The zombie approached, slowly. Britta had prepared herself for a fraught battle, and then had to wait. There was no hurrying a zombie attack.
She checked her weapon, if it could be called that. The top part still hung off the end by a sliver. She reached up and pulled it off, leaving a point. Perhaps if she hit the zombie in its one good eye, it would be blind. She shuddered at the thought of the bursting eyeball.
Would she lose all the stuff in her inventory if she died? Perhaps if she hid it in the alley it would still be there when she came back. She had the time. She decided to gamble on the inventory stuff being safe. She opened it up and put her dagger in there, too. That way the only thing she’d lose would be the branch.
There was also the chance she might be able to dodge and get past the zombie. She was small enough to dive between its legs. She took a deep breath, held up the branch like a baseball bat, and prepared to charge.
The zombie’s right leg went spinning off to the side where it bounced off the alley wall and landed behind a barrel. The zombie looked confused, it’s groan sounding more like, “Huh?”
With only one leg, it tipped forward and crashed to the ground. Behind it stood Diana with her large club held high to one side like she’d just hit a golf ball.
“Thought you might need some help,” she said. Her face was splattered with black liquid. No, dark red… it was blood.
“Oh, er, yes,” said Britta. “Thanks.”
The zombie raised its head, made a complaining sound, and then tried to claw its way closer to Britta. Diana’s boot landed on the zombie’s back, pinning it in place.
“You want to do the honours?” she said.
Britta wasn’t sure what she meant at first, but when Diana’s glanced at Britta’s hand, she realised she was being offered the chance to finish the zombie off.
Even though she knew this was a game and the zombie didn’t really exist, it still felt wrong. When she killed her mugger, it had been instinctual and an act of desperation. And that had still felt awful. But this was a game. It wasn’t real. It did look very real, but it wasn’t.
“Sometimes they drop prizes when you kill them,” said Diana. She gave Britta a cheeky wink, that she found disturbing.
Britta looked down at the zombie flailing it’s arms like it was trying to swim towards her. Then is stopped and shuddered, its whole body flickering. It didn’t look so real now. More like bad photoshop.
“Damn thing’s glitching.” Diana raised her foot and banged it back down again. The zombie returned to its previous, pointless activity. “There you go, all better.
A game. Not real. Britta took the branch in both hands and raised it over her head.
Smashing the zombie’s head with her low strength would take forever, so she aimed the sharp point at the top of the bald and scabby crown and impaled it as hard as she could.
There was a pop like she’d burst a balloon and something splashed her face. Her eyes had been shut and when she opened them, the zombie’s brains covered the back of its head.
Britta felt sick. She took a deep breath and held it down. She didn’t want to wake up back in the pod covered with puke. This game was more like a murder simulator than adventure funtime. With all the different settings available, there had to be a way to turn down the gore and make it more PG.
“Good shot,” said Diana. “First kill?”
There had been the mugger but Britta didn’t really want to talk about it. “Yes.”
“Congrats.” She looked around her feet. “No drop, they tend not to once they glitch out like that. Never mind. You get better rewards the more kills you get. Top scorers by the time the event ends get the really cool prizes.”
“How many kills have you got?”
“Eighty-six. Better get back to it if I want to get in the top three.” She turned and ran off, whooping as she went.
Eighty-six? The woman was a serial killer.
There was obviously no chance of Britta getting a high score, she knew that. Maybe there was a special prize for coming last. She looked down at the zombie at her feet. She thought about searching it for items, but its brains were still oozing out of the back of its head. She grabbed the end of the stick still nailed into the zombie’s skull, turned her head away, and pulled. There was a sickening gurgle that felt biologically inaccurate but had probably taken the sound designers days to get just right.
Britta avoided looking down and hurried out of the alley which was quickly becoming her least favourite place in New Town.