Section 3: Afraid
I can’t believe I actually used to be bored.
Each day I would spend my hours reading or looking up pointless information for later. I’d sit in my room, or in the living room, and just wonder what in the world I could do.
There’s so much to do now. Ever since the Panic happened, there’s been so much activity. You are constantly being tested, and you constantly have to be on your toes. You have to sleep with one eye open, be surveying your surroundings constantly. There’s so much to be done. So much research. Being a scientist nowadays has its flaws and its perks.
Perk: I know how this whole epidemic started.
Flaw: I know that it was the government.
They had been researching it. I found an old file a while ago on the disease and how it had been progressing. They released it, testing it on a couple patients in Europe, but they thought they could keep it contained. They didn’t realize it could be spread, especially not through contact. These patients went to doctors who they thought would know what they were doing. Surprise, surprise: doctors get sick.
All over Europe, people were falling ill, escaping, not wanting to let go of their family, friends, loved ones. They tried to leave the country, but the government - for once - kept it under control.
Until a patient slipped under the radar and into the United States of America.
It was in New York City. People didn’t know at first, because he looked healthy, running through the streets. Many people that he bumped into during his rampage fell ill, and scientists were trying to find everybody. I doubt they were able to quarantine all of the victims, but they did get a good amount.
Of course, they all started to panic, freaking out. People told them they would be fine. The government legitimately believed that they had nothing to worry about.
The same thing happened in the U.S. Doctors treating the infected started to get sick. People escaped, trying to get their last dosage of liberty. Some states were in anarchy, but people still trudged on, trying to live their normal lives. They continued, and that’s what I’m proud of. That we were able to hang on to our last shred of dignity before everything fell.
There were outbreaks in other countries, too, but that was mainly after everything started to fall. We were disconnected from everyone else. All of the telephones went dead, and the television networks were silent. There was no way to see if anybody else was okay except for going out and looking, risking your own life to find someone else’s.
It was so much worse than everybody thought. The ill would start to get up and walk, and people rejoiced, until they figured out that they were just hosts, shells, nothingness. They didn’t have a consciousness - they were empty, their minds voids. That didn’t stop people from staying with them, hanging on to them. They had to hug their wife one last time, say goodbye to grandpa. I just wish I could ask them if it was worth it.
The sickness itself is awful. Normally people don’t keep their dignity at the end, turning angry and moody as their memories go. They lose all recognition of people, faces, places, before they lose their ability to speak. Whatever they say at the end, they don’t truly mean. They can’t help it, but it still hurts.
I lost my dad to the plague. He was the only family member I had left, no siblings. My mom died when I was little, hit head-on by a car. That was when I really decided I wanted to be a scientist. Science took my mind off of all of the awful things happening around me, gave me an outlet.
The symptoms of the disease are awful. It usually starts like a flu. Fever, cough, vomiting, the like. Usually people think at this point that it’ll pass, only because they usually see the news stories and truly infected at a much worse point of infection.
Memory loss starts to occur, accompanied by muscle pain, spasms, and incredible headaches. Blood starts to pool under the skin and after they lose all memory and begin to walk around, the last stage is when blood leaks into the eyes, pooling. In some cases, blood can leak out of the nasal cavity and mouth as well, but this is rare.
This is what all of the people were afraid of. It’s why people were careless - they only learned the worst of it, not how to stop it at an early stage.
The media focused on all of the worst cases. Some people were dumb enough - or brave enough - to go and film documentaries near the patients, getting sick themselves. All for some awareness, like people weren’t scared enough already.
The only reason I know all of this is because I was able to experiment a bit on my dad before he died. Nothing inhumane, and nothing to hurt him at all. Just a few notes on his symptoms, a DNA sample here and there. It was difficult to watch him slowly subside, memories going, him succumbing to the illness. He was so angry with me, yelling at me when I looked at him with the slightest bit of concern on my face.
The last thing he said to me, before he lost the ability to speak, was, “Who are you? Get out! Get away from me!” He never would have said it before the epidemic. My dad was such a nice man, always kind. He never said anything bad about anybody and never would gossip. Everybody wanted to be his friend genuinely and never took advantage of him.
I was always jealous of my dad. Everything came so easily to him and he was naturally so sweet and kind. I was never really like him, never made friends easily. Instead of chatting or hanging out with friends, I’d much rather sit and do research on subjects that interested me. That being said, you don’t make lots of friends that way.
Teachers were my friends. They’re the ones I miss the most. They’d help me research, give me extra work, find topics that interested me, and they were the only ones who legitimately wanted to get to know me. I was glad to have become friends with them - they were all so interesting, so caring.
I had kept him in our home. We had a few rooms that I was able to modify for experimenting and testing. Eventually it became overrun and I had to leave. My dad joined the swarm that surrounded our house and I ran as far as I could.
It was extremely difficult to see him join the swarm instead of heading with me. He looked only vaguely like the man I used to know. His skin was gray, his hair turning white almost completely, as opposed to the jet black hair that I had known. By the time he joined the swarm, his eyes were already bloody, and he had many pools of blood under his skin, black spots that were terrifying.
Setting up camp in many different places, I traveled and traveled, barely ever stopping, even at night. When I did stop, I would try my best to experiment in the small camp areas that I would set up. Oftentimes, swarms would pass by, but it would become too much for me. I had to leave.
I’ve spent some time in other houses. Some were too big for me - for my experiments, I prefer a smaller house or enclosed space. It just makes me feel better, knowing that I can keep an eye on the entirety of the house or area, knowing that it’s not being swarmed.
I need more time to experiment. That’s all I would like, some more time, and a better place. A lab would be ideal, a small, stocked lab, but I know that would never happen. Most people raided hospitals, science labs, and medicine cabinets in people’s homes first. It was difficult to find the meager amount of supplies that I was able to scrounge together, and it will be even more difficult to find enough to experiment.
I continue to travel today, walking and walking, trying to find some kind of facility that hasn’t been raided completely. No place I find will ever be perfect, according to my specifications, but I’ve seen some great places on my journey. All of them have been either swarmed or too dangerous for me to stay, but I’ve been able to conduct some great research and make at least a little progress. I should be able to complete the first part of my research soon if I find a nice enough place.
One of the oddest things I’ve seen is a large fire burning in the middle of a forest. It was in a clearing, contained, but it seems to have been burning down a house. This indicates a survivor, somebody alive and healthy, but it could have been just a candle that was left on or some kind of fire that was knocked over by a Bloody. The entire foundation had collapsed, so the fire must have been burning for a little while, and there were some Bloodies near the fire.
The only thing I do not have complete grasp of is the stages. I want to figure out how long they usually last and what makes the disease advance in people. Some change stages incredibly quickly, while others can be on the same stage for days. Why, when people are originally infected, does the disease start over in their bodies, even if the person they were infected from was on a later stage?
I know it’s basically irrelevant information, but it will help. I’m sure of it. Because I know I can do it.
I can find a cure.