Chapter 8:

The Grueling Task

Ludicy - Reaching Out

Daniel woke up to the sound of muffled footsteps. It could only be Jean. Alex was still lying next to him. Moments later, Jean opened the door with a bright smile on her face. "What is she so happy about?" Daniel thought. Jean started: "It's breakfast time! What will we have today, Danny?" Daniel got a bit confused for two reasons. Why was she so excited about breakfast? And what did she just call him? When did she have time to give him a nickname? "Oh well, " he thought, "guess it's time to get up. I'll let Alex sleep in a bit longer. She's been thru a lot. She also looks soo cute when she sleeps. Let's go downstairs, and I'll make some breakfast." By the time they got to the kitchen, it was evident that Jean was eager to know what the fabled breakfast would be. Daniel broke the silence by proclaiming: "We're gonna have an omelet for breakfast. Is that okay?" Jean nodded enthusiastically. When the omelets were done, Jean started setting the table. Daniel went up to wake up Alex. Upon entering the room, he could see her face illuminated by gentle rays of morning sunlight. After giving it some thought, he decided to risk it and give her a kiss on the cheek. She smiled gently and hugged him. "Something smells delicious. Let's go eat," she said before getting out of bed. Daniel starts: "Today, I'm going to help out Parks, so can you watch over Jean while I'm gone?" Alex smiled again, before saying she'd be happy to. The breakfast went by, and it was time for Daniel to head out. Before heading out, he starts: "Okay Jean, I have to go now, but I will come back before it gets dark. I have some food prepared in the fridge, and Alex is here, so you should be able to get by while I'm gone. In case you get bored, you have my old books, board games, video games, and the TV. Oh, but try not watching TV the entire time. Most of the stuff there is only drama anyway. And Alex, I know you'll take good care of her. Call me in case anything happens. Goodbye now!" Jean sent him off with a tight hug and went inside the house with Alex. Daniel got to the station a few minutes before 11. Parks was there, sitting patiently. He starts: "Good morning, boy. It's good to see you. As per our agreement, I have some tasks prepared for you. I won't lie and say they're simple. Because of the current circumstances, nothing is. Your tasks are as follows: investigating the park where Jean got separated from her parents, responding to a call by an elderly lady about her husband going missing, also in the area, and lastly, meeting up with the station's resistance team to help out with some tasks. I'll give you this silver pin so people know I've sent you. I wish you good luck." Parks takes off a silver pin that'd been on his necktie and hands it over to Daniel. Daniel clips it on the collar of his shirt and heads out. "Ok, first I have to go to the park," he thought. It seems the easiest since it was the first thing Parks had told him to do. After around 15 minutes of slow-paced walking, Daniel is near the park Jean told him about. There is a faint stench in the air, but Daniel can't quite make out what it is. As he nears the park, the stench grows gradually more foul. He starts thinking about how he's never smelled something so horrid before. Upon getting to the park entrance gate, the stench was so bad that Daniel was on the verge of gagging. He enters the park, and before going even 10 meters in, he notices a scene out of a horror movie. To his right, there are 2 people on the floor. They're covered in blood and surrounded by chunks of meat scattered on the floor. Mushrooms are growing out of their bodies. He gets an unpleasant feeling at the back of his throat. It's hard to tell whether it's vomit rising up or the unbearable pressure of death that looms in the surrounding air. He decides to swallow his fear and approaches the bodies in hopes of finding some identification on them. As he approaches the mangled bodies, he notices they're pulsating ever so slightly. It wasn't noticeable from a distance, but now it's evident. Daniel's brain went into overdrive: "What could be causing this? They're corpses, so you'd expect them to get a little bloated, especially with the heat lately. Is it the mushrooms? It must be. Normal corpses don't behave that way." At the distance of only a couple steps, there is definitely some vomit climbing its way up to his throat. Doing his best not to let it out, he reaches out for the pocket of what he assumes to be the body of a man since the bodies are beyond recognition. Thankfully, there is something that has the feel of a wallet. With it in hand, Daniel quickly backs away and starts examining it. The wallet was covered in sticky blood with the texture of melted caramels. Making his way thru the wallet, Daniel finds the identity card. After some struggle, he manages to wipe off enough blood to make out the first name. "Joseph, eh? Alright, Parks ought to be able to do something with this. Better take a look around the surrounding area as well." With that in mind, he sets out quickly. The stench was getting to him. After getting some 50 meters away from the corpses, something stands out to him. An old man is sitting under a tree. The odd part is the fact that he isn't wearing any shoes. What happened? Could he have been attacked too? Daniel approached the old man and took a better look at him. The man had a head of pure silver hair and a lush grey mustache with solid black stripes. Although a little chubby, he wasn't overweight. He looks strangely peaceful, almost as if he's dreaming of something nice. He isn't breathing, but his chest puffs up every so often. An orange mushroom with a tint of purple is growing out of his hand that just got into Daniel's view. "Another thing to report to Parks," he thought. "Now to head over to the old lady." Deciding he doesn't want to go near the stench of decomposing corpses again, Daniel climbs the 2-meter fence and jumps to the street.