An epidemic is spreading. An epidemic that nobody has ever seen before, that nobody was ready for. It doesn't just kill people; it evolves them, wipes them into shells and reinvents them into machines to spread this disease before painfully removing them from the Earth. Ebony Wilson has lost her mom to this plague, and has lost the rest of her family in the chaos. Unsure of where they are, and what steps to take when she finds them, whether they're infected or not, she works day by day to make it through this. To make it up to her mom and to find her family. Will Ebony keep her head long enough to make it through, if this epidemic ever ends?


10. Chapter 10

Section 2: Sick

I can’t remember what I was doing with my family a few years ago.

I should be able to remember.  I mean, I remember my actual family, but I can’t remember their names.  I can remember what we were doing right before this thing hit, whatever it is, but I can’t remember the big, important events.  Like birthday parties or funerals or anything like that.  And it terrifies me.

Every day when I wake up, something else is gone, and I can feel it.  I can feel the empty space in my mind, where I am supposed to know something, remember something, feel something.  But I don’t.  I can’t.  And that is terrifying.

I’m starting to forget what happened months ago.  Weeks ago.  I remember something vaguely cold, but fun - maybe ice skating or something.  I think I liked to ice skate.

Now, I’m near the woods somewhere.  It’s vaguely familiar, but I have no idea where I am or what I was doing.  I might have been escaping something.  I remember running.

I can’t even remember my name.

Everything is leaving, and it’s getting faster and faster.  I’m in so much pain, and I can still feel, thankfully, but I don’t know if I’d rather be able to feel and not have my memories than have memories and not be able to feel.  There’s no point in memories if I won’t be able to feel anything.

The pain is dull, much more dull than it was earlier.  I was sick, and I still feel sick, but I don’t feel as awful as I used to.  Now I’m just hungry.  I have to find people, living creatures.  I know that I have to.  It’s just something that is programmed into my mind, it seems, and I can’t shake it.  I have to find someone.  I am so hungry.

I think that this became of me after I did something, touched something, but I can’t remember what.  I don’t know why, but I was in pain for a few days.  Now I don’t feel the pain as much.

I start to walk towards the woods, hearing shuffling.  There is a creature in front of me, but it is not one I yearn for, not one I must touch.  Its skin is gray and wrinkled, and it is moaning.  Its eyes are completely red, and I am worried that I look similar to this thing.

A memory resurfaces, just vaguely, but I remember touching a creature similar to this one.  A graying being that looked like living death, but I didn’t want to touch it.  It was a mistake, an accident - I backed up into the creature and my hand skimmed its hand.  It scratched me, bleeding, but I ran, thinking I would be fine.

No, I didn’t think I was fine.  I hoped I was fine.  My entire drive was focused on the thought that I would be fine, that I just had to get away and eat healthy.  I would be alright, I thought to myself.

That turned out great, didn’t it?

I remember being scared as well.  Every day, at the end, I would stay awake in fear, not wanting to forget everything, anything.

I’d wake up and have a headache one day without being able to remember being sick when I was a little boy.  I’d feel nauseous and couldn’t remember the important days that I wanted to.

I was so scared.  I was so terrified to fall asleep and terrified to open my eyes.  My entire body felt like it was on fire and my symptoms got worse and worse.

That is, until yesterday.

Yesterday I couldn’t remember.  That was when the memory loss started.  It feels terrible, like every one of my experiences is being erased permanently, but I know there was something there.  I feel the holes in my mind, like black holes, sucking everything in slowly.

Soon, I hear some more shuffling, and I see about a dozen or so more creatures come out of the woods.  They are all headed in the same direction, all just shells of their former selves, and I decide - or, rather, are compelled - to head with them.  My decisions aren’t truly mine anymore - I offer them and my mind picks the choice for me, whether I want to or not.

We walk in the same direction for what feels like hours, and there is nothing note-worthy to report.  After a while, I see what looks to be a trap, surrounded by more traps.  Someone’s been here.

Someone healthy.

There’s an odd urge in my mind, and I know it’s in everyone else’s minds as well.  We want to get to the person, find the person, and we don’t care what it takes.  We barely feel pain anymore, and we have no other purpose.  We’re gone otherwise - this is what we must do.

We hear some noises coming from our left generally.  I turn slowly and see a small trail of smoke, dissipating just above the trees.  That has to be where the person is.

A few of the creatures turn with me and we start to head towards the fire.  Some just keep walking in the direction they were going.  Some stay put, while others turn back and just go the other way, the way they just came.  None of them are under their own influence, controlling themselves, including me.  My feet, feeling like lead, are moving on their own accord, placing themselves one in front of the other, shuffling.

There is a trap, near the others, that has been sprung, but it seems to have been left.  There isn’t anything in it - it must have been set off and the creature inside somehow extricated itself.  We continue on.

It takes us a while to get to our destination.  One of the creatures walking with us trips and falls, but we leave him, not able to pick him up.  I know that I would want to help him if I were able to control myself.

At this point, I’m a shell, yes, but my consciousness is stuck inside of the shell.  It’s like I’m a prisoner in a vacated prison, the only one left, and I can’t get out of the cell that will perpetually imprison me.  It’s scary to think that I will never be able to convey my thoughts again, never be able to talk to someone and tell them how I feel again.  I will never relive the memories in my head, mainly because I have no more memories.  I will never save somebody’s life - I might be the cause of it ending.

I reach the place that we had been following, the smoke stream, and I realize that the fire that used to reside in the small fire pit that is here has been put out recently.  It looks as if someone had made a shelter here, then left.  It was definitely more than one person - there are multiple footprints ranging from small to large, and one that seems medium, around my age.

I don’t know why, but I go to follow the footprints.  They lead towards the sun, as it descends from the sky.

This entire epidemic has changed the way that people have looked at everything.  We used to have clocks to tell us the time of day, but now we use the sun, like we’ve devolved.  There is no more technology, we hunt for our food, but at the same time we feel more advanced than we’ve ever felt.

The problems that used to plague us now pale in comparison to the plague we’re facing.  The old problems nearly vanished.  We don’t worry about war, or money, or anything like that.  Now we just care about survival.  In a sense, we’re acting almost primitive, but at the same time, we’ve finally learned why life is worth living.

I just wish I learned a bit sooner.

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