Chapter One“We are doing everything we can to contain and conquer this threat against mankind.”
Shauna leaned against the cold metal table hunched over a freeze dried dinner as she flipped through the stations on her tiny TV.
“Precautionary measures have been taken to reduce and hopefully eliminate the spread of this virus.” The president was on every channel addressing the world. She wondered how he could look so calm with a world looking to him for salvation.
“We have teams of highly trained scientists working to a find cure.”
Shauna glanced over her shoulder through the thick protective glass at her latest specimen. The giant man lay unclothed stretched out across the shiny metal table with a thin sheet covering his lower half. He was so perfect, calm under the bright hanging florescent lights. Tan skin covered every inch of his body swollen with muscle. What had he liked to do before he was infected? What made him laugh? She would never give up on the thought that somewhere inside their heads was the normal, sane person screaming to be released from their new hell. Her eyes swept over his body and she knew if he had walked toward her before the virus, she would have been a little intimidated but knowing that he could be one of the infected that craved her blood made her hesitate every time. The tubes that dangled at his inner elbow drew blood out and kept fluids pumping in, keeping him stable and asleep.
She had always wanted to be part of something big, something greater than testing this chemical and that. Finding the cure for cancer was number one on her list. Since her fifth grade summer vacation when her classmates were camping or running through a Disney park, she was stuck at grandmas by the lake waiting for word on her mother’s treatment. Cancer, then finding the cure was her constant companion.
Dropping her plastic fork, Shauna turned her attention back to the press conference and tossed the half eaten cardboard in the trash. When this whole outbreak started she was happy to be stuck in her little scientific bunker, sheltered from the mass hysteria. But it had been months since the onset of symptoms and no luck treating or curing the infected. Losing “specimens” at first affected her in ways she never imagined. Nightmares of the humans these monsters once were, her taking their lives, their last memories of a metal slab in a white room with a masked person cutting into them. She hated not knowing what to do to help them. Just watch as they writhed in pain on the table as the straps holding them down cut into their skin. Drops of blood gathered along the restraints as she would stand safe behind the glass, gun in hand, waiting for them to die.
Tired of watching the same press conference over and over she clicked off the tiny TV. Before she got back to working the new sample over she called her best friend, also one of the nation’s top scientists, to see how her project was coming. They both hated that they were separated to head up their own labs but at least they were connected by phone and internet. When things got too scary she would call on Elaine to add lightness to her crazy darkening world.
“Oh my God girl! My latest specimen…holy shite! Talk about a waste.” Shauna joked into the phone.
“You got a hot one huh? Why don’t I ever get to poke and prod around a hot, naked, sedated monster?” Shauna missed Elaine’s dirty humor inside these sterile walls.
“So what does he look like?”
Shauna navigated back through her various desks to lean her elbows against the table next to her viewing window. “Huge.”
“Oh yeah? Bigger than Andy?” Elaine’s mind was always in the gutter. Rain, shine…Plague.
“That’s not what I meant.”
“I know, but is he?”
Thoughts of Andy were miserable and unwelcome and though Elaine knew that, she lacked the filter most people have between their brain and mouths. It took so much effort not to search the database to see if Andy had survived. Besides she was almost positive Elaine had done that already and was just waiting for the right moment to break the news.“Jeeze Elaine, do you think of anything else?”
“Dude, I’m locked in a box dissecting what used to be humans every day of my life. What else am I gonna think about?”
“Um, maybe finding a cure? And yea...” Shauna hesitated and covered her eyes embarrassed, cheeks burning red even though she knew no one could see her. “Bigger than Andy, bigger in all ways. The guy is well endowed.” What was she saying? This guy, thing was a monster. Not a potential anything where it would be even half ok to talk about his manhood.“Lucky bitch.” Shauna chuckled from Elaine’s response as she checked the monitors. His vitals hadn’t changed in the last few hours, almost as if the machine were stuck in an identical pattern of blips.
“Why do you suppose their hearts race so much faster than ours?”“My guess would be the deformed or mutated cells need more blood pumped though out. The ones I’ve lost here had the craziest muscle tissue. It’s like five times the mass of humans.”
“Yeah, same here. I hate this end of days shit.” She wanted her normal life back. The one where she sat on her comfy couch, wearing sweats and a T watching some lame movie while stuffing her face full of buttery popcorn. Where the only stresses were thinking about what she did wrong in the lab to make whatever chemical she had been testing fizzle or just not work, or how she and Andy could improve their relationship, or if it was even worth the effort.“Hazah to that. Hey girl, mines waking up gotta go hit em with another dose. Call me later k?”
“Yup, have fun.”