The city is now a desolate place.
The streets are littered with flaming cars and lifeless bodies. A vile stench fills the barely breathable air, like a mixture of rotting and burning flesh. The sky is cloudy, thick... waiting to release its aquatic fury, but not a drop is in sight. Strange moans and grunts can be heard in the distance, but there are no signs of life... anywhere. Along the street corners are police barricades, but the police are nowhere to be seen. The buildings and shops, usually busy at this hour, stand inactive and the windows show no light.
Something caused this to happen... but what? Was it accidental? Was it intentional? Where is everyone? What happened here . . . .
In a deserted alley, the vortex swirled in mid-air. The first one out was Remmy, who barely landed on his feet. Then came Maggie and Diana, who stumbled out after a short flight from the blue wonder. And finally Mallory flew out, crashing into a nearby dumpster.
"After all the worlds we've been to, he still hasn't learned." Remmy chuckled as the vortex closes.
"Ow... " Mallory moaned as he picked himself up.
"Maybe Mallory should slide on a mattress next time." Maggie giggled.
"So funny I forgot to laugh." Mallory said bitterly as he rubbed the back of his neck.
While Maggie and Remmy were having a laugh at Mallory's expense, Diana decided to have a look around. She suddenly stopped when she found her way to the street.
"Hey guys, come have a look."
The rest of the Sliders met up with Diana, and were shocked at what they saw. The street was filled with litter and totaled cars. The shops nearby were locked up... tight.
"What happened here?" Maggie asked. "What is this place?"
"And what the hell is that smell?" Mallory quipped.
Remmy's attention was toward a nearby gas station.
"Remmy, what's wrong?" Diana asked.
"I remember this place! On my world, I stopped here for some gas before I drove into Quinn's vortex." Remmy said.
"Wait, wait. You're telling me that this is San Francisco?"
"Well, it looks a lot like it... sort of."
"This place is scaring me." Diana said. "Remmy, do you know of a good hotel around here?"
"Yeah... but judging by the surroundings, I don't think it'd be open."
"Well, we have at least 32 hours on this world. Maybe we'll find something... or at least someone."
"Yeah, right now I hope we'll run into anybody." Maggie agreed.
"That's it, I refuse to take another step." Maggie protested. "My feet are killing me!"
"We've been walking for at half an hour now, and we haven't found a single sign of life," Diana added.
Remmy sat down on a nearby stoop. "Lets rest for awhile and then we... " He was interrupted when someone screamed.
"What was that?"
"It came from that alley over there... " Mallory pointed. Then another scream was heard, only fainter, and the four ran toward it. They could hear the screams getting closer with each step as they ran through the gigantic maze of alleys. But suddenly the screams stopped...
"Well, what now?" Maggie said.
Then a strange sound filled the area, like a crunching sound. It sent chills on each of the Sliders spines, but they followed it anyway. Nothing prepared them for what they saw next... a little girl, around 10-12 was lying lifeless on the ground while a couple of men were devouring her, stripping the flesh off her bones.
"Oh... my... God!" Diana spoke, which was a bad time to do so.
The men rose up from their meal and looked at the Sliders. Their faces were decayed, no color in their eyes. Their clothes were stained in blood, probably from previous feedings.
One of them moans and stretches out his arms toward the sliders.
"Uh, I think this is a good time to run." Mallory said, noticing the others that are still in shock.
Then all three of the zombies advanced toward them. About that time, the rest of the Sliders regained their composure and bolted.
The sliders found themselves lost in the series of alleyways. At every turn, they have found more of the undead, sagging and walking toward them, each one looking more hideous than the next. Fortunately, the sliders have found a doorway that led inside an abandoned bar.
"Wait! You mean you were on another world like this?" Diana said in shock.
Remmy nodded. "Yeah, it's a long story. But I'll tell you this, the zombies on that world pale in comparison to these things."
"I think we lost them." Mallory declared as looked through a nearby window.
Diana was shocked at what she had just seen, and she thought to herself that this is a good time for a drink. At this time she couldn't think of a logical explanation of what happened, and she needed something to clear her head. As she walked behind the counter to get a mug, she noticed a growing puddle of blood. Diana walked closer to it and saw that it was dripping from the ceiling, and she froze at what she saw when she looked up. There was something clinging to the ceiling, something hideous with sharp claws. It looked like the creature was turned inside-out, even the brain was exposed, and when it looked down at Diana, it revealed monstrously sharp teeth and a very long tongue.
"R... r... ..r... ..r... ... ... " Diana stuttered.
Mallory took his eyes from the window and looked at his frightened companion. "Diana, don't bogart the... What's wrong?"
As he looked up at what Diana was staring, the creature turn its head towards him and screeched.
"Oh no... " Mallory gulped.
Then the creature detached himself and landed on the floor, ready to attack. Remmy and Maggie heard a sharp thud and turned around.
"What the hell?" Maggie said in shock.
The creature swung at Mallory with one of its claws, and he barely dodged it. Diana still stood in shock as she looked at what was happening. Remmy grabbed a nearby chair and threw it at the abomination, but it sidestepped it quickly and launched its tongue at him, stinging his arm. Good thing he wore a leather jacket, because it felt like a hard whip. Mallory managed to get to Diana while the creature was distracted.
"Diana... " Mallory said, shaking her.
"... ... " Diana stared open mouth at the creature, which was now crawling toward the rest of her friends.
"Diana!" Mallory pleaded, this time she snapped out of it, but it also gained the monster's attention. Mallory grabbed her and ran for the nearest doorway, which seems the lead to one of the main streets. The creature made a giant leap and landed behind the bar, on the exact spot where Diana once stood. It made another leap toward the two sliders, with one arm outstretched. They both made it out the door safely as it swung its claw, leaving a massive mark on the door's metal frame.
"Mallory! Diana!" Remmy yelled after them but the creature made another giant leap, this time it landed only 2 feet away from him.
"Let's get out of here!!" Maggie said as she ran toward the door that leads back to the alleyways. Remmy didn't hesitate to do the same, but he barely got away as the creature made another swipe: this time it tore off a piece of Remmy's jacket. After running through a series of alleyways, Remmy and Maggie finally stopped.
"What... the hell... was that... thing?" Remmy said as he tried to catch his breath.
"I don't know... I just hope he doesn't have friends." Maggie responded. "You think Mallory and Diana made it out okay?"
"I hope so... I certainly hope so." Remmy said.
Suddenly, the sound of gunfire started them.
"Stay away!" someone said in the distance followed by more gunfire.
"Who was that?" Maggie asked.
"It might be someone that can help us, come on." Remmy answered while he ran toward the sound.
Mallory and Diana hid inside a nearby shop. After leaving the bar, they were instantly ambushed by zombies that were walking the streets. Diana, still shocked, sat on the counter sobbing while Mallory gathered some supplies in the back.
"Diana, its alright. We're safe." Mallory said when he returned.
"It's not alright!" Diana wailed.
"Calm down. None of those things are around..."
"Is that what you assumed back at the bar?"
"Diana...just calm down. After we get a few things, we are going back out to look for Maggie and Remmy, and in a few short hours, we will be long gone."
Diana nodded as she wiped away her tears, trying to keep herself together.
"Look what I found for you." Mallory smiled as he held out his hand, which had a couple of packs of beef jerky. Diana couldn't help but giggle, which was a good sign.
"Just pack up some more stuff so we can find the others and we can all get out of this hellhole."
At the end of one alleyway, Remmy could of swore that he saw a young woman in some kind of uniform running down one of the open streets.
"Hey, wait!" he yelled.
By the time he had gotten to the street, the woman was nowhere to be seen.
"Did you see someone?" Maggie said as she finally caught up with her friend.
"Yeah, I think I did. But by the time I got here, I lost her."
Suddenly, the two heard a loud moan.
"I say we keep moving." Maggie said.
"Right behind you." Remmy agreed, as the both of them ran down the street to yet another alleyway.
A few minutes later, Remmy and Maggie had taken refuge in the now abandoned Doppler Computer Superstore.
"So this is where Quinn and Wade worked before we went sliding?" Remmy thought to himself. In the past, they rarely talked about what they did back home; all he knew was that they'd had a boss who was a real jerk.
Everything inside was still in order. Computers, TVs, cameras, software...everything. There wasn't even a sign of looting. Remmy decided to turn on one of the TVs on display. "Maybe there's a news report about this place. At least CNN, Dateline, something."
Not surprisingly, all the local channels were showing the Emergency Broadcasting System while the other channels contained heavy static.
" I was hoping that we would meet up Diana and Mallory again by now." Remmy said.
"Yeah, maybe there wasn't a way back to the alleys from the street." Maggie said while she was setting up some walkie-talkies.
Remmy pulls the timer out of his pocket. "22 hours. I just hope we'll find them by then."
"Yeah. Poor Diana. You seen how spooked she was when she saw that monster?"
"She's probably a nervous wreck right now. I mean, first Purgatory and now this..."
"She's come a long way."
"Hehe, I remember how I was on one of my first slides." Remmy chuckled.
Maggie smiled as she continued her exploration of the place. In one of the back hallways, she passed a door that was marked "Michael Hurley, Store Manager". When she opened it, a vile stench occupied the air in the room.
"Whoa!" Maggie said as the odor hits her senses. The cause of it was a man lying dead on the floor. Upon further inspection, his nametag was the same as the nameplate on the door.
"Poor guy." Maggie said as she searched the rest of the room. After going through what was like a sea of papers, she finally managed to find a flashlight, which, in her opinion, will come in handy because it's getting dark. As she was walking out of the office, she noticed something grabbing her ankle. The body that she examined earlier suddenly came to life, pulling her toward it.
"Let go!" Maggie yelled, then she hits it with the flashlight, causing it to release its grasp.
Remmy, after hearing Maggie yell, ran to help his friend and met up with her in the hallway.
"What happened?" he asked.
"I think I just woke the dead." Maggie answered.
"What?" Remmy looked confused. Then the now zombified Hurley walked itself out of the office and toward the sliders. Luckily, there was ax sealed in the wall by glass that read: "Break only in Emergency". Remmy broke the case, grabbed the ax, and prepared to swing as the zombie inched closer.
Suddenly, the sound of a shotgun reloading alerted them, followed by a load bang. All Remmy saw was a big hole in the zombie's torso, and through it he saw the woman he had seen earlier. As the zombie fell over for the final time, the woman walked over to the two sliders.
"Finally, some fresh faces!" she said.
Remmy and Maggie looked at her, stunned.
"Oh, sorry. My name is Rebecca Chambers. I'm with the S.T.A.R.S. unit of the SFPD. Mind telling me who you are?"
"I'm Rembrandt Brown and this is Maggie Beckett." Remmy introduced himself and his friend.
"Nice to meet you," Rebecca said, then glanced down at the lifeless body on the floor. "Looks like I got here just in time."
"Yeah, thanks." Maggie said.
Rebecca looked at her strangely. "Have I seen you somewhere before?"
Before Maggie could answer, they all heard glass breaking. Somehow the undead had gotten inside by broking through the glass display windows.
"Damn it! They sniffed us out!" Rebecca exclaimed. "My ammo is running low, so we better make a break for it."
Without thinking twice, the sliders followed their new companion out of the store through the back exit.
Diana finally calmed down after munching on the beef jerky Mallory gave her. To pass the time, she read what appeared to be the shopkeeper's diary. The interesting part was that the shopkeeper repeatedly said that he felt sick and disoriented during the final entries. The other thing that caught Diana's attention was the list of symptoms. Nausea, peeling skin, fatigue, internal pains...
"What do you have there?"
Diana was startled. She was immersed in the book so much that she didn't notice Mallory returning with the supplies.
"Oh sorry." Mallory apologized.
"That's okay. I was just reading someone's diary."
"While I was rummaging, I noticed that the majority of the stuff was made by the same corporation. Umbrella something, I think."
"That's odd, on all the worlds we've been to, I've never heard of them."
"Well, we'll worry about that later because I'm packed and ready to go. Let's pray that we find the...."
Suddenly, the two sliders heard heavy footsteps, and it sounded like someone... or something, was getting closer...
After running through many sets of alleys and streets, Rebecca had led Maggie and Remmy to Candlestick Park. The university would be found nearby.
"Why do I always get this feeling of déjà vu?" Remmy thought as he looked at the statue of Abraham Lincoln.
"My unit has set up a temporary station somewhere in the university." Rebecca announced. "Damn it, Brad was supposed to be here with the chopper. Where is he?"
"Rebecca," Remmy spoke, "a short time ago we were separated from our friends. Do you think that once we're there, you can supply us with some firepower to go look for them?"
"We can, but it won't do any good. Judging on how it looks out there, they should be already dead." Then Rebecca walked on to the university. Remmy started to follow but was stopped by Maggie.
"You don't believe her, right?" she said with utmost concern. "I mean, we've survived a lot of tough situations."
"Remember when I said that I had enough hope for the both of us?" Remmy asked.
"Well, yeah." Maggie responded.
"I still do." Remmy said as he ran to catch up with Rebecca. Maggie sighed and did the same.
"What's that?" Diana asked. The sound was getting louder with each step.
"I don't know. But it doesn't sound like a zombie." Mallory said, then he went away to quietly lock the door. A few seconds later, the footsteps stopped and the doorknob rattled. All of a sudden a loud groan was heard, alerting the two inside.
"That didn't sound good." Mallory whispered.
The door suddenly burst open and standing in the doorway was a tall, menacing figure with a disfigured head that seemed to be stretched over with dead skin. Its right eye was sealed with stitches and it remaining one had no color. It had no lips, only an opening that was pulled and stretched back revealing a large set of gums and two rows of razor sharp teeth. Protruding from one of its shoulders was something that looked like a big purple vein.
"STARS!" The abomination said with a deep, groggy voice, looking over at Mallory and Diana with one eye.
"Holy Mary, mother of God," Mallory exhaled as the monster walked closer to them.
Mallory searched the drawers near the cash register for some kind of protection as the creature walked closer. Diana stood there terrified, staring at the leather-clad monster.
"STARS!" the creature repeated. At last, Mallory came up with a fully loaded Magnum and started blasting the creature's massive frame, but it proved ineffective. Running out of ammo, Mallory grabbed Diana's hand and bolted to the back exit. The creature saw the sliders' sudden move and ran after them at breakneck speed. Two seconds later, it caught up with Mallory and raised its arm. The next thing Mallory felt was a sharp pain on his back, like a heavy sledgehammer; he instantly fell to the ground. Before he could get up, he felt an icy hand grabbing his neck and raising him up. The creature leered at him as its grip became tighter.
When it turned around, Diana had splashed its disfigured face with some pine oil she had found on a nearby shelf. Groaning in pain, the monster released Mallory, who was gasping for air.
"C'mon. Let's go." Diana said, helping her friend up. She looked back at the creature holding its face before running from the shop.
"Welcome to the Special Tactics And Rescue Service temporary headquarters," Rebecca announced as the three of them walked into UC Berkely's administration building. Remmy and Maggie stepped in cautiously, as the building felt vaguely... occupied. Rebecca explained that it was used as a safehouse from the dangers outside until they could call for help. Remmy looked inside one room where a few people dressed in S.T.A.R.S. and SFPD uniforms were working on a radio transmitter, while Maggie looked into a room where a police officer was in a state of shock.
"I see we have company."
The sliders turned around only to see a S.T.A.R.S. member facing them that looked like he was in his late twenties.
"Oh!" Rebecca smiled, "This is Michael Coneby. He leads the rescue operations here."
"Rembrandt Brown." Remmy introduced himself.
"Maggie Beckett." Maggie did the same, shaking Coneby's hand.
Coneby smiled. "Nice to meet you. And I see that you've met our medic."
"Yeah, we kind of ran into each other." Remmy said.
"Good thing she did. I'm surprised that you two have survived that long since the outbreak."
Maggie looked surprised. "Outbreak? You mean all this happened because of some kind of virus?"
"Well, yes. It's quite a long story... started when our Raccoon City Division was investigating a mansion. And Rebecca should know that story quite well because she was one of the officers that survived that incident."
Rebecca giggled. "Just lucky, I guess."
"Uh...Coneby, right?" Remmy said.
"Yes." He responded.
"Well, we were separated with a couple of friends while we were out there and, knowing them, they might be still alive. I was thinking that Maggie and I'll rest here for a few minutes and you can supply us with some firepower to look for them."
"Whoa. We can't let you go back out there. Hell, one of my men is still out there looking for survivors and he's been gone a few hours. Plus, those things are getting restless. Maybe, just maybe, there's a slim chance that your friends are still alive, but I'm not going to let you risk your lives to find out. And even when we do let you go back out, we don't have enough firepower to supply that kind of search and rescue mission."
Remmy stood there, looking frustrated while Maggie resumed the conversation.
"About your man outside, when was the last time you made contact."
"Hmmm..... about 2-3 hours ago. I thought he would be back here by then because he is one of my best men."
"Maggie," Rebecca jumped in. "If your friends are still alive, maybe they're with our man, all hiding out somewhere." Remmy walked to a nearby window, watching the darkness swallowing the landscape as the night rolled in. There were no stars nor moonlight as the clouds were still hovering over the city.
"Mallory.... Diana... where are you?"
"Mallory, are you alright?" Diana asked as they finally stopped running. They had found themselves on a bench on a deserted street.
"Well, my back is killing me along with the pain in my legs and feet. Other than that, I'm okay." Mallory said.
"Hey, this is no time to become a smart-ass. That monster could have killed you back there."
"I'm sorry. Thanks for helping me, though. But one thing I noticed is how fast that thing moved. I mean, when we ran away from it, it was at the front, but before we could get to the back door, it decked me."
"Yeah, now that you think of it. Good thing we made it out of there."
"Yeah." Mallory sighed, looking down at the littered pavement. "We better find the others fast, 'cause we don't know how long it is until the slide. All the clocks around here have stopped."
"Now, if we were Remmy and Maggie, where would we head if we ran into trouble?" Diana pondered out loud. "And that's a difficult question since Remmy knows this city more than all of us."
"Damn it! Why couldn't we land in LA or Fresno or...."
Then, Mallory was interrupted by growling. When the two sliders turned their heads toward the source, they saw three dogs walking towards them, disfigured like so much else on this world. There were red streaks down their faces and one eye was visible, but it had no color. Their teeth were big and razor sharp, covered in drool and blood. On each of their sides, the sliders saw that their ribcages were exposed.
"...Mallory?" Diana said as she looked at the zombie dogs.
"...Yeah?" Mallory responded, also fixated on the creatures.
"Remember when you said that you needed more exercise?"
"Uh huh." And then the two bolted, the dogs in hot pursuit.
"So let me get this straight..." Maggie said after Rebecca explained her story. "You say that all this was caused by something called the T-virus?"
"Yep." Rebecca said. The two sat at a nearby study hall for a little rest and relaxation. Maggie's feet had been killing her ever since she landed on this God-forsaken world.
"And that it was made by a company called Umbrella for the purpose of building bio-organic weapons?"
"That's right. When I was with the Raccoon City division, some of my teammates and I were sent to investigate some happenings around the Arkelay Mountains, near city limits. Immediately after we landed, we ran into trouble and took refuge at a nearby mansion, which was filled with zombies and monsters. Eventually through all the chaos we had lost radio contact. Good thing R.P.D. sent another team to find out what happened to us, or I wouldn't be talking to you right now because that place was a nightmare. Then I met Chris."
"Chris?" Maggie asked, and then Rebecca explained.
"Chris Redfield. He was on the second team that was sent there and we worked together to get out. When we and the other surviving members got back and presented a report, Chief Irons dismissed the whole case, and I was transferred here."
"Why would he do that?"
"I don't know. He was acting strange, especially around us. It's odd that he turned down such a descriptive report. Jill, one of the surviving members of the mansion incident, quit after hearing about the Chief's dismissal."
"How did the virus leak out to the public?"
"That, I don't know. All of a sudden this outbreak turned the entire population into zombies. Add to that the virus strange effect on plant and animal life and you have the mansion incident all over again, except for the fact that the playfield is bigger."
"Oh my God." Maggie said as Rebecca finished her explanation. She also wondered what was that thing in the bar before it transformed.
Then Rebecca looked in the opposite room, where the officers were still trying to put together the radio.
"Uh oh. Looks like the chief's gonna send me out again to look for more supplies. Wanna come with? Maybe we'll find your friends."
Maggie sat up, thinking about what Diana and Mallory must be going through.
"Sure... why not?"
Remmy decided to take a walk around the building, trying to gather his thought on how he can convince the chief to let him back out there.
"Mallory and Diana have to be safe. We've been through bad situations and we always pull through." Then Remmy looked at the timer.
"19 hours." He said to himself. He found himself in a hallway lined with windows a couple of floors up. As he walked by, he could catch a glimpse of the city.
"My god..." he said, looking out one window. "It's like a war zone."
Suddenly, a crow crashed into the window in front of him, leaving a huge crack. Remmy could see that the bird didn't fall after the impact but hovered and flew away.
"What the hell..." Remmy said as he walked back. Then, another crow crashed a couple of windows down. Then another crow crashed into another window. Then another. Then another. All of a sudden, the crashes were in rapid succession. Remmy started to run, but before he can exit the hallway, all the windows gave like an explosion of glass and the birds entered the building. As he was heading down the stairs, one bird managed to catch up with him and started pecking.
"OW! Get off of me!" Remmy said as he struggled with the bird. Then another one latched onto Remmy's back and pecked frantically. He managed to get both birds off of him, but more were heading his way.
"Help!!!!" he yelled as he raced back to the offices, with a dozen birds on his tail...