Heat, fire, burning, everything was red. Fire surrounded me on all sides and balls of flame came shooting out at me from various angles. I found myself trying to dodge quickly out of the way to avoid becoming too crispy. I was moving faster than I ever thought possible, but I was barely keeping myself from getting burned. The heat was unbearable, making breathing almost impossible in the dark room. I couldn’t make out much behind the fire and smoke and I began to choke. I felt myself grow weak, and I fell to the floor. My vision grew dim, and then my eyes closed. I knew no more.
My eyes a snapped open, a cold sweat covered my body. The morning sun shining in from my apartment window. I checked myself out, but I was not injured, it was a dream after all. I had had the dream several times over the last few months, and it was getting annoying. For one thing the dreams seemed more real than other dreams I’ve dreamed. The heat seemed to be more realistic, and I could almost feel myself still choking on the smoke. The other strange thing about my dreams, is, my dream body seemed a bit smaller than my usual self. Throwing the dream aside, I dressed and got ready for the day.
Let me introduce myself. My name was Anthony Wayne, when my story began, I was a 31 year old chubby nerd from the northwest portion of the United States near the Oregon/Idaho border. I was a bit nerdy, and spent most of my free time playing video games and reading. I was also a bit of a loner. I worked at the local electronics store which was my world. I knew them like the back of my hand so I could help customers really easily.
It was a Friday afternoon when my life changed completely. The morning had started off normally, with only a small earthquake or something like that happening during the slow morning. I was a little lethargic since I was ready to go home for the weekend, and wanted the day to end. I didn’t let it affect my work, however, as I helped a customer to find the perfect laptop for his purposes. Suddenly a special report came up on the T.V. Normally, I ignore these and focus on my work, but today I was drawn to the newscast as a moth to the flame.
There was a reporter speaking, “Tragedy has struck inside the city of Barlow today as a bomb blew up inside a local supermarket. Many are dead, even more are injured. Police and firefighters are on the scene picking through the wreckage, trying to find survivors to this heinous act. Estimates put the number of victims in the hundreds.
The camera panned out to show the wreckage and I gasped. This was the store where I shopped. It was located right by where I lived. A bit shaken, I almost fell to my knees, but friendly arms grabbed my arm and led me to a chair.
I don’t know how long I had been sitting there before my boss came up to me. “Go home son, take the rest of the day off, and let me know later about Monday.” I nod my head glumly and rise. I was still a bit wobbly, but I was able to walk out of the store and down the street.
It took me a lot longer than usual to get back to my apartment. Normally, I would ride my bike, but I didn’t trust myself on it now. It took me almost an hour to get back to the area, about two blocks from the apartment complex. There was a police barricade in my path, with several police officers around trying to get people away. I should have turned around and gone somewhere else, but something told me to move forward. I got closer to the barricade.
A voice shouted out to me, “Hey you, go on now, this is a crime scene.” I ignored him and started forward again, getting as close to the barricade as I could. I wanted to see what happened to my apartment complex in all the mess. With all the smoke and debris, I couldn’t see anything. Someone grabbed my arm and I heard the voice again. “Son, you need to leave.”
“But my apartment is up there.” I said, pointing in the direction of my home.
He looked where I pointed and sighed. “What’s the name of the complex?” He asked.
“The Brookside Apartments number 21.”
I could tell right away that there was something wrong by the pained look on his face. “Sorry son, but those apartments burned down.”
I stared at him in shock, not believing him. My home and things, all of them were gone. This time I really did fall to my knees as the world spun around me. I was left in a daze. I barely noticed as shards of glass, and other debris sliced into my skin and blood started leaking out. I was in a state of shock.
I lost track of time, lost in my own little world until someone grabbed my arm again. I looked up and it was my Dad. He spoke, “Come on Anthony. Let’s get you home.”
I don’t remember much from those next few days. My dad drove me to his place and let me crash in his spare bedroom. I remember my dad and stepmom trying to talk to me, but I was unresponsive. I ate when I needed to, and did only what was necessary before falling back into my stupor.
About a week after the explosion, I woke up feeling great. I was back to my normal self again. I came out in a cheery mood to the delight of my parents. I sat down to eat breakfast with them and listened to them chatter away for a while. Then they looked at me.
“Look,” I said, “I want to thank you for everything. It’s been a rough week, and I’ve been rather rude and I am sorry.”
I could tell that they had forgiven me, as they said stuff to cheer me up and drive away any unhappy feelings. It was working, but I could tell there was something that they were hiding from me.
At last, I could bear it no longer and asked, “Alright, what is it you aren’t telling me?”
My dad opened his mouth, and then closed it again. My stepmom did the same. Finally, dad said, “They say there was some sort of biological agent in the bomb, a parasite that could survive the blast and the fire. They say that anyone who was injured in the blast or after effects should get themselves checked out at the hospital.”
I shook my head, “But I wasn’t even in the blast. I was at work. I didn’t even get there until several hours later.” He pointed to my hands and other injuries. “I got those after the blast when I fell on some debris. Surely the agent would have been dead by then.”
My dad looked at me and replied, “They said not to take any chances. Regardless of how long after the blast you were injured, you should get checked out.”
Not believing this could be happening, I asked, “What kind of agent was in the bomb?” I feared the worst.
“They don’t know. They have never seen anything like it. They have also said that no one has, as of yet, been identified as infected yet. It is a precaution they are taking to be on the safe side.”
I sighed in relief. It seemed like I had nothing to worry about. We loaded into my dad’s car and drove to the hospital to get some bloodwork done. When we got there and explained the situation, I was led into a room right away. Blood was drawn and they said that they would get back to me the next day. It was as simple as that. We left a few minutes later and I thought that I could return to my normal life. I would find out shortly how very wrong I was.