The infection

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI awoke disoriented, and cold. My eyes quickly adjusted to the near darkness. Looking around, I saw only the faint outlines of a door. No windows. I immediately thought of a cell. Sitting there wondering why I was in some sort of prison, I realized I didn’t even know who I was. It is the weirdest feeling, let me tell you. Losing your memory is not a good thing at all. I thought it was just a dream and I waited to wake up, but that never happened. For some reason, a part of me thought it was all a funny joke and I laughed in spite of my situation.

I was wearing a pair of jeans, but that’s all. I was shirtless. I saw some small holes in my arms, and various other cuts and bruises. I assumed the holes were where someone shot me with a needle. I guessed to either draw blood or put something inside of me. I glanced at the door and realized that there was a small hatch about eye-level that was now open, with a face in the hatch looking at me.

“Enjoying the view?” The face was female, mid 30′s redhead, cute.

“I heard you laugh and I was surprised. That was the last thing I thought I would hear from you.”

Hmm, wasn’t sure what to think of that one. “Oh really? Why’s that?”

She stared at me not answering for a few moments. “What’s your name?” She asked.

I frowned. “I had hoped you could tell me”. Actually I hadn’t even considered it, but now that she was asking I was bummed she didn’t know.

“You don’t know.” She nodded. “What do you know about yourself?”

I was about to answer her, when her head turned to the side. There was someone in the room with her whispering something. I concentrated a moment and caught the tail end of it. “…fucking nuts! We have no idea what this guy is. He could be infected. We should just put a bullet in his head and be done with it!”

Ouch. I took an instant dislike to that guy.

She tried to keep her voice to a whisper, but I could hear the desperation in her voice. “I understand your concern. But he may prove to be invaluable. We have to hang onto him at least until the doctor can have a look at him. He is obviously important or they wouldn’t have taken such an effort to cover his existence!”

The next thing popped into my head at that point was simple. I have to get out of here. Fast.

She turned her attention back to me and asked me again, “What’s your name?”

“I told you, I don’t…” My mind started to wander. Memories started rushing through my head. Whatever had caused the amnesia must have been wearing off because I started to remember. At first they were just flashes, and I couldn’t entirely understand them. Then they became lengthier, and I saw bits and pieces of the past. Then I realized why they thought I would be infected. Oh, they were afraid of me all right, and with good reason.

I walked closer to the door, and the girl backed away a bit. “Don’t come any closer!” she yelled, and I stopped.

“What’s wrong sister, are you afraid of me? Don’t worry I’m not infected. Not at all.” She closed the hatch and I heard her run away.

Now I had bigger problems. Now I remembered. Who was I? My name is Brandon Fuller and I’m a scientist. I invented a new form of bacteria that would essentially rid the body of impurities. It was pretty much a cure for the common cold. There was only one problem. It didn’t work on everyone. This didn’t surprise me, because everyone is different. But what I didn’t expect was for it to remap the entire human genome and create…monsters. I could only describe it as such. Luckily it was contained before it became an epidemic. We called it Serum 0. There just wasn’t a name we could put on it. But it didn’t stop there. Oh no.

Eventually the news of this new type of bio-weapon was leaked out into the open. No one was supposed to know about it. Unfortunately, as everything “secret” goes, it leaked out. A group of Bio-terrorists managed to steal some of the sample and convert it into a weapon. Needless to say, it’s been pretty hectic since then.

My life got real complicated.

The Funeral

He stood watching the procession. He just couldn’t stand to be around others right now. He didn’t want to hear the sorries and condolences. He didn’t want to hear any of it. He was afraid he might cry and no one could see him crying. He didn’t want to show that kind of emotion to anyone.

He watched through the dark shades of his sunglasses. He wore the customary black suit with a grey trench coat. He wore a hat as well since it was raining, opting to go without the umbrella. They say you knew the locals because they never used umbrellas.

He watched them carry the casket and put it in place over the grave. The priest began talking as people gathered around but he couldn’t hear a word the priest was saying. No matter, he already had an idea of what was being said. He had some words to say himself, but nobody would ever hear them since it was between them and nobody else.

He saw one of his friends look over at him and start to walk over, but another friend grabbed their arm and shook her head. They argued for a bit and his friend decided she was right and just sat back down. Just as well, he thought. He didn’t need anyone right now. Not a soul.

He watched as the coffin began its slow descent into the earth. Everyone was crying, blowing their noses. Its days like these, he thought, that keeps Kleenex in business. He thought he would at least have cried by now but he found himself surprisingly cold. It was as if something had died in his soul and taken the emotions away from him. He thought it was just as well. He didn’t think he could deal with everything if he had to feel too.

He watched in complete cool as they started to fill the grave with the dirt. It was as if he was being buried in there. He almost felt responsible for her death. It was like he had killed her with his own hands. In a way, he did. He replayed it in his mind over and over. What could he have done differently? If he could feel, would he feel guilty? Would he feel remorse?  He didn’t think he would ever know.

Just then, he noticed his friend break away from his wife and started walking toward him. His look was not sad, but instead very angry. He was clearly not coming over to offer his condolences.

“You killed her!” he said. He started screaming expletives and using some creative words before his wife came up and restrained him.

By then, the man in the sunglasses and fedora hat had tuned him out. It was as if he were watching a movie with the volume turned really low and in slow motion. He thought he felt nothing. And everyone was now watching the ruckus.

“You’re heartless!” yelled his friend. “Why don’t you at least come pay your respects? You’re not even showing a hint of emotion! You’re responsible for this! You give me back my sister! How can you call yourself her husband? You’re just heartless,” his brother-in-law said as he dropped to the ground weeping. “You give me back my sister you son-of-a-bitch.”

He watched his brother-in-law crying like a little child on the ground. He felt remorse. He knew he was responsible. He knew, because of his actions, Maggie had died. He knew very well who should be the one to pay. But there was nothing he could do. There was nothing that could bring her back. Give me back my sister he asks. He didn’t have the power (or the right!) to do such a thing. Did he even know what he was asking for?

Instead of responding, he turned away from him and started walking toward his car. He turned his back on his brother-in-law and the rest of the family, letting them think he didn’t care at all about Maggie. Let them believe what they want, he thought. I know the truth.

The rest of the family watched as he walked away. They watched with a little anger, but mostly sadness. Their thoughts were easily ascertained. What drove him to be like this, they thought. Why didn’t he at least shed a tear for poor little Maggie? Didn’t he at least love her?

Samuel kept walking, wondering what they thought of him. For a moment, he stopped. The family thought he was about to turn around and come back to them, but instead he only turned halfway and paused. Then he resumed walking to his car and quietly got in.

If only everyone was close enough to see the tears running down his face then.

The untold story of Cricket

1115376_24407615She was happy. Her boyfriend had finally proposed to her. They had been seeing each other for over five years and it was about time, she thought. She walked down the street admiring her ring. It was a 2 carat ring, something her boyfriend shouldn’t really be able to afford. But there it was. In her revelry, she hadn’t been paying any attention when she ran into a man. Apologizing for her clumsiness, she didn’t notice the man dropping something into her purse. He hurried off. She felt annoyed at the man’s inattention to her apology. She thought there were many a people who could use a lesson in politeness.

Already forgotten, Cricket kept on walking down the street, oblivious to everything that just happened. She was just happy she was finally engaged. She fished her cell phone out of her pocket and called Sheila.  She asked her best friend she must meet her for shopping, as she had some great new to tell her. She told her to hurry and that she was already in the shopping district so she should meet her at the Chinese market they always went to. Now that her day was planned out, she started walking faster towards the market.

***

From across the street, the man in the dark trench coat had watched everything that had transpired, and was determined to get the object in Cricket’s purse. Of course, he didn’t know that was her name. Nor did he care. He was only interested in whatever was dropped in her purse. He guessed that today he would be a purse snatcher. Great, he thought, more trouble with the law. It was nothing new for him. He wasn’t exactly the nice type after all.

***

Cricket was browsing the wares in the Chinese market when yet another man bumped into her. Ok, this is getting really old, she thought, and spun around only to see the best looking man she had ever seen. She was instantly smitten. There was nothing flawed about him at all. He was even the perfect height. She was very short herself, and really preferred very tall men. There was something about a taller man that she loved.  He was looking down at her and apologized for bumping into her. He was just really very clumsy. She hardly heard him. She only nodded and told him it was all ok, even she’s clumsy on occasion. Kneeling down, he picked up her purse and handed it back to her. In the confusion she didn’t even realize she dropped it. She thanked him and they soon parted ways.

Soon after that, Sheila walked into the store and Cricket went to meet her. She immediately told Sheila about this man she literally bumped into. Laughing, Sheila asked her if that’s the great news she had to tell her. That good-looking man must have charmed her more than she thought. Cricket had totally forgotten the great news she had to share. Immediately she showed Sheila her ring. Sheila was excited, and jumping up and down, hugged her friend. The left the market and went to Sheila’s place instead to have a few drinks.

***

He opened up the small package the stranger had dropped into Cricket’s purse. It was a small black box. He smiled, knowing some of the tricks some people might leave in such a box. Instead of opening it, he put it on the table and drew a circle around it in chalk. Murmuring to himself, he snapped his fingers and the chalk line began to glow a bit and went out with a popping sound. Satisfied it was safe to open the box, he did so. Inside was a ring. He pondered the ring for a moment. He wondered what it was for. Was it a signet ring perhaps? He finally took it out of the box and studied it. It was a simple gold ring. It looked like it could have been a wedding ring, but it had the feel of being very, very old. It definitely looked as if it was taken care of.

Putting the ring back into the box, he sat back and wondered why the stranger had dropped it into Cricket’s purse. What was her story? Why was she important? And what was the ring for? Whose ring was it? He had many questions. He needed answers. Putting the black box into his coat pocket, he went out to find some.

The story of Zaerk and Llewella

Excerpt from the Book of Runes
- The story of Zaerk the Slayer and Llewella
Translated and condensed by Selrac, Master Sage of the South

Zaerk, the warrior, learned his cunning skills from the legendary Lenazura. The Lenazura, master assassins, found him as a child and taught him the ways of merciless combat. As Zaerk progressed in his skill as an assassin, he noticed that he began growing very rapidly in size and muscle mass. After a while, he grew too large to become a full-time assassin. At the age of 17, he stood nearly 8 feet tall. The Lenazura began to doubt his supposedly human nature, and he was banished from their secret society.

Equipped only with his broad sword and Kala (A weapon used by the Lenazura, much like two boomerangs put together with blades on it), Zaerk went ou t to find his real race. Because of his size, everywhere he went, he was shunned and hated as a freak. Many people thought of him as a monster and threw rocks at him. More than often, he was mistaken as some sort of a giant, and would not be allowed into some of the major cities.

Zaerk’s sad life went on for several years. Finally, he encountered a woman named Llewella. She accepted Zaerk for what he was, and did not care about his gargantuan height. She told him that she would be his friend, even if no one else would. Zaerk asked her if should would travel with him, to find who his people were. She accepted immediately, and the two fell in love over time. There were many times when Zaerk would dreams of the old days with the Lenazura, and cry out in the night. Llewella was always there to calm him down. It seemed the mighty giant warrior had found his perfect match.

1377966_91078868Eventually, the madness inside of him was too much for him to bear. Zaerk would become crazy and begin fighting those people around him. He killed many innocent folk. Luckily, Llewella was always near, and managed to stop him with her healing powers to decrease the suffering. Of course, these actions would get them kicked out of tavern after tavern. Eventually they would not have a place to go.

Nevertheless, Zaerk and Llewella travelled to many distant lands and encountered many different and interesting people.They saved both the rich and the poor from bandits, thieves and assassins, preferring food and shelter over money and glory. They finally gained a better reputation from the citizens of the land, and Llewella was finally able to control Zaerk to the point where he was not able to do harm.

One day, however, Zaerk ventured out without telling Llewella, who at this point had become his wife. He went to far lands, farther than he had ever traveled before. He went seeking high adventure with his now famous broadsword known as Rendual. No one knew why he left. No one even knew where he had gone.

Llewella sent her magical minions off to find her husband. Months later, the minions came back with grave news. Zaerk was dead, slain by the leader of the Lenazura, Shax. Furious, Llewella swore revenge on Shax.

Using her magic, she sought out the leader, and invaded his mind. She tried to destroy his mind and drive him insane. Unfortunately, Llewella had exerted too much energy and while destroying the leader of the Lenazura, she also managed to destroy her own mind. Or so it has been told.

To this age, no one knows what really happened to Llewella. But to believe that she died during the attack on Shax is very doubtful.