Nick swears in the game a whole lot. I've toned it down for this fic, but there is still swearing. Anyway, as long as that doesn't upset you, please enjoy!
As I sit here in what will very likely be my coffin, I realize that perhaps I could have made smarter choices in life. Namely, choices that didn't take me to Savannah, Georgia. I also realize that I'm tracing the events that led me to come here, and quite honestly, there was no way I could have seen this coming. So really, there's no point in thinking about it. But here I am, in an elevator, thinking about it anyway. Once more, from the top.
My ma told me something the day I turned eighteen - right before she threw all my stuff into a box and kicked me out of the house. She told me the world is full of idiots, and since God put them there, it was a sin not to take advantage of them. Or something like that. I was eighteen and pissed that she was evicting me when she knew damn well I had nowhere to go, so I wasn't listening too carefully.
But I tell you what, it's true.
Maybe not the sin part. In fact, I think lots of people frown on con artists (I've always preferred the term 'opportunist' for myself). But the point is, I knew how to get money when I needed it, and I knew how not to get caught when I amassed my bank statements in...ah...less than legal ways.
Oh, hell, I forgot to introduce myself, didn't I? Sorry, it's kind of a habit - not even a month ago, it was better when people didn't know my name. Well, it's Nicholas...Nick's what most people call me. Some people have tried to get away with 'Nicky'. Some people also have knees that don't work quite right any more.
Now, where was I? Oh, yeah. Illegal fortunes.
Take, for example, the time I found myself in Vegas without a penny to my name. My last forty had just gone in the tank of my car, and I was scouring the sidewalk for quarters so I could afford some Del Taco for lunch. It was a dark time in my young adult life...until I came across the back-alley gambling that the city doesn't want you to know about. It's dangerous, since ninety percent of the crimes in Vegas happen because of their underground society, but I needed money and casinos won't take vouchers for work or your last set of clean clothes or...well, it doesn't matter what else I risked, because I succeeded. I weeded out the overconfident bosses and bled them dry.
You know, that was probably when ma's advice really hit me. Why make your fortune when you can make someone else's? And that's also when all that other useless advice I heard over my life started coming back to me and becoming not-so-useless. Teachers always tell you to do your research, right? Do it. It's good to know which areas are suffering bouts of stupidity, or where the people are truly desperate for money. You're more likely to walk away rich from those areas. Police say you should be nice to them and other authority figures. They're not lying. You want a cop on your side if something goes horribly wrong. Scientists insist that you need to constantly rework your theories, because no formula is perfect? Damn right, they're not. You need a new tactic to pull the wool over people's eyes when the one you're currently using gets old.
I guess that's why I made my way to Georgia. A recent screw-up in the lottery department had left a bunch of people in this tiny little town called Savannah with just a little more money than they could spend wisely...and since people will do anything for easy money, poker riverboats were filling up faster than ever. It seemed too easy. Too good to be true.
So of course, it was.
I was booking my way onto one of those gambling cruises, already feeling pretty pleased with myself, when all hell broke loose. And it broke loose so fast, I didn't have much time to respond.
This disease...well, they called it a disease, anyway...just hit the town like a freaking meteor. BAM! Just like that, everyone except a tiny handful was infected. And this was no cute little strain of the flu - chicken soup and bedrest weren't doing shit for people. I could actually watch this virus worsen over the course of several days. People's skin went gray and spongy, they started puking up blood, getting really aggressive...then the riots and looting started, and in a matter of a week and a half, everyone in this tiny, pathetic flyspeck down I'd hunkered down in had gone nuts. I grabbed myself a white suit from a wrecked store (the infected psychos had torn my clothes, and I didn't want to look shabby when I escaped), and more or less stayed glued to a radio while I waited for news. Why a radio? Because I'm no idiot. As soon as they announced that escape helicopters were arriving, I hauled my ass to the nearest evacuation spot. But by that point, the universe was determined to screw me over.
You say that's karma, or divine judgement, or any crap like that, and I will floor you. And with all these zombie-things around, you do NOT want to get floored. They'll eat you awake or unconscious, dead or alive. I've seen it happen.
Eh, getting sidetracked. Long story short, the helicopters took off without me. Me, and these three people I ran into on my way to the hotel where the evacuation was supposed to be. We watched the freaking helicopters take off, some of them empty except for their pilot. There was no excuse for it - they just left me. Us. However many people you want to include in the equation, the sons of bitches just left us for dead.
And I suppose that's how I got in this elevator, slowly choking on smoke as our little metal box of death slowly drops us deeper into the very fire that stopped us from using the stairs. Because I got cocky and apparently, we weren't worth saving. So I do my best to learn their names, because at least for a little while, I'll be hanging around them. We're safer in a group.
There's a big black guy - he says we can call him Coach. The guy knows his way around a chocolate bar, I'll tell you that. But he also knows his way around a rifle, which makes him valuable. There's infected people with all kinds of creepy issues, and some of them definitely need to be disposed of at a distance.
Then we've got some girl with an attitude, Rochelle. She's a decent shot, though it's as plain as the birthmark on my ass that she's never handled a gun before today. Maybe it's natural talent? I don't really care, so long as she can keep the sick people at a distance. A long distance.
Finally, our little group is keeping the company of this stringy redneck kid named Ellis. I don't know if his mom dropped him on his head or something, but he seems to think this whole thing is fun. And he won't shut up about his friend...Kevin, or Kyle, or something. I try to tune him out whenever he starts a sentence with 'Did I ever tell you about the time...'
Once we get out of this elevator, we're heading to the mall - chances are good that there'll be other survivors there. But then, that's assuming we make it there. The elevator just jammed, and I can hear something giggling outside. Not normal giggling, and that can't be good.
Still...this deathtrap has got me thinking. All I've done my whole life is move from place to place, scalping the people stupid enough to lower their heads - metaphorically, of course. If I do survive, maybe I should do something different with my life.
Something that involves less travel.