I took off at a dead sprint out of the forest; adrenaline pushing me on even as every fiber of my body screamed in protest. I knew deep down, I’d have to rest soon, but the thought filled me with a dread I don’t even want to describe. I ran into a sub urban area. Using the street numbers to navigate I soon found myself on a direct path into the city. It’s almost over. I thought to myself. Just a bit farther.
I stopped dead in my tracks exhaustion and fading adrenaline forcing me to vomit all over the pavement. I was disgusted by the smell, my panting forcing the polluted air of both the vomit, and the destruction that surrounded me. I had not been around when the infection hit the city. I lived in the mountains living a peaceful existence amongst the quiet animals and disinterested trees. That’s why it took so long for me to find out something that had apparently been common knowledge for some time.
My isolated existence made the discovery of the extent of this chaos that much more jarring. I’d ventured down from the mountains on my usual yearly supply run. Where I would buy things I could not gather myself amongst the unending, empty wilderness. But when I spoke with Mark at the campfire just across a ravine that separated the city where I had been previously forced to take shelter. A full year prior had been my favorite place to gather these supplies. Now a decaying ghost town devoid of all human existence. He had told me that it was bad. Pure pandemonium as the poor saps destroyed their very livelihoods in riots, ravaging, underground warfare, and looting.
As we talked we eventually supposed that maybe they just all panicked; because even despite knowing the truth of what was going on. When the dead began to walk among the living we were all caught off guard.
Mark himself had been a businessman obviously I knew from the first moment I lay eyes on him. A blue suit tattered, filthy, blood soaked, and worn. But even so it had been apparent that he had tried to clean it instead of replace it with something more practical. As only someone who had spent an unnecessary amount of money on the suit purely for the appearance would. His pants once matching dress pants he would insist had now been stained a murky brown, caked in dried mud, and gore. His shoes had long since worn out and had been replaced with a pair he “liberated” from a dead soldier. The soldiers I should mention fared a little better than most in the city. You know with all the guns and tanks of course.
But as I entered the city limits climbing over the ruins of a deserted barricade I could see that in the end they were overwhelmed. Half eaten corpses dragging themselves toward me sent an all too familiar chill down my spine. I fell to my knees again but this time no vomit but a barrage of the scale of my task did. This is impossible. I thought to myself. But that thought dragged me back to how I had gotten in this situation in the first place and the words that gave me hope.
“Nothing is impossible” Mark said as he leaned back into his chair the fire reflecting off of his face. “My company was developing the cure to this plague when the infection hit the city. If we can open the door and check on them I have no doubt they will have something we can use at this point.” Mark said the light of the fire licking his features as he began to muse to himself. “But of course we’ll need my key card to get in. And there’s the possibility that they changed the password.” I looked up at him his figure in full view but the bush which was a few feet away was invisible even the tree branches which leaned only a few inches away from his head was obscured. “It’s worth a shot.” I said my voice hoarse and shaky. Everything up until this point had been a blur. Sometimes my old life seemed more like a dream than a memory. If it really was a dream then it was going to come true.
I was so deep in my thoughts that I did not see one of those things slips it’s teeth into Marks neck. His scream drew my attention and I lunged forward bringing my crowbar down onto the creatures head.
It’s skull caved in with a sickening crack and it slumped over Mark screamed as the sudden brain trauma forced it’s teeth to bite down hard locking it’s jaw around his shoulder. Then a sickly sound like when I accidently tore my old, wet, clothes as I tried to clean them in my laundry drum. It liberated a huge chunk of flesh from Marks shoulder and they both collapsed.
I loomed over Mark as his life seeped out from him and he stared up at me.
His hands trailed to his pocket and he drew out a crimson key card. I could see how it looked like a bank card but I didn’t have time to question him or examine it further. As he choked on his blood he said one thing that came out as he exhaled his last breath.
“Lazarus it’s my personal override. Plea-.” He coughed up a bubble of blood which burst over his face coating him in his own viscera. He weakly thrashed and wheezed until he fell silent and still.
I stood over him for a moment the weight of my task rooting me to the spot.
No… I thought to myself. How can I end this without Mark? I wish there was some other person here to help. I dropped to my knees tears filling my eyes. Six months of repressed frustration spilled over and I groaned as the tears fell. But they’re dead, they’re all dead! I gritted my teeth and made a fist with my right hand. Dirt, grass and pine needles dug into my hand. A thin stream of blood exited my balled fist and dripped onto the ground.
But I have to do this. I thought to myself and began to lean over to grab the key card. If not me then for whomsoever is left, to just for once in this f****d up world. Give them a reason to hope, to believe, and know that this nightmare will one day end.
I grabbed the key card and would’ve stayed for a moment longer but a bloodcurdling roar cut through the night. The commotion had awoken the beast.
No, not him. Anything but HIM. I thought to myself.
I took off jogging towards the bridge connecting to the city intending to put on more speed once I got to the bridge. But deep down I knew this was a fool’s errand; doubt tugged at my heart strings as Marks lifeless face was all I could see.
No. I thought to myself bringing myself back to the present yet again. It is possible. It’s just like Mark said. I stood up intending to leap over the crawlers and continue on to the lab. As I looked towards the building I could see a traffic jam just outside the building. Anything is possible.
Suddenly a bellowing roar shook my whole body and I turned around just in time to see a massive wall of flesh heading straight for me. The next thing I knew I was hitting the ground rolling to a stop in a heap.
I awoke to find myself amongst the wreckage in front of the skyscraper. It was of course a very tall building but what caught my eye was how it was seemingly untouched by the destruction surrounding it. I knew better than any other that this would change very soon. My body ached and everything was a blur as I stared vacantly at the skyscraper I could feel blood seeping from cuts all over my body. The bruises having turned into full cuts; which were sore as all hell they ached as each heart beat pushed more tiny rivers out of me.
I tried to get up but collapsed, blackness seeping in from all sides, but I pushed it away with all my might looking for the strength to stand.
I somehow found the strength to stand the roar echoing in the distance now but a memory at this point. It took some time before all my senses came back but my body was still sluggish and vulnerable. As I stumbled through a traffic jam I looked on ahead and waited for my vision to focus on what was up the street. All I could see was a sea of broken, gutted, and rusted cars some looked like they had been looted others looked like they had burned. I couldn’t see much beyond that but I knew that they were there just beyond my view as blurred shadows in the distance I panicked for a moment and turned right but was met with slightly less cars but even more of them…
I couldn’t see them but I knew they were nearby because of the tell-tale moan in the distance for there was no mistaking it. I went a bit further stumbling every now and again due to the fact that not only was I extremely tired I was injured and I knew they would be attracted to the smell of my blood. So I didn’t stop because I knew that if I did I wouldn’t be able to continue and I would be finished so I turned unto what looked like an on-ramp to a highway and continued my stumbling walk.
I suddenly heard something that made my blood run cold and a sight that made me dread what was to come… They came from the alleys, the buildings, the cars, and piled all over the streets they were coming and my doom was all but sealed. I looked around in desperation looking for something that might shelter me from the incoming wave of undead cannibals. When I saw the bus I nearly jumped for joy as I knew that my salvation had finally arrived in the form of a bus which promised a brief respite from the danger of my current situation. I hobbled as fast as I could towards the bus, jumped inside, closed the door, and made sure that I had not just trapped myself. Which I had.
I kicked myself for my hesitation as it may very well have cost me my life at this point. The moans grew closer and a faint banging began to encircle the bus building up to an endless crescendo of moans and screeching metal. I turned to look into the bus and what met my eyes made my blood run cold with fear and panic.
I saw her.
She appeared as a little girl her face almost marble like in her perfection, her red satin jammies reaching to her shins, her feet bare and black. Holding something which she kept cupped in her hands like it was a holy object of some sort. I never really knew exactly who she was nor did I ever find out; all I knew was that she was here to tell me something so I kept my scared and faltering frame in one place as she said something that I’ll never forget.
“We want you to come back to the light.” she said in a barely audible whisper.
Suddenly the bus grew dark with an unnatural darkness that clouded everything inside the bus; the object she was holding was now apparently a candle as it now provided the only light in the bus showing only her solemn expressionless face. All noise had ceased and the dread was overpowering at this point. I could feel the icy rivers shooting up my spine; the fact that the river moved up not down was the only thing that let me distinguish it from the blood I was now covered in.
Then she screamed that bloodcurdling scream that tortured me; in only my worst nightmares. As her hair flew back with no natural breeze and I felt some power surge through my body as the screaming continued. It kept going on and on until I couldn’t bear it any longer. Then there was nothing… only darkness. and the rust that made every movement on my part take every ounce of effort and strength I could muster.
I awoke with a start breathing labored as I tried desperately to convince myself that it was just a dream and not the beginning of something much, much worse. I looked back to the skyscraper and cursed myself at the wasted time as night had now fallen rendering everything not bathed in the light of the moon all but invisible.
I knew the end was near but now more than ever I just needed to rest. The rust had coated me in it’s grinding squeaking blur. A blur of blood orange rolled over my eyes as my head slowly lowered to the ground with a soft squelch.
Yes I thought to myself. That’s a good idea. Blackness seeped into my vision and every part of my body might as well have been an individual 2 ton brick. The urgency of my task faded and was replaced with a deep relaxing sensation as my eyes slowly closed.
I’ll just rest here for awhile.
Mark stood over the mountain man watching him twitch in his slumber to what was obviously a nightmare.
“Is he sedated?” Mark asked walking towards a nearby scientist. The scientist was garbed in a sterile white lab coat. He was writing notes down onto a sticky note not looking up as he said flatly. “Yes, but he’s also showing no signs of infection. He appears to be totally immune.”
Mark eyed the scientist as he said this. He knew not many of them agreed with what was going on here but also that their lives rested in his hands or more accurately the key to the front door. But they would agree one day. Just as the rest of the council had agreed on releasing the Revelations virus. But this man’s immunity and seeming inability to falter under the most trying circumstances simply could not continue.
The only way to move forward was to unlock the secret of this man’s immunity and evolve the virus to defeat it.
“Up the sedation, we only need his body we don’t need him anymore. Prepare to begin the autopsy.” Mark said to the scientist who had finished writing his note and had now turned to face Mark directly.
“Yes, sir.” Came the simple reply as the scientist began to reach for the scalpel; on the tray beside the man’s body