Once again, I’m in Marcus’ office. The walk here was...awkward. Jason had little to say and I was still in shock, trying to figure everything out because I have never seen that before. That...that is not nature. There had better be a bloody good explanation for why someone tried to eat me. I am trying not to see that as a euphemism.
I don’t know what to think about it. I mean it is a positive thing because now, I have a distraction but no...no it is not a good thing in any respect. Attack of the cannibals. What the hell?
I feel like I have twisted my ankle. Well I say ‘I’ but let’s face it, it was something to do with the cannibal bitch in the unmarked room. I understand why it was unmarked now but why it was unlocked, I don’t understand.
“Elektra, you are probably wondering what you just witnessed,” Marcus announces, as if he were appealing to the masses.
“You could say that...yeah.”
Marcus, subject of expertise: stating the bleeding obvious.
“You don’t have to be afraid of them. We have them under control for the moment. The first reported case was in January 2028 in Devon, the first reported sighting of the mutation. We cannot explain what causes it or why it happens but it does. One bite or scratch, even a bit of dribble from their chins, and it’s game over. It’s hyper infective and we control it through our patrols. We are the first and last line of defence against them, do you understand? If you want to stay, they are what you will have to deal with. Any questions?”
Where the hell do I begin? Last defence? They keep them in a bloody store room. This isn’t an isolated incident either. How many of them are there? I have to admit, my hopes of there being thriving colonies of survivors are being dashed. How come I haven’t come across them before? Do they prefer the sea air or something? None of this makes any sense and I don’t think there is any logic to it.
“Alright, how do you kill them? And...when do I begin?”
I feel like I have just signed my soul over to the devil so this should be fun.
“You have to destroy the brain entirely. We think it has something to do with parts in the centre of the brain and the brain stem. Without the other parts of the brain, it would cause them to be animalistic in nature and action. They die of the infection that we all know and love and then they come back. A gun shot is effective but if you get caught in the middle of them, it draws them, like a dinner bell. It’s better if you use blunt trauma.”
“He means beating them over the head until they stop moving.”
“Thank you for your input Jason,” Marcus replies in response to the interruption. Jason sinks back like a naughty school child which is an odd sight, granted, “basically, hit them or impale them in the head. It’s the only way. You start today. Jason, give her the gun.”
Wahey! I get a gun and everything. Jason takes the Winchester rifle from his belt and hands it to me. He seems reluctant so I sense that this gun is of some importance to him. I almost feel bad about accept it but if it saves my life, I am going to take it. I’m not insane. I haven’t been tested but I assume I’m not. Anyone who has claimed otherwise has never been seen again. I’m kidding...in a way.
“Okay, let’s do this,” I avow with a smile. It gets the adrenaline pumping, that’s for certain. I feel like I could belong here and I am too curious to leave. I have to understand more about what was going on while I spent my ten years in a bubble.
Wait, did they know about this? Rita and John? Is that why we ‘had’ to cremate everyone? To prevent them coming back? A bullet to the head to end them? It’s all becoming clear now. Clarity is a blessing. Thank God I left when I did. Why have I always been lied to? It really bloody sucks. I can’t tell fact from fiction anymore.
“Wait. One last question: what do we call them?”
“We call them ‘risers’. Original name but to the point, do you not think?” Marcus says, with an air of self-praise. I assume he came up with the name. Imaginative.
“No, not really. Might as well call them ‘cannibiters’ or ‘walkers’. Actually, it’s to the point; I guess it’s not too bad. Come on, let’s go,” I articulate with adrenaline pumping through my veins once again. It feels good to be alive.
“Cannibiters, I like that,” Jason interjects, placing his hand around my waist.
“Don’t you be getting ideas about my daughter, Jason, or I will remove your meat and two veg, alright?”
Jason moves his hand instantly and just links his fingers with mine. Having a father to be protective over me, I can see what I have been missing.
Marcus raises his eyebrow and Jason removes his hand from mine and places it behind his back. I can’t help giggling. Things are finally looking up; that is one of the weirdest statements for me to say. I am about to go out and kill ‘cannibiters’ and I feel invigorated.
That’s when things change dramatically.
Next thing I know one of the biters comes up behind Marcus and bites his arm, ripping an artery. Blood sprays from the wound and he falls to the floor. I act on impulse and put a bullet in its head. It falls backwards and falls to the floor, with half of its head remaining in the spot where I emptied the bullet. That riser attacked my dad. It’s game over but it can’t be. I only just got him back.
The five other cannibiters that were in the room have got out. Who left the bloody door open? Jason is struggling in the corner to rewire an old tannoy. A riser is getting closer to him; do I cover him or do I get rid of the others. I shot the one nearest the door which attracts them towards me. I have given him some time. For God's sake Jason, hurry the hell up. I have to keep them away from Marcus as well.
I just keep shooting, hoping that I will hit something. It’s a rifle, it’s not meant for such close range. Shit. I’m out of bullets. There are still three of them standing and I am not leaving until all of them are dead.
“Jason, a little help please!”
“I think I’ve got it,” the tannoy begins to work as I can hear the white noise from here, “we have a code 3: Amber. Evacuate, everybody evacuate. We have a man down, man down. Evacuate now.”
The tannoy attracts them to him again. That gives me more time to select a melee weapon. That’s when I notice the katana above Marcus’ desk. If I can get to that, I may stand a chance. Not that I have ever handled a katana before.
I pull myself onto his desk and unleash the beast from its sheath. I have it. It’s heavier than I thought but I can take it. I jump down. The noise alerts them to me again.
“Come on you ugly bastards!”
Am I genuinely taunting them? Yes, yes I am. The first one comes at me and I stab it in the eye. There is something quite satisfying about the squelch that signalled its end.
I slice the top of the second one’s head off and, once it falls, I kick it to the side. There is one left. I could let it live; it would be easy to overpower it but no. This is personal now. I bring the sword down on the top of its head, through its face, splitting its head in half. I think I’ve got the hang of this.
“Bloody hell, Elektra. That was astounding. Wait. Marcus.”
I walk over to him. He looks pale and is convulsing. He looks so different to the military leader I first met. He looked fragile before due to his age but now, he looks almost child-like. I want to protect him, to heal him. It should be the other way around. I kneel down and lift his head up. I don’t know what I am supposed to do; this is my dad. This isn’t fair. I have only just found him. There is so much I still have to know. We still have so much more of our story left. This isn’t fair!
Marcus begins to croak.
“It’s alright dad, I’m here. I’m not going anywhere,” I can’t help myself from crying, “everything is going to be okay. Just keep your eyes open okay? He’s going to be alright isn’t he, Jason?”
Jason stares at me uneasily. He doesn’t want to say it. He doesn’t want to say that it’s Marcus’ end game. He could at least say something, anything. Give me something, honesty or false hope, I don’t care. I just need something to hold onto. I begin to examine the wound and put pressure on it. Pressure will stem the bleed for the moment. I need to buy myself some time until I can stitch it up and disinfect. He’s going to be alright, I will not let him die on my watch.
“I think if you have anything to say, now is the time to say it.”
“Okay...okay. I understand. Dad, you can’t die on me now. We’ve only just found each other again and now, you’re abandoning me. Please...don’t die. I can’t lose you for real, please hold on. Please,” I begin sobbing as I articulate the last few words. I can’t be an orphan again. When is it my turn not to be fucked over by life? When is it my turn? When? This isn’t fair. Then again, life isn’t fair. I should have accepted that by now.
“I...won’t leave...you...Elek...,” Marcus croaks and then closes his eyes. No, no, no.
“I love you dad; I’m sorry, please,” I whisper in his ear but I can’t feel his breath anymore. I move my hand, allowing his head to rest on the floor. I look at my right hand; it is stained with patriarchal blood. I rub and rub my hand but it just stains the other. It won’t go; it fades but it still remains like a tattoo.
I look up at Jason. He looks shocked but in no way emotional. I rise to my feet and look at him. I feel a steely determination being born inside of me. This is bloody personal now. The man with the answers is dead and I don’t know what I am going to do now. An animal is never more dangerous than when it has been backed into a corner and that is what they have done to me.
“The plan remains the same. You take me with you,” I say, picking up the katana sword, “nothing changes.”
“Are you sure that you still want to go? Elektra, your father just died right in front of you. You are in shock; we don’t have to go right now. It’s alright.”
“No, I know what I want. My whole ideology has been shredded to pieces over the past month. I have nearly died twice; lost a mentor and both of my parents; destroyed all my relationships with my past group; discovered these ugly sons of bitches and figured out that I am strong enough to destroy them. I am doing this for me. I am doing this because this disease...this virus has taken everything away from me. If the virus had never come, I could have had a normal life. I could have gone to school; the worst of my worries could have been homework or who I was going out with. I am a monster, Jason. We all are because that is what this world does to us. I understand now.
I also understand something else. I’d like to thank these revolting bastards for the final definitive proof. I have an excuse. The one thing I know as truth. The one thing I see as gospel; this means war.”
Maybe the choices we make are interdependent. Or maybe they disappear into a sea of crystal ice and despair. I’ve learnt not to regret anything, however difficult it prevails to be.
I was only young. Young enough that my ignorance could be excused and glossed over.
I have been lied to my entire life. I can’t trust anyone, I’ve learnt that. There is only one truth that has been burnt into my mind; nothing in this world is clear cut or definitive and I would like to thank this group for the final proof.
But I’ve learnt something else. I can’t do this alone. I can’t fight this war on my own but I can give it a damn good try.
My name is Elektra Daniels; you won’t recognise my world and I wouldn’t want you to. This is only the beginning of my story.
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