I didn’t want to leave him. But I had to survive. I still had a job to do. As I climbed the elevator shaft toward the surface, I heard the fading gunfire down below, listened as the brutes howled and snarled. Then it went quiet.
I reached the top and climbed through the door. The warehouse had been completely leveled by something. I knew I had to move fast. That explosion would have drawn the attention of any creatures within earshot. I shuffled awkwardly over the debris of the warehouse heading toward the street. I cleared the wreckage and stood there, looking around at how much the world had changed. I was terrified. With no food, water or shelter, I had no idea how I would survive. And I had no idea if the virus was still airborne and infecting me. But I knew where I had to go.
I started jogging down the road, looking for some kind of transportation I could use. I would never make it to my destination on foot. On the corner was an old bike shop. It wasn’t ideal, but it was my only option. I moved toward the glass door and peered in. The inside was torn apart and still, no movement inside that I could see. I slowly pushed the door open and stepped in, latching the door behind me and pulling down the blind.
There was almost nothing of use inside, but I found what I was looking for. An intact bike lay on its side, the handlebar slightly bent and the chain was rusted, but it was whole. I picked it up and rotates the pedal. The gears were stiff, but they were functional. I took one more quick look around before heading back out to the street with my bike. I could hear howls and screeches in the distance. It was time for me to go.
I rode for hours without stopping, only slowing down for the occasional rusted out car or rotting carcass. I thought a lot about the way the world use to be and the life I had once lived. It was all so simple before I was told the truth…
It was August of 2012 when I received the phone call that would change my life, as well as save it.
“Matt Wedford?” the woman’s voice was soft, yet stern.
“Speaking,” I said.
“We need you on Site XJ-43 ASAP. Clearance Alpha.”
“Is it that bad?” I asked.
“Your flight leaves in 2 hours,” with that, the line went dead.
I was a biomedical research specialist for the United States government. Until now, I had been kept mostly in the dark about the disaster taking place off the coast of Australia. I had heard bits and pieces about a viral disease spreading across the continent that a fisherman’s corpse washed ashore carrying. Highly contagious in both liquid and gaseous forms, it was scaring the hell out of every country on earth.
I arrive in Sydney early morning and was herded into the black SUV that awaited me. Australia and the U.S. were containing the virus in an underground research and training facility in the Australian outback, trying desperately to keep it from escaping into a massively populated area. I’m not sure how long it took to get there as I slept the whole way, unable to sleep on the flight. I was woken up by a gruff voice.
“Rise and shine, Mr. Wedford. We have been expecting you.” The man was at least 50, silver hair and stubble, with ocean blue eyes. He was also built like an ox. He wore blue jeans and a grey button up shirt, but he was clearly military.
“I’m General Weston. You’re going to follow me and listen very closely, because we don’t have any time to screw around, is that clear?”
“Good.” And with that he turned and headed down toward the bunker doors, and I followed. We stepped into a large industrial lift that jolted down almost immediately. We traveled farther and farther into the ground. The moment the lift stopped, the General was walking briskly again. I followed silently, passing lab after lab, as well as a few training courses where men and women were honing their skills. I was in awe at the sheer size of the place that I almost walked right into the General when he stopped suddenly at a large window. He spun and looked at me.
“6 weeks ago, a virus of unknown origin was discovered inside the deceased body of a local fisherman that washed on shore. His body was emitting low levels of radiation, and a Hazmat team brought him here, where an autopsy was performed. It was during this autopsy that the virus was initially released. Dr. Solomon was in charge of dissection. Shortly after, he began behaving erratically, eventually injuring a fellow co-worker who was trying to leave base for duty. He was restrained and locked up for examination. Within a few hours, the good doctor began to change,” he stopped.
“Change?” I looked at him quizzically.
“His hair and nails fell off, his teeth began rotting falling out. It was then we realized that there was more than just an irradiated cadaver we were dealing with. The entire base was put on lockdown, everyone who had contact with Solomon was pulled inside and placed under quarantine to be monitored. Everyone but one person. The soldier Solomon had injured was MIA. A few days later we received intel from a patrol of some unknown creatures attacking the fences surrounding the base. One was put down. Another escaped. Hazmat units retrieved the corpse and, upon DNA analysis, it was discovered that the creature was the missing soldier. The body was examined and burned, and the examining team was placed under lock down,” he paused and looked at the glass, which was black on the other side.
“What I’m about to show you is absolutely classified, as well as deeply disturbing. Please, prepare yourself,” he said as he placed his hand on a switch by the window. I looked at him, terrified, and nodded. He hit the switch and the room on the other side of the glass lit up. What I saw still haunts me.
The room was large, and was inhabited by 4 creatures of varying mutation.
“This is Dr. Solomon and the Hazmat team. Or at least, what they’ve become,” his voice was grave.
The 3 Hazmat members looked similar to each other, their spines contorted into strange shapes, pushing their deformed heads low against their chests. Dr Solomon, however, looked like a walking nightmare. He was huge, with large, fang like teeth. His eyes were wide and black like a sharks eyes. His arms were thick and muscular, but bent in strange places. One hand was intact while the other was gone, replaced by a bony spike. His skin was slimy looking and scaly. He was standing motionless. And he was watching my every move.
I felt a thick hand on my shoulder, and I jumped. It was the General. He spoke again.
“3 days ago, we received word of similar creatures outside of Melbourne. We need to do something, fast.”
My voice shook as I responded, “What am I suppose to do about this?”
He looked back at the monsters for a moment and then looked me in the eyes, “Find me a damn cure. Fast.”
To be continued…