Episode 12 – Hidden Danger

Episode 12 – Hidden Danger

Rania looks back at the group as they break camp, her thoughts drifting to the previous night’s conversations. With their new allies, the journey feels more manageable. The forest ahead is dense, shadows stretching long in the early morning light.

The combined group moves cautiously, with Rania in front, Cael close behind, and Mireya and the kitten nestled safely between them. Ethan and his group follow at the back.

They move in a disciplined formation, honed by days of traveling through hostile territory. Rania scans the surroundings, her hand resting on the hilt of her machete. Suddenly, a distant growl reaches her ears, sending a chill down her spine.

“Stay close,” Rania whispers, her voice barely audible. The group tightens their formation, their eyes darting around the forest.

Without warning, zombies burst from the underbrush, their groans filling the air. The group’s response is immediate, weapons drawn and ready. Rania swings her machete, taking down the first zombie that lunges at her. Cael moves swiftly beside her, his crowbar connecting with a zombie’s skull.

Mireya stays close to Rania, her small knife clutched tightly in her hand. The kitten hisses, its fur bristling as it stays close to Mireya’s feet. Ethan’s group fights valiantly, their movements coordinated but strained under the sudden attack.

Rania catches sight of a zombie lunging toward Ethan, its jaws snapping dangerously close. Without thinking, she throws herself between them, her machete slicing through the air. The zombie’s teeth sink into her arm before she can react.

Pain sears through Rania, but she doesn’t waver. She pushes the zombie back, her vision blurring as she fights to stay conscious. The world around her spins, and she feels herself being pulled through a vortex.

The scene resets, and Rania finds herself back at the edge of the forest, the morning light filtering through the trees. She gasps, the memory of the bite fresh in her mind. “Not again,” she mutters, shaking off the disorientation.

“Stay close,” Rania whispers again, this time with more urgency. The group tightens their formation, unaware of the loop but sensing Rania’s heightened tension.

The zombies burst from the underbrush once more, but this time, Rania is ready. “Ethan, to your left!” she shouts, her machete already swinging at the nearest zombie. Ethan reacts instantly, taking down the zombie before it reaches him.

Cael’s crowbar is a blur as he targets the zombies’ heads. Mireya, though small, is fierce, her knife finding its mark. The kitten stays close to her, its instincts keeping it safe amidst the chaos.

Rania’s prior experience in the loop gives her an edge, guiding the group’s movements with strategic commands. “Jenna, cover Tom! Cael, back me up!”

The group moves as one, their actions synchronized. They create a defensive perimeter, fending off the attack. The zombies fall one by one, their numbers dwindling.

Despite the intensity of the battle, a calm settles over Rania. The forest echoes with the sounds of combat, but gradually, the groans of the undead fade.

Breathing heavily, Rania surveys the scene. The ground is littered with the remains of the zombies, and the group stands victorious but exhausted. She feels the weight of her own fatigue, the bite on her arm a phantom pain.

Cael steps forward, concern etched on his face. “Rania, are you okay?”

She nods, offering a reassuring smile. “I’m fine. We did well. Everyone did.”

Ethan approaches, his expression one of gratitude. “Thank you, Rania. You saved my life.”

“We saved each other,” Rania replies, her voice firm. “We need to stay alert. This was too close.”

The group regroups, checking for injuries and gathering their belongings. The adrenaline slowly fades, leaving a sense of camaraderie in its wake. They have proven their ability to work together, to protect each other in the face of danger.

The loop had given Rania a glimpse of what could be achieved.

The forest thickens, and the group’s vigilance remains high. Rania leads with confidence, her senses attuned to every sound and movement. Cael stays close, his presence a steadying force. Mireya, with the kitten by her side, walks with a newfound confidence.

They navigate the forest with practiced ease, avoiding additional threats and scouting for safe paths. The encounter with the zombies has sharpened their instincts. They move as one, a unit forged in the fires of survival.

As the day wears on, the forest thins; the trees giving way to open fields. Rania feels a sense of relief, the open space offering a temporary reprieve from the claustrophobic woods. They stop to rest, long shadows cast across the grass.

Ethan sits beside Rania, his expression thoughtful. “I’ve never seen anyone fight like you. How did you know what to do?”

Rania meets his gaze, the memory of the loop still fresh. “I’ve had a lot of practice. It’s about staying one step ahead, trusting each other.”

Ethan nods, his respect for Rania clear. “We’re lucky to have you leading us.”

Rania shakes her head. “We’re lucky to have each other. It’s the only way we’ll survive.”