Chapter 1: Oh Military Man
A few years ago, The CDC created a pathogen called Pax-A. It was supposed to cure anything hence the “A.” However, something went wrong. Something always goes wrong. The test subjects started experiencing confusion that later budded into extreme affection, obsession over the virus, or aggression. The scientists weren’t sure what was the cause. They began using the help of leech type worms to draw out any part of the pathogen that had be inserted. That’s when it morphed. The worm started eating into the subjects and attaching itself to their brains disrupting neural activity.
In order to keep the country from falling apart or letting the disease spread, all travel both boat and air was suspended. The CDC started sending out computer chips that were embedded into the skin to track the citizens and release a poison that would kill them should they ever get sick. The CDC also set up camps in other parts of the world to try and figure a cure. They transported the worms out of the country and that’s how it got loose everywhere. A few of the third world countries had fallen, their governments falling into anarchy due to terror. Two subject carriers managed to get out of the CDC. Garnet Reding and Geoffrey Stanton. The two have since gone different ways and created legions of their own. One for the better of the country the other to destroy it.
The CDC teamed up with the military to try and regulate certain areas and keep the peace. Some of the citizens refuse to be chipped and have started a tamarrud or rebellion against the CDC in order to keep their friends and families safe. Current leader Keenan Vinten accepts all but the sick. He even accepts those who run from the CDC only if they pledge their loyalty.
The sun sets behind the mountain casting a shadow over the town of Greycott. As the name implies, the town is colorless and bland. During the day, nobody could tell that a virus had even occurred. But at night, it was a completely different, completely dangerous situation. The people are afraid to come outside. They’re afraid to have any interaction with those they once called friends or family. Once someone became sick, it wasn’t long before they turned on those they loved.
A figure rushes by into the shadow of a building. His uniform is tight and suffocating. He peers around the corner slowing his breathing.
“Oh military man! Where are you!?” A woman shouts. She pulls snowboarding goggles over her purple eyes. The thermal scope scans the area. She moves her blonde and pink hair out of her face. She has a tattoo of a T in a circle on the side of her neck under her ear, it resembles the anarchy symbol.
“Hey, Bexley! Any sign of him!?” Tatsuya Ozil shouts from the rooftop. His tattered, black, denim vest blows open. His black spiky hair glistens in the moonlight. He has the same tattoo but on his bicep. His green eyes look around from the rooftops.
“No! We lost the sneaky--”
“He’s over there!” Tatsuya shouts jumping on the ledge of another building. “Hes running down Monroe!” He continues.
“Please! Just leave me alone!” the man wails running down the street. Tatsuya is not far behind jumping off buildings. He comes to an alley jumping down onto the escape stairs. He almost falls down the stairs
“We don’t like chippers in our area!” Bexley jeers. The man turns a corner running into a dead end alley. A light shines through the tall brown fence illuminating the man’s frightened face. He turns around to see Bexley’s shadow. Tatsuya jumps down behind him.
“Please! I’m just doing my job!” the man whimpers. Tatsuya pushes him back.
“Yeah? Well were just doing ours. Call it a citizen’s arrest,” Tatsuya chuckles cracking his knuckles.
“It’s just to make sure you don’t get sick,” the man says putting his hands up.
“You actually believe that bull?” Tatsuya grabs him roughly by the collar. “Do I look sick to you?” Tatsuya asks, widening his purple eyes. He smiles slightly at the tears forming in the man’s eyes.
“No. No you look good,” the man whimpers. Tatsuya pulls back slightly.
“I look good? Well damn that’s a plus,” Tatsuya smiles puckering his lips.
“Leave him alone, Tatsuya,” a man says. He walks down the alley. He also wears a black denim vest. The same T in a circle is tattooed on his chest. His arms are covered in tattoos as well.
“Ah come on, Keenan, I’m just messing with him,” Tatsuya jokes. Keenan steps from the shadows. His blonde undercut hair is slicked back. His double zero tunnels glow. He stares from the man to Tatsuya with his purple eyes. Keenan grabs the military man out of Tatsuya’s grip. He brushes off his uniform and adjusts the collar.
“You shouldn’t be out here at night. You might run into some unfriendly illegals,” Keenan warns. “Tell your boss or whatever you want to call the government, to stop sending rookies out to be slaughtered by us,” he continues. Keenan looks at the man’s tag. “Owens?” Keenan asks. He nods nervously.
“Yeah... Parker Owens... Please I don’t want to die,” Parker whimpers. Keenan releases him shoving him out of the alley.
“Get back to your CDC safe zone pussy boy,” Keenan smiles. Owens scrambles away. Keenan looks at Tatsuya from the side of his eye. “How long do you think he’ll last before the scavengers get him?” Keenan questions. Tatsuya puts a hand to his chin.
“I’m not sure. Seeing how scared he was when I chased him, he won’t stand a chance against them. Those little fricks are fast,” Tatsuya comments. Bexley walks over with a bag. She hands it to Keenan.
“He must be really new. None of these have been put in yet,” Bexley states as Keenan opens the bag. It’s full of flashing red chips the size of a fingernail. A rumbling trash can takes their attention.
“We need to get off the streets. Round everyone up. We don’t have much time,” Keenan orders. Tatsuya lifts a flare gun into the air. He shoots off one round. A few seconds later a light appears in the air from another location.
“How long do we have?” Bexley asks looking at her watch. Keenan walks on the sidewalk looking around.
“Not long. They come out earlier and earlier it seems. I caught one last night before the sun went down,” Keenan explains. A sicking growl behind him makes them stop. Keenan pulls out a Bowie knife and aims it at a giant black dog. The dog’s fangs drip with saliva. “Nobody make any sudden moves,” Keenan whispers. A man crawls on all fours behind the dog. He stands up straight looking around. His pupils are lime green, the white part around it a milky silver. He looked slightly up to the sky as if he was confused. The dog walked toward them. Everyone remained still. Feet slapping on the concrete took the scavenger’s attention. He looked past the three. Owens was scrambling on the sidewalk.
“Ooh! Ooh!!” the scavenger screeched showing his jagged teeth. He and the dog took after Owens. “Oh Mr. Military Man!” the scavenger shrieked. Owens screamed running from them.
“I told you he wouldn’t last long,” Tatsuya smiled. Keenan pointed the blade at him.
“Shut up and get back to the base. These guys never travel alone,” Keenan whispers as they back up. Owens screams but it is soon drowned out by the scavenger laughter and dog howl. “Move now!” Keenan hisses as they run.
“Ooh! Ooh!!” the scavenger wails. The dog lets out a disgruntling howl. It is answered by others. The dogs are much bigger. Scavengers ride on them clutching their dark fur.
“Scavengers! We have some marrids!” a larger scavenger shouts. The pack chase the group through the city. Keenan is ahead. He pulls out his walkie talkie.
“I need return fire now!” Keenan shouts. Bexley trips knocking Tatsyua down. He quickly gets up pulling her arm.
“Come on, don’t go down on me now,” Tatsuya says. She takes another step, her ankle creating a sickening crack. She cries out. Tatsuya turns.
“Go on, I’ll be fine,” Bexley says. Tatsuya shakes his head grabbing her from the ground. He puts her on his back and hauls it toward Keenan.
“Keenan! Have a medic ready!” Tatsuya shouts ahead. They turn the corner. A large dog the size of a bear stands between them and their base camp.
“Look look!!” the leader yells. The others come around from behind cornering the three. “We have some lovely folks wandering around enjoying the crisp of night,” he smiles revealing jagged teeth. His skin is pale and clammy. His eyes the same silver and lime green.
“You people are sick!” Keenan shouts. “You started all this crap, Garnet!” Keenan yells. He pulls out a pistol and holds the knife under in a tactical formation.
“Me? Did you forget there were two of us there? Im not the only one who had the virus at the time. We could have done something great but he wanted to go a different path. I created these lovely pups,” Garnet says rubbing his dogs head. “What did he create? Medicine that hasn’t helped anyone. I bet he created the chips that you guys use. I know you run with the chippers,” Garnet grumbles.
“We most certainly do not! I’ll be damned if I let those ingrates control me! You’re letting that worm control your brain!” Keenan hollers. The scavengers come closer. The garage door of the base rises, light flooding into the street. Tatsuya shoots a flare at one of the scavengers. Their attention goes straight to it. Tatsuya and Keenan run toward the base.
“You imbeciles! Get them!” Garnet shouts. He tries his best to control his own animal. More flares shoot out of the garage scattering them. The door shuts. A few scavengers bang on it. Keenan bends over trying to catch his breath. Tatsuya sets Bexley down helping her balance on one leg.
“She’s been hurt,” Tatsuya says worry in his voice. A few medics walk over to her.
“No. She twisted her ankle or something. They didn’t touch her,” Tatsuya says. Bexley refuses to let go of him. He picks her up. “You’re gonna be just fine,” he smiles down at her kissing her forehead. Tatsuya walks back with the medics.
“Stupid military man had to come down here at this hour,” Keenan huffs. One of his crew members hands him a phone.
“It’s the CDC. They want to know what happened to him and where are the chips?” the guy asks confused. Keenan snatches the phone from him.
“Because of you so called scientist, he died! He got killed by a scavenger,” Keenan growls into the phone. He gets no response. “I know you morons can hear me! You’re not helping anyone by chipping them! You’re--” a dial tone silences Keenan. He angrily hands the phone back to the crew member.
Keenan walks further into the amber lit base. Their Tamarrud symbol glows on the walls. A few kids run around playing. They immediately stop and move out of the way when Keenan walks by. He speaks into a walkie talkie that’s connected to the building’s main frame. “I want our watch doubled! Nobody gets in, nobody gets out without telling me,” Keenan orders. His voice echoes through the building. “In this world, all we have is each other. Surround yourselves by the people you need.” A few parents put their small children to bed while the others continue to watch over the place.
“Momma are we gonna die?” a little girl asks. Her mom kisses her forehead.
“No sweetheart. We’re safe here and the other marrids are going to keep us safe. Try and get some sleep OK?” the woman reassures. She covers the child with a blanket before walking out of the room. She runs into Keenan. “Sorry,” she says as Keenan smiles at her.
“No need to be sorry,” he says before walking off. His mind is somewhere else. He walks to his bedroom. The walls are a bare, bland concrete. He removes his vest and stares at himself in the mirror. He takes his Bowie knife and cuts a slit over his right pectoral.
“Why do you do that?” Tatsuya asks. Keenan doesn’t stop cutting.
“It reminds me I’m still alive. I have a reason to fight. That guy ruined everything,” Keenan says wiping the blood.
“Oh that poor military man,” Tatsuya smiles.
“Poor us... We’re still here,” Keenan says serious.
He makes Tatsuya leave before pulling off his pants. He has a giant bite mark in his thigh. He stares it over in the mirror before putting sweats on. He lays in bed staring at the ceiling.
“I’m still here,” Keenan whispers before closing his eyes.