Alex and The Mad World
I never thought this would happen not in a million years. I never thought that everything I had ever known would be taken away from me. I never thought I would be stripped of my civil rights. My rights to a family, privacy, education, and freedom.
I once lived in a complex world, a world that was immune to everything. Plagues and diseases were a thing of the past. The names cancer and the flu were considered almost fictional tales. No one ever thought a major pandemic could occur. Everyone, including myself, was unaware of the upcoming danger.
In 1914, America needed a second military to protect the country against invaders during the First World War. But then other nations wanted the help from the American made organization, thus the W.C.M.O. was created. It protected the citizens from the dangers of foreign forces and diseases. At that time, medicine was the key to immortality. The most crucial medicine came from the organization.
W.C.M.O. stands for (World Chemical and Military Organization). It is the richest, most powerful chemical corporation in the world, surpassing even the C.D.C. (Centers For Disease Control and Prevention). This meant that the W.C.M.O. had made more, effective drugs and vaccines for diseases that even the C.D.C. could not treat.
The W.C.M.O. had a strong presence in San Francisco. San Francisco was made number one in the world with top health care, education, and military power. It was also well-known being considered the most beautiful city in the world. The amazing view invited some of the most famous people to live there.
Since its creation, the W.C.M.O. frequently played an important role in history. The company helped the United States in the “War Towards Terrorism” making the military power close to number four in the whole world. The military became strong due to the amount of money the W.C.M.O. produced on a day-to-day basis.
This company had a strong history in politics and economy as well. Its political influence was felt everywhere and it had stations all over the world.
In the year 2000, the company elected its leader Doctor Aiko Lau, a Half-Japanese and Half-Chinese American. Dr. Lau came to W.C.M.O. after working as a scientist for the C.D.C. as well for the W.H.O. (World Health Organization). She was looked upon as the best researching scientist in the world. She made W.C.M.O. so powerful that the company gained one hundred billion dollars every year. While in office, she successfully stopped the swine flu epidemic and the Ebola crisis in less than five days. No colleague of Dr. Lau has seen anyone single-handedly develop such fast and successful vaccines. Now, she is the lead biologist and infectious disease specialist inside the lab of the W.C.M.O.
Some citizens thought W.C.M.O. was the corporation that would make them immortal. No one thought it would also be the cause of the most horrendous disaster the world had ever seen. What occurred was a plague that could wipe out the whole human race in a matter of years. Nothing could have prepared us for Judgment Day. The population was over ten billion. Urban areas grew at an uncontrollable speed, animal habitats started to vanish due to the growth of cities, but no one cared anymore. When I was five, I never knew the secrets of the city, secret canals, and underground bunkers. No one knew of them, and if they did they didn’t speak of them if they did.
Like any other five year old kid, I took it for granted.
My mother worked at the W.C.M.O. hospital and my Father worked with the W.C.M.O historians. He was working on a project called “Searchlight”
This project’s purpose was to investigate a powerful civilization in Kauai. The W.C.M.O said this civilization could change all of our lives forever. No one knew how our lives could ever be more perfect. Some suspected these changes could only be bad. The government couldn’t ask for more than a safe community, and since the W.C.M.O. promised that, it was fully supported on the political side. After all, man is a greedy species who is never satisfied with what it has. Therefore, all cries of protest were left unheard.
The W.C.M.O. proceeded in sending fifty scientists, historians, archaeologists, and soldiers to Kauai on board the “USS X.” This ship was created especially for this mission. The first and the best one the Organization had. The journey would take seventeen days. This project would be more than just a discovery it would be the last time that my father would ever be part of a project. It would be the fatal end of us as we know it. My name is Alex, and this is my story from the very beginning.
My name is Martin. I am with the W.C.M.O historians and I have been waiting for this opportunity for almost as long as I can remember. For many years, W.C.M.O has produced some of the world’s most effective cures. We developed cures for Cancer, the Bubonic Plague, Ebola, AIDS, and many other fatal diseases.
We just got word that something interesting was found on the island of Kauai. My team and I were called immediately. We were to study an ancient civilization that ruled the world and somehow had managed to stay of the sweep of modern technology. We will board the USS X tomorrow morning at 13:00. Due to an unknown turn of events, we needed security protection. My team of fifty scientists are ready and packed to go on this seventeen day journey. We have no idea what to expect, but will still hope for the best.
When we arrived in Kauai, the scenery left the whole lot of us speechless. Three days in and two new species of birds were discovered. Everything was a different rainbow of colors.
We met some of the native people, and they told us about the highest mountain on the island. They then proceeded to tell us that something that man would not expect was created there by the “Queen.” some referred to her as the “Devil”. As a historian, I was immensely interested and took my team up to scale the mountain. As we got closer to the top, we could make out some type of structure with an Aztec/Ancient Egyptian nature.
My team and I set up a base on the mountain to study the structure. The next morning, I was awoken by a loud cry. “Guys! Look!”, yelled one of the men. I immediately thought a new artifact was discovered, maybe a writing system if we were lucky. It appeared that I was incorrect. Instead, I saw something that would chill any man to his bones. In front of me was a carving on a wall. But not just any carving. It showed the merging of the civilization, and the end. It was on a smooth wall of the pyramid. So smooth it made goosebumps on my hand. This carving predicted everything. In all my field time, I have never seen anything like it before. It started with humans first appearing, it showed the ice age, the black plague, even things such as the invention of the telegraph. It showed us secrets that even top level clearance officers couldn’t get to. The carving showed us about how the W.C.M.O ruled the world and how we cured viruses and fought foreign forces. But the most horrifying thing I saw was a picture, a picture describing it’s fall to a disease. The disturbing picture showed us how people got infected and died quickly which filled the slab, but was it just me or were there more carvings being made slowly. I stared at the picture with great disturbance.
I quickly ran out of the temple and went to the photographers we brought. When they tried to take pictures, the carving appeared invisible. I then called some artists and told them to hurry and draw the carvings. I felt like there was little time left, but of what? Would the slab disappear? Would we disappear? Would the island disappear? Or dare I say, would our immunity finally give in?
I went into town. I feared the worst. I went to the first person I saw, a girl of the age of thirteen. I asked her about the carvings. She responded “She’s impressed.”
Impatiently, I asked her, “Who is?” I pleaded to her to give me a decent answer.
Instead, she answered with a smile “Your fatal end. You thought you could play with demons? Ha! You thought you could ruin their favorite toy? Did you really think you could stop paying him with the death of those whose time was up? Oh, you were mistaken. The time has come. It is time to pay her what debt you have. The debt that may just cost you the lives of your civilization. You call us savages, but have you seen yourself? You kill unborn babies, innocents and loved ones.” With that I left. However, I had a feeling I would see her again.
I returned back into camp. Once there, I immediately asked for the head sergeant of the W.C.M.O squad, stationed in Kauai, to accompany me to go deeper into the cave. There, we witnessed the most disturbing thing my eyes have ever beheld. I saw natives torn apart with their insides everywhere. I can estimate over a thousand bodies were shredded into little pieces. The smell was strong enough to make your stomach do enough somersaults to win a gold medal. It was so awful that almost everyone in that cave either vomited or gagged, at the least. Some soldiers fell onto their knees and coughed their lungs out. I vomited as well.
“It is too late now,” the child I met earlier stood before me again, “Anything you do to try and stop it, the death, the plague, will only spread it faster.”
“Please, What can I do? I will do anything,” I cried.
“Nothing, you really did think you would be the new gods. Think again!” she said. And then, like earlier, she disappeared, except this time I felt she wouldn’t be coming back. I realized then, how quiet the group had become. Everyone was staring at me. I wanted to get out of there as quickly as I possibly could, but I knew I couldn’t let this discovery go. Then unwillingly, I touched the walls. They felt smooth and rough at the same time. Then something magically stirred through me. A second later, I barely remembered it. Maybe I did just imagine it.
At this point, the Sergeant told me, “Hey, your time is up,” in a serious tone. So we walked out of the blood bath. All of us were scared. All of us, rational thinking men and women got down to our knees and prayed. We wept and prayed. It is too late now. The child’s voice replayed in my head again. It is too late.
Just as I finished packing camp, the USS X blew its horn. I went to board the ship. Compared to when we first came to Kauai, it looked dull and colorless now. Almost as if it was fading away.
Then, I saw a man climb to a top of a cliff. I thought he was going to wave us goodbye. I was terribly mistaken. Instead, he jumped off. Then a woman and two children. A family. There is no way they could have survived the fall. I looked to where they should have landed, hoping that they had disappeared, like the child I saw earlier. Again, I was wrong. Four bodies lay in the water. Four dead bodies. Suicide. I watched the ocean slowly pick up their bodies and swallow them. I knew now more than ever, it was here. Judgement Day was finally here, and we had failed. We will have to forgo a punishment, not even the worst crook could think of. We were doomed.
On the trip back, I started having visions. Nightmares. They showed little pieces of what the future would hold. I would see my son running from someone-Something. I saw him trying to escape the city.
I heard voices in my head. I heard the child, who I came to call Sarah. Sarah told me things. Things on the stone. But mostly, she kept on repeating, “It’s too late now.” Before reaching Hawaii even, two of my fellow workers committed suicide. Once the USS X was 40 miles away from San Francisco, I started to feel sick, very sick. I knew I had the plague. Sarah told me to connect to my son with the old ritual. We returned to the city and I took locks of our hair and dripped two drops of blood from both of us. Then I burned it.
I told him I was dying. Alex thought I was crazy. It hurt. It hurt more than knowing I would have to leave my only son all alone with the plague. I considered killing him for his own good. Sarah told me not to. I have learned to listen to what Sarah says. Her soul was somehow bound with mine, and I consider her a part of me by now.
I recorded any and all symptoms that the infection may be causing in a journal. I put all of the stuff that may help Alex in any way in a small carryable suitcase. I added medicine, a water purifier, my notes, everything I know about the disease, sketches of the carving, fire starter, knife, clothes, and even a gun. I added everything that may come of any use.
Later that night I went up to Alex’s room and told him, “If anything happens to me, take that suitcase and run.”
“But nothing will happen to you,” he said firmly. His eyes were pleading me to act normal. But how could I when nothing is normal anymore? So instead, I just looked into his eyes, as if I could send him message, a warning. He just turned around. Maybe I will have enough time to say goodbye to Jessica, my wife. Maybe I could slip a warning.
I started to feel depressed all the time. A few days later, my skin started falling off. It burned. From inside and out. I slammed my head against a pillow and screamed. Screaming helped. Even though I tried to muffle my screaming, Jessica ran inside. She could tell something was wrong. She cried. She cupped my head in her lap and cried. “What’s happening? Martin?” she asked, “Please tell me.” she sobbed. Seeing me like this must be hurting her more than me. I tried to answer but the pain muffled through my head. Then I blacked out. The last thing I could remember was my wife rocking my head and praying.
As I slept, I saw Sarah again. She looked at me with her eerie smile and said, “ex vita abire.” Then disappeared again. When I opened my eyes, the pain came back, as well as thirst. Jessica must have had to leave for work. In a raspy voice even couldn’t understand, I said, “Water.” Alex must have heard because I heard footsteps approach. When Alex entered, he screamed. He screamed so loud, I felt as if the whole neighborhood must have heard him.
I slowly turned around to where a mirror stood. When I looked, I saw a monster. My skin was blackish, it looked like Necrotic tissue ruled my skin. I had red-orange eyes, my teeth were sharp as a knife. My skin had holes in it as well. I felt depressed and I had an urge to kill. I was close to becoming a monster.
I heard ambulances and police cars pull up in front of my house they took me into the emergency room at W.C.M.O hospital. They brought me to a quarantined like bubble and told me I was going to be okay. I doubted it. All I wanted was my son, my Alex, to live in a safe place. But I failed. My anger then turned into thirst, thirst for blood. I wasn’t dead yet, but I knew that Martin Martuna was dead. I was now a beast. A stage one Necrotic. They kept me in quarantine. They studied me. Once, I heard someone ask, “What are we going to do with this beast? We can’t just kill him!” Some nurses refused to even come into the same room as me. I can only imagine that I had only grown to look worse. I could only imagine what Alex is doing, feeling, and seeing.
Three days after I was admitted into quarantine, Dr.Lau came study me. The old Martin would have loved the opportunity to work face to face with Dr. Lau, but I despised her. I could hear her fingers tapping against the keyboard of the small laptop she carried. I bet she knew what was going to happen. She knew what was going to happen to the whole city, county, state,and country. She knew what was going to happen to the world. She looked at me with a face full of concern. She looked at me and said,
“ Dr. Martuna?”
I started banging on the quarantine window. I looked behind her. There was my beautiful Jessica, crying. I felt like crying but the urge to murder kept drawing me hit the window.. Then, I saw Alex, and for a second I felt relief. I felt relieved from the pain. From the urge. Dr. Lau saw this change and turned to my son. I could see her eyes turn cold and merciless as she studied him.
She then turned to Jessica, “Don’t worry Mrs. Martuna, every disease has a cure.” Dr. Lau turned around and headed out. Before doing so, however, she took one long look at Alex. I could see her calculating eyes take notes in the back of her mind.
Did Alex have something to do with the virus and the cure, or was it our strong connection? Something was wrong. That look in Dr. Lau’s eyes said she’d do anything to get a cure. I needed to get out.
Once they all left the room, I started banging again. I saw a faint crack form. I was weak but my anger towards Dr. Lau fueled the final hits that broke the glass and set me free. Escape was my number one mission the goal of the mission was to end my pain and suffering.
As I proceeded towards the exit of the hospital, I attacked anyone who tried to stop me. I could see them change. Their eyes would turn blank as if their soul was being removed from their body. Changes for them were quicker. Sarah had slowed down my change. She had given me more time. You are lucky. The others would become a full Necrotic in as quick as ten minutes. Over three-hundred people were infected. Some would get infected by accidentally touching my own or others’ infected wounds.
I could hear the W.C.M.O police pull into the parking lot. The SWAT team, Armed Policemen, and even US army soldiers lined the outskirts of the hospital.
“They are in danger. You have to warn them on what’s inside the hospital,” said a soldier. Jessica was there, fighting against the police. She ran up to me and hugged me tightly. Didn’t she realize what she was doing? Then, as if she read my mind, she whispered, “I know. But I would rather be with you than alone to suffer.”
“I have a feeling he’ll save us. I know he will survive,” she whispered. Then I saw her eyes blank out. Her soul was leaving. She was going. She was leaving me. She was leaving Alex. I looked up at the sky. The air smelled of blood. The black sky taunted me. I can no longer speak all I could do is scream,
Sarah appeared in front of me. She said, “The Plague has ravaged your whole body. You are no longer human.” With that, she left again.
Then, I walked fast towards the W.C.M.O soldiers. They immediately started shooting at me. I fell to my knees. I couldn’t feel the bullets, but I knew they were there. I knew exactly where they had embedded themselves in my body. One shot straight into my heart. The thumping stopped. My vision grew blurry. I saw Jessica get up. She ran towards the police. She must have turned as well. Then, my vision blurred out. The smell of blood was stronger than ever. I heard shots being fired, screams, and the everlasting screeches of the Necrotics. Soon, my hearing let out. I knew the end was here.
I saw my life flash by. I saw my parents and my wedding. I saw Alex grow up. I saw slides of my best and peaceful moments as well as my worst. Then I was nothing.
My name is Martin Martuna and this is the beginning of the end.
One month Earlier
“Life before Havoc”
I ran through the crowded streets of San Francisco.
“You can’t hide from me!” someone said from behind me, “I’ll always find you.”
I turned around the corner and cut into an alley. Unfortunately, I ran straight into a dead end. Desperately, I looked for a way out, however, I had lucked out. The flag in my hand seemed to be weighing me down. I tried to find someplace to hide. The only place was in a dumpster. I cautiously lifted myself into it. I guess my luck hadn’t run out. The dumpster was a full of paper and gave me paper cuts on my forearm and my leg. I allowed myself to breathe a sigh of relief and counted to twenty to myself. When I thought the coast was clear, I lifted the cover of the dumpster to peak out. No one was there. I slowly hopped out and turned back onto main street. I had to get to the school right away. I tried to make the flag as invisible as possible. “I got this,” I said aloud to myself, “We are going to make it.” I was one block away from the school when something struck me in the back.
“You have been paintballed! Woo!” said my friend, Felix, triumphantly.
“Oh no, not again,” I handed over the flag to Felix, “I hate losing at Flag.”
“I know,” said Felix grinning, “But you have to work out more if you want to out run ‘The Falcon’.” He laughed at me took off the opposite direction with the flag. I turned away from him and headed into Abraham High School.
Flag was a game the physical training department at our school made up two years ago to keep the kids fit. The game’s court was the whole city. On a day of a Flag game, all of the other grade levels got a day off. The objective was to grab the other team’s flag and bring it to the area you are assigned to. You were out if you were shot with a paintball gun. There is a Flag game held every month for each grade level. The winning team gets a week long trip to a tourist location. Once a team went on a trip to Paris.
When I got back to school, it was already crowded with students. I quickly scanned the crowd to see if I could spot anyone I knew. My eyes locked on a blonde wave of hair. “Julia!” I yelled her name out loud. She turned around and saw me. Her deep, gray eyes locked with my green eyes.
“Finally,” she sighed, “What took you so long?” She flashed a quick smile to the group of girls she was talking to and walked my way. “Who got you?” she asked.
“The Falcon!” I said, trying to imitate the way Felix said it with a deep voice.
Julia laughed, “Of course. Felix the Falcon.”
We walked away from the crowd of kids and sat in our spot under an Oak Tree in the yard. “Did you have another dream?” I asked her. Julia always had dreams. Sometimes they were like the old stories we read about. But sometimes she has visions. Usually, they are small things. A pop quiz in history or the winner of flag. But once, she saw a plane crash. The very next day, a plane crashed in Oregon less than a mile away from its capital of Salem.
“Yeah,” she replied in a grim tone, “But it was horrible. I saw abandoned cities. They were full of debris. It was like something you’d find in books with pictures of bombs. It looked like scenes from the movie 2012 they showed us in fourth grade. And the worst part was that I was all alone.” She looked at me, her eyes full of fear.
I wrapped my hand around hers and told her, “Don’t worry, it was just a dream. And you forgot something, I would rather die than let you be alone in a world like that.”
✴ ✴ ✴
I had a bad dream that night.
I was running through a forest. My hand was wrapped around Julia’s. Something was chasing us. I could hear my heart beating hard in my chest. I tightened my grip around Julia’s hand. I heard my dad’s voice in my head. Don’t let them catch you. I turned around and saw the W.C.M.O soldiers chasing us. They were going to catch up with me. I turned to look at Julia. She locked her eyes with mine and said, “Run! Don’t worry, I would be right behind you.” Then in a fiercer more firm tone, “You need to survive.” With that she let my hand go and ran towards the soldiers with a gun in her hand. Shots were fired. Tears streamed down my face. I forced myself not to look back. I saw a clearing up ahead. I closed my eyes and ran. The next thing I knew, I was falling off a cliff with my scream echoing through the nightmare.
I woke up in a flash. Sweat clung to my forehead. Tears were falling onto my cheeks. My heart was still beating hard, but now faster than ever. I clutched my knees and rocked back and forth in the dark. “It’s just a dream. It’s just a dream,” I repeated to myself over and over until I finally fell asleep yet once again.
✴ ✴ ✴
The day after, I went to school as usual. When I was walking to class, I heard Julia and Felix running towards me.
“Hey Alex! Guess what?!” she said excitedly.
I replied “What?”
“We have a surprise for you,” she said gesturing at Felix.
I suspected it was just some sort of prank, but Julia took a gift box out from behind her back. I ripped at the wrapping and found the box to be overflowing with confetti. I stopped searching through it and since Julia didn’t motion me to continue, we all laughed. It was a joke.
Then she hugged me and said, “Happy Birthday Alex!”
“I can’t believe you guys remembered my birthday!” I exclaimed.
Julia responded with a sarcastic voice, “Yeah. Like I could forget my boyfriend,-
and best friend’s, birthday.” Felix entered the conversation saying “Well guys hope both of you have a wonderful day! But I got to go. Catch y’all later.”
Felix had headed to the locker rooms. The sun shined in the bright cloudless sky.
“Want to ditch school?” she asked.
“Definitely,” I said, “Who would want to waste such a beautiful day stuck inside?”
We went to Dolores Park. I bought us some ice cream and we relaxed on an open grass area.
“You know, every moment I spend with you is like a beautiful dream come true,” I said.
She leaned into me said what I had wanted to say to her along, “ I love you Alex.”
We sat there staring into eachothers’ eyes. Her gray eyes were fierce, like a hurricane. “But There is something I need to tell you,” she said, “I-”
She was abruptly cut off by one of the radio that a man was playing, “Good morning San Francisco! We have some big news to tell you! The W.C.M.O is officially announcing Searchlight!” Everyone, including us, stopped and looked at the radio and listened closely.
“My father is a part of that,” I said.
“Really?” she said excitedly, then more downcast, “Wait, tell me later. I can’t put this off any longer. I’m moving to Los Angeles. My dad. He was assigned to attend a W.C.M.O training camp and I wanted to come along.”
I shifted my feet and looked down, “You’re going?”
She looked at me ready to burst into tears, “It’s only for two years. I will be back.” She looked at me hoping I would understand. Julia had been wanting to train into a W.C.M.O soldier for as long as I knew her. Here was an opportunity for her to go through this training as a junior.
I looked into her eyes, which were dark with rain clouds now, and said, “I am not going anywhere, and you will only be about seven hours away. I can come visit in the summer. And the sights. We could see Disneyland and Universal Studios. This will be the adventure of a lifetime.”
Her eyes lit up, as if the sun broke through those rain clouds, “Now you are making me sad for not leaving sooner.”
We sat there in harmony. I broke the silence as the sky turned bright pink, “When are you leaving.”
She looked at me, “March.” Then, she checked her watch, “It is almost six, I should probably get going.” She got up and walked toward an approaching shuttle.
“Bye,” I whispered to no one as I got up and left.
Once back at my house, I turned on the TV. I flipped channels to the news. Only more on Operation Searchlight. I flipped to another station and abruptly stopped. Before me was a mass protest in Australia against the project. People held signs with phrases such as, “We have had enough!” or “Don’t tempt them.” One sign flashed across the screen, “We are doomed, it’s too late now.” Whatever did that meant. Just after that, I heard the front door flung open.
“I am home!” yelled my dad. I jumped to change the channel to some cartoons. “How are you doing kid?” he said as he entered the living room.
“Fine,” i said.
“What’s wrong?” asked my dad concerned.
“Why are people protesting Searchlight in Australia?” I asked, “I mean, What is wrong with the project?”
“Well kiddo, remember, no matter what idea you have and how great it is, there will always be people who oppose it,” he said, sitting down.
“What do you think dad?” I asked, “Not what you are supposed to say. What do you really think about Searchlight?”
“To be honest kiddo, I don’t know why the W.C.M.O would be sending so many of us and soldiers to an old island. Truly, I don’t even know what we are searching for,” he said.
“Do you support it dad?” I asked once again.
“I don’t think so. I feel like something deep inside me wants me to resign from this mission,” he replied, “But let’s not talk about such controversial topics, on your birthday, too. Let’s have some fun. Let’s go to the Gallery of fine arts.”
“Is that really what you do for fun,” I said jokingly, “I am counting to ten, then I will commence a paintball gun fight.”
My dad laughed and got up. “You’ll never get me!” he declared, “I was a champion at Flag.”
“One...Two...Three...Four...Ten! Ready or not, here I come!” I yelled. I grabbed my paintball gun and ran into the neighborhood. “Paintball fight!” I yelled as I ran out.
Kids and adults alike ran out with paintball guns and vests in their hands. I ran to my dad’s secret spot. Happy to see him sitting there waiting for me, I said, “What’s the plan sir?”
My dad grinned at me and said, “We throw a grenade at the south side and proceed west to where the Waters family hides and take them out. Then, we go on solo missions and go home with the trophy.”
“Roger that officer,” I replied, “Let’s get this party started!”
My dad just left for Hawaii. With just me and my mom, things get a little boring. I tried to make the best without dad but mom had things to do. Also mom was always at work and Julia was not answering her phone, probably packing. Meanwhile, Felix was busy with practice for a new tournament approaching.
To get rid of my boredom, I went to workout in the basement. Ever since I was just a kid, it had been established that the basement was my territory. When I was eight, I decided to make some bean bag chairs. Julia also made me some colorful rugs. At ten, with the a lot of help from my dad I made a few tables and chairs. When I turned twelve, I brought down an old TV I had found on the street and repaired it with Felix. The following year, Felix and Julia got me two gaming stations. That year, I also made a bookshelf and started buying books. Later, when I turned fifteen, I asked for some workout equipment. Felix was way into working out that point, so I asked for some as an excuse for the two of us to hang out. Later, I was surprised to find that it was a great way to pass time, and started working out regularly. Just a few weeks ago, I added a mini fridge and some food. By now, it was a full living space.
I worked out for a total of forty-five minutes. After that, I sat down in one of the bean bag chairs and turned on the TV. The channel that was on was showing a report on a species of birds found in Kauai. They were many birds in a variety of colors and patterns. There was one particular bird that looked like a cross between an eagle and a parrot.
Every now and then, dad called. He would ask how we were doing and so on. He always tried to sound genuine, but I wasn’t buying it. A few days later, I heard mom arguing with dad over the phone. She said, “You need to come back. Alex needs you, I need you. Don’t do anything stupid. Don’t-” She was cut off by something dad said and hung up. I heard her crying in her room sometimes.
To cover up all this tension, mom would frequently call her friends over and go on nights out. I was given more freedom, so I slept over at Felix’s a couple of times. But something just wasn’t right.
Yesterday, the W.C.M.O called and told my mom that he would be home in two days. I was pretty excited and couldn’t wait. I had a list of places I wanted to explore and games to play, but once he came home he didn’t act the way he normally did.
Something was horribly wrong. I could sense it. Dad seemed extremely sick and depressed. He would talk as if he would die the next day. He had ghostly white skin that looked as if it was made out of tissue paper. He would have dark circles under his eyes which would only grow hollower as the days passed. His dark glossy hair became dull with wisps of gray. At night I would hear him mumbly to a girl named Sarah. I asked who Sarah was and he just shrugged and shook his head.
Things were slow at home. Mom was back but everyone acted too serious. I would frequently go into the basement to workout or just turn on the TV and go to sleep.
Finally, Julia called and put me out of my misery. She asked me if I wanted to go to the movies on Saturday. I agreed and asked her which one. She told me it would be a surprise so I said that I would pick her up at six. When saturday came around, I picked Julia up headed to the Clay Theater. We watched a throwback movie, Home Alone. After the movie, we ate sushi at Japan town and headed to the coit tower on the top of the hill.
We sat there in silence until my phone rang. I scrambled to pick it up. It was my mom. “Honey! I need you to come back home. Immediately!” she said. Just as I was about to ask her why, then she hung up.
Julia asked what was happening, and I told her something was up at home. We got in my car, and drove home in silence. I dropped Julia off sped home. Once there, I rushed into the living room. I asked my dad,who was sitting on the couch, “What’s going on?”
He got up and walked towards me. I could hear my mom crying in her room. My father began to take my hand and wept. Finally he spoke, “I love you. I hope you know that no matter what, I will always love you.”
Then, he left me there standing speechless and headed into his room.
At 2:00 am in the morning, I heard screaming coming from upstairs. I rushed upstairs to my mom’s room only to find it empty with the covers of her bed on the floor. I ran into my dad’s room and saw a sight that made me scream like a five year old. I saw my dad’s skin coming off. My mom was crying clutching him in her arms, rocking him back and forth. Once dad saw me, I didn’t see my dad. I saw a monster.
I screamed like there was no tomorrow. I screamed so loud that I thought the entire neighborhood could have heard me. I ran into my room still screaming. I scrambled for my phone and dialed 911. I told them to come as quickly as they could. When the first doctor came up, he was paralysed with fear. The next, doctor immediately called the W.C.M.O Soldiers. The Soldiers wore full quarantine suits and dragged my dad into the ambulance. Mom screamed at them to be gentle, but they just held her back paying her no attention.
Mom and I went with the ambulance. I tried to comfort her. When we got back, she fell into depression. I finally made mom come to check on dad in the hospital. We went to the W.C.M.O hospital to check on dad. When, we got in there, I saw dad banging on the glass of the quarantine holding him in. Dad had truly become a monster. I backed up against the wall hoping he wouldn’t see me.
However, he did and the minute he saw me, his eyes softened. He stopped banging to be let out.. For the first time, I noticed Dr.Lau. She was taking notes but, at that moment she looked up. She noticed the change in dad’s mood. She slowly turned back to me. Her eyes seemed to pierce into my soul. I felt a cold shiver run down my spine.
“Visiting hours are over sir,” said a nurse, “You should go now.”
I grabbed my mom and headed out. When we were just about to open the car doors, a siren went up in the hospital. “Quarantine breach BSL-4 all personal please advise!” was repeated over and over again. I heard screams, alarms, and the siren of the San Francisco police. I tried to pull my mom into the car but she was frozen there. Soon, the whole hospital was surrounded by the SWAT team, Armed policemen and even the W.C.M.O soldiers. My dad rushed out of the hospital doors. The moment my mom saw him, she ran towards him. She went up to him and hugged him tight. Then she turned, much quicker than dad. Mom turned into a monster, as well.
I turned to the car only to realize mom still had the keys. I turned back to the hospital to see a huge crowd of monsters speed out of the hospital. I turned around and ran. I could hear screaming behind me. And then, I heard the first shots ring out. At that point I knew that my life would never be the same. when I heard the shots. I knew that my life was heading down a road of never ending fear.
“It was here, it was finally here”
I ran as fast as I could. I turned into an alley and took a break to rest my thoughts.
Dad was gone, and mom changed before my very eyes. She literally changed into a monster. Her eyes had seemed to show that someone had taken a knife and ripped her soul away from her body. And then, a huge mob of these monsters approached out of the hospital.
I ran straight home. I felt as if someone was watching me so I took a shortcut through the alleys. The second I got inside, I locked the door and windows. I closed the curtains and turned off the lights. Then, I proceeded in grabbing my phone and a flashlight and went into my room. I was just about to grab the emergency kit each family was required to keep when I remembered the suitcase. I ran into dad’s study and quickly opened the suitcase. My hands trembled as I lifted a notebook out of the case. I quickly started to read through the pages. At one point the handwriting became so illegible that I could feel his pain. He had kept a diary. I laughed. This was so much like Dad. Even in this pain, he never let his duty leave. Even in his pain, he recorded what may come in handy for knowing and creating a cure later. I went through the rest of the stuff he packed. Dad was thoughtful. He had packed everything, even a picture of the two of us with mom.
Then, I quickly came back to reality. My first thought was to escape. I couldn’t go alone. I couldn’t leave the rest of the people behind. I called Julia, my girlfriend. Over the phone, I urgently insisted on her coming over. Of course, she came right away. I ushered her inside and told her what was happening when she stopped me, “Hold up there. You are telling me there is a virus? A plague?” Then, she started laughing, “You’re joking right? This is all some sort of prank you pulled off with Felix. You actually got me there for a second.”
“I am telling the truth,” I pleaded.
“You can come out now Felix. I know it’s all a prank,” she yelled, “Felix?”
“Shh,” I said, “Who knows how quickly the virus is spreading? I don’t want any of them, the monsters, to know where we are.” Then as if on cue, there was a loud banging on door.
“Open up! Please! Help me!” yelled whoever was at the door, “Please! I don’t know what’s happening. I am all alone. My ma told me to come here, before she…” Then, whoever it was at the door started sobbing. “Is anyone in there?”
“Ah-ha, that must be Felix,” Julia claimed, “Give it up Felix. I know it’s a prank.” When she got to the door she screamed. I ran to her to see what was wrong. There was a little kid standing on the porch, but behind him was a Monster that was quickly moving towards the kid.
“Ma? Are you okay?” the kid asked as he turned to the monster, “Ma! What’s wrong with you? It’s me, Mike. Ma stop. It isn’t funny.”
I pulled the kid inside and slammed the door. I locked it and from some instinct, started inspecting the kid for any wounds. He seemed fine, physically. Emotionally, he seemed hurt in a million places.
Julia looked at me. Her beautiful gray eyes were checking out the possibility of what I was saying to be true. “So it’s really happening then,” she said more as a statement than a question. She looked at me with her blonde hair in her eyes, her eyes were immediately searching for answers. “We need to get Felix,” she said, “ He could be in danger. Where is the phone?”
I handed her the phone. As she called Felix, I grabbed as much food out of the cupboards as I could. I went into my parents’ room and grabbed their bags. I handed my mom’s backpack to Julia and my own to Mike.I took a look at Mike but couldn’t guess his age. “How old are you?” I asked him.
“Nine,” he replied. He had curly brown hair and tan skin. He started going through the bag I had given him and said, “It would be wiser to give me more technology. I could program it. My ma always said that I could be a fine wildlife explorer for the W.C.M.O one day.” Then his eyes turned watery again. In a weak voice, he asked, “Could you show me the restroom?”
“Down the hall, two lefts, and it is on your right,” I replied. He then rushed off into the house. “Did you remind Felix to bring his hiking bag?” I asked Julia.
“Yeah,” she said, “But where are we going to go? Aren’t we safe right here?”
“No. I am afraid not,” I said, “You see, they will continuously grow in numbers. We won’t be safe until we are away from them. We need to get out of the city. Preferably, we need to get out of country. We should probably book the next flight out.” Then, the doorbell rang. I motioned at Julia to stay, and slowly crept up to the door. The doorbell rang once again. I looked through the window next to the door and breathed a sigh of relief. It was Felix. I opened the door and quickly ushered him inside.
His already pale face was even more white with terror. In a shaky voice, he asked, “What is going on? The monsters. Who are they? What happened to my mom?” He was crying.
No one had ever seen this part of Felix. Felix had always remained strong. His father had died in a riot when Felix was just a kid. His mother had fallen into depression because of this and Felix was responsible to take care of her. They got money from the W.C.M.O to help with the loss of a breadwinner. For his part, Felix had to remain strong at all times. But now, it seemed like his mother had turned.
“Felix,” I said gently. Felix continued sobbing. “Look at me, Felix,” I said more firmly. He looked up. “We have to remain strong,” I said, “We have lost our parents too. My father was the first, and then my mom today. Poor Mike over there lost his mom in front of his very eyes. Julia doesn’t even know if her parents are alive as humans or something else . They could even be dead. Felix, we have to stay strong. I know this hard for you, but at least you have us. At least, we have you.”
Felix wiped his cheeks and looked at the rest of us. Mike, who had come back was working on my tablet. Julia was gathering food. I was the only one really paying attention to Felix. At last, Felix asked, “What is going on?”
“An epidemic,” I replied, “Like the stuff we read about in class about the Bubonic Plague and stuff.”
“A virus?” he asked, “And we don’t have a cure?”
“Apparently,” I said.
Julia walked into the living room and turned on the TV. “Hey guys,” she said, “Check this out.”
The news was on. In a scared tone, the reporter said, “There is a massive evacuation here at the financial district. In fear of a viral outbreak here-”
The reporter was interrupted by a loud scream and a police officer shouting, “Get down! I said get down!” After that, I heard screaming, gunshots, and more sirens. All this was followed by crying coming from outside the house.
A monster, I realized, “Everyone freeze. Be quiet. And turn off the TV.” The growling was louder than ever, then all of a sudden, it stopped. “I think we are safe,” I said a little too soon. Outside, a loud scream rang throughout the neighborhood.
I heard Mike whimper, but in a clear voice he said, “I fixed a map. We can mark the areas that are infected.”
Soon, there was banging on the door. I told everyone to go down to the basement. Once there, I locked the door. I then turned on the TV. The screen of the news story was tilted. The camera was on the ground. The city probably totally oblivious to it. I could see police convoys going through the streets.
Julia looked at me. Her eyes had never been so focused. As if she were visualizing an entire plan. “We need to get out of here,” she finally said, “We can’t live down here forever. Sooner or later the whole city will be infiltrated with monsters and escape will be impossible.”
When had Julia become so calculating I silently wondered. “What do you think we should do?” I asked.
“I think we should gather everything we can carry and head towards the woods,” she said,. “ you should have the tent,” she continued. “I counted our food supply and it seems we have enough for seventeen days.”
“Good, maybe we will leave before we run out of supplies.” asked Felix.
“That is the plan,” said Julia. I agreed I told everyone “Let’s get some rest we have a busy day tomorrow.” It was funny how things can change so fast, they probably put up quarantine zones everywhere in the city to check everyone if they had the virus. But the goal now was to keep everyone safe until help arrives. If anyone arrives.
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