Everyone Loves the Undead: Part Six
Oldnose drifted with increased speed towards the Old Quarter, encountering more of the mutated creatures on his way. Several of them were people he had previously known in the city, confirming his worst fears that it was some sort of infection spreading across the city. Night fell, but the creatures continued to roam freely.
Initially the ghost found the Old Quarter quiet as well, before realising that the Zombie Union would once again be meeting at Oddfellow's Hall. He rushed off there immediately, floating straight through the closed doors of the meeting room.
Arthur Munroe was in the middle of a speech, and paused as he saw the ghost Meerca float through the doors. Gradually, the other gathered zombies turned to see what he was staring at.
"Thaddeus, old boy," Munroe greeted him. "I thought I made our position clear..."
"There's something happening in the city!" Oldnose cut across him. "People are transforming into monsters, and it's only a matter of time until they get here!"
There was the murmur of conversation from the zombies as they digested this news.
"What kind of monsters?" Munroe asked.
"Like nothing I've ever seen before," Oldnose replied. "They look mutated, like the creatures that once attacked Neovia... but somehow different, grey skin, red eyes..."
More worried murmurs came from the crowd.
"Well, under the circumstances, I think it's best to cancel the meeting," Munroe said, stepping down from the podium. "We'll send a runner to the Defenders at once."
He opened the doors back into the building's lobby.
"The Defenders won't be able to help," Oldnose explained. "Judge Hog has been infected, it's likely the others have been as well."
Gasps now came from the zombies, and Munroe seemed paralysed as to what to do next. Memories were flooding back for many of the riots a month previously, when the zombies had been forced to run and hide.
A fierce knocking on the front door broke the silence, and everyone gathered turned to the door with a sense of dread.
"Thaddeus, old boy, would you mind?" Munroe asked.
Oldnose nodded, poking his head through the wood and returning it a few seconds later.
"Looks like a bunch of Lupes and some vampires," he said. "No one infected, by the looks of it."
With that, Munroe nodded towards the door and a few zombies opened it. Those outside immediately rushed inwards, barring the door behind them.
"Thank goodness for that!" a striped Lupe said. "I assume you know about the monsters in the city? We're some of the only ones left!"
"I do not believe that is coincidence, young lady," a vampire Lenny with a heavy accent said, gesturing to his arm.
He had been bitten by one of the creatures.
"This happened several hours ago in my home, just before sunset. From what I've seen of those attacked since then, the transformation happens within a few minutes."
"Vampires are immune, you are saying?" Munroe asked.
"Not just vampires," the Lenny said. "Ghosts, obviously, but also zombies... and, madam, if you don't mind me outing you and your friends, Werelupes, too."
The striped Lupe exchanged a glance with her fellow Lupes, "How did you know?"
"I've been around a long time," was the Lenny's answer.
"So, the undead are immune to it?" Oldnose considered. "I wonder why?"
On this, the Lenny was strangely silent. Of course, all of the vampires present had attended the meeting of the Vampire Brotherhood, all understood that it was Frommholtz's stolen virus that had set this in motion. But vampires, being old creatures, understood that such knowledge would only lead to panic, and more importantly, suspicion of vampires.
"Why did you come here, of all places?" Munroe asked.
"This seemed like a logical gathering place," the Lenny said.
"We went to Dr. Franks," the striped Lupe said. "He said to head here, gather with the zombies for strength in numbers. He said he'd be along once he was sure there was no one left out there. I guess he's immune too, being nearly a zombie anyway?"
"What do we do then?" Oldnose asked, turning to Munroe. "Hide somewhere?"
"This isn't like the riots," Munroe answered. "We barricade here, hope for the best."
Silently, the gathered members of the undead nodded in agreement.
"How do you feel?"
The fully grown Werelupe stood in the middle of Frommholtz's laboratory, experimentally flexing.
"Alright," Robert growled in response. "I mean, it's odd. I've never been able to remember how it actually feels before. Odd, but alright."
"Good, then we should begin," Craven said. "The sooner we start, the sooner all of this can be over."
Robert nodded in agreement, and Frommholtz presented a small flask.
"This is the distilled scent of the intruder. The trail should be weakening, but your senses should still be able to pick it up," Frommholtz explained.
One sniff of the flask was all it took. Robert could feel it, like an extra layer of his vision – the trail disappearing into the laboratory's broken window like a wisp of coloured smoke.
"I have it," Robert announced.
Frommholtz and Craven both grinned, and then followed Robert as he stalked up the staircase back to the ground floor.
They emerged into the night air to a strange sight. The streets, normally devoid of life at such times, were instead full of creatures. Hulking, pale creatures with glowing eyes.
Frommholtz let out a gasp.
"It's been released," he whispered to Craven.
It wasn't much noise, but it served to alert the closest of the creatures. It snarled at them once before launching itself at them. Robert's reflexes were quick, catching the creature in mid-air and slamming it down hard into the cobbled street.
"What's going on?" Robert asked.
"I... don't know," Frommholtz lied unconvincingly.
He moved to return back inside, but more creatures were now coming, and Robert had backed up into the doorway to ready himself for them.
"Run!" he ordered them. "I'll deal with these and then meet you! Head for Oddfellow's Hall!"
A wild swing took down another of the creatures as Craven and Frommholtz broke into a run, leaving Robert to fight off the mutated citizens.
The door leading into Oddfellow's Hall was still being fortified when Craven and Frommholtz arrived. They were hastily ushered inside by the zombies, who then finished they barricades. The vampires smiled with some relief at the sight of the pair, and the group hastily retreated to the shadows to discuss matters.
"Is something happening with you lot?" the striped Lupe, Jane, asked them eventually.
Craven came forwards, "Nothing, nothing, I assure you, aha. Just checking our numbers. The Brotherhood does not like to lose one of its own, so we were making sure everyone was here."
"You didn't happen to see Dr. Franks on your way, did you?" Jane asked.
"No, we did not," Craven answered. "I'm sure he will be fine though, it isn't as if the good doctor cannot repair his injuries, anyway. I think, if memory serves, he has a sewer access just outside his home – if he has any sense, he will have retreated to there."
"I hope so," Jane said, heading back to the others.
Craven's words about looking after their own had struck a chord with Jane. Although most of her friends were here, Robert was not. He was out there somewhere, and if what he had said earlier was true, he could have turned into a Werelupe.
As if on cue, one of the windows to the lobby smashed as a figure tumbled inwards, all fur and claws. The Werelupe stood up, growling.
"Robert!?" Jane gasped, jumping back instinctively.
The Werelupe smiled, "Jane! It's good to see you are well!"
"What!?" Jane gasped again, amazed at the sight of a talking Werelupe.
"Is Frommholtz here?" he asked. "He perfected a potion to give me control over my Werelupe form. We were hunting for the people who did this to me when those creatures attacked."
Frommholtz cleared his throat from the shadows.
"I feel I should come clean," he said, receiving a glare from Craven. "I was not entirely honest with you. The person we were looking for, they were not the one who did this to you, but rather the person that has unleashed the mutating virus on the rest of the city. It was stolen from me a few days ago, and I had been hoping to recover it before its release."
"You created this virus?" Jane said in an accusing tone.
"For good," Frommholtz stressed. "I had intended to modify it so that it would remove the negative aspects of our curse. The version that was stolen unfortunately mixes these elements. The strength and reflexes of Werelupes, the hunger of Vampires for blood, the Zombie's innate resistance to harm, and the red glow of a ghost's eyes, all from the virus."
"If they didn't make me transform into a Werelupe, then who did?" Robert asked.
Frommholtz looked to the floor.
"You!?" Robert exploded, bounding forwards and grabbing the vampire by the scruff of the neck.
"We needed to track the thief quickly, and Werelupes have unparalleled senses," Frommholtz explained. "As it happened, it was a full moon – the answer was logical."
"Logical!?" Robert growled. "I could have hurt people! You let me transform in the middle of the city!"
"Robert!" Jane shouted, rushing over. "What he did was horrible, but we need him alive. Both to turn you back, and to stop these creatures."
Robert relented, letting Frommholtz fall to the floor. The Werelupe turned away.
"Do you have a cure?" Jane asked.
"For him? Yes, I have it with me," Frommholtz said, nursing his neck. "For the virus effecting the rest of the city? No. I was going to head back to my lab once I learned the virus had been released, but then the creatures attacked and Robert ordered us here."
"But if you were back in your lab, you could make it?" Jane pressed.
"Yes, fairly easily. The base cure is already made, I would just need time to synthesise it – I wouldn't even need my lab to do that. The base cure is all I need."
"Good, that makes things easier," Jane said, helping him upright. "Do you have any more of the potion that transformed Robert?"
"Of course, why?"
Jane smiled. "You're going to make yourself an army."
To be continued...