34,040 / 50,000
Another possible title change occurs to me, "Unconventional Wisdom".
And yes, I discovered there is a repeated sequence in there. I was hammering out that chunk, reworking it, got distracted, and forgot what I'd written. I'll likely fix it tonight.
The smell of smoke from the gunshots filled my nostrils, as much as the sound had filled my ears before. The sun streaked down from the holes in the roof far above, both through the hole put there deliberately, and the ones Cyclops had created earlier. The golden shafts fell upon the carnage around me, glinting off the dull steel of Ash's hand, as well as the dark barrel of his weapon.
He spun around with his boot squeaking on the floor, and fired off another shot. The gun spun around a metallic finger and he shot again to his right, with only the barest hint of aiming.
Grabbing me with his free hand and pulling me closer to him, the zombies now staying back from the two of us, Ash opened up the shotgun with one hand, dumping the empty cartridges out onto the ground. While the empties clattered to the ground and rolled away like so much forgotten change, he let me go and reached behind him and pulled more shells out of a leather pouch connected to the jury-rigged holster for the shotgun.
The Marvel Zombies could have gotten ahold of either of us with ease, but they stayed a good distance away, watching us warily. The group of them didn't know what to make of Ash, and he was in their way of reaching the easier target of me.
With the shotgun reloaded, he flipped the barrels up and they clicked shut. He remained standing there, the barrels pointed in the air like he was holding a torch, almost daring the zombies to attack him.
Everything seemed frozen in our immediate vicinty, although I could see and hear the chaos continuing directly behind the zombies backs as other creatures attacked the civilians, and other surprised heroes. The standoff was soon broken though, when the zombified Wolverine leapt forward. His torn wife-beater's tatters flapped in the air as he pounced. The costumer had worn the shirt so he could have plenty of wounds painted and applied on his exposed skin, and now he was the most damaged of the zombies, with the wounds having become real. He growled like an enraged animal at Ash, which with Wolverine was not far from the truth. His fury was met only with another wound for his collection, as another shotgun blast rang out in the enclosed space.
Wolverine fell to the ground with a thud I felt as much as heard, and his weight, combined with the metal-covered skeleton now inside him, caused the tiles to crack. He was already getting up off the floor before the smoke cleared from the twin barrels.
"Nice try, bub," he said, sounding like gravel shaking in a tin can. "But all you've gone and done is piss me off even more. I was a fast healer before, but now wounds just don't matter. I'll keep coming no matter how many bullets you put in me. And I got more flesh than you got shells in that bag of yours."
As he was about to continue his advance, the sound of metal scraping against metal caught my attention. All three of us turned in time to see a young woman with long, black hair leap into the air, mimicking Wolverine's earlier attack. Which was appropriate, since someone had been transformed into X-23, a young, female clone of the Canadian mutant. I have no idea how someone gets cloned into another gender, just chalk it up to comicbook science.
Her own growl was more focused, and with less rage, as she buried the twin claws on each hand into the zombie's chest. The two of them fell to the floor that moments before one of them had just been laid out on.
Ash was too intent on looking at the girl's ass, covered in nearly skintight black leather as the two tusseled. I grabbed the rough material of his shirt sleeve and tried to get Ash's attention as the other zombies began to resume their advance, some going to help Wolverine get his younger self off of him, and to find more food to eat.
I felt a breeze slice through the air near my face, whistling as a polished plank of wood whizzed by and cracked into the blue-skinned face of zombie Mystique. The man holding the handle connected to the wood stood like a batter ready for another pitch. There were spatters of blood on his otherwise sparklingly white shirt, and his tie that almost matched the blood hung loose around his neck. He took one hand away from the weapon and wiped at sweat on his brown, and ran a hand through his shaggy blonde hair. He looked frazzled and nervous, as opposed to the calm, cocky attitude pouring off of Ash.
He turned and looked back at us with wild eyes and shouted, with a distinctly British accent, "Look, I don't mean to tell you your business, but if you're going to do more than stand there, you'd best get about doing it."
He swung again, knocking over the Mystique that had gotten back up on her feet. I winced at the sound the board made with her skull, hearing something crack, and I wasn't sure which.
Ash aimed his own weapon and took her head off with another shot. Our newfound companion gave a nod and stood a bit more relaxed, but kept his weapon raised, swinging at the occasional zombie. "Right, that works a little bit better against these zombies than the ones I've faced before. One good blow usually kept those gits down."
"Zombies? You mean these things ain't Deadites, pal?"
Before the two could get into an in-depth discussion of their comparative mythologies, and get us both killed while doing so, I grabbed them both by the workshirts they wore and spoke.
"Look, I've got a plan, but I have got to get out of here. The door is behind us, fortunately, so we don't have to go through those things, but they're very likely to follow, and things are probably not going to be any better downstairs. At least I didn't see anyone dressed up as Cthulhu yet."
Ash looked at me with disdain. "You say you've got a plan, huh? Well, how many medieval type castles have you saved? Now that was a plan. I don't think you've got anything, and just wanna run."
"Look, stones for brains," I reared up and watched Ash actually back up as someone gave him a taste of his own medicine. He was cocky, but deep down, even off the screen, he was a coward. "You just got here, and I know what's going on. There's a good chance I'm the only one who does. The only thing I have to shoot with though is a camera, and that's not going to do jack squat between here and the other hotel. So I need your help, and your expertise with making the undead dead again to save the day."
If I was going to talk him into it, best to stroke his ego and let him know who's in charge at the same time. Spending way too much time watching films might just come in handy yet.
He took the bait, and more chances to be a hero, and agreed to help.
I turned to the British man whom I recognised from Shaun of the Dead, wondering if he had been from England before this incident occurred. He'd been keeping the approaching zombies at bay, with the help of a few other regular people who'd gathered near us, and were using anything they could get their hands on as weapons and means to keep the zombies back.
I got his attention and asked, "What about you, Shaun, are you with us?"
He gave a nod, but there was something in his eyes. "I'll help, but I'm going to stay here. If you've got a plan, go do it. I can keep most of these off for awhile, and I think I saw Ed over at the bar. He'll be along to help soon, as long as he doesn't get distracted."
The last thing I wanted to do was leave anyone behind in all this, but he was willing, and we could use the cover.
With great reluctance, I nodded and agreed. "But after five minutes, if you're still standing, come follow us. Most of the zombies were up here, so we shouldn't have much trouble once we're downstairs."
He agreed with my terms, or seemed to. Ash stopped me before I began heading for the stairs. "Hey, kid," he shouted at Shaun. "Take this. You're gonna need it more than us, I think."
The shotgun flew through the air, and Shaun caught it with a giant grin. "Oh yeah, this is much better," he gleefully spoke as the holster came off of Ash's back, and that was caught too, jingling with the remains of bullets in its pouch.
"Wait, one last thing before you go," I stopped in mid-turn, and looked over my shoulder, wondering who was speaking. I saw Shaun looking back at me, but the voice no longer sounded British, instead he sounded like he was from the South.
"I know...I remember what this is, who we are now. And I'm ok with this, but if anything happens to me, if we don't see you again, find my family, my name is Marc Gale. Tell them what happened?"
I agreed, how could I not?
Ash took off his holster and tossed that through the air as well to Shaun/Marc, and the shells inside its accompanying pouch jingled as he caught it. He slung it over his shoulder as if it were a purse, and took aim at the approaching undead with his newfound weapon.
A few of the others abandoned Shaun and chose to accompany Ash and myself as we made our way back to the stairs. We could hear Shaun's shots as we moved across the floor, and it drew the attention of most everything else in the place, leaving us to move more or less at our leisure.
The group let me lead, since I actually seemed to have a plan, although that was rather sparse. It consisted of getting to my room. After that, I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do with them, or the situation. I'd had a few ideas percolating in my mind, but they were far from concrete.
Even Ash followed my lead, opting to stay at the rear to watch for any other trouble we would need to deal with sneaking up on us. I procured a broken chair leg that once belonged to a piece of furniture that had somehow been tossed out from the nearby restaurant area. It was a poor weapon compared to Ash's gun, but it was better than nothing. I'd always been more comfortable with blunt instruments than firearms anyways.
The lower floor was somewhat less chaotic, and considerably less bloody. It seems like the worst creatures were upstairs with the zombies. All I could see down here was regular people, and a few people whose fairy wings were suddenly no longer strapped to their backs, as well as some people who were once dressed as characters from the Princess Bride.
I saw an Aquaman towards the back, and motioned him over to the rest of us. I could hear a dismissive snort from Ash behind me, and ignored him. Aquaman may not be the best choice of saviours, but any port in a storm.
He saw us, and that we were armed and ready, and came closer. I saw a strange shimmering in the air in front of him, as if someone moved a piece of glass between the two of us, or like looking through a puddle hanging in the air.
I tried to focus on the distortion, but my eyes kept slipping past it, and I tried to stop the blond man from coming any closer. It was too late though, and the orange scales of his shirt were soon tinged with red, as a hole appeared in his chest.
Blood trickled down something invisible jutting out of his chest, much like it began to drip out of the corner of his mouth. His eyes glazed over and rolled back into his skull, never seeing what had run him through.
The bloodstained air pulled out of the transformed costumer, and his body fell to the ground. Whatever it was that had stuck him was lost as the field hiding it before also disguised the blood-tipped edge.
Invisiblity and killing lead me to only one conclusion; the convention had at least one Predator running loose. That was potentially worse than zombies. On the upside, the zombies and Predator could end up killing each other, although hopefully the now-alien creature wouldn't see fit to enact a nuclear solution.