Grizzly Gaming

Monday, August 5, 2013

State of Decay Stories - A Brother's Promise - Part 2

A Brother's Promise - Part 2
It was late in the day as Jacob and Marcus returned from their trip to Marshall. The pair felt confident about the trip, that all the spots they scouted were completely suitable for the group. As Marcus and Jacob entered the church, they were both surprised to see a haggard looking Ed sitting on a chair. Lily was standing next to him, rubbing his back with one hand while telling him not to worry and that she appreciated everything he had done.

Ed’s trip to the lake apparently hadn’t gone well. Despite finding some supplies on his journey, he wasn’t able to find a memento of Lily’s father in the ranger station. In fact, he seemed very upset that he wasn’t able to even get inside the ranger’s station. Lily did her best to console Ed, but Jacob could tell she was disappointed.

Jacob didn’t like seeing his sister like this. He knew first-hand how hard her life had been because he had shared many of the same hardships. And, as her big brother, he felt a primal urge to protect her – to do whatever he could to help make her life better. If having a memento of their father would comfort her, even slightly, Jacob knew that it now fell to him to retrieve it.

“I don’t get it,” said Ed to Lily, noticing Marcus and Jacob had just entered the church. “We were just at the lake a couple weeks ago, how could it be so overrun with those things already?”

“Who knows,” said Lily. “We don’t know what makes these things tick so who can say why they do what they do.” Lily went back to her seat at the radio and opened up her log book as Marcus made his way over to Ed. Jacob broke off from Marcus to check on Lily.

“How are you holding up?” asked Jacob.

“I’m ok…” said Lily, trailing off slightly. “It’s too bad Ed couldn’t find anything at the station. But having him back in one piece is better than a silly old watch.”

“I’ll get it for you,” said Jacob.

“What?” Lily replied quickly. “No, Jacob, you don’t have to. And you heard what Ed said, the lake is crawling with zombies. It’s not safe.”

“I’m not worried about that,” said Jacob. “I’m worried about you. You’ve been working hard these past few weeks to keep everyone working together. You deserve to be happy, too.”

“I’m fine, Jacob, really,” said Lily. “I don’t want you going to the lake alright?”

Jacob didn’t reply but nodded his head that he understood. But he had already made up his mind – he was going to the lake and finding his father’s watch. He would be his sister’s hero.

Before he left, Jacob felt like he should tell someone where he was going. He didn’t want to argue with Lily anymore about it and Marcus had fallen fast asleep almost as soon as they returned home from Marshall. He found Ed sitting by the garden, near the church grounds exit, and told him his plan. He asked Ed to keep it quiet and assured him that he would be back soon.

Ed wasn’t so sure. He was too tired to argue but he didn’t want to let Jacob go before he knew what he was in for. Ed didn’t know Jacob too well and so couldn’t tell him matter-of-factly that he was in over his head. Jacob seemed sure of himself which made Ed feel a bit more at ease about his plans. But still, Ed had a feeling in the pit of his stomach that this was a bad idea. Jacob reassured him that he would be back before anyone noticed. Ed agreed to keep Jacob’s plan under wraps but made it known he was doing so reluctantly. The hesitance on Ed’s face didn’t even register to Jacob, who clapped Ed on the shoulder and quickly exited the church grounds.


Jacob took the same four-door pickup to the lake that he and Marcus had driven to Marshall. Being mindful of the demolished bridge Ed mentioned, Jacob’s truck rolled to stop feet from the entrance to the bridge. Jacob gathered his gear – a pipe threader and a powerful, bolt-action rifle – and went in search of the path which would lead him down across the river and to the ranger’s station.

As he snuck closer and closer to the ranger station, Jacob’s confidence had begun to falter slightly. He had only dispatched a handful of zombies prior to this trip and he was now realizing that Ed may have been slightly underselling just how many zombies now infested the area around the lake. He hadn’t been to the lake at Mt. Tanner since he was a child and was surprised at how well he remembered the area.

At the low wall that surrounded the ranger station parking lot, Jacob stopped for a moment to survey the area in front of him. He had successfully navigated around the storage shed Ed had mentioned but was disturbed to see that zombies had once again infested the structure. He hoped that none of the masses around the shed would notice his activities at the station. If he happened to catch their attention in the midst of clearing out the station, he could be surrounded in moments.

There were a handful of zombies in the parking lot. Not more than he could handle, but he could see many others hovering around the station’s exit and would no doubt be attracted to the melee once he started making his way toward the building.

Jacob was able to sneak into the parking lot and silently take down two zombies before more noticed. As he tripped the second zombie, smashing its decaying skull against the pavement, zombies from the ranger’s station began to pour out into the daylight. Jacob figured he could beat down the others in the parking lot before they reached him, though. With a few quick strikes, he had taken down another zombie and was dismayed when he returned his attention to the station. The few that initially trickled out turned into five, then eight, then ten. There seemed to be no end to the stream of zombies exiting the station.

Jacob engaged another zombie but before he could kill it, retreated slightly to the opposite side of the parking lot. The horde of zombies he was facing down now was larger than any he had ever seen before – let alone been facing down, miles away from help. Jacob pulled the rifle from his pack and leveled it’s barrel at the crowd that was slowly making its way toward him.

His first shot missed its target completely. He exhaled and steadied his aim again. He fired another round, catching his target in the shoulder. He smiled briefly as the round tore through the first zombie and caught one behind in the head, sending it to the ground in a heap. Jacob continued to fire until his clip was empty, killing a few more zombies. As he began the process of reloading the gun, the mass of shambling corpses was on him.

Jacob’s confidence was all but deteriorated. Even with the few he had killed, there seemed to be more zombies in the parking lot now than before he had arrived. He continued to fight, though. Using his considerable strength, he pushed the wall of zombies back slightly, braining the closest one with a wild swing. It dropped to the ground but was quickly replaced by two more. Jacob fought as long as his strength held out but all his efforts seemed to be for naught – the tide of zombies would not stop. With one last fleeting glance at the station, Jacob realized his fighting was futile. There were simply too many zombies for him to handle. Even with help, he wasn’t sure he would make it into the ranger’s station. Driving his weapon into the head of a prone zombie, Jacob turned, hopped the low wall and ran for the river.

He knew they were behind him. They were much slower but they would not tire like he quickly was. The pack on his back felt heavier. His feet felt as if they were slogging through mud. He didn’t even stop once he was at the river. Finding the cliffs leading to his car, he ascended them without a second thought. His mind was racing now, filled with terror at the thought of being overwhelmed by the horde that was at his heels.

Jacob was almost gasping for air as he crested the top of the cliff. Confident that the horde behind him would be stuck in the river bed, he smiled wearily as he lifted himself onto the grass. However as Jacob lifted his head to survey the area in front of him, his heart sank. Between Jacob and his truck sat a solitary zombie, feasting on the remains of some unfortunate creature. As Jacob lifted himself over the ledge with a thump, the beast darted its head around and in that moment, Jacob felt that time had stopped.

A feral zombie. He had heard of them from Marcus and a few others. He had never seen one but somehow, in that moment, knew that the thing in front of him could be nothing else. It’s body was lithe and ready to pounce, like a jungle cat lying in ambush. Where most zombies have perpetual blank expressions on their face, this feral zombie seemed all too aware of the current situation. In fact, Jacob thought for a moment that the beast was grinning as it turned and saw him rising from the riverbed.

Jacob knew these feral zombies were dangerous – more dangerous than any other abomination that had been spawned by the zombie infection. He was also completely drained from his experience at the lake. His hasty exit also compounded his lethargy and he felt that he could barely lift his arms, let alone battle a feral zombie one-on-one.

Almost as soon as the feral zombie had spotted Jacob, it bolted toward him. Too tired to fight, Jacob leveled his rifle at the ghoul and pulled the trigger. But instead of a round being fired, all Jacob heard was a vacant “click” sound. He hadn’t reloaded his gun after he left the station. With the beast nearly on him, he threw the rifle aside and pulled out his pipe threader.

As the feral bounded toward him, Jacob threw all his remaining strength into one blow that caught the beast on the side of the head. Rather than the killing blow he hoped for, the feral barely seemed dazed by the strike. Jacob’s winded body threw a few more ineffective strikes at the feral zombie, who seemed to be toying with him.

The feral zombie hesitated a moment before attacking, as if saying, “Was that your best?” Jacob began to cock his arm for another strike but the beast was done toying with him. Jacob’s final strike landed ineffectually against the feral’s shoulder as it pounced on him, sinking its teeth deep into his neck and shoulder, tearing a chunk of bloody flesh from Jacob’s collarbone. Jacob cried out in pain, which seemed to spurn the feral on. Displaying horrible strength, the feral zombie dug its claws deep into Jacob’s midsection and lifted him off the ground, over its head. 

A torrent of pain coursed through his body. Jacob struggled against the feral zombie's clutches, its claws sinking deeper as the beast clenched its powerful hands. Jacob suddenly thought of Lily, sitting in the church at the radio, worrying about him. It was the final thought that crossed Jacob's mind. The next moment, in one swift motion, the feral zombie ripped Jacob in half, being showered by the blood and organs from Jacob's mutilated body as it let loose a bone-chilling wail.


I’ll be honest, it wasn’t easy for me to retell this story. Jacob was the first character I had lost and I truly felt like it was all my fault that he died. The story of his demise was littered with instances of “What ifs.” What if I had reloaded my gun? What if I had brought some snacks or energy items with me? What if I had used Marcus to go to the lake instead of Jacob? What if I had just let him catch his breath instead of racing up the cliffs to the car? I could have done so many things differently and if I had, Jacob might still be alive.

It was even worse that Jacob died because Lily was destroyed. She had just lost her father and now her brother – her only remaining family – was dead, because of me. Listening to how devastated Lily was about Jacob’s death made me feel terrible. Which is crazy because this is a video game we’re talking about. But that didn’t change the fact that I was heart-broken. Not just because of how it impacted Lily, but because if I had done things even slightly differently, he might not have died. The rest of that day I even contemplated restarting my game so that I’d still have Jacob.

I hadn’t used him much before I sent him to the lake, which was my first mistake. He had powerhouse capabilities but I had barely ever used him so he wasn’t prepared at all for the lake, let alone to take on a feral zombie by himself. I had big plans for Jacob too. Being a powerhouse, I figured he would make a good “second Marcus.” Unfortunately, that never happened.

But the absolute worst part of Jacob’s death? It was utterly in vain. My “Memento” mission was glitched and never actually showed up on my map. Lily mentioned it and I went to check it out but it wasn’t until I played “SOD” on a friend’s console that I noticed he had a mission marker at the lake for the “Memento” mission. I never got one in my game. Jacob died for nothing.


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An avid gamer and long-time pro wrestling fan, stay tuned to Grizzly Gaming and the Delco Elbow Drop for game reviews and pro wrestling news.

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