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One: First Part
"What happened to you, Tim, what's going on?" asks Aunt Mary, who is holding back her tears.
"I went to see the cattle and... a man jumped on me. He scratched my forehead, so that's why I've got blood. I grabbed him and managed to push him aside. He chased after me, but I swear I heard more people running. I lost him on the way here, but he's bound to find us sooner or later. We need to fortify this place, and fast."
Aunt Mary and Uncle Joseph go to the kitchen and return with various planks of wood. After being instructed by Tim, Mum and Dad begin nailing the planks to the windows' frames. I'm not sure what to do, or what I should be doing. I lock all the doors and, when possible, barricade them with pieces of furniture. After 20 minutes of hammering, barricading and securing every possible entry point (except the attic window), the immense country house seems safe enough to fend off attackers. Uncle washes his face and patches himself up.
Tension is tangible; Mum and Dad are sitting on the living room's couch, as if it were any other day; Uncle and Aunt themselves are sitting on the stairs, whispering about who knows what; and I am... Well, scared to my very core, though I try not to act like it. My Dad hugs my Mum and kisses her on the forehead, followed by a "Everything is going to be alright." Then, he invites me to join them. It's probably a good idea, maybe it'll calm me down. I sit next to Mum and she wraps me with her arm. I'm not really a sensitive person, but exceptions can be made. As she did with my dad, I rest my head in my Mum's shoulder.
"It seems the situation has settled down outside. It's still a good idea to make sure no one is out there, so I'll go up to the attic. Anyone want to come with me?"
No one offers to accompany him at first, but I decide to go with him. Maybe it'll turn out to be interesting.
"Yeah, I'll go."
Mum doesn't seem too convinced, and she's about to stop me when my Dad stops her. I pretend I didn't notice this and go upstairs with Uncle Tim. He's distracted, worried, I can see that. We don't talk until we reach the very top floor.
"We're just going to check if there is someone within the house's perimeter. It's getting dark, we have to do this quickly. My eyesight is not as good as it used to be. Why don't you use the rifle to scan the area?"
I'm not sure how to react at first. I'm nervous, I'm frightened, I don't know why, but I am. My Uncle hands me the rifle and I take it with shaking hands.
"The safe is on. Don't worry, just use the scope. Everything will be fine."
His words manage to calm me down, miraculously. I raise the rifle and align the scope with my right eye while closing the left one. I'm still shaking, I can't help it. I breath and look through the scope. It is hard to see, even without the darkness helping. Even though, I can safely say there is nothing or no one near the-- What the hell...?
I freeze. I feel like fainting, but my Uncle holds me.
"What is it, son?"
"Someone... Someone is coming, really fast. Running..."
He moves me and takes the rifle away from me.
He unlocks the weapon and prepares to fire.
"The bastard's moving too fast, I don't have a clean shot. Looks like we're settling this downstairs. Let's go."
A person who I had never in my life seen running now looked like an Olympic athlete. I try to keep up with him, but it's almost inevitable for me to fall occasionally. My Uncle stops for a minute to leave the rifle in his room and grabs a shotgun from the trunk he stores the rifle in. The rest of my family is having a chat in the living room, when my Uncle interrupts them.
"Someone's approaching the house."
"What! What are we going to do?" exclaims my upset Mum.
"Don't worry, even if it is someone dangerous, he or she won't be able to get through. We are safe he--"
Knock, knock, knock, knock..., knock. Everyone looks at the front door. I feel I can't breath. Uncle and Dad slowly move towards it. When my Dad prepares to talk, more knocks stop him. Everyone freezes yet again. My Dad tries to speak again, succeeding this time.
"Who is it?"
Fortunately enough, his voice didn't quiver when he said that. No response.
Uncle prefers a more direct approach. I do, too, but I'm not sure if that was the wisest move.
"--let me in. I'm begging you. They are after me. Help me."
"Who-Who is after you?"
So much for the lack of quivering.
"The Savages. I'll explain everything later. Let me in."
"Why should we trust you?"
My Uncle dares to ask the question in everyone's mind.
"Let me put it this way: either you let me in and I prove you I'm trustworthy, or I scream until they find me, rip me apart and then go after you. How's that for trust?"
I had to give it to him, the fellow had balls. I doubted it would be enough to convince my Uncle, but it sure sufficient to convince my Aunt.
"Let him in," she says "but point the gun at him the whole time."
"He may be lying," says my Mum.
"He may be telling the truth as well," responds Aunt Mary.
"You have got 10 seconds until I start screaming bloody murder. Ten..."
"Let him in. If we can't trust him, shoot him," orders my Mum. I'm terrified. I wouldn't have thought she would threaten to kill a man. Desperate times, I guess.
"We cannot do this. He could have a gun, he could be insane, he could jump on us and bite us. It's too risky," responds my Dad. I expected him to support her.
"Please, Tim, listen to me this time, let him in," my Aunt tries to convince my Uncle.
"I... I don't know what to do," my Uncle says, disappointed in himself.
"Let's vote, shall we?" I suggest. Everyone seems to be on board with the idea.
"Who votes to let him in?"
I raise my hand, so does my Mum and my Aunt.
"Then let him in already!" exclaims my angered father.
"Are you sure?" asks my not too convinced Uncle.
"Yes," I say "but remember to point the gun at him." Desperate needs, I guess.
The stranger seems to give his ultimatum as he prepares to scream. My Aunt reacts quickly enough and opens the door, my Uncle pointing at the stranger. For the first time in my life, I feel no reason to distrust someone I don't know. This man looks as one of the most rational and calm persons I've ever seen; it's uncanny. I love how irony works.
"Come in and close the door."
My Uncle is furious at the man. I would too, if it weren't for what I said before. My parents step away from the John Doe and my Aunt comes close to her husband. The man slowly walks into the house and closes the door immediately.
"Now, who the fuck are you?"
"You'll have to excuse my abrupt entrance. I'm Aziz Patel, a doctor in medicine. Pleased to meet all of you."
"What are you doing here?"
Before answering, the man stares at my Uncle's shotgun fixated on him.
"Would you lower that? I'm not armed, nor am I dangerous. If you like, you can search me."
"Mary. Would you?"
My Aunt walks slowly towards the former John Doe. Patel opens his jacket and she searches every pocket carefully; she checks his shoes, his shirt and refrains from going near the pants area.
"He is okay, I didn't find anything."
My Uncle unwillingly lowers the gun. My parents take a step forward to return to their previous position.
"Once again, what are you doing here?"
"I had to leave the city for security reasons. Hell was descending upon London... or ascending?"
"We did the same thing," says Mum. Dad doesn't talk.
"Smart people, I see. It's fortunate I came to this particular house. Again, I apologize for my aggressive behaviour before, I was desperate. It turned out to be more dangerous here than in the city."
"We're you being followed by cannibals?" I ask.
"Excuse me? Cannibals? What on earth are you talking about?"
"We heard it on the radio. The ppeople who carry the virus might recurr to eating human flesh to thrive," my previously silent Dad explains.
"What? Never had I heard such a tremendous absurdity. Actually, I don't even know what you're talking about when you said 'the virus'."
"Wait, hold on a minute. So there is no virus?" asks my Dad.
"No, it's actually something much more sinister. When it began, they brought a body for me to examine. I assumed there was something wrong with the brain of the victims of this uncontrollable fury. So, I examined the brain. A section of it related to self-control, the supplementary eye field, had somehow burst, exploded if you will. After that, I made a blood test; this showed insane amounts of oxytocin, vasopressin, and corticotropin-releasing hormone, which are related to causing anger. If you combine these two factors, you've got yourself a raging bastard, one that literally can't even control himself. But all that about cannibalism and a virus, it's all fake."
"Then what causes everything you just described to happen?"
"The blood test revealed an unknown toxin. I believe this toxin is resposnible for the changes in the way the organism works. So, the question becomes: why are some people carrying this toxin and why others, like us, aren't? I might be getting ahead of myself right now, but it might be safe to assume that this wasn't exactly an accident. It's not a disease, it's not a virus, believe me, and it's not even a bacteria. What I'm trying to say is that it's not something humans couldn't have made; it's a toxin, and the most dangerous one I've observed. I wish I had had time to examine it more, but I was scored out of my lab and, next thing I know, I'm running across a barren field and threatening the inhabitants of a house. What the world has come to..."
"Hold on a second. So, it isn't contagious?" my Mum asks.
"No, not at all. Although getting infected shouldn't be one of your main concerns, I'd be more worried of getting attacked and killed viciously... Sorry. Anywho, if all the -let's call them- infected were to be killed, all of them, everything would hopefully go back to normal."
A shot. Everyone gasps and takes a step back, me included. Is this... it? Maybe it is, the end of the line, I mean. I'm bloody scared, I can barely stop myself from screaming and crying. I go near my parents. My Mum hugs me. Bang! They're trying to get inside the house. Jesus Christ, I'm shitting my pants. This is it. I'm going to die right here, right now.
BANG! BANG! BANG! The door finally gives in. I begin praying, even though I'm not really a religious person. I am that desperate. A man is coming in, but he doesn't seem hostile. He's wearing a suit and he's in his late 50s, I think. Behind him, three... I can't belive it. They're soldiers, or at least they're dressed like soldiers. Maybe this isn't the end.
"Doctor Grayson!" exclaims Aziz. "I thought you had been killed!"
"Dr. Patel, you don't know how relieved we are to find you, at least me. We have been looking for you for the past couple hours. The shot you heard previously was because one of those monsters tried to attack me. Thanks to these men brave behind me, I am still alive. And you are, too, thankfully. We need to go, Doctor. Now. They're taking us to a safe house."
"Of course. But I can't leave these people behind. It wouldn't be right. Can we bring them with us?"
"I'm not sure about that, Dr. Patel. I don't think--"
"They can come," a soldier intervenes; bless him "but we need to hurry up."
"I'm not too sure about that. Maybe we'll be safer here," says my Dad.
"What?! Are you serious? We have to go with them!" yells my Mum. My Dad seems discouraged.
"I have to agree with him," says my Uncle.
My Aunt doesn't say anything, but we all know she doesn't agree with her husband. I figure, if it worked before, why shouldn't it work now?
"Whoever wants to stay, raise your hand."
Uncle and Dad raise their right hand.
"Whoever wants to leave, raise your hand."
Mum and Dad. I didn't want this to happen: I'm the tiebreaker. I'm so confused right now. I don't know what to vote for.
"Kid, it seems you're having some trouble, so I'll tell you something: a safe house isn't too safe with a broken door."
The wise soldier was right, even though this was his fault... We need to get the hell out of here.
Alright, this is good. We leave the house and run to a waiting truck. We get in. The driver starts the car and we leave as fast as we can. Hell is over. The hard part is over. But destiny isn't that forgiving. It couldn't be it, it had been too easy, too simple... too merciful. We're halfway there, I believe, when I hear a car start. A loud car. We're driving through the woods, and this immense truck comes out of nowhere. It knocks our car over. I hit myself in the head and, when I wake up, my vision blurry, I hear a gunshot. An immense man just shot one of the soldiers in the head. Maybe this is the end.