The virus was first discovered by a group of Japanese scientists after a couple Japanese elders dropped dead from unknown causes. It was reported that all the victims were over the ages of 60 and had dried blood under their eyes. The scientists concluded that they had been crying blood before their deaths, which were most likely caused by a sickness passed to them by some mammals. Since this was something totally new for them, they ignored it, and kept quiet until a month later, half of Japan dropped dead from this sickness. That’s when the sickness was named UNV-6, unknown virus number 6.
My name is Jacob Collins, and in my 17 years of life, I have learned two things: One- money can make any man seem attractive, and two- people who are not good at anything, who don’t follow the rules and who make trouble, will always be treated like shit. Unfortunately for me, both these things don’t work out in my favor. I am not good at school, I am not a talented football player, and I am not from a rich family. Before a few weeks ago, it was obvious to everyone where I would end up; a useless, poor drunk who sits at the side of the road and scares people away, but after the virus reached England, it didn’t matter anymore what you could or couldn’t do. It was about survival, and I was good at that.
The last day of my previous life was a Wednesday. It was February, and the streets were covered in dirt, with the occasional snowdrifts slowly melting into nasty liquids.
“Fucking nasty bitch” Cole says as he jumps over the fence and down to the pavement “Trying to scare us with expulsion”
“She don’t have the authority to do that man” I say as I jump down to him “We’re good”
Cole puts his hands in his pockets as I light a cigarette.
“HEY YOU BASTARDS COME BACK HERE!” the school guard screams at as, running after us, as we laugh and turn the corner.
Me and Cole are both misfits. If you don’t know what that is, I’ll give you some synonyms: “garbage”, “good for nothing”, “pathetic”, I could go on. At least that’s what they say. We aren’t future scholars, businessmen, athletes, or anything worthwhile. The only good thing about being garbage is that we always stick together. Me, Cole, Andy, and their older brothers. We got each other’s back.
“And she says: babe, I’m not ready” Andy says as we sit at the table of the old underground bar “And I’m like; what are you not ready for? You don’t gotta lie to me bunny I know you’re a whore”
I know some people would encourage me to change my life, to start going to school and to quit smoking, but those people are the ones that have never been in my situation. People say it’s so easy. In reality, it’s close to impossible.
We drank a lot that night, and I don’t remember much of what happened, but I remember the next morning clearly. When I woke up, Cole and Andy were passed out on the couch, and their brothers were lying on the floor face down. My head felt heavy and I was dizzy, so I stumbled outside to get some fresh air. When I got out of the underground bar, everything around me was quiet, which isn’t exactly unnatural for a small town like Painswick.
“Hey” I hear someone in the distance “HEY! YOU! KID!”
I turn my head to see a guy running towards me in a virus suit. His whole body is covered in a yellow trash bag- looking thing and he is wearing a circular mask with a tube connected to his backpack. He looks ridiculous.
“Are you okay? Is there anyone else alive down there?” the man says as he finally reaches me.
“What the fuck are you on about man” I say, massaging my forehead “It’s too early in the morning for these pranks”
The man looks at me blankly and grabs me by my hand.
“You have to come with me” he says, pulling me with him along the pavement.
“What? Who the fuck are you?” I say, pulling my hand away.
My head feels like it’s about to fall off my shoulders and this guy is talking like a madman. Am I dreaming?
“Hey David, check if anyone else is alive down there!” the guy calls out to someone behind him, and only then do I realize that there’s another man behind him, wearing the same thing.
“If you continue to talk mental I’ll call the police” I raise my voice.
The guy sighs and pulls out his phone.
“Are you ignoring me now?” I raise my voice even louder, he doesn’t even look up “Hey!”
I knock the phone out of his hand and it shatters against the concrete. The man looks up at me and brings some sort of walkie talkie to his mouth.
“Would you look at that, a red collar” the man says “I suggest you don’t piss me off, otherwise I might have to put a gun to your head”
What the fuck is he on about? Gun? He doesn’t look like a policeman.
“What’s going on here?” I ask as I finally start to tie everything together.
“No one alive here!” the other guy shouts from the underground pub.
“Right” the man next to me answers as he looks around the street.
“Listen here boy” the guy says to me, lowering his voice “It is important that you keep your cool, the situation got much worse throughout the night, you’re a lucky fellow”
“What situation? What’d the other guy say back there?” I point to behind me as the other guy runs up to us, breathing heavily.
“Seems he’s the only survivor from this area” the guy says, catching his breath.
“Survivor? What the fuck are you saying man?” I start getting angrier “Will anyone explain what the fuck is going on here?”
“Slow down kid” the first guy says, grabbing my hand “Lets get to the district checkpoint and we’ll explain everything”
“GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME” I scream as everything starts to sink in “DON’T FUCKING TOUCH ME, JUST TELL ME WHAT THIS SHIT MEANS!”
“Stop shouting kid” the second man says calmly “You should be happy, you are alive”
“WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU ON ABOUT?” I start to slowly back away from them towards the pub.
“He’s going back down there” the first guy says.
“Kid come back here” the second guy grabs my shoulders, but I resist.
“I SAID GET YOUR FUCKING HANDS AWAY FROM ME CUNT!” I try to push him away from me.
“Calm him down, we can’t let him leave” the first guy says as I notice the second one getting something out of him pocket.
“WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?” I keep screaming and jerking my hands away from the man.
Suddenly, I feel something sting in my neck, and feel my eyes getting heavy.
“A red collar for sure” I hear their voices as I fall to the ground and back out.
I woke up with a terrible headache and pain throughout my whole body. In front of me I see a concreate while wall. No, a ceiling. Grabbing my head, I slowly sit up in the bed and stare down at my left hand in my lap. Where the hell am I?
“You calmed down yet?” I hear a familiar voice.
I jerk my head to the left to see a guy in a pair of black pants, black boots and a black tee, sitting in a chair next to my bed, reading a book. I don’t recognize him at first, but once he talks again I realize he’s the guy in the suit from earlier.
“We brought you to the district” he says as he puts his book on the table next to him and leans forward to face me “My name’s Jake”
“I don’t give a fuck what your name is” I croak as I sit to face him “You tell me why the hell I’m here”
Jake laughs and looks back up at me.
“Cause there’s no where else to go” he answers “The virus has already killed most of Africa, Asia and America, and now, it has gotten to Europe. Eurasia is next. Most of the world is dead. I know it’s a lot to take in. Your family, your friends, they are almost certainly victims, but the good news is you’re a survivor. Congrats man, you’re special”
Jake pats me on my back. I stare at the floor, wondering how hard I hit my head last night.
“And you expect me to believe that shit? Who do you think you are?” I spit.
“I’m just a mere doctor” Jake raises his hands in the air “You don’t have to believe me. You’ll realize it all on your own soon enough”
I know he’s right. Why would he lie? Why would he make up this ridiculous story? But I still can’t believe it. I don’t want to. The people I drank with and woke up next to this morning, are all dead? It can’t be. It’s the 21st century. Shit like this only happens in movies.
“So you’re telling me that only a few people survived?” I ask, raising my head and looking at him straight in the eyes “You’re telling me that of all people, I’m the one to survive?”
“Look I’m not the one calling the shots” Jake says, standing up “I don’t know how or why you are alive, I just know that you are, and that there are very few survivors like you scattered around the world”
“Then you’re also a survivor” I conclude.
“No” Jake says, grabbing his book from the table and walking towards the door “I told you, I’m a mere doctor. I was saved. Don’t leave this room. Just because you’re alive now doesn’t mean you can’t get infected”
He left the room, locking the door behind him. I froze in one spot and stared at the hole in the wall for a long, long while, trying to process what is happening. After about 2 hours the door was finally unlocked and a man in a doctor’s uniform came in, carrying what seemed to be an orange jumpsuit and a pair of boots.
“Name and age” he says as he sits down at the chair.
“Why the hell would I tell you anything?” I say as I watch two men in black uniforms enter the room.
The doctor looks at me with a stone cold expression.
“Name and age” he repeats.
I look up at the two men dressed in black, and then back at the doctor.
“Jacob Collins, 17” I say.
“Any illnesses or serious injuries that you have had, Jacob?” the doctor asks, scribbling something in his clipboard.
“No” I say.
“Any allergies, any special needs?” the doctor continues.
“No” I answer.
“Nothing that runs in the family?” he asks.
“No” I say “Nothing. Why?”
The doctor keeps scribbling something in his clipboard, ignoring me completely.
“Hey! I asked a question!” I raise my voice.
The doctor keeps ignoring me.
“HEY” I scream as I grab the clipboard away from him and throw it at the opposite wall.
The men in black step closer to me as the doctor finally looks up.
“Red collar” he says, smiling slowly “Only one so far”
Red collar. That’s what Jack said too.
“What the fuck does that mean?” I ask.
The doctor walks over to the other side of the room and picks up the clipboard.
“Don’t worry about it” he replies “They will explain everything to you later”
Again with the unanswered questions, again with the arrogance, who the fuck are they to look down on me?
“Undress please” the doctor says, sitting back down at the chair.
“What?” I stare at him.
“Undress please” he repeats without a hint of emotion.
“What are you, some fucking pervert? Why the hell should I?” I spit.
“If you do not undress, they will do it for you” the doctor says, looking up at me and smiling.
That bastard. The fuck is he smiling at? Gritting my teeth, I start to take off my clothes. After I am standing there in nothing but boxers, the doctor stands up and starts examining me. He shines light in my eyes, examines my skin, pokes me in my knees, and then scribbles some more into his clipboard.
“Please put on the clothing I brought you. I will wait for you outside” the doctor says, and they exit the room.
The orange clothing really was an orange jumpsuit, just like the one’s for inmates. Just what the hell are they doing here? I pull on the black combat boots and walk out into the hallway, where the doctor and his bodyguards are waiting for me.
“Is the shoe size okay?” the doctor asks.
“Uh, yeh” I say, looking around.
The hallway is long and dimly lit, with doors on both sides of the walls. A lot of doors. I follow the doctor through the hall and into another, and another and another, all identical, until he stops at one and opens the door.
I follow him into a fully white tiled room, lit by a blinding light. There are multiple medical tables and strange looking chairs, and two nurses sitting at a table in the middle.
“Write, Jacob Collins” the doctor says to one of the nurses, as the nurse types it into a large, old looking computer “17, red collar”
The nurse looks up at me, then at the computer, and then nods to herself.
“You are late for today’s flight, Doctor Burns” she says “It’s leaving in 10 minutes”
“Call the pilot and tell him to wait” Doctor Burns says as he walks out of the room “Follow me Jacob”
We walk through more hallways before we reach a staircase. It was a long spiral staircase that went up and up to the ceiling. When we climbed up to the very top, Doctor Burns lifts open the circular door with a large lock on it, and we climb out to the outside.
The cold air almost knocks me off my feet as I look around the area. Apparently, all this time we were underground, under the concreate of a road that looks to be the highway strip for an airplane to take off. Somewhere in the distance I see an airport. I never knew there were underground mazes under airports.
“Where are we?” I ask.
“Gloucestershire” Burns answers “We drove here, but you were unconscious”
Following Burns, I notice a military aircraft standing in front of us, with two soldiers standing at its entrance.
“Doctor Burns, welcome” one of the soldiers says as we get to the aircraft.
“Hello Sergeant Williams” Burns greats the soldier “We have red collar here”
Sergeant Williams looks at me and pulls out a pair of handcuffs.
“I know this might be unpleasant, but please cooperate with us” he says to me, gesturing to my hands.
“Why?” I ask and turn to Burns.
“It’s protocol” the soldier answers.
I give him my hands as he handcuffs them and leads me into the aircraft. The plane is not as luxurious as I imagined a plane would be. There were seats at either side of the aircraft in rows. On one side sat two kids in the same orange suits, and on the other were soldiers. They sat me down opposite the other two kids, next to a soldier who looked down at my handcuffs. That’s when I noticed that the other two kids, a guy my age and a girl, weren’t wearing handcuffs.
The whole flight everyone was quiet. The engine of the plane was too loud, and it was too cold. I don’t know for how long we were in the air, I fell asleep. I was woken up by the soldier to my right, who grabbed my hand and led me out of the aircraft.
A strong wave of wind hit us as we exited the aircraft, and at first I was blinded by the light from the grey sky to see anything, but slowly, my sight started to clear up. The first thing I noticed was the outline of a tall, long building that towered over us and circled around the concrete area which we landed on. Around our aircraft were many others alike, although the flags on their sides were all different. There were soldiers running around the area shouting in different languages, and as our soldier led us through the landing area, I noticed that there are very few of us, teenagers.
The building is grey, and huge. It has 5 floors, and a large entrance for trucks. It reminded me of a large storing unit for some big cooperation. We were led through the same entrance that was used to bring boxes into the building. Most of the people we met were speaking what seemed to be Chinese. The inside was even larger than I expected. Almost as soon as we entered, I noticed 5 rows of people. I couldn’t see what was at the front very clearly, but it looked to be desks with Chinese ladies sat behind them. We were led to the smallest, fifth row, which by the looks of it, only contained teenagers. They, just like us, were all wearing orange jumpsuits.
“Stand here and wait your turn” our soldier says “They already know your collar colors, so there is no point in lying, just do what they tell you”
With that the soldier leaves us.
“It looks like we’ll be here a while” says the boy that was on the aircraft with me, gesturing to the line.
“Do you boys know what is going on?” the girl almost whispers.
“No fucking clue” I say “The doctor back at Gloucestershire said something about us being one of the few survivors of the pandemic”
“Yeh we got that” the guy says “I think she meant what the deal with this place is. Why were we brought here?”
“And what do the colours that they assigned to us mean?” the girl asks.
We are quiet. Someone else joins to the back of the line, speaking in Spanish. There are only two of them.
“Also” the girl says looking at me “Why are you in handcuffs?”
We were stood in the line for a while, and while we made small talk, we were too confused to make real conversation. When we were close enough to make out what was happening at the desk, I finally understood what they meant by red collar.
Every kid gets a large, metal hoop around their neck with a certain colour strip in the middle. As the line progressed I started to notice a pattern. Most girls were presented with the orange collar, while guys were presented with the blue or green collars. Only one so far, a tall, muscular guy with dark skin was presented with the red collar.
“They’re colour coding us” the guy from my group says as the line in front of us shrinks more and more.
“What the fuck does red mean?” I ask, trying to shake my handcuffs off.
“Nothing good man” the guy says “I’m sure of it”
He was right about that. I looked back at the line behind us. No one that I could see was wearing handcuffs. That is, until I locked eyes with a guy right behind me. He was speaking Spanish when we just got here. Dark skin, Dark hair, must be a South American. I looked down at his hands, they were handcuffed. When I looked back up, I saw him smirking.
“Colour” the woman at the front desk asks the guy from Britain.
“Green” he answers.
She reaches down under her desk and pulls out a heavy looking metal collar, with a stripe of green in the middle. Scribbling something down in her papers, she shouts “NEXT”, and it’s the girls turn.
What if the green guy is right? What if red really does mean something bad? Like, that I’m sick. Maybe green are clear of the virus, and red aren’t as much? Is it because I smoke? Shit, what will they do to me?
“Colour” the woman asks.
“Orange” the girl answers.
The woman stands up and clicks the collar around her neck, scribbles something down in her papers, and shouts “NEXT”.
As I step closer to the desk, I see her lifting her eyes to my hands, handcuffed to each other. She doesn’t ask me anything, she just stands up and clicks a heavy, metal collar around my neck with a red stripe in the middle and shouts “NEXT”.
I should have known that the colour of my collar has something to do with my handcuffs. I walk down the corridor behind the girl that went before me, and have a sudden urge to rip the collar from my neck. I start pulling at it and scratching it, but its no use, its too heavy and its metal. I can’t take it off, I’ve been marked.
The corridor ends at a large elevator, at which stand soldiers with the Chinese flag on their chests.
“GREEN COLLARS TO THE FRONT!” they scream “Green collars to the front!”
“Handcuff too?” I hear a voice behind me.
I jerk my head back to see the same South American that I saw behind me before. He, just like me, has a red collar on his neck.
“British?” he asks.
At first I am taken aback, but then I realize that everyone has a flag at their chests. His flag, if I am not mistaken, is the flag of Venezuela.
“Why are we handcuffed” I ask him, lowering my voice.
“Because we are red collar” he says, smiling.
“Yeh, but what does that mean?” I ask, leaning towards him.
He just smirks and shrugs.
“ORANGE COLLARS GET READY!” the soldier at the front screams.
“Do you know what’s going on?” I ask the Venezuelan.
“They sending peoples on elevator, no?” he answers.
“Yeh, but I mean, what are we doing here?” I whisper to him in an annoyed tone.
“BLUE COLLARS TO THE FRONT!” another soldier screams.
“I don’t know” the Venezuelan says “But I think they won’t let us out”
If there is a virus, they must have built this building to be a hospital. But the soldier in Painswick said that most people are dead. That means this building is to protect us from the virus. Right?
“RED COLLARS” a soldier screams.
There is silence.
“Get in” the soldier says.
There is about 10 of us in the elevator, and none of us are female. There are 5 floors up and two floors down. One of the soldiers in the elevator with us presses floor -1. We are going underground. It is dead silent. Looking around all I see are tall, muscular guys, and although I was never considered a small guy, next to them I looked like a geek.
The elevator itself looked scary enough. There was a grid instead of a door and it sounded as if we would plummet down at any minute. Finally, there is a loud beep, and the elevator stops. As the soldiers open the grid, there is a loud screech.
“Follow me” one of the soldiers says.
The corridors through which we were led looked like a basement more than the living space for a group of teenagers. Occasionally we heard screeks and saw rats running across the floor. I noticed that the whole time we were led through these corridors, we were followed by a group of soldiers. When I turned to look at them, I met the eyes of a soldier who was, by the looks of it, already looking at me. His gaze sent chills down my spine. They were looking at us as if we were some sort of…criminals.
After we crossed what seemed like a million of identical, grey corridors, we were led into a large area with a high ceiling. It reminded me of a parking lot, or an underground training area for some spies. There was water dropping down from the ceiling lights, which didn’t make sense much. At the far corner I could see punching bags hanging, and stalls lined up with targets, like a shooting range. There was a boxing ring too. Did they bring us here to train us? Are we some sort of soldiers now? Maybe the pandemic isn’t the only thing that is going on, maybe there’s a war too.
We stopped somewhere in the middle of the area, the soldiers following us stood at the entrance, and in front of us stood a man. This man doesn’t look Chinese. He is tall, brunet, wearing a sort of soldiers uniform, or maybe it’s just a fashion style. When he started scanning us with his eyes, I felt that he was looking down on us.
“You’re all so silent” he states.
His voice is harsh, even though he isn’t talking very loudly. He is standing with his hands behind his back and his legs spread out, as if he is the boss here. Maybe he is.
“Aren’t you going to ask questions?” he starts slowly walking around us “Aren’t any of you going to cry?”
By the accent I can tell he is American. Probably from the USA.
“Your families and friends are dead” he says, passing me “You will most likely never go back to your home countries and never see your homes”
He stops in front of us.
“But I guess since you’re here you had nothing to begin with” he finishes.
“Aren’t you going to explain why the hell we are here?” I hear a voice from our crowd.
I turn to the right to see a tall brunet with bright blue eyes and the physique of an athlete. He is standing just like the man at the front, with his hands back and his head held high. Even though it’s fairly obvious we are the sheep here, he positions himself as an alpha. His accent is the same, he is an American.
“Of course” the man at the front smiles “Let me introduce myself, my name is Connor, but to you all it will be sergeant Connor or sir. I am in charge of disciplining the red collars, all of you. Since you are all from different countries, I can’t guarantee that all of you will be able to understand me, but unfortunately we have no translators, so you’ll just have to deal with that”
“Deal with that?” another voice, a much lower one sounds from the crowd.
He is probably the biggest guy here. Tall, muscular, very dark complexion and the eyes of some predator animal. Just one look at him sends chills down my spine.
“Why should they deal with that?” he says “You Americans have always been arrogant. They aren’t obligated to speak English, so you better learn to use a fucking google translate”
“And you’re Canadian, aren’t you?” Connor says “Playing advocate?”
Suddenly Connors eyes shift to the entrance and we hear footsteps. Several footsteps. As I turn to the entrance, I see two figures in the same orange jumpsuits enter the hall.
“And here come the Russians” Connor says.
Russians. Why are they separate to the rest of us? And why are there two of them? From what I’ve seen, there is no two people from the same country in our group.
The tall blonde guy caught my attention immediately. Maybe I’m thinking in stereotypes, but he really did look like a dangerous gangster. His short blonde hair, the hands in his pockets, the sleeves rolled up to the elbow, showing his tattoos, and most importantly, his gaze. His brown eyes, looking at us as if we are the enemy. I may just be the prey here.
The figure next to his is obviously a female. The only female here. Long black hair, dark eyes, an hourglass figure, long legs, walking like a model. There is something about her face that reminds me of a doll. A cute, fragile face, but there’s something else about her too. Her gaze, or her walk, something about her seems dangerous. I couldn’t look into her eyes.
As they reach us, the guy puts his hand around the girls shoulder and whispers something in Russian into her ear.
“Glad you could join us. You’re the last to arrive to the base” Connor says.
The guy looks up at Connor, and seemingly understands everything.
“So there’s two girls in our group huh?” Connor looks around.
Two girls? I look around to see if I missed another one, and my gaze lands on a tall figure next to the American. I didn’t see it at first, but now I see the long blonde hair in a low ponytail. She looks very different from the Russian girl. Her physique is less feminine, she looks stronger than me. There’s nothing cute or sexy about her. She looks just as deadly as the rest of the guys.
“Strange” Connor continues “I thought there’d be none”
“So maybe you’ll get to the point already?” I say, getting annoyed.
“Oh, a British” Connor laughs “’Ello chap”
He’s mocking my accent. How ridiculous. It’s our language and he dares mock my accent.
“Alright alright” he says “I’ll get to the point. You’ve probably already been told that UNV-6 has killed most of the world’s population. It happened very rapidly, and only few were able to survive. The people alive today are all in this building. There are 6 groups in total that made it here. The politicians, the doctors and the scientists were all a planned save. The people who saved them were the soldiers and some Chinese citizens that just got lucky to have been brought here. These are all the people that deserve to be here. And then there is an unplanned group of individuals that managed to survive. The survivors, aka all of you. All of you survivors are teenagers, the doctors are saying this is what they expected. But we couldn’t just let all of you random teens in here, right?”
He starts walking around us again.
“So we split all you survivors into 4 groups. See, the building is a sort of hierarchy, and at the very top on the 4th floor live the politicians. The 3rd floor is the scientists and the 2nd floor is the doctors. The 1st floor is reserved for the soldiers and the second floor underground is reserved for the Chinese citizens that do all the mundane work such as cleaning and cooking around here. So you survivors are also split accordingly. The green collars live on the 3rd floor with the scientists. They are those of you who have been tested to be the smartest of the bunch. They have a bright future ahead of them here. The orange collars live on the 2nd floor with the doctors. They are no less important, they have been tested to be empaths and hard workers, they will be future doctors. The blue collars live on the 1st floor, and accordingly will be trained to be soldiers. They have been tested to be obedient and strong” Connor stops in front of us again.
“Can you guess what you guys are?” he smirks “You guys are the trash. You aren’t obedient, you aren’t empathetic and you aren’t smart. In fact, you’re the opposite. You’re a threat to our new society. That is why you like on the 1st floor underground, in this dump”
So we’re the trash.
“But notice that you live on the 1st floor underground and not the second” Connor says “Luckily for you our leaders are merciful, and they noticed that most of you are in good shape. That is why some of you have the chance to move up to the first floor. But only if you show your obedience”
I hear someone scoff.
“If not” Connor looks at the Canadian “You will be exterminated”
There is a roar of cuss words.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing here?” I hear one voice.
“Is this some fucking sick joke?” another says.
“You think we’ll believe that shit?” someone at the back screams.
“You will” Connor’s voice shuts everyone up “Because unlike the other kids your hands are handcuffed, you are watched 24/7 and your collars contain poison that will kill you as soon as the leaders press a button”
I feel sweat drip down my forehead as I reach for my collar. From the corner of my eye I see someone tugging at theirs.
“This is crazy” I hear the American scream “THIS IS FUCKED UP”
“Well, that is for now. Someone may move down, someone may move up. We separated you all at first glance. Although, while someone may move down here, I doubt any of you will be moving up” Connor smiles “This isn’t crazy of fucked up, it’s life. Get used to it”
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