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 Reupload for Riley

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RedHerring
The Misleading Monarch
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Squad : Freeze SA
Age : 54
Location : Tohjo Falls
Posts : 1009
Join date : 2010-11-03

PostSubject: Reupload for Riley   Sun Sep 08, 2013 3:50 pm

Lucas watched as the sun touched the horizon. In less than an hour, darkness would shroud his world again. There were typically some of them during the day, but they always became more active at night. They moved faster and hunted instead of hiding or wandering aimlessly as they did when the sun was up. Shelter. He needed to find a place to hole up for the night. Taking a sip of water from his camel back and using some of it to clean the dust off his glasses, he ventured up to one of the houses. Apprehensive and nervous, he tightly grasped his blood stained baseball bat. He would be perfectly content if the house was totally empty.
He was in a residential neighborhood located in the suburbs of Ft Worth, Texas. He’d been hoping to find another person who wasn’t dead or... one of them, but all he’d found was the stench of death and burnt buildings. He kept thinking that he might be the only one left, but he held on to a thread of hope that there was still someone else who had managed to survive.
Peering through the windows, Lucas didn’t see any signs of movement. Surprised to find the door unlocked, he quietly opened it and stepped inside. The metallic aroma of blood drifted through the air. Before, the wretched smell had made him cringe and gag, but now he relied upon it. Following the scent through the house, he came to a closed bedroom door. The smell was stronger. Listening carefully, he could hear nothing but his heartbeat. It pounded in his chest, demanding he turn and walk away. He couldn’t do that. It was standard procedure. Survival dictated he ensure he had a safe place to hide and rest for the night which meant searching every room without exception.
The first few nights by himself, he hadn’t slept at all. He would cling to whatever weapon he happened to be holding at the time and just sit in a corner, terrified to sleep. But that paralyzing fear had nearly cost him his life. Without sleep, the mind begins to play tricks. He’d see things that weren’t there and during the worst of his insomnia, fail to notice things that were. After that he had forced himself to shut his eyes at night. His other senses would take over and would remain active as he rested. Yes, he’d awoken to many false alarms, but it eventually got better. He usually slept till the sun was up now.
Turning the handle, he creaked the door open just slightly. The metallic smell flooded his senses. Stilling his breath, he listened intently. He could just barely hear the faint, almost unnoticeable sound of something else breathing. Lucas thought he could only hear one, but that was no guarantee there weren’t more waiting for him. Gently pressing the door, he opened it inch by inch. The faintest creak might have given him away. The minutes ticked by. He had to open the door as much as he could so that he would be able to enter without his gear making any noise. The opening finally revealed what his heart had demanded he run away from. It was a teenager, a boy, and it was facing the wall opposite of the door, clotted blood and puss leaking from a wound on its shoulder.
It had started out as an airborne sickness. The first recorded cases of the illness had been in Brazil. The talking heads on the news channels explained that although it had been confirmed to be a new disease with its own set of unique symptoms, it posed no more of a threat than influenza or the chicken pox. Hardly anyone was in serious danger. They had either lied or were dead wrong. The disease spread fast, killing thousands or tens of thousands in each city it reached in only a matter of months. The pandemic took almost no time at all to cut the world population to about half of what it had been, leaving a devastated global economy and collapsed governments in its wake. But winter came and the illness seemed to disappear.
Walking gently, Lucas moved silently forward and reached behind his back. He pulled out a six inch knife. This would be easy. It was probably a jerk when it was alive. Lucas was being merciful by putting it out of its misery. The boy wanted it to end. He was turned away from the door so he had to want it to end. Quickly. This would be easy. Lucas’s hand was shaking so he stopped moving. He couldn’t afford a deep breath so he stood still until he had regained control. He started moving forward again. The teenage boy was a few steps in front of him now. Lifting up his knife with both hands, Lucas made sure to keep his muscles from tensing up. One more step. Steady. He slammed the knife down at the base of the boy’s neck, severing its spinal cord. It let out a wheeze and began to sink. Lucas caught it. After removing his knife and cleaning it on its shirt, he put the knife back in his sheath and quietly lowered the boy to the floor.
The remaining half of the earth’s population seemed to have a natural immunity to the disease. Despite being surrounded by dying people, they lived to bury those who hadn’t. Winter passed and Spring arrived. Life regained a sense of normalcy, at least in the United States, as the government began to rebuild and the speculations began. Some claimed it was a terrorist attack. Others a result of tearing down the world’s rainforest. Still others thought it was a conspiracy gone awry by the Chinese government to cripple Brazil and thus take advantage of newly discovered oil deposits within the country’s interior. Since China was hit especially hard and no terrorist organization had stepped up to claim responsibility, it seemed unlikely that anyone would ever find out the truth.
Lucas went room to room, ensuring the house was safe. He didn’t find anymore of them, but was severely startled when a jumping spider in the attic decided his face looked like a fun place to land. Spiders. Lucas used to be terrified of them. He was still wary of them, but he appreciated the fact that they weren’t trying to kill him. Lock the doors. Now that he could move a little more loudly, he checked every door and window and ensured they were secure. It was getting dark so Lucas pulled a butane lighter out of his pocket and candle out of his pack. He had pilfered as many lighters as he could find from any gas station he came across and had found over a dozen candles stashed away in a previous house he’d stayed in.
The middle of Summer. That was when the real nightmare had started. The disease came back with a vengeance, acting differently than before so much so that it might have been a different disease all together. No one was immune to this new strain, but it could only be caught from intimate contact with someone already infected such as a bite. Once infected, death was almost certain. It consisted of an extremely high fever which would persist until the internal organs shut down and the heart stopped. After that the heart would start up again, but the person could no longer be called human. Actively hunting those that hadn’t already been infected, they ripped apart the areas of society the first disease had weakened. The new strain showed up in Africa first, but spread extremely fast and with no particular pattern. New Zealand, Japan, India, then England. After that, cable news reported it had spread to Russia and that they had taken it as a biological attack against their nation. Then, the TV’s stopped broadcasting.
Lighting the candle, Lucas felt his way to a bedroom in the center of the house. There were no external windows and it connected two separate hallways with lockable doors. If one of them somehow made it past his barricades, he’d be able to lure it to one door and then escape out the other. The room belonged to a child. A little girl based on the room’s pink theme and the crayon pictures taped to the walls. He sincerely hoped the little girl was already dead. Really dead. Not like the boy from the other room. Children bothered Lucas the most. They were smaller and not as strong, but they had the same taste for flesh that the adults did. Bashing their heads in or stabbing them through the spinal chord always made him sick to the stomach. Their future had been ripped away from them before they had a chance to experience life.
It didn’t take long for pandemonium to set in and Texas was no exception. People turning into your enemy before your very eyes. Survival became the top priority and society fell apart. With all forms of long distance communication severed, it was impossible to organize. People reacted in different ways. Many holed up in their homes intent on weathering the storm. Some committed suicide, convinced there was no point in even trying. Others formed groups bent on surviving together and in retrospect Lucas wished he’d have been one of them. They were friends, classmates, acquaintances, but Lucas had been too terrified to leave when they did.
Lucas shrugged off his gear and sat on the twin sized bed. He set the candle down on a nearby dresser. Elated shadows danced against the walls, in tune with the flame. It wouldn’t be long before the moaning started. They would come out from wherever they hid during the day and start to hunt. An advantage of sleeping in the center room was that it was quieter. Lying down, he sighed and closed his eyes. He should probably save the candle and blow it out, but he choose to let himself doze off instead. Breath in. Breath out. Ignore the moaning, they’re just singing way off key. They’re just miniature singing whales with legs. Lucas didn’t bother laughing at his own bad joke like he used to. The loneliness he felt when he was idle began to creep into the back of his mind again.
Lucas had cried when the others had left. There had been a vote on whether to hole up in the dorms on campus or to get out of town. They had collected blunt objects among various other supplies and planned to make a stop at a gun shop on the way out of town. Lucas stayed. He couldn’t go outside. He couldn’t face them. He was weak. He would just slow the others down. He was useless. He had been alone since his family had died during the initial outbreak so when the classmates to which he had attached himself departed he was left with nothing.
Lucas breathed slowly, forcing himself to close his eyes. He had to sleep and forget. Before he could drift off into oblivion, the moaning became louder. There was only one of them, a really slow night which he was thankful for. But then something pierced the darkness. It was terrible. Her voice hurt his ears. He wanted her to stop. For her to just go away. Her? How could he know it was a her? What was she saying...? Help? Lucas’s eyes shot open and he sat up in the bed. He could hear it clearly now. He grabbed his bat and fumbled with the bedroom’s lock opening the door. He wasn’t alone. There was someone else! Making it to the front door, he peered out through the side window. A little girl, nine maybe older, was desperately trying to keep one of them from catching her. The corpse chasing her must have been in its thirties before it died.
Checking a different window, he looked for any others. There was only one out there, a stroke of good fortune for once. Opening the door, he ran outside into the middle of the overgrown yard and turned a full circle, ensuring he hadn’t been wrong. Sprinting towards the man, his eyes grew wide as he saw it bite down on the little girl’s shoulder and heard the girl scream in agony, tears streaming down her pale white face. Lucas became enraged. He wouldn’t let her suffer that terrible fate. Reaching her before the monster could do more damage, Lucas raised his bat up and brought it crashing down on its head. Blood splattered. The smell. It was all over the street. It was on his face, his bat. It was on the girl. The girl? Lucas shifted his focus and picked the child up. Dashing back to the safety of the house, he ran inside, shutting the door behind him, making sure to lock it.
He laid her on a couch in the house’s living room. She was barely conscious, but still managed to wince as he set her down. There was still time. Rummaging through his pack in the bedroom, he found what he was looking for. A bag of black powder. There had to still be time. He rushed back to the little girl with his candle and the black powder in hand and set it on the ground. Ripping her shirt open, he looked at the wound on her shoulder. The smell. It invaded his nostrils. Using her shirt, he wiped away some of the blood and then poured some of the powder into the wound. He had to be careful. If he put too little, it wouldn’t work. It might not work even if he put enough, but it was the only chance. It all depended on whether the illness had spread into her veins yet. Protecting the little girl’s face with one hand he picked up the candle and turned away as he dipped the flame toward the wound.
He heard the powder ignite and there was a loud hiss as it quickly burned, cauterizing the wound and hopefully killing the illness. The girl woke up and started to yell out in pain. Lucas ran back to his pack and pulled out a roll of white cloth, some tape, and a blanket. The screaming. It grated on his ears and filled him with dread. If anymore of them were in the vicinity they might hear her. He returned to comfort her.
“Shhh. You’re okay now, but you need to be quiet,” he whispered. She understood and her cries of pain became a faint whimper. Pain. They didn’t feel pain so she wasn’t one of them... at least not yet. Lucas pressed the cloth against her wound and taped it on.
“My shoulder hurts...” The little girl’s voice was faint, but it had been the first spoken words Lucas had heard from someone beside himself since his classmates had left him behind. Hot tears streamed down his face while he finished bandaging her shoulder.
“It’s gonna be okay,” he said. “I’ll give you some Advil later and that will help, okay?” Lucas made the girl comfortable and covered her with blankets. The joy he felt now after having been so miserably alone for so long was indescribable. “What’s your name?” Lucas asked.
“Emily,” the girl replied sleepily. Lucas retrieved the Advil as he promised and had her wash it down with water from his camel back. After she had fallen asleep, Lucas laid a blanket out on the floor and blew out the candle. It had been several hours since Emily had been bit, but she showed no signs of a fever which meant he’d cauterized the wound in time. Smiling for perhaps the first time in months, Lucas closed his eyes for the second time that night. He got up periodically to check on the girl, but it seemed as if his worries were unnecessary.
He began to imagine how his life would change now that he wasn’t alone. He would have to be even more careful than before to ensure he kept Emily safe. But even though this actually increased the danger to himself, the idea of protecting someone else for once filled him with pride. Despite the terrible loneliness and the hardships that he had suffered, it all seemed worth it.
All these thoughts ceased when he heard the breaking of glass and pounding on the door. Lucas hadn’t noticed the moans outside getting louder. The house was surrounded.
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