Bullied

Well, here it is; the final entry of this spontaneous little trilogy. Honestly, at the start, I felt as though this was kind of pushing the story a little too far. But I don’t think that any more; it adds a unity to the series as a whole, and without it, I feel like the series would be incomplete.

My name is Quentin Swiftflight. I am a guardian, of sorts. I am technically one of the three guardians of a facility that holds, or held, the only remaining samples of every yet-eradicated virus that once was on earth. I am a “backup guardian”, in a way, only needing to personally guard the facility if something unexpected happens. I do not think I will be required as a guardian any longer, given what has happened in the past months.
The outbreaks came quickly and spread rapidly across the globe. It didn’t seem possible that they had one specific origin, as the Rubella virus took over large portions of every continent concurrently, it would seem.
No one had seen Rubella for four generations, and while some scientists and doctors had a rudimentary understanding of it, no one had any practical experience with it nor was prepared to help anyone afflicted with it.
In the later stages of Rubella’s previous life, mankind had grown strong against it, and few people died from it. In the absence of any trials to grow their immune since then, or any vaccines to prevent against it, it struck hard. Within a week, close to three million had died and over fifteen million were known to be infected. Quarantines were nearly impossible to create given the sheer number of people afflicted.
There would only be two possible sources for an outbreak – one, somehow an outbreak came from a previously-unknown civilization nestled away somewhere that it had been overlooked, or, two, someone had sabotaged the facility and purposefully spread it across the globe.
Why someone would do this, I had no idea, but it must be the case. Had it been the former possibility, it would not have sprung up concurrently across such vast distances; it would’ve spread slowly from one central origin.
I understood the reasoning for not allowing the three guardians to know each other, but it proved quite a problem in this instance. I would’ve been interested to hear why they did what they did, but that time must be past. Having such prolonged contact with the virus would’ve let it infiltrate their body quicker than anyone else; they probably died from the virus before anyone else. Such dedication to their cause – it really did make me wish I could’ve talked with them beforehand, perhaps being able to convince them to not follow through with this plan but, if for nothing else, to understand their reasoning.
While I had certainly not foreseen this happening, I had known that it was possible and had studied all of the viruses held within the facility quite extensively. I knew certain precautions that I should take to decrease my chances of catching it, and took various supplements and ate foods that I knew would increase my immune and thereby decrease the toll it would take on me if I had the misfortune of catching it at all.
The world may have been lost at the moment, but I knew we would need to guard the facility eventually. People would survive, and it was possible that I would be the only survivor who knew of it. I would need to restore the security and tradition of the facility and the guardians who kept watch over it. The world was lost, yes, but not all lost. Someone would need to help rebuild and protect those who survived.
The chaos of the event, while not exactly surprising, was incredible. Panic had full reign over most countries. The virus made no exceptions to whom it would spread. Kings, presidents, dictators, everyone fell. Hardly anyone noticed or cared at that point, though; they had their own lives to care about. The stability of their government or even the world didn’t matter to them. They would try to survive. Few would succeed.
As weeks and months progressed, millions died just as tens of millions fell sick. At that time, it was beginning to become more difficult to gain information on the state of the world. A large enough portion of people had died that the media and other forms of information were becoming more scarce, and it didn’t appear as though anyone would step up to take their places.
I stayed secluded and safe. Towards the beginning, I had stockpiled a year’s worth of shelf-stabile foods. It would not be a pleasant time, but I knew what I must do.
Approximately one year after the outbreaks started, the world seemed dead. There was no electricity, there was no fuel, and there were very few people. During the time I spent hidden away, I had felt the initial effects of the virus three times. Thankfully, I had helped my immune system enough and remained far enough away from people that it didn’t grow any worse. Having caught it, in as small a way as I did, was ideal for me. I now hardly had to fear catching the virus at this point, having recovered thrice from it already.
I had been guardian for twenty-four years. The guardian before me was my aunt, Codeia Sleepdraught. She had watched me grow up and knew that I should be the one to take her place, as she told me on her deathbed. Since then, I had been to the facility four times. It was not too far away, but the distance was much greater when all typical forms of transportation were gone.
Walking across the country was very strange. Eerie, bizarre. The entire world felt different. Everything was quiet. The air was normally still, but when there was a wind, I did not hear anything; not the rustling of leaves, not the call of birds. I could only hope and pray that there still remained a few that lived. I did not see anyone left alive in my town, and I kept walking.
I did not know whether it was that the person who had spread the virus was the “main” guardian and had abandoned their post, or if they were the other “secondary” guardian who had broken in or something. Whichever it was could alter my course widely. If the main guardian remained in the facility, I would have someone to work with on the future protection of the world from the other viruses held within, but if not… My work would be difficult. Necessary, and I would still be required to fulfill the plan, but difficult all the same.
The journey took four days. It would’ve taken two had the underground side-elevator still been in working condition, but, as the electricity was no longer functioning, it was not. I hadn’t realized how incredible the speed of it was until I was walking the course that it took; it went the distance I travelled in nearly two days in about half of an hour.
Once I arrived at the facility, I used my key to enter. I found no one around, and thus assumed it must have been the main guardian who spread the virus. This disappointed me for some reason, though I cannot be sure why. I made a full inspection of the facility, making sure that only the Rubella had vanished. If another was gone as well… I very much doubted whether the small percentage that remained on Earth would live much longer. I found them all to be in order, though.
Toward the end of my inspection, I discovered a body near the furnace. The remains of a body, I should clarify. The entire front had been burnt away, but that was not all; he must have been killed at the same time the virus was stolen, for he had nearly decomposed. The stench was overpowering.
I dressed in a protective suit, one of three within the facility, I put the corpse into a large trash bag and dragged the body outside the facility and some distance away, dumping it out into the desert. The birds and animals would scavenge off of it if they wished. Once I was back within the facility, I sterilized the area it had been. The smell remained, but it would pass in time.
I sat down near the furnace. This was quite a feat. There wasn’t much need to personally guard the facility right now, since there were few people remaining, and those who remained were plenty busy with recovering their own lives and were incredibly unlikely to find the facility. I would need to leave and begin the search for three new guardians who would take over. I thought of the WHO, which had begun this facility however long ago. The virus must not have spared them, and there would likely be few remaining. Perhaps comparatively more than the rest of the world, since they most likely had similar knowledge on the viruses as did I, but the organization as a whole must be suffering. No one in the WHO had knowledge of the facility, which was an odd feeling. I was the only one who knew of a forgotten and abandoned facility, a vault within which held, in all reality, the fate of the world. I felt isolated, yet also… empowered. I could, if I wished, put humanity out of its misery. I could end it all now.
Perhaps that is what the “saboteur” thought. I could not allow myself to think that way. I was key to the recovery of mankind, and that was not a position to take lightly.
It appeared that food had still been regularly delivered to the facility for the first few weeks after the incident. Much of it was completely rotten or gone, but there were some canned foods that were still fine. I took these and, having made sure everything was in order, went to sleep in one of the bedrooms within the facility.
The next day, I put the canned food I had taken the night before into the large bag I had brought with me and exited the facility.
I set out upon the two-day trip back into the nearest once-civilization. I would begin life anew for myself and many others, and before long begin the search for the new guardians.
I walked through the featureless desert. It hadn’t changed. It was unfeeling to the chaos and woes of humans. It would exist for all time, even past the time of the last humans. Viruses didn’t change it. It was the true guardian of the vault.

Bullier

Well, I hadn’t initially planned it to be such, but I decided to turn my previous story into a trilogy of sorts. And yes, “bullier” is a real word, even though spellcheck doesn’t think so. Technically, it means the same thing as “bully”, but whatever.

Hopefully I’ll get the final part out soon. (Also, Pheromone Kindred is pretty awesome.)

And happy Hallowe’en! As some of you could probably guess from a lot of stuff I wrote, I’m pretty into the dark and creepy, the gothic and terrifying. So it’s a pretty good day for me, I suppose.

 

My name is Pheromone Kindred. I am a guardian, of sorts. A guardian of the integrity of this world. It has changed too much; it has become filled with too many people, and too many of the wrong sort of people. People who corrupt all they touch – those who destroy nature and, instead, erect horrible manmade structures that mock the very downfall of nature. People who eradicate viruses in an attempt to improve living standards. People who lock up minuscule samples of those viruses away in an expression of their “strength”.
The world needs to be purged.
Everyone else sits idly by in their ideal “living standards”, knowing nothing of true life, and it seems as though I am the only one who knows what must be done. I am also the only person who will do was must be done.
All of these facts were harshly evident to me from my life. A city is not a place for such a one as I to grow up in, but that’s what happened. Perhaps it was for the best; had I not grown up in such a synthesized metropolitan environment, I would not have realized the true horror of our human plague. Had I lived in one of the few “country”-like areas remaining in our world, I would not have understood, or perhaps wouldn’t have even been able to.
But such were the circumstances of my life, and they made me who I am – the future savior of our world. I will be scorned, persecuted, perhaps killed for my actions, but has it ever been different for any past saviors? Such is the way of things; mankind kills those who it needs most.
I kept all these thoughts and beliefs to myself, which was incredibly fortunate for me. Apparently, a man living in the apartment across the hall from my own was a “guardian”.
I had never heard of such a thing, nor had anyone besides three other living people. The “guardians” watched over a facility in some desolate area that housed samples of every virus yet recognized, most of which were eliminated worldwide.
The man, named Flint Truekind, was on his deathbed and summoned me to come. I hadn’t really ever met him, just spoken to him occasionally when we ran into each other in the hall or somesuch. But apparently, he had kept an eye on me, judging my actions and personality. This unnerved me to some degree, but, again, it was for the best – truly, it was necessary.
He had decided upon me to be his successor. We spoke in absolute secrecy, making sure that no one was around to hear a word that was spoken. He told me the details of where the facility was, how to access it, precautions to be taken, and what work would be necessary for me to undertake, as well as giving me one key that would give me access to the facility and to the other keys that I would require once within. He had been one of the “backup” guardians, only needing to enter the facility if the main guardian was taking one of their occasionally allotted vacations, or if any type of emergency came up. I would take Flint’s place, and therefore wouldn’t need to take much time with it. If I was needed, I would receive an anonymous notification with a specific set of numbers and letters.
I saw my opportunity. I did not believe in a god or any such almighty authority, but at that moment, I could’ve. The pure coincidence… If I had believed, I would have known, at that moment, it was what God wished for me to do, and he was guiding me on my way.
Flint Truekind died that night. I do not know if he knew that he would die so soon, and decided to tell me right before, or if it just “worked out”, like everything else. In some small way, I was glad he had died; he would not have to face the horror that the world was going to see shortly. It was merciful.
I knew where the facility was, and I had the capability to send a letter to whoever was inside.
But just sending some random letter to some unknown person wouldn’t be enough. That wouldn’t necessarily help me; I needed to think it through.
So I did. I composed a series of three letters that would be spaced out over a few days which would hopefully fulfill my needs. I took a sort of derivation of the “door in face” tactic, which I figured would aid my desires best. The only problem was that whoever was in there would have no way to return a letter to me, and therefore, I would be left in the dark until it was all said and done.
But I knew that he had been isolated in that facility for a decade, and a long expanse of time spent alone could be detrimental to most people. He would be fragile, yes, and implanting a small seed of doubt in his mind would wreck havoc.
I plotted my course carefully until I was sure all was set – and I sent the first letter. I could only imagine what was happening in the facility, and in his mind. First complete denial, then the seed of doubt would begin to grow. He would check on the vial of black death, see that it was intact, and resort to denial again.
But, of course, the vial would be partially empty, even just a tiny fraction. This fraction of empty vial-space would center itself in his mind. There would be flashes of denial, again, but only flashes at this point. He would view the possibility as fairly plausible. And then the second letter would come.
The second letter would shake his beliefs in the security of the facility to the core. He would be doubtful, then unsure, then convinced that I had managed a way in.
It would’ve been simpler, of course, to merely go into the facility and take whatever I wanted, but there was an additional security measure in the facility that allowed only one guardian to be within at a time. If one left, another would come, but only after the first had gone. Therefore I would need to break him down in order to get what I needed.
The third letter would offer him redemption, for a small trade. “Returning” the more vicious virus in trade for a more humane one.
But ah, the folly of the human race to eradicate diseases and viruses. Having no trials to come through, the immune system remained that of an infant – utterly susceptible to whatever may come. In the absence of viruses, vaccines were viewed as unnecessary as well. The human race was at its all-time weakest, and I knew that it was now that I must purge this “civilized” world.
I waited a day, having only my imagined and planned timeline to know at what state the guardian in the facility was at right now. It was possible that he wasn’t as susceptible to my “mind games”, that his mind was not fertile soil for my seed of doubt.
But I doubted it. Even the most self-assured man would become ruined in extended solitude. It was possible – but I must not dwell on that possibility. No harm would come to me if he didn’t go with it. I would arrive at the facility at the time specified, and if he wasn’t there, then I would know that I had failed, and wait again for another chance; perhaps when he takes a vacation. My only consequence would be a longer period of purgatory on this man-made hell, a desecration of the once-pure land.
I would restart it all anew. Man would still exist, but in considerably lower numbers than he once had. Untended, factories would become decrepit and fall apart in time. Nature would take back some of what once was its own, and man would have to use their smaller portion of it.
Perhaps it was cruel. To an outsider, the thought of slaughtering billions would be considered a sin never before reached in human history. But it was not out of spite, hatred, or prejudice. It was required for the better good.
I knew my actions had been written of before in fiction and other things. It was seen as something only done by a maniac, someone expelled from regular human life. But this was not me, no. I was completely sane and reasonable. I had had friends, though none at the current time. I had been engaged to a man named Enoch Adams, though unfortunately that fell apart. No, I had had a “regular life”, and was not doing this in a fit of maniacal fervor but in a cool-headed knowledge that I was the only person who could do it. I must do it for the well-being of the world as well as mankind. Humans had grown to sure of themselves and their power, and their squabbles threatened more than they knew. I must halt them before they destroy more than they mean.
The next day I sent the second letter. According to my plan, it would completely break him down. Any composure that he had regained since the previous day would vanish.
At the end of that day, I prepared my vial of “virus”. Flint had known enough about the facility to know what type of vial the viruses were stored in, and I mimicked them as best I could. After some deal of research, I knew what color to dye the liquid, which was a simple syrup of sugar and water. One thing I did not know was what he would do with the vial once I gave it to him, but at that point it would no longer matter. Ironically, he was probably one of the few people who would survive the outbreak, given how secure the facility was. If he somehow continued getting food, that was.
The next morning, I sent the final letter. I hoped that he was still sane enough to read and understand it, and that he would manage to get it before three o’clock. Immediately after sending it, I headed out. I had measured the amount of time it would take me to get to the facility and worked that into the plan, and it was pretty close. Even given the bullet-trains that led from close to where I was to nearby the facility, it would take most of the time from then until three o’clock.
I boarded the train with a bag filled with baggy black clothing that I would dress in shortly before arriving. I had doubts as to whether he’d report me, or even be able to, but I wished to take no risks in it.
I suppose that was yet another thing that set me apart from both enactors of genocide and those mostly-fictional maniacs who took a similar path to mine; they wished to have the world know it was them who did it, they wished to be famous, even if infamous, for their actions. I wished no such thing. I did not even expect to survive the outbreak myself, and would just as well have it happen with no known perpetrator. I desired no fame for what I did. My actions would be misunderstood by everyone, and only in hindsight would they understand and accept what I did as necessary.
Once I left the train, I located an underground passage that Flint had told me about. There was a sort of side-elevator that went through it, and I entered it and began my journey. While riding it, I donned my outfit, wrapping my head in the black fabric and being sure to tuck my red hair out of sight. I wanted to avoid anything that would give away my appearance.
I left the elevator when it halted, climbed up the stairs before me, and emerged into a desert that extended the lengths of my vision, the only structure being a large building in front of me. I was surprised how quickly the elevator had gone, to bring me so far out in such a short amount of time. I checked my clock, and it read two fourty-five.
I walked to the entrance of the facility and waited.
At precisely three o’clock, a man emerged, carrying a metal canister.
I spoke with him for a short while, then we made the trade. For some reason, I was compelled to explain a small portion of my plan. Even if he misunderstood, which I was sure would happen, perhaps at some later time he would come to understand my reasons.
I left and began walking back towards the passageway, and he returned to the facility. I was blind to his actions once more, but was glad to see that I had quite accurately predicted his actions beforehand.
I returned to my apartment, the canister in my bag, then went to bed. Tomorrow would be interesting.
The next day, I began the spreading of the virus. I sampled a small amount of it and spread it in a well-populated restaurant. I took a bullet-train to another large city, and took the same action.
I had purchased a plane ticket from that city in advance, and began the long trip to a densely populated city in a densely populated country, and began spreading the virus over there. By that time, I began feeling the effects of the infection, but carried on through it. I hopped from city to city, country to country, until the vial was empty. I returned to my apartment and laid on my bed. At this point, I was barely functional, and fell into a deep sleep.
I awoke once, stumbled out of bed and took a drink of water, then returned to my death-bed. My final dream was a vision of the world after the virus had run its course and humanity had grown back its resilience to the virus. A fresh start for the world; it had been purged. I smiled in my sleep.

Bully

Phew. I’ve really been wanting to get back to writing for some time, but just haven’t been inspired. (Plus, I’ve been pretty busy.)

But I got this idea and just rolled with it. By the way, I think P.K.’s name is Pheromone Kindred. (Just to let you know, I wrote this all in like an hour, so ignore any terrible wordings or whatever. Also, don’t ask me how he receives letters. Since this is semi-futuristic, I’m guessing that they just sort of materialize there or something.)

My name is Alexander Dentsky. I am a guardian, of sorts. At some time in the past, samples of every type of virus that has caused widespread destruction in the world were taken and sealed away in a vault that has higher security than Fort Knox. The facility had been created, however many years ago, by the WHO.
The number of people at any given time who know where it is and how to get in, let alone where it is, is always kept at three, no more, no less. I am one of those three, and I do not know who the others are; that is another stipulation of this job. I met one of the previous ones, once, on his deathbed. He had chosen me in an unknown fashion to be his successor. He taught me everything I know about the vault.
It is an incredibly dull job, but, at the same time, one that is utterly vital for the very existence of life as we know.
It was incredibly dull, I should say. I had held the post for ten years and absolutely nothing happened, until I got a typewritten letter in the mail.
“Just wondering… lose any Yersinia pestis recently?” (Signed P.K.)
Merely seeing the name Yersinia pestis caused me to convulse. Bubonic plague.
I knew, knew that there was no way it could disappear, that anyone would be able to take it – if they even wanted to – but I decided to enter the vault and check, just to ease my mind. I had entered the vault ten times before – once per year – and checking it in a non-periodical fashion struck some chord of horror and foreboding in my heart. Why would I even check? It was impossible, after all. Completely impossible.
I opened the third vault-door, the innermost one, and stepped through. Every virus was in a triple-layered glass vial that was in turn sealed within a padded two-layer metal cylinder, and were arranged alphabetically in a temperature-specific glass case. I went down the line until I found Yersinia pestis, unlocked the case, and removed it.
I knew how to do this, the previous guardian having told me, but had never done it before. My hands shook as I unlocked and unscrewed the outer metal case. I slid off the top of the inner metal case, took a deep breath, and lifted out the vial.
Inside the vial was a clear, slightly pink, viscous liquid, filing it about three-quarters to the top. I let out a sigh and returned everything to its previous state.
I had no idea how someone knew about this vault, and knew that I was one of the three guardians (not even one of the other guardians could know that), but that didn’t matter much. No matter how he knew, it would be impossible for him to actually do anything with that knowledge.
I left the vault and returned to my place outside. I smiled as I crumpled up the letter and put it in a small hole on my desk that led to the incinerator. There was nothing to fear, nothing was to fear.
I noticed my hands were shaking and clenched them into fists to keep them still.
When the time came, I went to my small room within the facility. I was to be there at all times, and had only been outside three times ever since I began work there. One reason for having three guardians was to allow for very occasional vacations for the main guardian. It didn’t bother me much, though, the facility was large and contained a library, kitchen (the food for which was dropped off through a small service door that was separate yet connected to the facility), an exercise room, and a greenhouse-garden room. The facility had been built in a way that allowed for the guardians to never leave.
Three guardians seemed somewhat unnecessary, aside from the vacation reason. I knew, though, that the third was in case of some sort of emergency or sudden death. If a guardian died before being able to choose a successor, another would choose instead.
In my room, I relaxed by playing a few games of solitaire, then took a couple sleeping pills and laid down in my bed. I waited for the pills to kick in.
One image that remained in my mind was of the vial, held in my shaking hands. Three-quarters full. Had it always been that way? Was some of it missing? I couldn’t know, I had never seen it before. No, that’s how it was. There was no way to remove only part of it. And why would anyone want to, anyway? There was no reason. No reason for me to think and fret about it, either.
But…
I couldn’t wait for the sleeping pills to play their magic upon me. It felt as though I had been waiting to sleep for an hour. I checked the clock, and five minutes had elapsed.
I got out of my bed and stood next to it in the dark. I felt as though that was how I felt at the moment. I couldn’t see myself in the room, but I knew I was here, though I had no proof aside from that very thought. Cogito ergo sum. I knew the plague was still all here, it was impossible for it to be otherwise. But… Did I really know? Being utterly isolated, and with no way to know how high the vial had been at the start.
I paced around my room, still in the dark. This was ridiculous. This would drive me mad. I couldn’t escape the thought of the possibility as long as I lived.
I switched on the light and felt my insecurity and anxiety fade away; all but a tiny bit, still worming its way through my mind.
I began to feel drowsy, and smiled at the thought of the oblivion of sleep that would reprieve me of my thoughts. I turned off the light again and laid down in bed. A few minutes later, I fell asleep.
My dreams were tumultuous. Dreams of dropping the vial from my trembling hands and somehow breaking all three layers of glass. Dreams of someone sliding through the doors while I slept and meddling with the viruses.
When I awoke the next day, I felt worse than I had the night before. I slapped myself, doused myself in cold water, and drank a cup of strong coffee accompanied by a few cigarettes. Those all helped, to some small degree, but I couldn’t get the thought and fear out of my mind.
I had never realized how long days were. In the past, they tended to fade away into one another in a stream, but every minute felt like an hour now.
Around noon, I received another letter. I felt a sudden sickness upon seeing it, but opened it and read.
“Ah, you are missing some, aren’t you? I suppose you should’ve made some note of how full each vial was right from the start, eh?” Again, it was signed by P.K.
I vomited into – or, at least, in the general direction of – a small wastebasket that was near my desk.
Wiping my mouth, I thought. No, no, this doesn’t mean anything, any more than the last letter. Just some freak who had somehow discovered me and my job and was taking it to his own advantage. Obviously there would always be some space left in the vial, so… Impossible and meaningless.
I pounded my fist into the letter, then crumpled it up and tossed it into the incinerator.
I had to get my mind off of this somehow. Take a shower, read a book, play a video game, exercise, anything.
I exercised, then took a shower. Afterward, I read The Odyssey. It had always been one of my favorite books, and held a sweet nostalgia that soothed my nerves.
This helped my state of mind to some degree, but not enough. It was driving me mad. Even a microgram of this in anyone’s hands would be incredibly dangerous, and whoever it was had much more than that.
No. No, they didn’t have anything, of course. They could, but… No, no! They couldn’t! It was impossible, utterly inconceivable. This psycho just wanted to mess with me, and they were doing it. I wouldn’t allow it, any more than I would allow them to actually come in and take some of the virus.
I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. I would meditate. I had never been one for that, but I needed it now.
I walked over to a corner of the room and sat down in front of it, resting my head against the corner of the wall. I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing; in through the nose, out through the mouth. Again, and again. Focus on the breathing. In and out, feel the cool, crisp, clean air. Focus on my lungs absorbing oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide, the process of which would be reversed by the greenhouse plants. Continually cycling clean air.
A lot better than air contaminated with the bubonic plague. That would be horrid. The stench of the dead and the yet-dying mingling into one abhorrent stench that pervaded every scrap of air, nowhere to breathe, nowhere to live. Only to die. Only to die in one of the most horrifying ways, and knowing all the while that it was my own incompetence that caused this across the world.
God, no! No. Meditation on the wrong thing would be worse than no meditation at all.
I opened my eyes. I was drenched in a cold sweat and had pissed myself.
I ran to my room and opened a bottle of opiate painkillers, spilling a few pills onto the floor as I did so. I didn’t care, I didn’t care. I just needed peace from it all. I took two pills, thought a moment, then took two more. Everything would be okay.
As the opiates did their work, I smoked several more cigarettes. I knew that this peace was manufactured, but I didn’t care at this point. Manufactured peace was infinitely better than natural horror and stress. I slid down against the wall until I was partially propped up against it, partially sprawled on the floor. The ratio of sprawling to propping increased ever moment until I was nothing but a pool of peace on the floor.
Funny how painkillers work on both physical and mental pain, I thought moments before I nodded off.
I woke sometime towards the evening, popped a couple more pills, and took a sleeping pill. How dearly I prayed I wouldn’t dream.
I did. Dreams of me being the killer of millions and enjoying it. Me being the one who stole the virus initially. Me being the true plague on humanity.
When I woke mid-morning, I could barely function. I had lost nearly all trace of sanity, and all that remained was repulsion at myself and the maniac who was doing this to me.
I took another opiate then lumbered towards my desk.
If I had sensed repulsion after waking up, it was nothing compared to seeing a new letter from P.K. I grabbed a pen and jabbed it into the center of my hand. The pain, while numbed by the opiates, shocked me into reality enough to open the letter and read the contents.
“I offer you a chance at redemption. I will return the virus to you, in a trade. I merely want the vial of Rubella virus. As you should well know, that’s not much compared to the bubonic plague. Not near as deadly. Sound good? I will meet you outside the facility at 3:00 this afternoon and we will make the trade there. Don’t try anything, as you know what hangs in the balance.”
A chance at redemption, but for a high price. To save the world, yes, but I would at the same time be putting the world in incredible danger. But I must do it, of course, I must. Rubella was considerably less dangerous than Yersinia pestis, but still… I would actually be the cause of that outbreak. But if I didn’t make the trade, I would in essence be aiding and abetting whoever took the virus. Yes, I must make the trade.
I made my way into the vault – third time this year, now, which felt foreboding to me – and found the Rubella virus. I unlocked and removed the outer metal sheath, then took the inside back out of the vault and set it on my desk.
It was looking at me, condemning me for sharing it with the outside world. I ignored it, looked away, but still felt it looking at me.
Every minute felt like a day, waiting until I would have Yersinia pestis back in my possession. At five minutes to three o’clock, I began the lengthy process for leaving the facility. Unlocking certain things and double-locking others, arming alarms, and the like.
I stepped out of the facility and looked at the desolate desert surrounding it. Even though I had been here for ten years, this place still felt alien to me.
Even more alien to me was the man standing in front of me. He or she wore all black, draped in a slightly baggy black cloak that concealed any recognizable features. The head, neck, and any other areas where skin would normally show, were wrapped in a black linen. I could see that the linen around the eyes was of a looser weave, allowing the person to see out.
I took a step forward, carrying the Rubella.
“I want to see the vial,” I said.
“Indeed,” the person answered, clearly female from the voice. From a pocket in the cloak she removed a small vial, triple-sealed in glass. I lifted the cylinder.
“The Rubella is here,” I said.
“Let me see,” she answered.
I opened the metal case and lifted out the triple-sealed Rubella. She nodded and I replaced it in the case. She walked towards me, the vial in the palm of her left hand.
“Trade on three,” she said. I nodded.
“One, two, three.”
I took the vial and she took the cylinder.
“I don’t suppose it will change anything, but I can’t beg you enough to keep that safe and never release it.”
“Doubt it,” she said. “Actually, the funny thing is, Rubella is more dangerous now than it once was. The last outbreak was so long ago that nearly no one knows what it is anymore. There are no vaccines, because it was ‘eradicated’. People’s immunes are at an all-time low.”
“But… why? Why would you do this? You know that you’ll contract it as well, I’m sure.”
“I do,” she said. “But I do not care for myself. Our world needs a purging, and I aim to be the one who begins it.”
She did a small nod, then began walking away. The further away she got, the more significance her words had to me. It was ludicrous, wasn’t it? A purging? The world had been happy and safe for quite some time, now, and I knew nothing about any serious overpopulation.
She was going to kill most people on earth, and I was the one who had let her do it. But I couldn’t change that now. I realized I hadn’t asked her two quite important questions; why not use the bubonic plague, and how had she gotten into the facility? But she was long gone, now, merely a black speck in the distance.
I re-entered the facility, and nearly fell over with the weight of it all. I’ve killed the world. Not that not doing the trade would’ve been any better, but… It was my fault. I’ve put the self-destruct trigger in the hands of someone who stole Yersinia pestis from arguably the most secure facility on earth. Someone who wishes to purge the world.
I purged my stomach onto the floor. I couldn’t go on like this. If I were in the outside world, it might be slightly easier, but in absolute isolation and with only my own mind to keep me company, I’d be stark raving mad within days.
I needed to end this. I would just die, in a most suitable way for one who had done such as I did. I opened the vial that P.K. had given me and swallowed the contents.
My death was assured. Yersinia pestis would kill me within hours or days. It was…
It was sweet. Very sweet. Tasted sort of like… simple syrup, and a hint of some chemical… Food coloring.
I passed out. When I came to, I was hopeless. I had killed the majority of the world, and saved no one, saved nothing except for P.K.’s plan.
I ran into the furnace room and threw myself against it. The burning was that of my sins. The holy, pure flame, the heat of the anger of God, was burning it away. I began to lose consciousness, but held on. I would be purified, purified! A moment longer and I would be pure…