Chapter 1 - More than just a dream
I awoke from the sound of rats scurrying in the empty hole above my head. The sound of their feet hitting the cold hard metal pipes made me shiver as I had only slept with a small white sheet. I rubbed my eyes and sat up from the floor , looking around the inky room. Walking over to a thick steel sheet , I quietly pulled it away to reveal a giant hole , pouring in light from the breaking dawn. I squinted my eyes, my hand raised to my face as I got use to the bright polluted sky. Peaking my head out only a slight bit , I checked for any sign of an infected pack, but nothing was there. I pulled the sheet fully away from the hole and started to pack and get ready to move again.
The small cavity in which I slept for the night was littered with crumpled papers and a office desk. Dried bloody handprints scattered the walls and floor. A pile of rubble blocked the doorway and most of the room. I began folding my small white sheet and placing it in my backpack, then I tucked my gaslight and matches in its front pocket. I picked up a small silver case and opened it showing a row of needles. I picked a needle filled with red liquid and injected it into my vein.
The blow of a fall wind reminded me I had to put my day gear on. I spun around and reached for them on the office desk. As quickly as I could I put on my black jeans and matching t-shirt, along with a thin flannel and my favorite jean jacket. Lacing my steel-toed hiking boots I looked out at the horizon, seeing every bit of it destroyed with absolutely no possibility of other survivors.
Everything was so quiet as I prepared to leave the small room. It has been like this for a year and a half . I haven't gotten used to it even after all this time. All the silence does is remind me that I'm alone in this new world. My eyes avert from my backpack and onto my weapons, a long crossbow and a double barrel shotgun sat in the corner. Suddenly, on the other side of the rubble I heard a group of moans, they were moving closer towards me. I grabbed my crossbow and threw my shotgun over my shoulder by its strap. The group was getting closer and I was in no mood to fight them off this morning. As I turned for the gaping hole leading outside I grabbed my backpack and crouched down and out . A long raged drainpipe barely clung to the foundation, but I grabbed it and slid down the few stories , landing in the abandoned city streets. I made sure the traps I had set were still in place. Last night before I went to sleep , I had set up the traps for when I leave, that way the infected cant track and find me. A couple of small fine strings were tied to the rings of grenades that were tucked behind some knocked over trash cans. On the other side of the alleyway were barrels of oil which would cause a wall of fire when the grenades were set off, making there enough time for me to get a head start. After checking the traps I made my way down the alleyway cautiously, avoiding any other run ins with the infected. As soon as I knew it was clear I dashed down the alley, keeping my eyes peeled for anywhere I could raid for breakfast. Seeing as how I was the only one left around in this apocalypse, I had to travel light. Carrying too many supplies would slow me down even more and I wouldn't survive long. In order to stay somewhat healthy I would raid grocery stores for some canned food, something light enough to carry. Right as my stomach growled my eyes looked up from the ground and I saw a small corner store at the end of the alley. I sprinted over to the back door that was left ajar. I clung to my already loaded crossbow as I peered into the store, keeping my ears open for any sounds of the infected.
The small corner store was dimly lit, sparks from broken lights filled nearly empty place. I watched where I stepped so I didn't make much sound. Making my way to the counter I snagged a small flashlight and began going up and down what was left of the asiles. I made a mental list of all the things I was running out of and needed to stock up on. Grabbing bandages, lighter fluid I finally get to the canned food. I carefully pick out canned peaches and pears . Before leaving the store I walk back over to the counter, spotting a pair of clean , sharp daggers. Smirking I pick them out of the counter and place them on either side of my boots. Right as I stood back up an infected started me straight in the face. It must have been in the store when I came in .
The infecteds body deteriorating as he stood lopsided in front of the back door , my only escape. It's eyes glazed over and blood dripping from the mouth. It must have been one of the clerks , because it had on the navy blue uniform and a name tag that was now covered in blood. He grunted and reared his head up , sniffing the air for me. I stepped back slightly and bumped into the magazine rack, making a loud noise. Quickly the infected head turned in my direction and bolted. I lifted up my crossbow , firing rapid shots at him to slow him down. Weaving in and out of the aisles I made it far away from him and saw my escape. I looked back over at him as his rotted head moved from side to side in confusion. To my surprise it let out a loud , raspy screech. He was calling the others and now I really had to make my escape. The infected were fast on their feet and I had to become faster. I tightened the straps on my backpack and reloaded my bow. To get the infected far away from the door I threw the flashlight at the far corner of the store. It followed the sound and I sprinted to the back and out into the alley. The pack that were in my previous hideout had escaped the rubble and were making their way to the traps. If they made their way past the traps I would be screwed because the alley way ended just a few feet away from me. I watched as one of the infected pulled the strings with their foot and the grenades exploded. The oil tanks bursted open and the wall of fire was lit. With a hoarse chuckle I turned my attention to the wall, seeing anyway to climb up and out of danger. There was broken pipe a few feet up. I jumped up and pulled myself up and over on to the ledge of the wall. I didn't stop to check if they were dead , I just ran. I ran on the roofs of the stores and small houses . I ran what seemed like miles before I finally jumped off a roof and landed on the ground. Sinking myself down the wall , crouching as I stopped to catch my breath. My heart pounded in my chest , my thighs burned but it was bearable. My eyes fixated on the ground as I took my last big breath , then I looked up. This morning wasn't going as planned as I sighed at what was in front of me.
Across the way was my old apartment building before the apocalypse. The outside walls were still a shade of maize yellow but now it looked dingy by the dust and rain storms. Potted ferns sat at the two corners of the building. My apartment number, 1504, was weathered down to where it was barely legible. The copper colored door was split in two and laid wilted inside my living room . I tried to hold back my curiosity of going inside and seeing what the apocalypse had done, but it got the best of me. As I walked over the broken door I hesitantly looked inside. The rotten smell of spoiled milk and leftovers stung my nostrils .Every piece of furniture was turned over, picture frames on the wall were now shattered on the floor. I made my way to the kitchen and began to tear up. Two glass cups still filled with coffee still sat neatly on my small round table. Memories swarmed back into my mind, making me sink to the ground. Suddenly all the events of that day came back to me in vivid color, the day it all started.
It felt like any normal day when the outbreak first spread. To the people in my town… it was just another autumn evening. Nobody knew what was coming .. no one did.
When the Ebola virus returned for the third time , scientist tried to make a serum that would eliminate the virus for good. The serum they cooked up was suppose to repair the damage the virus did on the body. It was suppose to repair the joint pain and pain everywhere else in the body. The body sweats and loss of appetite , along with the vomiting would all be dealt with by the serum. My dad had worked in the lab that created the serum, he knew what it could do. He thought it would be nobel prize worthy until one of his patients tried to bite him and went into an aggressive rampage. The patient was strapped down and after a while it began eating itself. The body of the patient deteriorated along with the brain. My father watched as the serum took over and made a mindless cannibal. He realize the serum he created only strengthened the virus and made it worse than before. After finding out what the serum was doing to his patients , my father told the other scientists to stop the production .. but it was too late . The serum had made its way to hospitals all around the world. It was only a matter of time before all the patients became flesh eating monsters .
Since there was no antidote or reversing agent to the serum , there was no way to stop the infection. The original patients got loose from the hospitals and began eating people or at least trying to. After being bitten people with weak immune systems began take on the serum and turned into the infected. They were the first to go ..
“Raina, we need to talk.” My father's voice was deep and worried through the phone. It was an early morning and I had just left the house for my daily run. I was an hour away from home when my father called. The tone in his voice made me stop in my tracks .
“What's wrong dad?”
“It’s nothing I can say over the phone, just get home and I'll meet you at your house in thirty minutes. ”
“ O-okay. ” I stuttered before he quickly hung up. I looked around me in confusion, my father had never sounded scared. I knew something bad must have happened and it was something I needed to know. Quickly, I bolted back up the trail that lead to my house; I ran as fast as my legs could carry me. What could be going on? Did something happen to him? A whole bunch of questions circled around my brain as I turned the sharp corner of the forest trail. I was scared for the first time in a while. I was scared for my father and not for me.
Panting I made my way down the trail and in front of my apartment where I saw my father anxiously waiting by his car. His expression confused me , he looked scared yet determined about something. When he saw me he didn't say anything, he just ushered me into my apartment. He cautiously looked out my window and my front door before closing it and shutting my blinds. I looked him as he did this, seeing him so different from the last time I saw him. His grey and white hair had lost its shine, the caramel in his skin was now dull and lifeless.
“Dad...What's going on?” I walked over to him and forced him into the kitchen. Grabbing a pair of two blue coffee mugs , I poured us some coffee and made him sit down.
“Raina I did something bad, and I can't stop it. ” His thin lips sipped some of the coffee before he set it down and took my hands. I felt uneasy as those words came out of his mouth. Did he kill someone? Commit a felony?
“What did you do dad?” I felt my voice shake as I asked those words. His pale blue eyes looked at me with regret and fear. He pushed my hands back on my lap. He pulled out a file from his tan jacket and placed it on the table.
“I've created something terrible, Raina. While working in the lab for the cure of ebola something happened. The patients that were treated with the serum we made turned into mindless humans, it turned them into zombies. They began biting people and turn them into zombies as well. The serum has already been delivered to every hospital in the world before we knew what it would do and there is nothing we can do to stop it. It's only a matter of time before the most of the world is infected.”
“W-what?” I couldn't breathe my heart sank into my stomach. I didn't want to believe what I had just heard. It all felt like a dream to me , a vivid dream.
“I want you to listen to me. The infection has only attacked people with weak or almost non existent immune systems. The reason why it attacks the weaker immune systems is because it doesn't take the mutated virus long to fully control the body. This serum we made is smart and with time will be able to attack even the strongest of immune systems.There is nothing we can do until we make a cure that's smarter than the serum. The whole world rests upon this file, a file that has all the equations from the building of the serum. I want you to take it with you.”
Suddenly the sound of a loud alarm broke through my father's voice. .He quickly grabbed my arm and drove a needle in my forearm, sending an unknown liquid into my veins. “This will keep you safe from them for now. Here take this case and use it every three months.” He then pulled me out of my seat and kissed my forehead. The blaring alarm stopped my sense feeling, my eyes glared over as I realized that this was really happening. I didn't know if i was going to survive or if I would be the first to go. Who was going to protect my father if I leave first? If i lived through the first part how would i make it the rest of the way? What if this lasted a lifetime and nothing could cure it?
“Go pack your bags ,I'll get the car started. Pack only things you need to survive! I'm going to take you to a secret underground station across the city. You'll be safe there until the other scientists and I find a cure for this disaster. It's my fault so I have to stop it.” My father's harsh tone snapped me out of my dase. He laid his hand gently on my shoulder and smiled at me , showing me that everything was going to be alright.
As he turned and left for the car I sprinted up the stairs to my bedroom and began packing. I opened my closet door and pulled out two duffel bags. Packing them with clothes, a pair of running shoes, and my hiking boots. I made my way to the bathroom and grabbed my toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and female necessities. I didn't bother with perfume or stuff like that because I wouldn't need it. As I passed by my dresser I stopped and looked at the photo on top of it. It was a picture of father and mother when they first got together. The picture was taken in santa cruz on the pier. They were standing together , embracing one another. My mom wore a peach sundress, her hair in small tight blonde ringlets. My father wore his nicest clothes that day, his jeans with a button-up tee.
I picked up the frame and held it close to my chest, tears streaming down my face. It has been twelve years since I've seen my mother's face and at this time I needed to see it. She died of cancer a month before my thirteenth birthday. My father tried to get her to use chemotherapy but she didn't want me to see her in a horrible condition. She was strong and taught me so much and it hurt to see her go. In the situation my father and I were in, I knew she would want me to be strong seeing as how my father wasn't in the best position.
A loud honk shook me from my crying and startled me. I stuffed the frame into my duffle bag and made my way out of the house. The alarm was still blaring by the time I made it out of the car. It must have been warning the others that the zombies are on their way here. I buckled myself into the grey jeep wrangler and waited for my dad to start driving off.
“We will be taking a shortcut into the city. Once we get to the base I want you to stay in the car until I come and get you. These people protecting the base are going to need to check for the virus.”
“Dad are we going to be okay? ”
“I don't know Raina.” he whispered as he peeled away from the curb and sped off towards the city. As we drove down the road of Houston, Texas I looked out the window as people rapidly passed by. Children holding on to stuffed animals as they were lugged into their cars. Adults and teens alike were panicking and rushing in and out of their homes, taking all their valuables with them as the alarm blared louder and louder. My father cut a sharp corner and went through the short cut he knew to the major part of the city. Bouncing up and down the dirt road , lining up along one of the railroads.
The outside of the city looked exactly the same before the alarm of the breakout started. The windows from all the skyscrapers glistened in the sunlight. I had a feeling that a sight like that would be long gone in a few months time. With the windows rolled up and the air on, it felt like a typical road trip with my father with me. This feeling didn't help me with the thought that this was a dream.
Suddenly the thought was ripped from my mind as we turned a corner and entered the city. Thousands upon thousands of vehicles lined the streets , honking and flashing their headlights. Pedestrians weaving in and out of the traffic trying to find shelter or someplace to find help. I peered over at my father whose hands gripped the steering wheel tight, making his knuckles turn white. I gently patted his hands and looked him in the eyes, trying my best to calm him down before we continued on our path to the base. A police officer jogged over to our jeep and tapped the window.
“Sir you and your partner can't be here, you have to make your way to the safety center on the corner!” He yelled over the commotion of everything going on. He pointed his baton in the other direction we were going. Panic set in my stomach a little and I adjusted myself in my seat. The safety center could be full of the contaminated within a matter of minutes and the whole place could be infected with the virus. It was a zombie camping ground just waiting to happen.
“Police officer, I am one of the scientist working on the cure. I need to get to the underground base.” My father showed him his ID, a small plastic card on a retracting card holder neatly tucked underneath his tan jacket pocket. The police officer took one look at the ID card then one look at my father and I.
“What about your friend over here, does she have a card?”
“No she doesnt, shes my daughter and she is here to help me with the cure for this. Do you understand what is really happening here? If I don't get to that base on time and make that cure we will all become what we've feared all along. Now if you don't mind I'd like to get through please.”
The policeman slowly stepped away from the car and let us pass through. As soon as we made it through the crowd of vehicles my father hit the gas and sped through the streets. We were making our way closer to the skyscrapers near the center of the city, closer to the base. He got ready to turn a sharp corner when our jeep was sideswiped by an SUV. I gripped the dashboard handle with one hand and reached for my father's jacket as we tipped over on to the curb. My father's head hit the window and my body was jerked against the seat belt causing me to let out a yelp in pain. We landed directly on a fire hydrant. I saw the top part of the object lodged into the side of my father’s torso.I could see the blood dripping on to the window and my father slowly coming to. I released my hand from the dash and opened it up, seeing if there was anything I could use to cut us free. I had to access his wound before it became a serious risk. The sound of muffled screaming caused me to look up and around. The SUV that sideswiped us had a family inside it, the driver was knocked unconscious and the wife was screaming along with the kids in the back. I pulled myself up to see what they were screaming at and nearly screamed myself.
A group of the contaminated were eating a body just a few feet from where the accident happened. Quickly I grabbed a pocket knife from inside the dash and used the serrated blade to cut my dad then me lose, catching myself so I didn't fall on top of him. The screaming family got louder and I knew it would attract the contaminated this way toward us. Gabbing my father's jacket I shook him lightly, feeling the blood rush to my head.
“Dad come on wake up!” I screeched in a hushed tone. He looked up at me and I saw the blood gushing from his head and the object that impaled him. With his weak and free hand he pulled his phone from his pocket, shoving it in my direction. I dropped the knife and took the phone from his shaking hand.
“Take this phone and go straight till you hit the Heritage plaza then make a left. There should be a small building at the end of that street, I want you to go in it. Take the elevator down to the lowest number you see on the screen. You will walk down a long hallway then there will be a keypad on your right , put the code two zero one four five nine eight in and hit the green button. Once inside find a man named Carter, he can help you with anything you need. Don't trust anyone but him, don't let anyone try to stick you with any liquid. You two need to get that serum and put it in a yellow box and lock it tight. Take it to the disposal facility on the other side of town. ” He let out a small ragged breath and release his grip on the phone, laying his hand on my shoulder gently, “I need you to be strong for me Raina. I won't be there to help you but if you follow my directions I know you can fix this. Dont make the same mistake that I did. Remember to use that training I taught you a long time ago. I know you will make it out of this alive...Think of mom and me while you are doing this. We will both be proud of you.” He laid himself back on the the seat and let out his last breath, his hand slowly retracted back and fell onto his chest. His body went limp as the fire hydrant sank deeper into his torso.Tears filled my eyes as I watched him die, streaming down like little rivers. I wasn't going to be strong for him, not right now.
Immediately after sinking myself down in the seat I felt the car being pulled back up and loud moaning. My eyes widened as the family that crashed into us became contaminated. Bite marks and sickly yellow skin stared at me through the window. I tried to make no sudden movements, trembling as I looked at what would soon take my life away. The dead mother lifted her head and began sniffing the window. Her eyes were glazed over with a grey film. A stinging pain jolted me away from the mother and caused me to look at my bare abdomen. On the left side past my black sports bra was a gash swallowed by a huge purple bruise. It must have been from when I hit the belt buckle and then cutting myself free. The other group of contaminated came around the car and began to push the car back and forth. The moans and groans of the contaminated caused me to go into hysterics. As I felt myself lose all control of my body, crying hard and whimpering.
‘Be strong for me.’ His words filled my head repeating it over and over. I lost him and now I'm losing myself in the chaos that had just begun. If I make it out of this alive and barely in control of myself, what's going to happen when there are thousands more trying to eat me. I'm an astronomy major and writer, I run everyday but I can barely make it a mile. I am only slightly trained in combat and don't know how to use any weapon. I'm not as my father has made me out to be. I can't do this, I won't do this. I let out a scream in anger and it irritated the contaminated more making them rock the vehicle more aggressively.
The clanging of car keys and miscellanies junk filled my head and I began to panic again. I had to find a way out of here and to get to that base. I began looking around for any way to escaped but the infected had surrounded the top and back of the car. I had no time to panic anymore, the family was now trying to pop open the roof of the jeep. Looking at my dad then my bags I reached towards him and kissed his cold forehead before retrieving my bags. I decided to try and kick open the windshield. As I lifted my leg I noticed the knife lying on the ground and quickly picked it up. I would need any weapon I could get.
As the virus-infected went to pull the car back down I kicked the windshield as hard as I could. They didn’t seem to notice as I kicked it again, causing the window to pop and curl open. With no time to lose I shoved myself out of the jeep with my things in hand and darted away. The pain in my side suddenly got worse , but I couldn’t stop. I had to get to that base before those things follow me. My long hair flapped in the wind , my breathing heavy with every stride. I reread the directions my father gave me as I continued down the street. I had to make my way to that Plaza.
The scent of death was so thick in the air I could practically taste it. Thousands upon thousands of screaming people and explosions echoed down that street. It sent chills down my spine, making me think that was the sound that would haunt me forever. It was creepy seeing that this street was empty, no one was down here. I wasn’t there to see what was going on but the sounds gave me a very clear image.
The Heritage Plaza was coming into view and I could feel myself breathe a sigh of relief. I just needed to find Carter and get this cure made. I immediately turned left on the street and kept running. My calves burned badly but it kept me going. Just like the other street , this one was empty but it was strange for this building to not be guarded. This was a government building that carried people that could fix this , why weren’t there any military personnel or tanks?
The building looked like a small grey box with only a few windows. There was caution tape ripped and billowing in the wind. The gunfire and explosions still continued in the background as I jogged into the building. The inside was just as empty and abandoned like the outside. I checked behind me to see if the zombies had followed me and I was in luck. Tucking the small knife in my sports bra, it was the only place I could stash it. I had to be careful in case there was someone trying to kill me.
The darkness confirmed that the place was abandoned as I walked down the hall to the elevator. I just hoped that Carter was there and didn’t abandon my father. As I got to the elevator I gasped at the blood stains , smeared on the doors. The infected made it here.
“ Oh god.” I whispered out loud as I pushed the button for the elevator with my shaking hand.The roar of the machine made me tense, because I didn’t know if there were any around. I didn’t know a lot of things now . I didn’t know if Carter was alive ,or if I could do this by myself. One thing I did know is that this cure has to be made. The elevator opened and I cautiously walked in and pressed the button for the lowest floor :4b. It jolted then started to take me down. My bags began to get heavy so I adjusted them only to stop as I heard a clank of metal. The creaking sound echoed through the steel machine. I could hear the sound coming closer to the elevator as it descended into the basement. I gripped the thick straps on my bags tighter, making my already pale knuckles turn white. I was praying to myself that the elevator wasn’t going to drop and take me to my death.
The creaking lessened but my grip didn’t. I felt that there was a lot more to come as the elevator stopped on the last level. Before I knew it the escape trapdoor above the elevator burst open and an infected dropped through the opening. It was one of the doctors from one of the labs. It was wearing a tattered lab coat, the ID card still hanging from the pocket. The infected man screeched as it began to rapidly pull itself up. The door to the elevator opened and I tried to run through it but the infected doctor grabbed my hair and jerked me backwards, back into the elevator. Struggling to get up I pressed the button to open the doors. The weight of the two bags made it harder to pull myself away from the infected. I quickly decided to drop both bags and as the doors opened again I pulled with all my strength towards them. As I pulled myself through the doors with the infected man grabbing my long hair I slammed my hand on the button to another level of the building. The doors shut on my hair but the the man didn’t let go. I grabbed my knife from inside my sports bra. With one single swoop I cut my hair that was caught in the doors off. I lurched forward as the elevator went up to the next level.
With a sigh of somewhat relief I realized what I had done. I left the case of serum in the elevator. I left all of my supplies in the elevator. All the things I needed to survive were in a metal contraption with an infected. What if he takes the serum or breaks it. I would royally screwed up. All I had was my knife and the cellphone my father gave me.
Suddenly a searing pain shot up my torso again. The wound was dripping blood now. I had to get to the first aid before the infected smell the blood. I staggered to all the way down the hall. The lights were still on and functioning. It made me think that people were still in there. The walls around the hall were bland and were the color of steal. I ran my hand against the nearby wall, leaning against it when the pain was too much. I reached the keypad and entered the code:2014598, slamming my hand on the green button.
In my head I knew that something was going to go wrong, but my heart just wanted to believe that this was the end of it. That this was all it was going to be. I felt that this was all over once I entered those doors. I would find Carter and he would help me defeat this epidemic. We would save the world in a matter of days. No one else would die , and we could never have this virus again. But my head knew I was wrong…..