Cold and DampPairings:
Hanchul, Kyumin, KangteukCharacters:
After Seoul becomes infested with the living dead and the government abandons them; it's only natural that they realise hidden feelings in the midst of disaster.intro
Hankyung smiled softly as he crept towards where Heechul was sleeping in the make-shift camp he’d constructed. His face was a lot softer when he was sleeping, wiped free of that obnoxious smirk and replaced with a small pout on plump pink lips. His hair lay in disarray around his face as he hugged his pillow to his cheek.
‘Someone’s got a crush.’ Youngwoon scoffed from over Hankyung’s shoulder, a subtle look of disgust on his chubby face. Hankyung wanted to punch it.
‘I guess that makes two of us then.’ He looked over his shoulder at the stouter man and raised his eyebrow, watching him scoff and turn away stiffly, shrugging off his jacket before burrowing under the mountain of bed sheets.
Hankyung knelt down beside Heechul and shook him gently by the shoulder - with more confidence than that morning - and received a half-hearted glare from beneath dark hair for his efforts. Heechul sat up groggily, rubbing his eyes and kicking the sheets off his legs lazily.
‘You looked a lot more attractive when you were sleeping.’ Hankyung said, regarding the dark circles under the older man's narrowed eyes and his sleep-mussed hair.
Heechul leaned into Hankyung’s face, a devilish smirk playing on his lips as usual.
‘So you admit you do find me attractive?’
Hankyung only smiled, a retort on the tip of his tongue, but he was cut off by a hand waving irritably between the two as Jungsu appeared, looking tired and grumpy; grabbing Heechul’s skinny arm and pulling him up and out of the duvet fortress.
Heechul’s shrieks of protest slowly faded as he was dragged further and further away, and Hankyung could only sit and smile to himself.
Heechul rubbed at the rapidly reddening mark on his wrist from where Jungsu had dragged him rather roughly up to the third floor. ‘You’ve probably left a bruise, you know.’ he grumbled, catching his reflection in a shop window and stopping to fix his hair – though he was just going to mess it up again when he got back into bed.
Jungsu only clicked his tongue and walked ahead, a flash-light in his hand illuminating the headless mannequins in the shop windows. Candles were sitting on all the benches and decorations, but none were in the shops. Hankyung had said to leave this floor for tomorrow, when nothing could creep up on them in the dark, but he’d be lying if he said he wasn’t freaked out.
He looked at his reflection absent-mindedly, noting that he looked like he’d been dragged through hell and back. He’d been wearing the same clothes for three days. He hadn’t bothered coming here to grab some pyjamas, and he still hadn’t washed. He ran his tongue over his teeth as he walked on again and grimaced at the feel of them.
He heard Heechul’s footsteps grow closer as he ran to catch up, finally distracted from his own face. When he’d fallen into step beside Jungsu, he shone his flash-light into his face and teased; ‘What’s up, anyway, grumpy guts?’
Heechul leaned back on reflex, narrowly avoiding the finger Jungsu thrust at his face rather aggressively. ‘You’re what’s up!’ he growled, ‘why didn’t you tell me?’
Heechul swatted Jungsu’s hand away from his face. ‘Tell you what?’
‘I told you not to get involved with my business.’ Jungsu shook his head, ‘And to think I’d find out from Youngwoon instead of you.’ He saw Heechul’s mouth twitch slightly at his last statement before he rolled his eyes and stormed off.
‘We’re not talking about this.’ Heechul stated, making for a clothing store up ahead. Jungsu made a noise of protest from behind him, to which he stopped and turned, pointing his finger as Jungsu had done previously. ‘Take a shower. Hankyung fixed one up earlier on. You smell like alcohol and old vomit. I’ll get you some clothes…’ he paused looking at Jungsu's current attire, ‘from this era.’
Jungsu blinked at the sudden change of subject, and Heechul disappeared into one of the clothes stores, a dim light from inside being the only way he could tell he was still there. He pulled at his collar and took a tentative sniff for the sake of it, and recoiled instantly. He reeked of out of date milk.
Following Heechul’s orders he skulked off to the find the shower Hankyung had set up in the bathroom. He’d always found toilets to be a little unnerving – they seemed to be where everybody died in horror films – and walking into the dark, silent room he felt his heart beat just a little bit faster.
He shook off the feeling that something was going to creep up on him, and set his flash-light on top of one of the sink counters before undressing. He turned the water on in the shower, holding his hand beneath the water until it got hot before stepping inside. The darkness made it hard for him to see what he was doing, and he blindly fiddled with the shower settings. He let out a strangled scream as he was suddenly blasted with scalding hot water, and frantically turned the knob, sighing in relief as the temperature turned just right.
He felt his muscles relax as the warm water washed away the tension knotted up under his skin, and ran his fingers through his tangled hair. He’d never take showers for granted again. In fact, he was so lost in the soothing sensation of hot water against tired skin that he didn’t notice the shadow falling before the flash-light, his eyes closed to keep the water out. Nor did he notice the groan and the shuffle from just behind his shower curtain, the water being too loud against the tiles.
No, he didn’t notice until he felt cold fingertips against his bare skin, and spinning reflexively to see who’d intruded into his personal space, he was confronted with a pair of pale, bulging eyes and dark, leathery skin, a jaw snapping and grinding as it drew closer and closer to his throat.
Jungsu’s eyes widened as its neck snapped grotesquely to an unnatural angle, and a resounding ‘crack’ echoed in his ears before the creature dropped bonelessly to the bathroom floor, revealing Heechul standing there, breathless and grinning like a lunatic.
‘Tell your mother I saved your life, hey?’
The two rounded the corner to where Kyuhyun was sitting, both clad in extremely bright pink, dotted pyjamas (the 'first thing' Heechul could find) and Jungsu couldn’t wait to go back to sleep. He’d had enough for one night, but Heechul halted him and pulled him back behind a wall.
‘What?’ he asked, and Heechul held a hand up to shush him.
‘Don’t tell him what happened.’ Heechul said, motioning with his head to where Kyuhyun was.
Jungsu looked at him, baffled, before mouthing 'Why?'
‘I don’t like him, and he’ll make a fuss.’
Jungsu would’ve said something, but Heechul had already stepped away, and he followed. He really couldn’t be bothered to argue with Heechul, and Kyuhyun seemed smart enough to realise something was off.
Kyuhyun glanced at his watch. 3am. He hadn’t slept a wink, watching Sungmin sleep instead of joining the others on the floor below. The older boys cheeks had regained some of their rosy hue, and his sleep seemed more peaceful than before. His breathing had evened out and he hadn’t been fidgeting as much. Not that Kyuhyun was worried, as soon as Sungmin was well again they were getting out of this place. Kyuhyun didn’t like to be around too many people, and Sungmin could turn out to be useful if he was in a fix.
He heard a distant chatter approach, the hyperactive nattering of Heechul that Kyuhyun had already grown to recognise echoing through the entire first floor. He stood as they rounded the corner, waving them off. Seeing that he was already awake, they left him be. He spared a quick glance at Sungmin before making his way to the stairwell, grabbing a candle on the way.
The stairwell was pitch black, even with the candle. It barely illuminated two feet before him, and he tripped on every other step he ascended. A brief conversation with Hankyung had informed him of the offices on the fourth floor, where he was headed. His steps echoed in the hollow darkness, polished handrails glinting gold from the candlelight.
He was well and truly out of breath by the time he reached the fourth floor, and he cursed himself for not taking the elevator. He leaned against the entrance, resting his forehead on the cool wooden door and trying to catch his breath, waiting for his legs to become usable again. He’d never taken part in physical education back in his school days, and it was a wonder he was so thin; living off energy drinks and only moving when it was absolutely necessary.
After a few seconds he stood upright again, holding his candle before him. He pushed the door open as quietly as he could, taking a cautious glance around before stepping in properly, nearly jumping out of his skin when the door slammed shut behind him.
This floor was considerably smaller than the other floors, a wide space at the far back seemed to be reserved for stock and filing cabinets, while the rest of the room was filled with small office cubicles, narrow aisles between them. By the looks of things, Hankyung hadn’t bothered with this floor. It was lit dimly by the few lamps still upright on desks, the rest seemingly toppled over or smashed from what he could see. There were computer chairs toppled over in the aisles, papers strewn everywhere and a few of the light fissures were hanging down ominously. Apparently, the people working here left in a panic.
But what Kyuhyun’s attention was fixed on almost instantly wasn’t the mystery of what had happened on this floor, but the big, bulky computer sitting on the desk before him, staring at him, calling to him.
He practically skipped over to the small cubicle, sitting down in the sunken, over-used computer chair and setting the candle down on the desk. So many emails he’d have to reply to, so many people he’d have to catch up with. He was extremely popular on the internet.
He rubbed his hands together, grinning like a child before turning the old, bulky, off-white contraption on and hearing it roar and groan to life. Looking around at the cubicle where he was sitting, though, he felt a chill run up his spine.
Cats. Everywhere. Hundreds of pictures of cats all over the little office walls, their beady little eyes staring into his soul. A picture frame rested on the desk beside the computer screen. In it sat a picture of – who he guessed to be – the woman who worked here, surrounded by cats, all looking perpetually unamused, framed by pink tinsel. How disturbing.
He heard a crash from a few rows over, and stood bolt upright, his seat toppling over. He whipped his head from side to side, searching for whatever caused the noise, but saw nothing but papers rustling around on the carpet, the blinds trembling from the wind blowing in through the open window.
He took a breath, picking his seat up and sitting back down. He’d always been too paranoid, but with what was happening in the world right then, it was okay to be a little cautious. The welcome screen flashed onto the monitor, followed by the desktop, and his long fingers flew across the keyboard with years of practice, heading straight for Google. He was astonished, though, when he saw that this woman was still using Internet Explorer – he thought that abominable excuse for a web browser had gone out of fashion long ago.
He was used to his sleek, high-bandwidth laptop back at college. It cost more than his life, and he felt a pang of sadness when he though of how he'd left it, shattered into pieces after it flew off his bed when those gunshots had sounded. It was like losing his best friend, or a close family member. He quickly snapped his head back to look over his shoulder, hearing another noise, though much closer this time, and once again finding nothing.
The light flickered and he turned back to the computer, typing into the search bar: ‘Rescue attempts for South Korea’
The computer tower churned and groaned as the results started to show up, and he clicked the most relevant; a blog seemingly dedicated to zombies. Now, Kyuhyun knew he wasn’t exactly in any position to think it, but by God this guy had no life. The entries dated back nearly five years, and the most recent was only posted five days ago. He clicked it, leaning closer to the screen to read the words better. He’d left his glasses behind, but he barely used them anyway.
February 20th 2011; 11:05pm; Sunday
The End of Days
They sent help today. ‘help.’ Army personnel, all brandishing machine guns. They ushered practically everyone in my street into these big army trucks. I watched out of my window, I didn’t go down. A man was about to enter one of the trucks, but he started coughing – well, choking – up blood. A wound on his neck was bleeding profusely and everyone was panicking and screaming.
They shot them. All of them. After the screaming stopped and the street was quiet again, I heard one of the soldiers tell another ‘it’s too late.’
They left. They won’t be coming back, either. The street is black with blood tonight, and I can hear moaning and wailing getting closer and closer. I saw a helicopter pass over my house yesterday, but it didn’t stop. No one will save us, all we can do is sit and wait. Wait for bloody, jagged teeth to sink into our flesh. Maybe you’ll get lucky and they won’t leave a scrap of flesh on your bones; or maybe you’ll be doomed to wake up once more and walk these streets, hungry and mindless.
They’re at my door now, I can hear them scratching. They can smell me. It’s too late.
Kyuhyun felt a shiver run up his spine as he clicked off the web-page. He wasn’t scared, never. That guy was full of crap, what was that supposed to be? An extract from a bad horror novel? He scoffed to himself, trying to keep a little of his pride intact.
He switched the monitor off, and his eyes widened. The candle flickered beside him, the light dancing on the walls of the small cubicle he was sat in. A thin sheen of sweat clung to his forehead. There was something behind him, a silhouette on the computer screen.
Video games had sharpened his reflexes over the years, and his strategic thinking was second to none, but he was scared shitless right then and he couldn’t move a muscle.
A dull groan sounded behind him, closer than he’d expected. He felt goose bumps rise on his arms and neck, the hairs standing on end. His breathing was shaky and stunted and his heart was pumping nine to the dozen in his chest as the creature drew closer, clammy fingers closing around his neck.
But his survival instinct kicked in before it could grasp the flesh of his neck and he stood with a speed he didn’t know he could accomplish, sending his computer chair flying back and causing the ghoul to topple over in an ungainly, undead mess.
He resisted the urge to gag, how had he not smelt this thing coming? With only the candlelight to see by, he was glad it was so dark. Only a day had passed since he’d last set eyes on one of these things, but that didn’t make the sight any less grotesque. This one looked like it had just finished a meal; its stomach was bloated and fresh blood spilled from its mangled mouth as it stood, crudely painting the beige carpet a dark, deep crimson. Its eyes were blank, unfocused and unblinking, scratched and dry.
Kyuhyun scrambled around blindly for any kind of blunt object on the desk behind him, feeling the sweat grow cold against his skin as the creature limped closer, jaw snapping and grinding mechanically as it groaned.
His hand found purchase on something hard and heavy and he quickly gripped it, ready to crack the things head right open, but by the time he'd found the weapon he was already staring straight into its cold, empty eyes, and he gasped soundlessly as every muscle tensed.
Cold hands gripped his trembling neck as it lunged forward, ready to take a chunk clean out of his jaw; but he dodged just in time, its teeth breaking the skin on his forearm instead. He gritted his teeth against the pain and brought his weapon – a pink paperweight with kitten stickers all over it – down on its head before it could find a secure purchase on his flesh, and sighed in relief as he heard a loud ‘crack’ before congealed blood spotted his white shirt.
He watched in a perverse sense of amusement as the zombie slumped to the floor with a thud, and he fell back against the desk, panting and clutching his arm. It was burning hot where he’d been chomped on, rapidly turning a putrid, deep purple around the shallow wound. He tore a strip of cloth from his shirt and wrapped it around the bite tightly before grabbing the candle and making his way back to where Sungmin lay.
A drop of infected saliva, a bite, a scratch. You’re dead.