Is this how it ends? Finally? Max was looking out on the barren, almost lifeless world stretched out before him. To the east was a massive ocean, in his world it would be the Atlantic, here, well, Who really knows?
Scanning the horizon, he looked for any sign of his companions, new, old, good or bad. No Sentry even. No Gus. No Stewart. Even his son, Nick, was nowhere to be seen.
“I’m right here!” He shouted into the strong, salt laced wind. The worlds carried overland and disappeared with no effect that he could tell. There had been a portal here this morning. Now, there was nothing. No way back. Maybe the others made it through?
Max shook his head, he knew there was no way anyone had gotten past him, friend or foe. Thinking of foes, Where are they?
Their errand had been a foolish quest, something mythical and mystical, chasing magic in a world so fraught with science that the difference between the two could no longer be discerned. They had come into this other world through a gateway ripped open by new age weapons, one of which Max himself had delivered to kill the man who had started the zombie apocalypse. As if that would have helped anything! He saw things much more clearly now; he hadn’t been on a mission to save anyone, only a mission to punish the person responsible for destroying his world. A lot of good that ended up doing us too. I lost the last few things I had left; my son, my daughter, my friends.
Of course, other people had it worse and some small few had it better, call them the new ‘one percent’, if you would. Humans who had killed zombies running around like super heroes, zombies who devoured humans playing the part of supervillains. Except no one knew or played their part very well. We had noble zombies and depraved humans with super powers. At least I came here on the side of the angels. Where the hell is Ruben? Of all of us I would have thought he would make it to the end.
This world, parallel to Max’s own, had suffered the apocalypse sooner than his had. How much sooner, no one really knew; there was no one to ask about it. Their best guesses varied from two to five years before. One year, five years? What difference does it make? The world had died, leaving only a few hundred thousand zombies fighting over a few thousand humans.
Three other groups had gone into this world before their expedition. A few other people may have blundered through as well, but it was very unlikely as on Max’s side the portal had been surrounded by close to a hundred thousand zombies ringing the void and absorbing a sort of energy from it, a trickle of the life force they could garner from eating a living human true, but it was constant and it was risk free. It seemed even the dead wanted to live as safely as possible.
The first main expedition had gone in to try and reason with the powers that existed to come to some sort of compromise to find a solution to the ‘zombie problem’, only one person came back from that. Gus. He hadn’t come back in any condition to say what had happened on the other side and he wasn’t much use for the follow up missions sent in to recover the first one either. The portal zombies were obliging in letting the human, zombie groups pass through their ranks. They had turned into some sort of benevolent hippies, with a sense of duty to jump on any zed from the other side that tried to come through. None had, at least not until recently and this was because of Thomas Sentry. The man who had started it all in a quest for immortality. He became zombie number one, head honcho, tip of the hierarchy, the Ayatollah of rocknrolla. Zombies were a pyramid scheme of the greatest order. Each zed further up the rank could exert some control over those beneath them.
Sentry wasn’t the first zombie, but from what Max knew the first one was put down before after Sentry was infected, leaving him in charge. Sentry never really told the same creation story twice, now I guess I’ll never get it.
When the portal was created, Sentry, Max and Stewart were all caught up in the blast and became, as Stewart liked to say, “One hundred percent body impaired.” They didn’t cease to exist and none of them knew why. Sentry was angry for about three minutes, that’s about how long it took for something on the other side to notice the nice new hole their reality and try to get through it to feast. Sentry had to step up, of the three of them, he was the most powerful. He didn’t win the fight by himself, and the three of them barely won it at all. A brief jaunt into the other world let them know that the single foe they had faced, the one that was just close by when the rift in reality was torn open, was one of the weakest of those that remained on the other side. The trio quickly figured out that they could not fight these other entities, but they could, with Sentry’s power, hide the gate from them. He had remained vigilant on the other side for the last eight years, it was a full-time job without break and he relied on Max and Stewart to help him, for the most part this meant that they had to stay close and loan him their power to keep broadcasting the hole didn’t exist.