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Rated: E · Short Story · Action/Adventure · #2277948
One day. Just survive one more day. Survive and escape their wretched games…
Sole Survivor Standing


Plumes of smoke and dust claw at the bullet-riddled heavens, ascending from flattened ruins still smouldering in the midst of deserted high-rise towers. Harbingers of death defecate from steel bowels upon the graveyard of the unburied below. Blood drenched clouds pool on the horizon as darkness creeps over the world’s scarlet stains. The twilight signals a respite… If only for the frigid night — until tomorrow’s sun-rise recommences the fall of the sons of men.
Let the darkness shield you as you crawl out from the overflowing cesspit of death filled bunkers. Wade through the sea of rubble, glass and torn flesh under your swollen, dirt-caked feet. Lift up your eyes and behold the shell of civilisation encased by graffiti draped rubble and toppled walls. Can you taste the despair on your cracked and blistered lips, as you stare up at the laughing Constellations casting their bets on your soul. One day. Just survive one more day. Survive and escape their wretched games…


A sudden jerk from the racing steel tube wrenches bloodshot eyes from the phone screen. From beneath his worn out safety helmet, Joshua stares into the faceless throng surrounding him. The sweat and fatigue from work mingles with the sweltering, rush hour, heat, as grimy overalls cling to a 5”7” compact frame. Taxi fare, or stranger still one’s own vehicle, was inconceivable on this labourer’s salary. He just has to endure it. The arteries of the city are always choked like this, anyway. His eyes returns briefly to his phone as he bookmarks the last page he read. “Sole Survivor Standing”, the newest addition to his web novel collection. He doesn’t understand why, but he is strangely drawn to books like these. What was the book he had just finished the day before? Ah, yes, “How to Survive in a Ruined World”…
Phone secured in his pants pocket, Joshua stands as he waits for the subway bell to sound. The station was like the lungs of the city, breathing pedestrians in and out each time it opened its steel plated jaws. One hand hangs on the overhead ring, while the other clutches his yellow and black toolbox. His body sways back and forth as the subway lurches forward, gripping the rails with each precarious turn as it burrowed through the maze of underground tunnels. He was now one final subway stop, then a bus ride, away from his apartment. The monotone announcement signals an approaching stop. He readies himself to disembark, inching closer to the doorway as the subway grinds to a halt. The mob all turn towards the doors, their lifeless bodies reinvigorated by the screeching wheels and final rattle that their numbed soul had grown accustomed to, as the arteries deliver a fresh wave.
As he was about to move, without warning an alarm blares long and hard, drowning the monotone announcement as a shrill scream swallows the cabin. Tools scatter indiscriminately as his construction kit smashes into the cold floor. Hands clutching his ringing ears, he collapses to one knee, his face distorted in pain. With teeth gnashing, he tries desperately to take stock of his surroundings. All around him commuters hug the floor or hunch over in their seats. Not a man was standing as fresh screams escaped from their lips.
The taste of hell ended as suddenly as it began, replaced by sobbing and enraged shouts. Some helpless victims were reborn into an angry mob, pounding the subway doors that had yet to open with their fists or trying to shatter the glass windows. Others sought to extend aid to those still traumatised. Kids cried uncontrollably while others nursed their bleeding ears. Joshua’s eyes scanned the floor desperately, retrieving his tools as he searched for the missing piece. There, under the door seat, lay the card he was looking for, pinned down by a hammer that had fallen earlier. He dives across the floor, crashing into dazed commuters unapologetically, as his hand reaches for the card. Its glossy front caressed his chest as he held the picture of his only daughter to his heart.
‘Aren’t humans a strange bunch.’
The reunion with the photo is cut short as a cold voice and silence descends upon the clamouring commuters. All heads swerve to face the source of the sudden strange voice that rose above their futile arguing. At the front of the cabin — hovering in mid air, just under the subway roof — was a brick-red, podgy creature staring back at them. A heaviness descended each time it opened its thin lips.
‘Now that I’ve gotten your attention, allow me to introduce myself. I am Psyhopomp, but everyone calls me Pompy. I will be your guide for this level. We’re sure to be meeting often, if you survive that is. Now, how about a quest to warm things up?’
With a wave of his webbed hands, two blue holographic windows each appeared before the dumbfounded faces, still willing themselves to wake up from their dreams. Joshua stared at the screen as his brows creased. His gaze shifted from the screen to the creature that had a wide grin plastered on its face. Yet, after the initial shock had subsided, he was strangely calm. With the photo secured, he then felt for the phone in his overall pocket with one hand, and clenched the hammer in the next as he inched his way away from the front and headed to the back of the cabin. Curses and insults spewed from the commuters lips as they rushed at the creature, embolden by their own numbers of perhaps 80-1.
Joshua ignored them, moving against the crowd he pushed his way past them, his back turned away from the creature. Not everyone was bold enough to challenge the thing. Some quaked in their seats still staring at the holographic window doubting all semblance of reality before them. It was a type of window Joshua had grown used to reading the night before, though this was his first time seeing it in real life.

Joshua Lector

Level — 1
Health — 1200/1200
Strength 15; Dexterity 20; Speed 10; Intelligence 5
Inherent Skills: Reader lvl 3

Job: None
Titles: None
Active Skills: None
Passive Skills: None

Survive in the Subway Cabin

Difficulty — F

You are trapped in a Subway Cabin and cannot escape.
Survive the time limit to advance.
You can use anything within the cabin at your disposal.

Time Limit — 2 hrs

— 100 experience points (xp)
— 300 survival coins
— Permission to leave the subway and move on to the next level

Failure = Death

Upon reaching the cabin’s back door, he peers through the tinted window to the second cabin behind it. He could make out the outline of humans and a creature just like the one in his, hovering above them. The same scene was playing out in each railway cabin. About 1hr 50 mins were left. He’ll have 20 more minutes before the first wave, then a 2nd and 3rd waves in 30 minutes intervals thereafter, if he remembers correctly. The sudden appearance of the first wave slaughtered many then, but in this reality he’d be ready. He sets his watch timer and turns his gaze back to those trapped in the cabin with him. He needs allies. At least three tankers if they were to survive against the 2nd wave of the land monsters. Magicians for the aerial assault for the final wave. Of course Healers so they actually stay alive throughout. DPS attackers like him could fend off the first wave alone though who would want to do that? Healers were rare so he had to find one quickly. He clenches the hammer tighter as his gaze scans across the room.
Though no one would have awaken yet, the markers are still there. The muscle heads shout in vain at Pompy up front, tossing debris at the creature who avoids it playfully. For now they were side characters. Yet, he’s not the only one beginning to make their move. His eyes rests on a lanky young man staring straight at him. He didn’t notice but the young man had been staring at him ever since the creature first appeared. Alighting from the centre seat, the man slowly approaches him, his hands buried in his jacket pocket. He lowers his head to face Joshua at least 1 feet and a half below, as he whispers close to his ear,
‘Do you know how to escape from here?’
Joshua face tenses briefly as he averts his gaze to the man’s hands, still hidden.
‘You don’t have to answer. I know you do. I’ve been watching you. Of all the idiots gathered here you’re the most calm. Even your movements are unusual.’
He lifts his head and smirks at the silent Joshua.
‘Don’t worry. I won’t do anything that harms my interests. After all, we need each other don’t we? Name’s Ruse. Int. 35. Orator.’
With that, Ruse turns his gaze to the cabin as he lifts his baritone voice. ‘Everyone! Listen up! I think I know how to escape!’
At the mention of the word ‘escape’ all those that were ignoring him suddenly tuned their ears. Even the muscles heads up front redirected their attention. Pompy too, seemed strangely excited. All eyes turned on him as he continued,
‘My fellow commuters, how long are you going to fight in vain against that thing or wallow in self pity waiting for our deaths? We may not know what is going on and why this is happening. But what we do know, is that we need to survive, and to survive we need each other!’
Ruse pauses, as he slowly turns his head to stare into the eyes of his attentive listeners gathering around him. They hang on his every word as the seed of hope is sown. All, except Joshua, who seems pained rather than relieved. Ruse. The future Sergeant Ruse, the mastermind strategist behind the northern assault on the 9th floor. It isn’t a bad idea to become acquainted with from now. He is sure to survive with his wits. Still, Joshua hesitates. He doesn’t know what Ruse would do after the 10th floor. He hasn’t read that far. Besides, if Ruse was here that only meant one thing, she was in another cabin on this train… Ruse's voice interrupts his thoughts as he continues solemnly.
‘I know many of you right now are questioning reality. Many hope this is just a dream. I, too, long for this bizarre nightmare to end. But, we cannot deny reality any longer. We need information. We need to organise what we do know. This… this quest states we have to survive 2hrs. Almost 20 mins has already past, we’re close to a quarter of the way through. But, as I’m sure some of you have guessed, if it was as easy as waiting it out, there wouldn’t be the risk to die from failure would there?’
As silence descends, all eyes turn to the giggling creature for answers.
‘What do you say, Pompy? Why don’t you give us good humans a hint?’
Scandalous laughter bursts from the plump creature as its webbed hands clasps his stomach in a mid air summersault. Ruse’s faces hardens at the excessive response, while Joshua rolls his eyes. It’s no use negotiating with those things. Or so he thought. As he’s about to turn away the creature’s voice grips him.
‘I like you, funny human. They, like you to. So much so that they’re urging me to give a special reward… but nothing’s free you see.’
‘I thank Pompy for such favour…’
‘You can quit the antics. Let’s see if it helps save you lot. Who knows, maybe at least half may survive this time.’
‘Half?’ Comes the crowd’s exclamations as their eyes sway from Ruse to Pompy to Ruse again. With a wave of its hand, the quest window ripples revealing the newest update.

Survive in the Subway Cabin

Difficulty — E

You are trapped in a Subway Cabin and cannot escape. Due to the negotiation skills of your comrade, you can avoid the second wave of attacks if one member solo defeats the first wave.
Survive in the time limit to advance.
You can use anything within the cabin at your disposal.

Time Limit — 2 hrs
Time to first wave — 5 mins

— 100 experience points (xp)
— 300 survival coins
— 100 bonus coins to the one who solo completes the first wave
— Permission to leave the subway and move on to the next level

Failure = Death

Joshua scans the quest contents in disbelief. So this route was possible to. But who will clear the first wave alone he wonders as he lifts his head to look at Ruse. Their eyes meet as Ruse smiles at him and gives him a ‘thumbs up’…

to be continued
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