I'm A Monster
by Gabrielle Lawson

Audio copy: You can listen to this story on my podcast: There Are Three of Me. It is read in Ep62 S4E9. You can find There Are Three of Me on Spotify, Google Podcasts, and .

Author's Note: This story takes place between Season 3 Missions 48 and 49. So spoilers if you haven't gotten that far. I've written two takes on it. Not surprisingly, I see Five as a woman because I am a woman. Oddly enough, I felt New Canton Five was a man. But because Six to Start never state a gender so that everyone can play, I've adapted the story for a male runner. I can only hope I've done him justice. Since I'm not male.

Missions 45 and 46 traumatized me. And what do I do when a work of fiction traumatizes me (If only I could do this when real life traumatizes me)? I write to work it out. They killed Doyle on Angel and I wrote Close to Home and The Messenger. And yes, I wrote a Call of Duty Ghosts story (as Philippe de la Matraque) because COD: Ghosts traumatized me. So here's a scene I felt was missing between those two missions. But it couldn't be there because there's not a lot of running in it and Zombie's Run is always about running. (Well, I walk but pretend I'm running.)

Female

During the ride, she tried to go back. Back to the facility where Archie and Sarah were. Where the zombie apolaclypse was a delusion and she hadn't killed Sam. Or anyone. But it didn't work. And then the van stopped and she was still in the apocalypse, and it wasn't Archie and Sarah with her but Simon and Amelia.

"Abel's half a mile there, Five," Simon told her as he led her out of the van. "Just run straight there and you should be fine. They'll forgive you, you'll see." Five thought maybe she heard a bit a wistfulness in his snide remark. But she couldn't focus on that right now.

Simon got back in the van and Amelia drove away. Five didn't move. She looked in the direction of Abel but couldn't get her feet to move. Instead she remembered everything she'd told Moonchild, everything Moonchild had told her to do. The explosions of the ships. Opening the gates at Abel. Hurting Jody. Attacking Sam.

It was the growls behind her that made her move. It was force of habit. She started walking, then jogging and then she was running. And the memories just faded away. It was just her and the ground beneath her feet, the wind in her hair, the sound of her feet and the zombies falling back behind her.

She was startled by the gate. It brought her back into focus. The gate began to raise and the weight of her guilt drove her to her knees. She couldn't even look up to see who belonged to all the feet that surrounded her.

"Five?"

It was Sam! Five lifted her head and sobbed uncontrollably. He surprised her then. He knelt down with her and pulled her into a hug. "Well, we know you're not mind-controlled any more. You wouldn't be this miserable if you were."

The next hour was a blur. She didn't speak. She was led to the hospital where Dr. Myers ran her through test after test. It was only when they were alone that she dared to speak. Dr. Myers knew was it was like.

"I'm not sure how you broke the mind-control, Five," Maxine said. "But I can't find any trace of the dopamine effect in your brain."

"Runner Three," Five whispered.

"Simon?" Maxine sat on the bed beside her.

Five nodded. "He was on the ships. To get the serum, same as me."

"The Comansys fleet?" Maxine sucked in a breath. "It was you."

Five began to cry again. She'd killed them. She'd killed them all.

"Hey, hey." Maxine put a hand on Five's shoulder. "I shouldn't have said that. She killed them, Five. She just used you to do it."

Five wanted to believe her but it just hurt so much. She laid down on the bed and sobbed as the faces flashed behind her closed eyelids. Every scientist, every guard, Ed. No Ed was alive. Simon had said he was alive.

Maxine moved and knelt down to be at eye level. "Tell me about Simon, Five. What did Simon do?"

Five opened her eyes. The faces went away. There was just Maxine. "He gave me the serum."

"But I didn't see any necrosis!" Maxine exclaimed. She rolled up Five's sleeves to look again.

"Van Ark's injection," Five's voice was a bit stronger.

"We never did know what it did to you." Maxine stood again. "Listen, Five, you need to put the blame where it belongs. On Moonchild. You couldn't help but do what she wanted, want what she wanted. I know. I did it. I tried to destroy the machine and I enjoyed it, Five. It felt good. I was happy."

Five heard her but didn't think it equated. "You didn't kill anyone."

"I don't think you did, either."

Five didn't understand. How could she think that? She had pushed the buttons, put in the code. The ships exploded.

"Sam said you were fighting it. I'm not sure how but you were. You didn't kill Jody and you didn't kill Sam. You could have. But you didn't."

"I put in the code."

"Did you try to kill the people on the ships, Five, before the explosion?"

Five shook her head.

"Did Moonchild tell you to kill them?"

Five nodded.

"But you didn't. Did she tell you to blow up the ships?"

Five shook her head. "Cut power."

"See," Maxine said, kneeling again. "She lied to you."

"How could I fight it? I wanted what she wanted."

Maxine shrugged. "Maybe your will is too strong. Maybe Van Ark's injection helped with that. Hard to know. But you did fight it, Five. You fought it and she had to lie to you to get you to kill."

Five just couldn't let herself off the hook like that. "I hurt Jody. I let the zombies in."

"You didn't kill Jody, Five, and she's not hurt bad. Bruises. No broken bones, no concussion. She's fine. The zombies were a distraction, for sure. But we handled them. You were here for something."

"The ZRD."

"Moonchild wants it? Why?"

Five had to think about that. As much as she had shared with Moonchild, Moonchild had not been so forthcoming with her. "She just said she wanted to make everyone happy. That she would make the sacrifice to do it."

"Well, we're going to have to try and work that out. We need you, Five. We trust you, Five."

Five felt her throat constrict again and the tears flooded her eyes. She didn't deserve it. She was a monster.

Dr. Myers dimmed the lights. "We forgive you, Five," she said and then left her to cry alone.