*This chapter is fairly short so I may merge it with chapter 11 at some point*
I gasp for air as I’m pulled out of the trance and back into the real world. I’m in a dark room that looks like it's a small closet. Cleaning supplies sit upon shelves that line the room. I’m on the hard ground resting on what appears to be a memory foam mattress topper. Where am I? Then I remember the vines and the battle and the Reaper. It all comes back to me. I sit upon the mattress and feel a pain in my right arm. I hold it up to my face and squint at it. On my arm, there's a line. A scar of dark pink twists down my arm.
I scream. The scar goes all the way up to my shoulder and has 2 lines of fleshy pink that twist down the entire arm. It looks like a burn of sorts.
Suddenly the room erupted with the heavens of light. I raise my damaged arm up to shield my eyes from the immense brightness of the bulb.
“He’s awake!” A familiar voice shouts. Tom.
“Tom?” I ask. My voice is rough and dry “Water,” He rushes out and comes back a few seconds later with a bottle of water. He holds it to my lips and I take big gulps. Water never tasted so good before. I drink the entire bottle in seconds.
After clearing my thoughts I ask “What happened? All I remember is the vines creeping up my skin, digging into me.
“You were out cold,” He says “It's been a whole day,” A whole day? I think.
I try to sit up but can’t. “Take it easy,” Tom says. All of my limbs are on fire. The pain sears through my flesh. What did it do to me?. Matt comes rushing into the room.
“Oh thank god,” He exclaims, kneeling beside me. “You’re OK,” His eyes cross my arm and he squints and sucks in air. “Does it... hurt?”
“Yeah, a lot.”
I’m going to have this scar for the rest of my life. It's permanent, a constant reminder of this nightmare. I just hope that my life will be long enough for that.
“You’re awake now?” A rough voice booms through the echoey closet. It's Charlie. He stands tall at the doorway. “Good,” Then with that, he walks away.
Suddenly, my head begins to ring. I clamp my hands over my ears to cover the sound. I fall to the ground and ball up. I hear people yelling at me but it's faint. The sound is so familiar. I know what it is, come one. Then I remember. It's signaling.
“They’re coming,” I warn over gasps for air.
“What's coming Jake, are you ok?” Matt asks. I know now that these things were people. They were one human. Zombies? No, that wasn’t the right word for it. This was darker. These things have roots. Roots connecting each other. Vines wrapping they’re conscientious. I’m one of them now, part of the hive. I fought it and kept it at bay but it's still inside of me, turning me.
“The reapers, they’re coming.”
“What do you mean they’re coming?” Tom asks. “How d’ you know?” I don’t have a good answer to that question.
“I heard it, the signaling,” I say with a weak voice. Not drinking for a whole day was getting to me. Even with the drink I just had.
“You heard it?!” Matt interrogated. “How?”
“I’ll tell you later but you need to warn Charlie,” I warn. “Tell him that a swarm is coming,” Matt rushes out of the room to caution Charlie about the imminent threat that slowly rises towards us like a storm.
I know that I need to help them somehow. I can sense them, I don’t know how but it's kind of instinctive. When they signaled, I knew where every reaper, every one of them, was. It was painful, too much information for my brain to process at once. The pain in my right arm is intense as I haul myself out of the sleeping cot, going against every will of my body.
I crash into the shelf as I stand up. My legs are unresponsive for a few seconds before the blood circulation starts up again. I stumble towards the door when I hear the sound of glass shattering followed by screams. They’re here.