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About 20 meters away from us, the two ghouls suddenly opened their murky eyes wide and turned violent all of a sudden. They then began running toward our corner of the corridor with big strides.

This is bad, we've been spotted!

Fanny immediately raised her weapon and fired. The ghoul in front was hit and stumbled, a black fluid spurting out of its chest. Another bullet flew across its face, taking off a huge chunk of rotting flesh along with it, exposing its mutated, razor sharp teeth. It did not fall, however. The bullet had only slowed it down slightly, and it leaped toward Fanny in a frenzy again.

Because of my temporary loss of hearing, I could not hear the huge roar of my revolver and could only feel its terrible recoil. The round from my gun hit the second ghoul on its upper arm, the huge impact instantly breaking its arm, and its foul blood immediately spurted out. It did not fall as well, and the sudden loss of its right arm did not even slow its speed down in the least.

I believed Fanny's wounded right arm was affecting her aim- why else would she have missed a few times at such close range?

The bolt of Fanny's gun suddenly extended, signaling that there were no more bullets left in it. Just as she was reaching for an additional magazine in her technical belt, the ghoul had already charged in front of her. The revolver hit the ghoul that was about to pounce on Fanny, and huge chunks of blood and flesh burst out from the exit wound in its neck. Its head was about to fly off from the impact, but it was still connected to the ghoul's neck by sliver of flesh and ended up hanging off its back after being tugged back down. It was as dead as it could be. Before I could fire off a third round, the other ghoul had threw Fanny on the ground and opened its mouth, wanting to bite off her flesh with its sharp teeth. Fanny was quick-witted, however, and stuffed her empty gun into its mouth, temporarily stopping it from biting her.

The ghoul squirmed violently on top of her, and there was no way I could take good aim. As such, I drew out the combat knife from its sheath on my thigh, pressed its head backward and stabbed my knife into its eye. As it passed cleanly through the ghoul's head, plenty of its brain matter came spilling out from the back, and it stopped moving after twitching violently for a couple of times. Fanny's neck was covered with the ghoul's filthy blood.

Many wanderers were adepts in knife fighting. After all, there was little chance of them getting to use a firearm, mostly due to the prohibitive cost of ammunition. Most of it was left to their unscrupulous fellow humans and mutants who knew how to use firearms. The most common form of danger to these wanderers came from smaller sized mutated creatures in the wild, and ordinary firearms had little effect on these rapid creatures- they were better off using knives.

Fanny pushed the ghoul's corpse away and climbed up, wiping her neck with a look of disgust.

"Your marksmanship is nothing to shout about," she said, not thankful that I had just saved her life. That said, since I could hear her, it meant that I had regained my sense of hearing, even if the first words I heard after being able to hear again were so unsavory.

"If it weren't for my wounds, you wouldn't even have a chance," she continued, a look of superiority on her face. She did not care how I felt and fished out her handgun from the ghoul's mouth, before reloading with a magazine from the ammunition pouch hanging on her waist, as if I were not there.

This woman is really full of herself. Perhaps, in her eyes, it was a disgrace to be rescued by a vagrant she despised, and I started to take a real interest in her identity. She was prideful to the core, wore clean clothes, could handle a firearm, and was extremely knowledgeable about machinery- she must be somebody important. In the wasteland, people could kill each other for a bottle of clean water, but this was somewhat comical when she was in the picture. That's right, we would not even be fit to drink the water left over from her shower. It's not comical, but rather, pitiful.

"Take the lead, I'll guide you along," Fanny said. I shrugged my shoulders, completely unable to tackle her. We left the corridor where we met the two ghouls and went past many other passageways and rooms. Even though we remained alert along the way, we did not encounter any more ghouls. However, this strange, quiet ambience only lasted until we walked into a meeting room. It was then that I heard the insane roar of a man coming from behind the walls of the room.

"This noise... is that your companion?" I turned around to ask Fanny.

"Damn it, he's been surrounded!" Fanny sounded anxious upon hearing his shouts, and she pulled the door of the room open, wanting to dash inside without any hesitation. However, when she opened it, a few ghouls that were standing behind the door turned to look toward the source of sound. The man with a gun was lying on the ground behind them, and a few other ghouls were ripping the flesh off his body. Evidently, he had already died.

"Run, quickly! What are you stoning out for!" I shouted loudly at Fanny as I ran, raising my revolver and shooting the ghouls at the same time. The woman's legs, however, seemed to filled with lead, and she still had not moved. Was she struck dumb with fear upon witnessing the gory sight of her companion being eaten? The ghouls, however, paid no heed to whether you were stunned or not, and very quickly, they had already leaped in front of her.


I blew off the head of the ghoul running at the front of the pack with one shot, and I was sure that the brain matter that exploded out of its skull would have splattered on Fanny's face. She began moving, perhaps because of said gore from the ghoul, and I saw her about to raise her right arm, but the other ghoul close behind its deceased companion flung her unto the ground. Fanny kept squeezing the trigger of her weapon as she pumped bullets into the chest of the ghoul, but it had no effect.

I killed another ghoul, but it was too late. The suppressed Fanny could only afford to cry "Help" once before her throat was bit off by the ghoul on top of her. Her screams of terror and pain turned into the gurgling of blood as it spurted out from her wound. Her eyes were wide open and her body twitched violently for a few seconds before her head slumped to the side and she lost her breath.

The two ghouls that were on top of her did not notice me drawing close- they were busy feasting on the tender flesh of Fanny. I shot them at nearly point-blank range, disrupting their joyous meal time. The two gunshots finally raised the attention of the other ghouls, and the one that was feasting on Fanny's male companion stood up slowly, turned around and stared at me with its green, murky eyes.

I lifted my arm without hesitation and fired off two rounds in quick succession, instantly taking away half of a ghoul's head. Blood and sticky matter flew out, creating another explosion of carnage. I quickly took aim at the other ghoul and pressed the trigger, but there was only the slight sound of the firing pin hitting air- the gun was empty. Without a speed loader, it was difficult to reload a revolver at high speed. As such, I threw the gun on the ground and drew my combat knife.

I tried to shut the door again, but the corpse on the floor jammed the entrance. I could only force it shut until a gap of about a person's body was left, but it was enough. Upon hearing footsteps draw closer, I could not help but grip the hilt of my knife tightly.

Suddenly, a ghoul stuck its head through the door crack, its eyes glowing green. Its skin was rotting and shriveled slightly, and its mouth was stained with fresh blood. Without hesitation, I stabbed my knife into the ghoul's mouth, piercing through to the back of its skull, with bits of its flesh on my arm. It stopped moving, and I released my grip on the door and pulled out the combat knife from its mouth before I kicked its still erect body away, knocking it into the path of the second ghoul that had come leaping toward me. I went up and stepped on the ghoul's chest, squatted down and stabbed my knife violently into it's eye socket. It did not gasp in pain and stopped moving after twitching for a few times. Just like this, I had killed all the ghouls present.

I turned around to look at the late Fanny and her male companion lying in the corner, before eventually deciding to confirm their deaths with a supplementary stab into their skulls- I did not like surprises. I picked up my discarded revolver and reloaded it slowly with bullets from my pocket.

Now that both of them were dead, my next major problem was going to be how to leave this place. Of course, if the woman had not been lying to me, there would be a way out to the surface at this level, but the question was where was this passageway? I was completely unfamiliar with the layout of this underground laboratory and could not help but scratch my head- I was completely clueless as to how to proceed.

Right-- Familiarize, woman, map!!!

A message suddenly appeared in my mind, and I thought about what the woman had said at the entrance of the waste water processing plant. I searched through her pockets and waist pouch, managing to find a map from a small pocket of the pouch, along with an identity token engraved with her full name- "Fanny Darcy". I took her pistol and both magazines along with me.

The man's chest had been completely torn apart, and his ribs were exposed. Even though it was a little disgusting, what have I not seen before? Perhaps just the sight of human flesh being consumed. I picked up the strange weapon dropped at his side and took aim at a target far away before squeezing the trigger, but there was no reaction from the gun. There was a rectangular slot at the top of the gun, however, and its shape was somewhat similar to the nuclear power cell I used to blow the rest room apart. I'd still better keep this, I thought. It must be high-grade weaponry, and I bet I can get some valuable items from exchanging it.

It would not fit in my backpack, and I could only sling it behind my back. There were some compressed army rations in the man's pocket, along with a identity token that said "Jones Magdalene". After keeping my loot, I opened the map and there was a mining shaft indicated on it which was shown to lead to the surface. It was situated at the northwest corner of this level, beside a store room. My current position was not too far away, and I could arrive there after passing through two corridors a few dozens of meters long and another few more rooms.

I pocketed the map and advanced toward the exit.

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