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Hangover | Book Four The Fog Series | Chapter Three

Benjamin woke to several dull thuds. His head felt better, but still, he lay in Ted’s bed for a few moments, making absolutely sure that the pounding wasn’t coming from his head. He finally tossed aside and blankets and climbed out of bed. He shuffled to the doorway. Alex and Elijah, machete and baseball bat in hand, were already at the door, so Benjamin remained standing at the entrance of Ted’s room. Elijah peeked through the peephole. “It’s the girls!” he announced, brightening.

“Sweet!” Alex declared.

“And Chad,” Elijah added sourly.

“Wonderful,” Benjamin deadpanned.

“I know, right?” Elijah asked.

Alex opened the door, and indeed, it was the women and Chad, whom Benjamin had decided was now and forever going to be his mortal foe.

“Hey, guys,” Daisy said, tapping the butt of her bat against the carpet.

Chad’s arm snaked across Sara’s waist. “Yeah,” Chad said. “We were starving and thought we’d come over.”

“Do you have any food?” Amber asked. “I’m pretty good at cooking good things on a budget.”

“And if not, were you planning on getting any?” Sara asked. “Or trying to order any in?”

“Why don’t you ladies come in, and we’ll discuss our options?” Elijah inquired, waggling his eyebrows.

They all filed in. Chad included. As Chad settled onto the sofa, Elijah scowled at his back. “I don’t suppose we can leave him out,” Elijah whispered.

“No,” Alex replied. “That would be rude.”

Elijah heaved a loud sigh and collapsed onto the sofa like he’d just run a marathon. Benjamin smiled in sympathy and crammed himself onto the sofa with everyone else.

“It’s going to be a pain to find a place that’s open,” Sara said, her finger flicking over her phone.

“Pizza seems like a safe choice,” Benjamin said, “And considering the vast amount of pizza places in New York City, it seems statistically likely that at least one of them is open.”

“So we’ll call them all!” Chad declared. “But we have to make sure we can get a pizza that is gluten-free. And low fat sauce. I have a very strict diet.”

Benjamin rolled his eyes and called Pizza Hut. They were going to get whatever pizza place answered the phone. That was what. For a while, they sat there, dialing pizza place after pizza place but to no avail. Finally, Amber cleared her throat. “I think pizza is probably a no-go. What about Chinese?”

“Ugh,” Chad replied. “Have you seen the sodium in Chinese food?”

Benjamin clenched his jaw. Chad had some nerve to complain; while the rest of them had spent a good half-hour dialing pizza place after pizza place, Chad had sat there flipping through some social media app. Maybe Instagram.

“Chinese it is,” Benjamin cut in.

He was tired, hungry, and not in the mood for Chad’s crap.

So they called every Chinese place in New York City. Also, to no avail.

Benjamin morosely ended his call with Panda Express. “Ideas now?” he asked.

“I have an idea,” Amber said. “Why don’t we call and get some fresh bread, cold cuts, lettuce, tomato, and dressings?”

For a beat, no one spoke.

“What?” Amber asked.

“What on Earth are you talking about?” Elijah asked.

“You know,” Amber said, “Like what you get at Firehouse.”

“Subs?” Elijah asked. “You mean subs.”

“Well, if you want to call them that, but the technical components—”

“No one cares about the technical components,” Elijah said. “They’re called subs.”

“I call them submarines!” Alex piped up.

“I’ve always called them wedges,” Sara said.

“Okay. But normal people call them subs because it’s easy, right?” Elijah asked. “That’s why it’s called Subway!”

“I call them hoagies,” Benjamin said, “And I’m a scientist. I have the authority on classification.”

“Can you guys just call the place already?” Chad snapped. “Who cares what they’re called?”

Benjamin exchanged a glance with Elijah. While they might have been friendly enemies competing for Sara’s attention, they were now in a united front to stop Chad. And potentially annoy him as much as possible. They would have to plan out the specifics later.

So they set about calling. Abruptly, Daisy shrieked and practically leaped off the sofa. “I got one!” she exclaimed. “They’re open!”

“Let’s order everything!” Elijah exclaimed. “We’ll put it on Chad’s card!”

“What?” Chad asked.

“I second,” Benjamin said. “It’ll be a pain if we have to split it between seven different cards.”

Chad crossed his arms. “Fine,” he said, “But I want the receipt, so everyone can pay me back. I’m not just taking the bill for everyone.”

They ordered enough subs for four days, and Chad’s face grew bright red when he was told the total. “It’s so nice of you to pay for all this,” Sara said, leaning her head against Chad’s shoulder.

Chad smiled tightly. “Anything for you, babe,” he said.

With the subs finally ordered, everyone slumped on the sofa. “I hope the guy bringing our submarines doesn’t get mauled by Teds,” Alex announced.

“Me, too,” Elijah said. “I’m hungry.”

“We’ll have to tip them really well,” Sara said.

“Not too well,” Amber replied. “It’s going to be a struggle for us already. None of us are going into work Monday, and we don’t know if we’ll be going in the rest of the week either.”

“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” Daisy said, blowing her bangs out of her eyes. “This really bites.”

Alex leaned forward and flipped on the TV. Immediately, Benjamin perked up, hoping for an update from the White House or the CDC, but no. It appeared that some reporter had taken to the streets and was interviewing people about the Teds.

“This is jus’ awful!” a man announced, waving his arms.

Dear God, that was the thickest Southern drawl Benjamin had ever heard.

“We’re doin’ our best, but the police an’ the army ain’t even come in! And they’re sayin’ they can’t come out an’ help us because they’re being overwhelmed with calls! Can you believe it? My tax dollars pay for this!”

The reporter nodded sympathetically.

“Heck, we’d about be ready to just pay someone to come an’ take ‘im all out!” the man continued. “There’s just too many of them for us to get them all on our own, and they’re really causin’ some serious trouble! They’re trampling all over my cotton fields! And done ‘bout give my dog Lucy a heart attack!”

Another sympathetic nod from the reporter.

“Girls,” Sara said slowly. “Are you both thinking what I’m thinking?”

The women exchanged looks with one another. “We’re way better at killing Teds than the boys,” Daisy said.

“Hey!” Elijah protested.

“I’m sorry,” Daisy asked, leaning forward and stroking the handle of her baseball bat. “Are you claiming that I didn’t kill them better than you? Would you like a demonstration?”

“Nope!” Elijah replied, holding his hands up in surrender. “I take it back!”

“Nice choice,” Daisy replied.

“You are really good at zombie slaying,” Alex said, nodding enthusiastically.

“Yes, it’s too bad you didn’t get to see us in action,” Sara said, smiling at Chad.

Chad smiled weakly. “Yeah.”

“Is something wrong?” Sara asked. “You’ve been quiet.”

“I’m just feeling a little sick,” Chad said. “Nothing to worry about. I probably just need to eat.”

“So I’m thinking,” Daisy said, “We start ourselves a business of killing Teds.”

“You can’t just start a business spur of the moment,” Benjamin said. “I mean, just because you have a good idea doesn’t mean you have customers. You need a logo, a website, ads in papers!”

“Done!” Daisy declared, proudly brandishing her smartphone.

Benjamin’s jaw dropped as he read an ad: “Ted Killer for Hire. Comme below.”

“Okay,” Benjamin said, “But first of all, people on Facebook aren’t going to know what a Ted is. Second of all, you spelled comment incorrectly. Neither of those really scream professionalism.”

Daisy nodded. “That’s a good point.”

She turned her phone around.

“And besides, I doubt people are really going to be on social media with everything that’s going on,” Benjamin said.

Aside from people like Chad, who were apparently so obsessed that even the apocalypse couldn’t tear them away.

“Fixed!” Daisy announced.

She showed him the phone once more. Now, the ad red: “Zombie Killer for Hire: Comment below.”

Daisy smiled smugly and sat back against the sofa cushions. “This will work,” she said. “You’ll see. We’ll have people beating down the door and blowing up our phones wanting us to take care of their little zombie problems.”

Right. Sure, they would. Benjamin had never heard a plan so doomed to fail in his entire life. All Daisy was going to get from that post was a bunch of weirdos.

Chad drew a shuddering breath and leaned forward. His face had grown deathly pale, and with a sudden sick sort of dread, Benjamin realized that Chad didn’t look just pale. He looked like Ted, the original Ted, had when he had burst into the apartment and tried to kill them all.

“Chad?” Sara asked, putting a gentle hand on Chad’s shoulder.

“I’m fine,” Chad said, “Just kind of sick at my stomach. It’s no big deal. I promise. I probably just ate something that didn’t agree with me. That’s all.”

“Are you sure you weren’t bitten?” Benjamin asked. “You said that you fought through some Teds to get here.”

“He’s not been bitten,” Sara replied, rubbing Chad’s back.

“How do you know for sure?” Alex asked.

“Right,” Benjamin said. “I mean, you would have to see every inch of him to do that.”

There was a pause. Amber and Daisy looked sheepish, and the weight of what Benjamin had said dawned on him.

“We…uh, might have had a quickie before we all took a nap,” Sara admitted. “You know. As you do.”

Elijah’s laughter was shaky. “Well, hey! If you saw all of him naked and didn’t find any bites, that’s a good thing, though! I mean, if I wasn’t woefully single, I’d probably be banging pretty hard during the apocalypse.”

All the color drained from Sara’s face. As if in slow motion, she and Chad turned to look at one another. “Well, not all of him,” Sara said hesitantly, “Now that you mention it.”

“What do you mean?” Alex asked.

“I never strip all the way down,” Chad said defensively. “Okay?”

What a weirdo.

“He gets cold feet very easily,” Sara said, “So he always keeps his socks on. He even sleeps with them on.”

“I mean, my ankle was hurting earlier,” Chad said, “But I—I mean, it’s just from where I twisted it when fighting a Ted.”

“You’re walking very well to have twisted an ankle,” Benjamin pointed out. “You haven’t even been limping.”

“I have a good pain tolerance,” Chad countered.

“Just show us,” Alex said, edging away from Chad.

With a scowl, Chad rolled up his pants leg. He didn’t even need to pull down the sock for everyone to see the red, dried blood.

“Oh, God,” Benjamin said.

Chad peeled the sock down and swiped his thumb over the area. There was undeniably a bite mark, and when Chad touched it, the bite bled anew. Benjamin’s breath hitched, and he scrambled away, stumbling over Alex and Elijah as they also tried to flee.

“I slept with a Ted!” Sara exclaimed, shuddering as she darted away.

Amber moved with her, holding Sara by the shoulders.

“Come on, everyone!” Chad protested. “It’s me! I’m not a Tad or whatever!”

“There is no known cure for this virus,” Benjamin said, “And it might even be airborne. You might have turned us all into Teds.”

They fell into silence. Chad’s desperate eyes found Sara’s face, and Benjamin felt a sharp, sudden pain in his chest. While he wanted to dislike Chad, it was difficult not to feel just the least bit sympathetic given the situation.

“Whoo! Yes!” Daisy exclaimed, dancing around the room.

Everyone looked towards her. Benjamin gawked as she danced around, phone in hand. “We just got our customer!” Daisy announced. “Our first customer!”

“Daisy,” Sara said.

Daisy paused and seemed to take in everyone’s faces. “What happened?”

Her eyes landed on Chad, who was growing paler by the second.

“Oh, no,” Daisy said.

And Daisy leaped into action, frantically running towards her bat. But it wasn’t at hand. None of their weapons were. By the time Daisy reached the bat, Chad’s transformation was complete. Chad lunged at Sara, who reached towards her boots, only to realize she had no knives. Elijah swore. Everyone was running away, fleeing and dashing for weapons, and Chad was so close—too close—to Sara. Any second, and he would sink his teeth into her and turn her into a Ted, too. Benjamin frantically looked around, searching for anything that might serve as a makeshift weapon.

Benjamin’s eyes landed on the nearby lamp. In a rough motion, Benjamin grabbed the lamp; the lampshade came off in his hands. With a scream, Benjamin ran and rammed into Chad as hard as he could. While Benjamin lacked Chad’s height and strong muscles, he did have physics on his side.

Force equaled mass times acceleration, and from what Benjamin had observed, Teds didn’t have the best of balance. Striking Chad felt like striking concrete, but the force of their collision knocked Chad to the floor. Benjamin fell on top of him and scrambled, fighting sporadically. Over and over, Benjamin pelted Chad over the head with the lampshade. Dimly, Benjamin was aware of the muffled footfalls, Sara running for cover.

“Get back!” Daisy shouted.

Benjamin moved, tripping over his feet as Chad grunted and floundered. Chad’s jaw worked, snapping and gnawing at the air. Daisy was suddenly there. She brought her bat down, aiming for Chad’s ribs, something which she had done a hundred times before. But this time, Chad caught her bat and wrapped his hands around it.

“What?” Daisy screamed.

Chad stumbled to her feet as Daisy bent her knees and tried to pull the bat away from the new Ted.

“Come on!” Alex shouted. “It’s like tug-a-war!”

Alex wrapped his arms around Daisy’s waist and tried to help. What a foolish idea. It would never work. But it might be a decent distraction! Benjamin’s mind went in a million directions at once. He slammed into Chad once more, beating his shoulders and arms with the lampshade. Chad growled and swiped at the shade, ripping it with his nails. Benjamin darted back, and thinking fast, he returned with the lamp itself. It was heavy and ceramic. Benjamin hefted the lamp and slammed it into Chad’s head.

Chad snapped his neck back with a sickening crunch. He dropped Daisy’s bat. Benjamin swung again, aiming for Chad’s neck; it seemed to be broken. Finally, Chad collapsed into a heap and remained on the floor, unmoving.

For a long moment, Benjamin stared at Chad, expecting the Ted to rise again and begin trying to bite them with renewed vigor. But he didn’t. Benjamin had actually beaten him! Somehow. Miraculously.

Benjamin dropped the lampshade and looked around at everyone.

“Nice job,” Daisy said, holding out her hand for a fist-bump.

“Thank you,” Benjamin replied, dazed as he returned the gesture.

“Darn,” Elijah said, as he approached Chad, “He seemed like such a nice guy.”

Elijah clearly hadn’t thought so, but his performance was still fairly impressive.

Sara sighed. “It’s going to be awful telling his parents,” she said.

“I’ll help you with it,” Amber said, “But I mean, there was nothing we could do.”

“Let’s just be grateful he didn’t transform during your quickie!” Alex blurted out.

“That…that is fortunate,” Sara replied.

Benjamin shivered at the thought of having his partner turn into a Ted halfway through intercourse. That was someone he definitely wouldn’t wish on anyone—not even Chad, despite what a jerk he had been. Benjamin bit the inside of his cheek and stared at the corpse that had once been Chad. This zombie virus was bad. Very bad. And somehow, they had to find a cure.

 

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