Thorne stared at her. How could someone so beautiful be so cold? How could she think so little of life in a world where it was so rare?

Victor raised his hand. “You have two choices Mr. Thorne. You’re either one of us or you’re dead. Can you be of use to us? Do your powers work on the dead?”

Thorne frowned. “Kind of, I can sense the dead as well as I can sense the living. Knowing where and how many of them there are around me is what’s kept me alive.”

“Hmm... Like a radar sense for souls. Interesting,” Victor mumbled.

“And they are pretty much mindless. I can’t bend their wills and make them eat themselves or anything if that’s what you’re wondering. There simply isn’t enough left in them to work with that way. I have though on occasion with great effort been able to shut off the senses of one or two of them just enough for me to slip by unnoticed but it’s like trying to drive a car with your hands tied.”

“I see,” Victor announced. “You are better than the norms. You may stay with us if you like as long as you understand that if you touch our thoughts or scan us even passively without our direct consent I will personally rip you to shreds and feed you to the monsters in the streets below.”

“Fair enough,” Thorne agreed wondering how Victor was going to know if he used his powers but he was not stupid enough to ask.

“Unshackle him Nate,” Victor ordered. “Our new brother needs to see his home.”

Arc led Thorne through the hospital’s corridors. It was clear she disagreed with Victor’s choice to let him stay. Thorne could hear the veiled anger in her voice as she showed him around.

“As you can see we’ve made this place livable. We grow our own food both on the roof and in several interior gardens as well. Not that we need to. Nate can acquire almost anything that we need within a hundred mile radius or so. We’ve a well stocked armory that we have put together should we ever need it and a large cache of medical supplies from the hospital itself. The entire top three floors of this building are ours and completely cut off from the rest of the building. If you’re not Nate or a ghost like Apparition, the only way in or out is a long climb. Our living quarters are located here on the top floor. You, Nate, and I have rooms on this side of the building. The other side belongs to Victor.”

“We get rooms and he gets a wing. Seems fair,” Thorne joked.

“Victor needs the space,” Arc growled. She paused in front of a green door. “This one’s yours.”

Thorne glanced inside. The room looked more like a mad scientist’s lab than a place to sleep. There were computers, reams of paper, notebooks and tools everywhere. He spotted at least three devices that appeared to be microscopes of some sort. “Copy,” he muttered.

“Look,” Arc warned him. “You can clean out the junk. Samuel’s gone. The bastard defected. It’s not like you’re going to have trouble finding a bed in this place to drag in here.”

“Who’s Samuel?”

“I’d rather not talk about that okay? Ask Victor if you want to know.”

“What do you mean defected?”

“Switched sides, sold us out, betrayed us- take your pick. We’re at war Thorne and you’ve just joined the winning side. Be thankful for it.” Arc walked off without another word leaving Thorne standing alone outside his new room.

Thorne spent the next few hours getting used to the hospital and selecting a bed for his room. It was work getting the bed dragged into the room and a space cleared out for it. He found himself wondering how Samuel had slept in this room much less lived here. He managed to stack all of Samuel’s notes and things into a single corner vowing to take a look at what they were before he discarded them but now it had been a day and he needed sleep. It had been a while since he’d slept in a real bed and he was looking forward to it.

He stretched out and felt his eyes already beginning to close from exhaustion. Sleep came easily to him but it was far from peaceful. He dreamt of the dead waiting on the streets below. Yellowed teeth, slick with something red and warm, gnawed at him as ragged fingernails dug into his flesh.

A knock that sounded like machine gun fire tore him out of his nightmare. As he awoke he realized Apparition had been with him in his dream. The man had screamed three words over and over again as the dead ripped Thorne apart and the ghost watched on. “Victor…The end. Victor. .. The end.”

Thorne pulled himself out of bed as the knock became even faster.

“Hey man, you dead in there or what?” he heard Nate yell.

Thorne opened the door. Nate stood in the hall with a plate of food. “Figured you’d want breakfast amigo. Victor wants to talk with you pronto so I didn’t think you’d have time to hit the kitchen.”

Thorne eyed the plate, his mouth watering. “Are those real eggs?”

“You bet,” Nate answered. “Snagged them from a farm just outside of the city.”

Thorne took the plate sitting down at one of the room’s worktables.

He shoved a computer to the side and started shoveling the eggs in his mouth.

“Take it easy man. You’re not going to be starving anymore like you were out there.”

Thorne looked up at Nate to say thanks but Nate was long gone.

He took a bite out of a piece of toast and wondered what Victor really wanted from him. He longed to take a look into Victor’s mind but he’d promised he wouldn’t and his life depended on that promise if Victor really had a way to know when he used his gift.

Thorne found Victor waiting for him on the roof. The tall blond man stood like a king on top of the hospital looking out at the horizon.

He paid no attention to the thousands of dead who wandered about below. “I trust you slept well,” Victor stated not even bothering to glance at Thorne.

Thorne moved to stand beside him. “It was certainly a change from being down there.”

“Thorne, I am not going to lie to you. The room you are staying in belonged to my father, Samuel. He hurt us all badly.”

“Samuel,” Thorne answered. “Arc mentioned him yesterday. She said he betrayed you, switched sides.”

“It’s true. The world may be dead but we’re still at war, Thorne. I’m not talking about the dead. They are seldom a real threat to such as we. It’s the norms that are the danger and it’s them that my father left us for.”

“You mean people? There are still people left alive out there?”

“Yes. The last great holdout of mankind lies just beyond this city. When we first took shelter here my father approached them and sought an alliance with them. He thought that together we could start over, bring the world back from its knees rather than merely watch it slide slowly into death’s waiting arms as it is now. But can you guess how they reacted?”

Thorne shook his head.

“They came for us Thorne like a mob hunting down Frankenstein’s monster. They called us freaks. They feared us more than they did the dead. Some of them even blamed us for the dead tearing their way out of the ground. They sent a group of heavily armed killers in place of a diplomatic party to eliminate our threat to their existence once and for all. They broke into our home, wounded Nate and Arc before I could intervene and would’ve killed us in cold blood if they had been able. I fed them to the dead in pieces. It was clear to me then, Thorne, that if the world is to be reborn, it must be people like us who take charge.

“My father disagreed. Even then he couldn’t be made to understand the truth. We held a meeting and the other four of us of agreed that we would take the norms sanctuary by force. They would be made to see that we were not a threat. They would serve us and help us begin again. My father would have nothing of it. Outvoted though, he had little choice but to go along with our plans. When the day came, he turned on us. You see Thorne; my father is a tele-mechanic and a genius. He understands machines in way no one can. Even in this barren world I have seen him create technological marvels beyond anything mankind ever achieved in all its glory.”

“So how did he stop you? I mean there are three of you and Nate alone is like an army. It doesn’t sound like his gift was aggressive enough to handle you guys.”

“Oh, my father didn’t use any powers against us. As you say, his gift was not of that line of abilities. He had built ways to stop us, fail-safes if you will to keep us in line. He saw us as the great betrayers of mankind not himself. He took out Nate first with a net actually able to contain him. He used the hospital’s sprinkler system against Arc. It was brutal. She took days to recover. He even hurt me.”

“Hurt you? Are you invulnerable? Is that your gift?”

“I am many things,” Victor turned to face Thorne staring into him.

Вы читаете Zombies II: Inhuman
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