Bright lights and the cruel, metal door glared down at the young boy, taunting him mercilessly. His straitjacket was buckled up tightly, a cloth prison, and his bitemask was secured over his face. Mask wearing doctors hovered over him, sticking him in the side with long, painful needles. He fought and screamed, but no one seemed to care.
"Leave Darius alone!!!" He cried loudly. He was back in that detestable asylum.
"Darius needs to behave." They said to him. "Darius will be put to sleep if he doesn't." They threatened. These horrible people had a dark, monotone voice that sounded like a recorded message. Darius kept fighting and he screamed so loud, tears ran down his face.
"Help me, Friend!" He begged aloud, despreate for saving.
"Darius has no friends. Darius is all alone." The doctors said in their distorted unison. The boy struggled against their iron grip, but it was futile. "Darius has always been here." They mocked him. He shouted again, but this time, he heard another yell. It was faint, but he would swear it was real.
Is this real? He heard a voice whisper. Doubt played maliciously on his mind, toying with his sense of reality as he was cradled in the arms of despair.
"No... No... No..." Darius shook his head vigorously. He didn't want this to be real. It couldn't be real.
"You've been dreaming, Darius." The doctors informed. Dreams meant needles in his head again.
"Darius was not dreaming!!!" He objected. That was too real to be just a dream. "Not a dream!" He denied them. He shut his eyes tightly and let out the loudest scream ever to leave his small body. Another loud shout startled him and he opened his eyes to see his red-haired companion staring down at him. He was sprawled out on the floor of the apartment they had found refuge in, breathing heavily and drenched in a cold sweat, trembling violently. The Screamer sat up, trying to get his mixed up thoughts in an order in which he could put his world rightside up.
"Darius... was sleeping..." He panted heavily. "Darius... was... dreaming..." He whispered, mortified at the thought. Then he looked up at Zach, who had sat back down next to him. A mad laughter left the Screamer. "THEY were the dream!" Darius cackled. "THEY weren't real!" He explained, even though the Tank no longer understood the concept of dreams. "Zach is real, and Darius is real, but they aren't!" Darius rambled on happily. He jumped up and hugged Zach's arm. "Darius is so happy that Zach is real!" He exclaimed. Zach's other arm was wrapped shoddily with tattered pieces of cloth, a pitiful attempt by Darius to dress the wound he had recieved from Brenna a few weeks ago.
"...I don't feel so hot..." A woman's voice pierced the silence, alerting the two of survivors. Zach pushed the tiny Screamer behind him and readied himself. Not only was he bigger than normal Tanks, he was much meaner.
"I ain't gonna let these goddamn vampires beat me." One man grumbled.
"They ain't vampires, Francis!" Another man corrected irritably. They were getting closer. Darius peeked around the Tank just in time to see them round the corner.
"TAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNK!!!!!!" Bill shouted as Zach ripped up a piece of the floor. Darius screamed loudly, alerting all the zombies of EXACTLY where the survivors were. "Bull frickin' horseshit!" Bill complained as all nearby Infected closed in on them. Guns started blazing and bodies went flying. The Screamer slowly backed up against what he thought was a wall when Francis landed next to him.
"Screamer!" He gritted his teeth as he stood up, but was drowned out by the fight. The biker idiot hit Darius in the face with the butt of his gun, sending him reeling straight out of the 5th story window. He shouted as he fell, terrified that he would die and not be able to see Zach again. The Screamer hit a metal awning and rolled off of it, landing on the concrete below. He could feel something running down his burning face, but he was in too much overall pain to care. The entire right side of his face hurt and his eye was swollen shut as he tried to get back up. Tears of pain streamed from his eyes as he looked up to the window he'd fallen from.
"Get him off me!" He heard Zoey shouting. "HE'S CRUSHING ME!!" She screamed. Darius limped to the entrance of the building and saw Cain and Graham in the lobby.
"Darius?!" Cain said, surprised by the Screamer's arrival. "If you're here, then that means..." He trailed off as he ran up the stairwell.
"Darius, what happened?" Graham asked sternly, seeing the damage done to the boy. He was a bit more strategic than his Hunter friend, preferring to gather information prior to just rushing in.
"Zach!" Darius whimpered urgently, flailing one arm around. He then pointed up and tugged on Graham's sleeve like a child. The Smoker knew he wasn't going to get much else out of the panicked Screamer and formed a plan on the spot.
"Call the horde again!" He ordered hastily. Darius nodded as the Smoker ran outside and looked up at the broken window. Darius howled and summoned up yet another throng of zombies as Graham caught Louis.
"No,no,no,no!" The black man shouted as he dropped his precious bottle of pills. The Smoker hacked and coughed as he pulled the survivor off the windowsill.
"Get somewhere safe!" Graham ordered Darius, knowing full well that the Tank would go on a rampage should something were to happen to the blue-haired zombie. "GO NOW!!" He shouted, seeing the Screamer hesitate. Darius reluctantly ran away, pain and confusion overpowering him.
Using the sleeve of his straitjacket as a rag, Darius gingerly wiped the blood-encrusted mess on his face away. Anytime he applied even just a little pressure, pain flared up and his eyes watered uncontrollably. Pain was such an alien thing to him, given that the only thing that ever hurt him were needles. The Screamer was hiding in the back of an old warehouse, in the storage area.
"Darius is in a safe place..." He sniffled, hurt and alone. His whole body hurtm but it was mainly the side of his face. He knew that there was at least one cut on his forehead, but he couldn't tell for sure. The abyssmal silence was enough to drive a person to madness, given that they weren't there already. Darius sat in the corner and hugged his knees, rocking back and forth. "Darius is scared..." He whispered.
Darius has been dreaming. A faint voice whispered in his ear.
"NO!" He screamed as he jerked his head up. "NO! They were the dream!" He shouted defiantly.
Darius needs to wake up now. It suggested quietly. The Screamer shut his eyes and shook his head.
"Darius is awake." He pointed out. "Darius wasn't dreaming." He shivered.
Darius wasn't dreaming... The voice repeated.
"Uh-huh." Darius nodded as he continued to rock.
...Darius was having a Nightmare. It said coldly. Dread washed over the Screamer.
"NOOO!!" He cried, ceasing his rocking. "No! No Nightmares!" He pleaded in hysterics. Mad with terror, Darius stood up, clutching his head in his hands. "Darius wants you to go away!" He said weakly. "Darius wants the Nightmares to GO AWAY!!" Darius shouted. His head hurt so badly, he began crying heavily.
Darius wants the Nightmares to go away? The voice asked, but he ignored it. The boy squatted, covering his bleeding face with his hands and hoping the voice couldn't see him anymore. He sobbed miserably as his hands were hurting his face, but he didn't dare move them away.
"Darius is in a safe place..." He cried between sobs, keeping his hands firmly pressed against his face. All was quiet for a few, godforsaken seconds
...Nightmares have found Darius. The voice said sadistically. Darius screamed in terror as he ran to the wall opposite him. He desperately clawed at the brick wall, but it wouldn't move for him. It trapped him in here. He looked over his shoulder to see the gray girl standing there, a red light glinting in the shadow over her face. His eyes widened in horror.
"Someone help Darius!! PLEASE HELP DARIUS!!" Darius begged pitifully. Thick burning tears blinded the boy as he hit the wall with his weak hands. She took very slow steps towards him, her mournful weeping echoing all around him.
Nightmares hate Darius... The voice laughed. The hysterical Screamer yelled as he continued his desperate efforts to break through the thick barrier.
"ZAAACH!!!" Darius shrieked, feeling the Witch's claws on his back.
Nightmares want to kill Darius. The voice said finally. Darius wailed even louder, his skin tearing as he clawed at the wall. He felt her cold breath on the nape of his neck. A violent crashing beside the boy sent him reeling, dust and tears blinding him. He felt slender hands grip his arms and he began to kick and scream as they pulled him.
"Help me with him!" A dry voice coughed. Another pair of hands roughly grabbed his legs and picked him up.
"NIGHTMARES!!" Darius screamed madly. "WANT TO KILL DARIUS!!" He raved in his insanity.
"Darius!" Another voice tried to reach him. "Darius, it's okay!" He said, wanting him to stop struggling.
"THEY KILLED DARIUS!!" The Screamer sobbed uncontrollably.
"He's gone batshit crazy..." The second voice said to someone else.
"Yeah, no shit, Cain." He snapped angrily. Then, with no warning, something warm wrapped around Darius and righted him. He stopped screaming and it all got very quiet. The Screamer used his sleeve and wiped away the mess on the side of his face that hurt less. He blinked and saw Zach, Graham, and Cain standing there, watching him. Hastily checking over his shoulder, he saw that there was no Witch.
"Darius... isn't dead?" He asked shakily, his throat hoarse from the screaming.
"Relatively speaking?" Graham started, taking out a cigarette and lighting it. "No." He answered bluntly. Darius fell to his knees in relief.
"Darius was scared..." The Screamer explained rather unnecessarily.
"We noticed." Cain scoffed. "I think everything in the CITY noticed. I just know that there's an assload of zombies with nowhere to go." The Hunter said irritably. A low growl from the Tank silenced his rants, though.
"Damn, Darius..." Graham sighed as he kneeled down to get a better look at the damage the Screamer had done to himself. "What happened?" The Smoker coughed relatively gently.
"Nightmares tried to kill Darius..." He explained. "The gray girl was behind Darius and she was going to hurt Darius." He said quickly.
"Gray girl?" Cain asked, confused.
"He means Brenna." The Smoker said over his shoulder. "Slow down, Darius." He tried to calm the Screamer.
"Darius was in a safe place, just like Graham said. Darius was hiding." He started to rock.
"That was very good, Darius." The Smoker praised him softly.
"But the voice found Darius." His eyes widened at the memory.
"... oh shit..." Cain sighed as he turned away. The tower of muscle next to him, however, put him in his place.
"Said Darius was dreaming. Said Darius needs to wake up." He continued. Graham put his withered hand on the boy's shoulder to comfort him. "Darius said that Darius wasn't dreaming. Voice said that Darius had Nightmares." Darius began to panic again.
"Darius, it's okay. Slow down." The Smoker shook his shoulder gently.
"Nightmares are bad things." The Screamer said hollowly. Graham simply nodded his head and let the boy continue. "Darius said for Nightmares to go away." The boy explained. "Hid so they couldn't see Darius." He demonstrated by holding his bloodied hands up, but not letting them touch his face. "Nightmares found Darius. So Darius screamed for help." Darius informed.
"That'd be about when we heard him..." Cain muttered to no one, thinking about the blood-curdling screams they'd heard.
"But no one came to help Darius. The gray girl stood there..." He pointed to the doorway. "Darius tried to get through the wall there, but the wall wouldn't move..." He pitifully pointed to the wall he'd been trying to get past.
"Damn, man..." Cain made a wince as he looked at the tatters of flesh still clinging to the wall.
"Yeah, it's bad." Graham said.
"She got closer and closer, but no one came to help Darius..." His voice cracked and he started crying again. Without a sound, Zach's huge arm reached out and pulled the weeping Screamer to him. Darius was in great pain from the crying, the screaming, the running, the falling, and the Francis, but the Tank's arm gave him a sanctuary of sorts.
"Hey, Darius...?" Graham rasped. The azure-haired zombie boy looked up at him. "What do you say we get you fixed up? You'll feel better afterwards, I promise." He said as he puffed on his cigarette. Darius looked up to see the Tank nod his head. Prior to Brenna's regression, she had stressed the importance of staying healthy. They had just continued to take care of eachother after she left.
"We're all we've got now." She would say. Darius smiled pitifully and nodded. The Smoker held his hand out for support, but Zach simply picked Darius up and placed him on his back.
Luckily for them, Graham had a degree in medicine. Darius was sitting on a counter as the Smoker carefully dressed his wounds. The Screamer's hands were already bandaged up and Graham was working on the injuries to his face.
"I feel so sorry for the survivors next time Zach finds them..." He kept muttering. The swelling had gone down noticeably, but he was still very sore. Darius had difficulty lifting his arms so Graham could remove the coat. His entire right side was bruised from where he had hit the awning. "Looks like a broken rib..." The Smoker mumbled. Darius winced as Graham wrapped gauze around his frail chest.
"Who is the gray girl?" Darius asked, eager to take his mind off of the pain. The Smoker looked over his shoulder, coughing quietly.
"Her name is Brenna..." He said darkly once he confirmed that Zach wasn't around.
"She's scary." The Screamer pouted, remembering how afraid he'd been after she chased him.
"Yeah... We leave her alone nowadays." Graham sighed. "It's better that way." He coughed.
"Is that why she's sad?" Darius asked, remembering those haunting cries.
"No... She cries because she's forgotten someone very important to her. And she knows it, too." Graham informed morbidly. "Now, any noise or light sets her off and make her hurt people." He explained quietly so that Darius could understand. The Screamer remained silent as his caretaker took another roll of gauze and began wrapping his feet. "It's good that you're wary of her, but I can promise you that she'll NEVER come looking for you." He made a pact as he meticulously removed a shard of glass that had been deeply imbedded in the boy's foot.
"I thought we weren't supposed to talk about Brenna?" Cain said, commenting on an agreement they had made prior.
"He needs to know." Graham simply said. "He's almost been seriously hurt by her." He explained.
"Darius doesn't talk about Brenna? Why not?" Darius finally piped up.
"It... hurts Zach." Graham said in a way that Darius could understand. "It hurts him here." He put his hand over his heart. The message was successfully received and Darius made a sad face. "We don't want to hurt Zach, do we?" The Smoker asked childishly.
"NO!" The Screamer shouted passionately. "Never hurt Zach! Never talk about Brenna!" He promised, tearing up. Cain sighed, but said nothing knowing that this was not the time nor the place. But, speaking of whom, the red-headed Tank entered the room.
"Alright. You're done." Graham said as he finished tending to the Screamer's many wounds. He handed him back his jacket as he brought Zach up to speed. "He'll be fine in a couple of weeks. No excessive physical activity for a while." The Smoker gave his diagnosis slowly, so he didn't confuse the Tank. Zach picked up his blue-haired friend and placed him on his back. "I'll be back in a few days to check on him." He informed, flicking the ashes off of his cigarette.
"Hey, kid..." Cain got Darius' attention. "You... you did good back there." He praised the Screamer awkwardly. Darius made his unique smile as he carefully put his coat back on. The jacket itself was covered in blood and would look quite fearsome to a survivor.
"Even if we're hunted down, and even if we may be at odds with eachother..." Graham recited, looking at Zach and Cain. "We look out for each other because we're all we've got now." He finished. The Hunter nodded quietly and Zach made a soft grunt.
"Darius... has friends?" The Screamer asked shyly. The Smoker smiled wistfully.
"Darius has friends." He assured the boy. Darius rested his head on the Tank's back, tired, but elated.
If this IS a dream... He thought hard. Darius hopes that Darius never wakes up... Darius hopes the dream never ends... He felt tears run down his cheeks. Because Darius finally has friends now... He resolved. Darius drifted off to sleep, exhaustion winning over.
Darius has friends now... The voice whispered. Darius doesn't need us anymore...? It said, growing faint.