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.