Bitter 31

Britta came hurtling around the corner to find the street paved with corpses. It was like some apocalyptic movie, although the large number of zombies made that kind of unavoidable. But even beyond that, the bodies lying everywhere made it less of a fairy story fantasy land and more of a horror show.

The thought of trying to kill something else wasn’t very appealing. Britta stood by the entrance to the alley and just watched as the other players ran around braining the few zombie survivors.

The zombies clearly knew what was up and were trying to run away. Unfortunately for them, zombies aren’t built for a quick getaway. As they limped away from the fight, they were quickly chased down and smashed to pulp.

Three players had one poor zombie surrounded and were slowly knocking limbs off it. Was this really a healthy way to play a game? The players were all way better equipped and at a much higher level than the zombies. They probably wouldn’t even get much XP from the fight. It was obviously an event meant for players at Britta’s sort of level, but new players were probably quite rare. Most people had been playing for weeks or months or maybe longer and had no trouble dealing with a few hundred zombies. Plus, they had abilities that actually worked.

At least once they were all dead Britta would be able to log out. The zombie being toyed with appeared to be the last one and it was on its last leg, literally.

It finally stopped moving and everyone casually stood around chatting like they’d just had a game of football in the park. The fact they were drenched in blood and offal, surrounded by the bodies of the dead undead, didn’t seem to bother them.

Britta opened her status screen and tried to logout again. It was past 4 AM and she was tired.

You cannot log out during combat.

She wasn’t in combat. Was there a zombie left alive somewhere preventing the event from ending? She had no intention of digging under the mound of corpses to find it. She pressed the Exit button again and again, but got the same message.

She walked over to where Diana was standing to ask if there was a way to do a forced exit, but as soon as she started speaking, Diana raised her hand and then stuck up one finger.

Wait? Wait for what?

A few seconds later she got her answer. The heap of dead zombies began to move.

At first it looked like something underneath was trying to get out, but there was nothing underneath. It was the pile itself that was moving and growing. The bodies were sticking together and forming a larger creature.

It slowly uncurled and stood up, a giant zombie with a head and arms made of zombies squished into shape like modelling clay.

Everyone was standing around watching the transformation. Britta couldn’t understand why they didn’t attack it while it was still busy getting to its feet. Surely it would be at its most vulnerable then. Perhaps there was something preventing them, or maybe they just considered it rude to interrupt. Having seen how some of them had treated the zombies, she doubted the latter.

The giant zombie looked around with empty eye sockets and moaned loudly. This was some kind of signal because everyone, including a whooping Diana, attacked.

Britta stayed where she was. There was no point her trying to join in, she’d only be in the way and get herself killed. The others had things well in hand and seemed to be working together like they’d done all this before, which they probably had. Being left out was nothing new.

The players had switched their weapons for much flashier ones. Some of them even glowed. Magic? It wouldn’t be a surprise. Britta looked at the branch in her hand. Really, what was the point of a world with such a huge difference in what people could do? If she wanted a world that was massively unfair, she could have just stayed home.

The giant had a number of different attacks—throwing zombie corpses as missiles, stamping on its opponents, swiping them with its long arms—all of which were clearly telegraphed in advance so everyone could get out of the way. It really wasn’t a fair fight.

The giant had its back to her and all the players were in front of it, leaving Britta to watch with no danger of getting involved. She yawned.

With no one even aware of her existence, she could, if she wanted, sneak up behind the giant and stab it in the back of its foot. It wouldn’t kill it, or even it hurt it very much, but it might give her a share of the experience points when the thing finally died.

She looked at her XP bar. Killing the zombie had pushed it from almost completely empty to about a quarter full. A chunk of XP from the Big Unfriendly Giant might get her to level three, and that would open up the mount quest for her. She could see a lot more of the world on horseback, and hopefully it would be easier to avoid fights.

She slowly sneaked forward. As expected, nobody paid her the slightest attention. Crouched behind a water trough outside a store selling sacks of something (the window was full of them) she opened her inventory. She put the branch in one slot—maybe it would come in useful at some point—and took out her dagger. Run up behind the giant, a quick poke in the heel, then run away.

She tiptoed forward.

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