Infection – Prologue
In hindsight, as I lay there in a spreading pool of my own blood, I guess I made a wish. I suppose I spent those last moments of my life wishing that I had stayed home, trying to rewind the clock and ignore the adrenaline pulsing through my veins and the growing crowd outside my window. How much happier I would have been had I watched the chaos unfold from the safety of my sofa like so many others had. But no, unfortunately I have always been a sheep; blindly following the whims of the people around me, laughing in the right places and always taking things that step too far, and that is how I died.
I guess yet another politician made yet another outrageous statement which enraged some group somewhere. I don’t know I’ve never paid much attention to current affairs; but I’d sure paid attention when they showed the footage of riots in London. The streets were wild with fire! Some new animalistic species of human was rampaging through the city burning and destroying as they went and they had never looked so alive. I was glued to the screen for 2 nights watching the beautiful savagery of thousands of people moving as one body, leaving nothing but wreckage in their wake, so when she came to my door that night, eyes alight with excitement there was just no way I could stay home.
We started near the station, working our way down the high street with a savage excitement; I tore doors off of their hinges and she ripped the seats out of bus shelters. The feeling of exhilaration was almost too much to handle. I saw it first and the brainwave was immediate. The Medical Centre stood proud and solid in front of us, its bricks painted an off white that was mouldering in the damp air. I knew she’d go for it before I said a word; even the adrenaline coursing through her couldn’t hide the look on her face. She needed a fix and, like her gallant knight in shining armour, I was going to provide.
I launched a concrete block through the window and people began to pile in, following without question as though we were all of one mind; or perhaps it was just the purposeful nature of my pace that they followed. We began to smash our way through the building, destroying test tubes, smashing photocopiers and throwing computers from windows until we came across a locked room, the room I had been looking for. The door was painted white with sterile chrome fittings and a small window at the top. Inside were row upon row of shelving units and on each shelf, a plethora of pills and liquid. By this time our followers had dwindled down to only four or five and they dispersed the second we forced the door open, dazed by my sudden lack of purpose.
I took a moment to look at Rachel, really look at her. To me there was no one quite so beautiful. She had one of those almost non-existent figures which made me want to make her a sandwich, her eyes were heavily lined and impossibly large, intense with passion and the fire of rebellion. She instinctively pushed the wisps of dark hair out of her eyes with her tiny shaking hands and gave me a grin which threatened to split her face in half and before I knew it I was grinning like a buffoon right back.
The first time I saw Rachel was on a train when I was on my way home from my evening shift at the Supermarket. It had been late, far too late for a girl of that age to be out alone. She was draped across two seats her arms and head hanging over the edge into the aisle and at first I’d thought she was asleep. I took a step forward thinking I should wake her, but as I got closer I became entranced by the curve of her neck, long, pale and pulsing with life. At this angle I could see that she had pink headphones in, the wires running down her neck across her collar bone and meeting at her cleavage where she had tucked her mp3 player for safe keeping. Her eyes were closed but she was not asleep, her toe was tapping gently against the window and her mouth was forming the words that she sung silently to the empty carriage.
I knew I shouldn’t stare but I just couldn’t drag my eyes away. Now when I look back I realise that I had known right then that there would be no coming back for me, that I would follow her forever and in to whatever. I was lost in my thoughts, imagining how easy it would be wrap just one of my hands around her miniature waist, when she opened her eyes. They were piercing; they were invasive and they burrowed deep into my soul. We looked at each other for almost five minutes neither saying a word. When she, deciding I was harmless, sat up and patted the seat beside her I sat without even thinking.
Had I not met her then I wouldn’t have been in that room, in that medical centre, watching her bouncing gently on the balls of her feet, shaking with apprehension and waiting for me to lead the way. Hand in hand we took to the aisles.Â I swept my arms along shelves pouring the pills onto the floor and she began to dig excitedly through careful selecting a packet of this, a bottle of that. She collected such a collection of medicine, antihistamines, anti-inflammatories, painkillers, vaccines. I lost track as she necked pill after pill, washing them down with a thirsty gulp of this cough mixture or that. As her eyes began to glaze over I suddenly didn’t feel so good about my wonderful moment of inspiration. In fact now that I’d had time to think the whole evening seemed like a much worse idea than it had when she’d arrived on my doorstep only partially dressed and covered in sweat. The sounds of the ongoing riots suddenly seemed much further away with the fire doors and triple glazed windows of the medical centre standing between me and the chaos. I could hear Rachel’s every heavy laboured breath as her lungs struggled to get air around the onslaught of medication. In the stark bright white glow I began to see Rachel in a different light and it tore my heart in two.
At that moment a harsh crack ripped through the air and Rachel turned to me as if she could hear my thoughts. The change was immediate, practically instantaneous. Her eyes were no longer dazed but focused and serious, her pupils had dilated to tremendous size, obscuring every inch of those enchanting grey irises. Her jaw was slack, her mouth open and her head tilted at an angle as she watched me. Something was wrong, something was very wrong. I watched as the ligaments in her fingers seemed to contract bending her beautiful hands into painful skeletal claws and she let out a blood curdling scream. Suddenly my heart was in my chest, I reached for her my hands fluttering uselessly over her face trying to comfort her, silence her screaming.
I didn’t realise such a tiny frame could weigh so much and contain such strength until she leapt onto me and we crashed to the floor. She sunk her small pearl like teeth into my face and I felt her tear away a strip of flesh. Screaming filled the air but it wasn’t her voice anymore, it was my gruff tones that resonated around the empty room.