“Chris? Chris? CHRIS?” her voice got progressively less timid as Anna tiptoed toward the closed bedroom door. He had been in there for several hours now, almost as soon as they’d crashed through the front door of their tiny 1st floor flat, Anna’s fiancée had scurried into their only bedroom clutching the thick folder containing his medical notes from the hospital, slamming the door behind him and leaving Anna in a state of disbelief. At first she had wanted to give him space, thinking that he needed to process what had happened over the last 24 hours – shit, she sure as hell did! But after a couple of hours of listening to him muttering to himself behind the flimsy wooden barrier she had started to worry. Just after midnight, exhausted, she had tried the door handle only to find that the lock had been engaged. Worried, she’d called out to him only for him to tear the door open and scream in her face to leave him alone. Totally out of character for the normally placid and gentle giant, what scared her the most was that he didn’t even sound that angry just lots of volume coupled with his enormous size and this was enough to intimidate her like he’d never managed to do in the past. Hell, even worse than that was the insanely strange smile that she had just caught sight of after his tirade, that peculiar upturn of the lip – part sneer/part taunting laugh that showed his contempt for the woman he’d pledged to marry not 4 months earlier…
|Anna "Putters" Parker|
She could hear his deep breathing through the thin veneer of the cheap door and stopped, her fist two inches from knocking on the glossy wood, loathe to wake him and face another rant from him. Caught in two minds she stood in uncharacteristic indecision, paralysed by the change in her soul mate and yet needing to get him moving. The “zombies” as Gobbo had called them were gathering in greater numbers – drawn she presumed, to the fire that was consuming an articulated lorry down by the industrial estate. That same lorry that had forced her to abandon the ambo and make their way on foot to the flat.
Just before they had parted ways Gobbo had told her to get some stuff together and get out of town. The urban centres were going to get too dangerous, too many folks meant too many zombies! He was right, they needed to go and now, already they had delayed far too much while Chris had locked himself away. With next to no supplies in the flat (they ate out a lot!) they needed to gather some bits together and head back to the ambulance before bugging out to one of the smaller outlying places in the countryside or preferably finding a way to cross the reinvigorated river Wantsum and get onto the mainland. Hand poised to knock, she tried him once more – softly, non threatening as if trying to coax a timid fawn to take a treat.
“Chris, we need to go honey.” She paused, listening intently for any signs that he acknowledged her presence. “We have to get out of here babe, there’s too many of those things out there, it’s getting dangerous to stay.” Shuffling footsteps accompanied by a low moaning came from the bedroom gave her the courage to continue. “We’ve got no food and Gobbo said…..”
Shuffling footsteps became stomping as the door was torn open, to be replaced by her partner’s huge bulk. His face twisted in scowl that looked so out of place on him, so unusual and disturbing enough to cause Anna to take a step back, her hand still raised as if to knock. “I DON’T CARE WHAT THAT FAT PRICK GOBBO SAID!” Chris screamed at his cowering fiancé, stepping completely out of the room and bearing down on the medic. Anna stepped back, nearly stumbling over the Tesco ‘bag for life’ filled with what little useful stuff they had, her arms pinwheeled trying to prevent her from falling to the hallway floor. Surprisingly quick for such a big man, Chris’s arm reached out at Anna and she flinched even as she fell only to feel his hand at the small of her back, steadying her on her feet. As swiftly as he moved so did his face resume his normal countenance, the odd smirking rage replaced by a look of concern as he gathered his startled love into his arms. “Careful sweetie, you nearly came a cropper there!” Carefully he let her go, leaving her standing bewildered in the cramped hallway of the flat. Anna watched as he went into the kitchen and pulled out a huge kitchen knife, using it to point at the bag with their meagre supplies “do you want to grab some bits in that? I’ll just make us some sandwiches for the road – I’m absolutely starving!” He added with a lascivious wink, before turning his back on her to begin rummaging through various cupboards.
Anna, in a daze from the latest change in her partner’s behaviour went into the small bedroom. Slowly moving around the bedroom she put a change of clothes in the bag, forgetting in her bewilderment to change out of her uniform (which was beginning to smell quite ripe!). Reaching back into the wardrobe she took out her prized hockey stick, feeling its familiar heft and smiling softly at the fond memories that she associated with it. As she was about to close the door she saw the corner of a page poking out from under a pile of Chris’s clothes. Reaching down, she pulled out the thick medical file she had seen back at the isolation ward. Nervous beads of sweat peppered her brow as she looked at the official document, noticing for the first time the small warning label attached to the cover.
With a shaking hand she started to open the file to glimpse the first page, nearly screaming as Chris’s voice drifted from by the front door.
“You ready babe? We need to bug out. Remember what Gobbo said” his voice twisting ever so slightly back into a sneer when he mentioned the older EMT.
Hurriedly, Anna stuffed the file into the bottom of the bag and put her underwear over it. Grabbing the hockey stick, she dashed out the room and toward the front door, with a determined stride. She would get some supplies, get them out of town and the she would find out what the hell was going on with Chris!
We move onto the next part of my ATZ - an English Adventure, joining Anna "Putters" Parker and her fiance Chris Parlour. The 'loving' couple are getting ready to flee their flat in Margate on the edge of an Industrial estate. They are desperately low on supplies and need to stock up the Ambo that Putters 'borrowed' before bugging out. The snag is that due to an overturned lorry that rather unhelpfully caught fire, they had to abandon the Ambo on the other side of the burning wreck. Another snag is that the Ambo, having been in use for an entire shift (and a half) prior to the outbreak is a little low on fuel, not drastically (they hold quite a bit) but Anna is not sure when they will get the chance to fill up again. One last snag - Chris! he's been acting really unpredictably and something is most definitely wrong with the big guy....
So Anna's flat is in section 9 and the Ambo is in section 2. The idea of the scenario is for the couple to gather at least 6 supply items which must contain at least two food and one fuel. I will be using the encounter cards for this game as always, modified by my special charts for this campaign. This is one tough encounter!
As to the couple's stats, Anna now becomes a star in her own right, albeit staying at Rep 3 as per her starting profile. She is also now armed with a hockey stick (counting as a baseball bat in the game).
Chris needs some special rules but I'm not going to give the game away just yet, suffice to say certain circumstances or events will trigger the special rules in the game and we'll just see how that pans out. As to his stats he starts as a Rep 3 grunt and they break down as shown below. He's a big lad and uses his strength well hence his melee is 3, due to his recent mood changes his people skills are suffering and the "Rage" ability just seem to fit his developing persona!
Rep 3. Drive 2. Melee 3. Shoot 3. Fit 2. People 1. Savvy 3
Ability. Rage (adds +1d6 in melee and +1d6 charge into melee)
There is a PEF rep 2 in section 1, PEF rep 6 also in section 1 and a PEF rep 4 in section 3.
There are 15 zombies on the board to start...
The next episode will be the first few turns but just to keep you interested here are some shots of how the board is looking.
"Chris? Chris? CHRIS?
that bloody voice again, it's ripping through his head like a chainsaw! Why, when he has the bastard of all bastardy headaches would she insist on talking to him? His head is pounding, he can literally feel his pulse banging away in time with each syllable she utters...
Another low groan escapes his lips as a wave of agony ripples from his head down to his toes, causing his back to spasm and his jaw to ache. He shuffles aimlessly around the cramped space of the tiny bedroom, moaning softly as awful (delicious) images of violence (fun) and death (freedom) parade through his brain in a loop. Only when he wipes the trickle of liquid from the corner of his mouth with the back of his hand does he realise that he has bitten his tongue and is now dribbling blood. He had no idea that he had injured himself, pain is now a constant companion and too great to focus on minor hurts. Using his he wipes it off just before his entire being is engulfed by intense pain that drives him to his knees.
“Chris, we need to go honey.”
Will she never shut up? It’s driving him insane, like a sharp blade slicing through the top of his head or a metal skewer driving into his eye.
“We have to get out of here babe, there are too many of those things out there, it’s getting dangerous to stay.”
Now it’s a lump hammer pounding away at the top of his skull, crushing, mangling, smashing bones, splashing blood all over… more gory images storm his conscious mind, bringing with it a new sensation – pleasure? Yes pleasure, dear God what the bloody hell is going on. A strange smile begins to form on his face as he explores this bizarre duality.
“We’ve got no food and Gobbo said….”
Fucking Gobbo, that interfering arsehole! He feels a surge of anger, that threatens to explode into a rage. Boiling to his feet, he stomps to the door ripping it open. Towering over her, he feels strong, powerful, invincible (excited).
“I DON’T CARE WHAT THAT FAT PRICK GOBBO SAID!"
She stumbles back, falling away from his display of power, a look of dismay etched on her face. The excitement causes a cascade of serotonin from his over stimulated hypothalamus into his bloodstream releasing more and more hormone, flooding his senses and symbiotically sending his immuno-responses into hyperdrive. All of this happens in -seconds, his psyche splitting and re-splitting until something resembling his older self surfaces, concern for his falling fiance overcoming this 'other'. He surges forward with a speed he doesn't know he possesses, reaching out and steadying her.
“Careful sweetie, you nearly came a cropper there!”
The pain recedes and he feels 'normal' - whatever that means. The feelings of intense anger, rage (excitement?) dissipate to be replaced by yet another primal urge. He heads toward the small kitchen, down the hall. Hunger is now consuming him, his body desperate to replace nutrients, top up chemicals and stock up on energy. He pauses when he walks in to the neat room, staring at the array of sharp implements and other equipment that stock a modern kitchen. Drawing a huge carving knife from the self-sharpening block that it sits in he points through the open door to his bewildered partner and one of the stupid 'bag for life' she insists on buying.
“do you want to grab some bits in that? I’ll just make us some sandwiches for the road – I’m absolutely starving!”
Promptly he turns his back as she goes into the bedroom, peering into cupboards and the fridge he feels a stab of anger as he realises she's right, they're all out of food! For fuck's sake! He's famished, hunger rips through his stomach making it growl. The pain is coming back and he emits a low moan as this time it emanates from his abdomen, running upward into his head. He needs to get moving, he needs to find food, specifically he needs meat. He wants to feel his teeth tearing into a thick steak, rare so the juices run down his chin! Impatient now, he strides out of the kitchen intent on storming out of the flat.
“You ready babe? We need to bug out. Remember what Gobbo said”
The last words cause his lip to curl into a sneer and he emits a low bestial growl, subconsciously hefting the carving knife in his right hand, his left holding the door handle ready to go.