Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Halloween II: Freaky Friday

Friday morning, Toby caught sight of Mikey - in non-zombie form - coming out of a Junior-level philosophy class. He stopped him and asked if he was feeling all right. Mikey, somewhat confused, said that he was fine. Toby pushed, providing some details, and Mikey muttered, "Stupid!", then quickly excused himself.

Zac, Toby, and Will dropped in on GlenMac, who was of course quite interested in the developments. GlenMac suggested perhaps catching Mikey when he was changing from "model student" to "zombie monster," in case there was some obvious trigger.

Zac attempted to visit the young woman in the hospital, but was turned away. He did learn that she was barely conscious. He also left a Zombie Manual with the front desk...

Meanwhile, Toby and Will headed to BZT to check in on Steve. After facing a few very high students, they made their way to Steve's room, and found him playing computer games. Mikey was under a pile of ratty blankets, snoring. Steve laughed. "Bro, he never gets up before noon. He must've been on quite the bender yesterday, right? I don't know how he's passing, like, any classes!"

Toby asked a few questions, but Steve's information wasn't terribly useful. They left, again passing the trio of stoned students, who attempted to pass off their bong as a fishbowl ("Dude, like, I think he bought it!").

During supper, the group caught sight of Mikey in the cafeteria, studying; Zac hopped on his motorcycle and followed him north, to some apartments. Mikey was greeted at the door by a young woman, and the two sat down to watch some Netflix together.

Oddly, Toby noticed that Mikey was wearing different clothes. After classes, he was wearing a long-sleeved shirt; in bed, the one arm dangling out was wearing a T-shirt; in the cafeteria, he was wearing the same long-sleeved shirt. He hypothesized that one of them was not actually Mikey, but a doppelganger of some sort, bent on evil.

Returning to campus, Zac caught sight of flashing lights in front of Tyler Hall. Two police cars and a paramedic were parked out front; the police were just wrapping up. It seems someone dressed as a Zombie bit one another student! As Toby and Will walked up, Zac convinced the bitten student that his assailant was, in fact, a zombie, and if he didn't get immediate medical attention, he would likely turn into a zombie himself. The student, already frazzled, believed every word, and quickly convinced his roommate to drive him to the hospital.

Walking back to their dorm, Toby caught sight of Zombie Mikey! He shouted, and the three charged after him, Zac in the lead. They chased him around the washeteria, then came up short when he stopped and took a swing at Zac. Zac hauled his shotgun out of his backpack (laws be damned, there's a zombie loose!), and fired, putting some shot into the zombie's leg. Toby and Will tried to get a few punches in, but were mostly ineffective; even Zac's shotgun seemed to only scratch the creature. Zombie Mikey, meanwhile, landed a few heavy hits on Zac, staggering him. Realizing the fight was not going his way, Zombie Mikey dashed for the fence. Toby was right behind him, and in an impressive leap cleared the fence. Unfortunately, the zombie crashed headlong into the fence, and never made it over...

Toby managed to leap back over the fence, trying to head off the creature, as Zac took aim with his very last shell. He fired, and the shot tore through the zombie's leg. The creature stared down at the stump, then tilted over, landing facedown on the ground.

At that very moment, UPD rounded the building, mace and tasers at the ready. Someone heard the gunfire, and eventually realized it might not be fireworks. The three were taken in for questioning, and Zombie Mikey was quickly rushed to the hospital.

The three were released after sunup the next morning. Tired (and in Zac's case, quite sore), they headed back to their dorm. Toby, however, caught sight of... Mikey? He quickly caught up with the man. "Hey! Did you hear what happened last night? Someone got shot on campus!"

Mikey seemed nonplussed. "Oh, er... how terrible?"

Toby pressed, working more details in, and eventually telling him that the person looked a lot like he did. Mikey blinked. "Really? Just like me?"

After a little intimidation, Mikey broke down. Or rather... Richard broke down. It seems Mikey had a twin brother!

Richard explained that Mikey got a scholarship to come to school, but wasted his time partying, rather than studying. Richard, always passed over, started going to his classes for him, and even changed his class list. He was in the process of moving all Mikey's info into his own name, essentially pushing Mikey out of school to usurp his scholarship. However, as little as he liked his brother, he realized that something like this needed family. Sighing, he asked if Toby and Will would accompany him to the hospital, so he could check in on Mikey.

Though there was an officer posted at the door, Richard and the others were allowed in to see him. Mikey was in bed, his face and arms wrapped with bandages were the doctors had surgically removed the makeup. Somehow, it has begun to bond with his flesh. Under the sheets, it was obvious that his left leg ended just below the knee.

Richard walked over to his brother, who painfully opened his eyes. "Bro?"

Richard nodded. "Yes, Mikey. It's me. Man... what did you get yourself into this time?"

He reached out a hand, placing it on Mikey's shoulder, then leaned down to give his brother a hug. As he did so, Will and Toby could feel a charge growing in the room, like static buildup. A wind from nowhere blew past them into the hall. Before their eyes, they watched as Mikey's arms healed! They stared as Mikey's leg suddenly... grew back! For a moment, Mikey and Richard were surrounded by a faint blue glow, and the mystical energy seemed to fill the room, then all at once, it was gone.

Toby stepped outside, motioning for Will to join him. They paused in the hallway for a moment, before heading outside. At the end of the hall, they heard a snippet of conversation: "Just like that! One moment she's moaning and feverish, the next, poof, perfectly fine."

GlenMac, of course, had a few theories; perhaps Mikey had some sort of curse placed on him, forcing him to make amends with his brother; or maybe it was Richard that was cursed. Or, for that matter, maybe the skull really was the root of it all. A zombie certainly could consume things, but what would have healed the two who had gotten bitten? A broken ritual? Perhaps, or perhaps something more. He suggested handing the skull over to Dr. Wells, a physics professor, to study.

Up until this point, things have been... a little slow. Details and clues are out there, but they don't make sense on their own. After this point, though, things are going to start ramping up. This is a mystery, after all... I can't give it all away at once.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Halloween Hijinks

Wednesday, Oct. 31

Feeling worn out after finals, the gang met up at the annual Greek Street Halloween Party, an all-out attempt by the various greek societies along Green Street to attract new pledges and be recognized as obviously superior party-throwers.

Prior to the arrival of the group, one frat got into some Halloween trouble...

Though the houses vary in quality, one of the worst houses is Beta Zeta Theta, dedicated to athletics and the betterment of physical skill - or in the case of most of those living there, the quickest way to get expelled.

Mikey Oldsen and his buddy, Steve Greeno, went looking for Halloween decorations at a resale store. They found a bunch of old junk, plus an old skull in a glass box. Steve was a little freaked out by it, but Mikey had a brilliant idea, and decided to use it to play a prank on a fellow BTZ member. Halloween night, the two decorated a table in the backyard with the plastic bones, spiders, occult symbols, and the skull. They claimed they had discovered a "magic ritual" that would allow them to transfer the knowledge of a book into their very minds. Wary but willing members of BZT joined them, and while Steve spouted his magic incantations, Mikey pretended to drink himself under the table. At the conclusion of the ritual, Steve shattered the skull-box on the ground next to Mikey, who suddenly "rose" from the ground, having applied some hasty (though believable) zombie makeup, and began wandering around, moaning, "Bros..." Their buddies freaked out, and a good time was had by all. Zombie-Mikey then collapsed for real, and his laughing buddies carried him to the frat-house couch for him to sleep off his booze.

Meanwhile, the group arrived. Alistair was dressed as William Wallace (the movie version, with a kilt); Michele Kuhns, Alistair's new girlfriend, was dressed as Bible Girl, the sidekick of the cheesy 90s "superhero" Bible Man, and Toby was dressed as Polycarp (not, you're thinking Magicarp, I mean Polycarp). Will arrived later, dressed as a generic college student.

A few minutes later, the group heard a scream, and rushed to figure out what was going on. They found a young woman holding her arm; they probed the gathered crowd for answers, and eventually asked the girl outright what had happened. Someone in zombie makeup had jumped out from a bush and bit her arm! A thorough investigation of the bush in question resulted in a few footprints and a shred of what turned out to be rubber zombie-skin from a mask.

Michele demanded to know why Alistair was snooping in a bush, and if there was another girl involved. Alistair managed to talk his way out... this time.

Scouring the street for more information, the party found Steve, sitting on the side of the road and cradling his arm, muttering, "What did I do? What did I do?"

He spilled the whole story of his buddy Mikey, adding that Mikey had attacked him. He lead the group back to the table. After a cursory glance, the party left in search of Mikey again. This time, they found him, prowling in the bushes. Toby, eager to bring down the menace, hefted the nine-iron he found in a golf bag, and took a swing at the zombie from behind. While it connected, it didn't do much damage. Alistair fired a rock from his slingshot, and Michele planted herself between Alistair and Mikey, taking her role of the shield-toting Bible Girl seriously. Will jogged over to Toby's side, attempting to fend off any blows his friend might take.

Mikey turned and took a swing at Toby; Toby swung back. At one point, Mikey managed to land a punch on Will, who moaned that he hit like a truck! Toby took a batter's stance and swung for the back fence. The golf club clipped Mikey's shoulder and glanced off the side of his head; Mikey dropped like a sack of potatoes.

Toby and Will hauled the unconscious Mikey to his frat house, where a grateful Steve pointed to a well-used sofa. Congratulating themselves on a job well done, the party returned to the festivities.

Thursday, Nov. 1

The next day, Alistair caught sight of Mikey in the hallway, exiting an early Advanced Physics class. He caught up and asked how he was feeling; Mikey seemed not to recognize him, though oddly, seemed none the worse for wear after his drinking and head wound. He didn't even have a bruise...

After classes, Alistair and Toby visited BZT again, and went through the junk used in the "ritual". While most of it was cheap dollar-store props, the skull on the ground seemed remarkably realistic. Toby carefully lifted it up with a plastic bag found under the table.

Alistair took it to GlenMac, who seemed very interested in the whole ordeal, but was unfortunately late to a long-running class, and couldn't help out. He suggested that it was unlikely the skull would injure on touch, as a plastic bag wouldn't protect from an airborne contagion or similar.

The group poked and probed the skull, attempting to uncover any secrets it may contain. The skull was hollowed out, and seemed to be covered in tiny holes, rendering it light as a feather. Toby, shining his phone flashlight into it, caught sight of some old writing; eventually, Alistair thought to grab a blacklight, and the text was revealed:

Mortuo homine comedit omnem animam viventem, mors venit cito. Cave! Mors venit!

Toby quickly ran it through Google Translate, and came up with the following text:

"When a wicked man hath devoured every living creature, death comes quickly. Beware! Death is coming!"

Ominous indeed! More research netted a match for the text.

In the 1700s, a group of monks lived on an island, north of England. One summer, monks bringing supplies to the island found the other monks entirely gone; nothing remained but a skeleton. Written on the ground was the warning, translated to: "bodies were consumed... death inside... I'm already dead..."

The monks, terrified, assumed that one of the monks had died, risen as an undead, and eaten the others, before falling again to death, leaving only his skeleton. They buried the bones, blessing them with holy water, and took the skull back to have it further blessed. The warning was written on the skull, and it moved from place to place, eventually being stored in a glass box, and kept in a collection in Longview.

All seemed to be going well, until that evening at supper. Will saw Sarah, the girl who had been bitten, and realized she didn't look too well - pale and shaky. Her friends were discussing taking her to the ER across the street, and eventually helper her up. Will, nudged by his friends, walked over and asked how she was doing. Her friends told him that she hadn't been feeling well, and they were going to driver her to the ER. Sarah looked up from the floor and stared at Will. She muttered, "Bros...", then her friends lead her away.

Across the street, Will caught sight of Mikey, again in his zombie makeup. He alerted the others, and they crossed the street. Mikey charged out of the trees; once again, Michele planter herself in front of her boyfriend, yelling, "Leave him alone! He's foreign!"

Without the aid of a set of golf clubs, Will and Toby decided to grapple Mikey, grabbing his arms and legs and hoisting him off the ground. Alistair tried to thump him with his slingshot, and even Michele joined in at one point, kicking him ineffectively. While Will and Toby managed to keep him restrained, he thrashed and kicked, once almost biting Will. After a minute of fighting, the campus police showed up. Alistair, thinking quickly, yelled something about ponding him; the officers asked them to put him down, and the moment Mikey's feet hit the ground, he bolted. The police asked a few questions, then left.

Thinking about it, those who had tried to fight Mikey realized his makeup seemed a lot more firmly attached this time... and he was tougher, too.

Did the skull turn Mikey into a real zombie? Why did he seem so normal during the day? What really happened on that island, long ago? Just how cracked is Michele, really? Will Mikey-Zombie return? Will Sarah be ok? Learn all this and more, assuming the group solves the mystery!