted, “Or two shields.”

“Right, we need a shield up and we need to fight our way through this,” Fran said, as she grabbed an axe off the wall.

“Shield!” Private Milligan shouted. Instantly, everyone around him was covered in a pale blue light. “Well, blow me,” he muttered.

The skeletons started clacking down the stairs.

“Should I fireball them now?” Milligan asked.

“No!” Peter shouted. “Those stairs are made of wood. You’ll burn us all. We need to fight our way back up. And I need a better weapon than a shovel. Fuck knows how Gary did it, but this just isn’t working for me…”

His eyes landed on the wall of weapons, and something caught his eye.

“Ah, of course,” he said, as he went to retrieve his weapon of choice.

“You’re going to fight with that?” Fran asked, clutching her axe.

“Oh, yeah,” Peter said as he pulled on the starter handle, causing the weapon to roar into life.

“Didn’t you know? That’s rule number three of the zombie apocalypse. You can never go wrong with a chainsaw...”

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