Before I begin this new story I would like to offer a big dedication to my blog friend, Kira Scribbled. This is an alternative to her story ‘Just Another Apocalypse Diary’. While both stories will be told in different ways and in entirely different locations, Kira has graciously allowed me to use her model. In essence, mine runs alongside hers. Massive thanks to Kira for agreeing to run with this idea and I hope to see both our stories evolve in unique, but no less thrilling ways. Keep an eye out for shared references and details!
The TV was loud; it was much louder than Ryan Lloyd really needed it to be given as he wasn’t sat four feet away from it. He’d rung in sick for the third day running. He wasn’t sick, he just didn’t want to go into work.
Every channel presented him with yet more drivel as he flicked the buttons of the remote control. Landing on a morning magazine programme, Ryan was intrigued by the headline on the screen that read ‘NEW BLACK PLAGUE THREAT’. Placing the remote on the table in front of him, he listened to the silky voice of the male presenter.
“Rumours of an artificially mutated Black Plague virus are rife at the moment. Video messages from terrorist sleeper cells were leaked explaining their new weapon that could potentially trigger biological warfare. The strain has undergone extensive tests at CERN in Switzerland and here to explain more is Professor Thorgen Schaffer, a specialist in viral strains. Professor, what can you tell us about New Black Plague?”
“Well, Simon,” Schaffer began with a thick German twang, “New Black Plague has been intensely studied and the results are worrying. The original Black Plague virus wiped out somewhere between a third and half of the population of Europe in the 14th century. Fleas living on the back of black rats were the suspected carriers back then. This new strain is not transmitted in the same way. As yet, we have been unable to discover how the pathogen transmits, but we do know how it affects its host.”
“And how might that be?” asked Simon.
“The infected show no signs of symptoms for anything up to a month. When they finally do show… well, the effects are brutal. An extreme fever is accompanied by large and painful buboes appearing in great number all over the body of the host; some grow so big that they burst. The flesh begins to rot before the virus finally consumes the heart and brain, shutting down all essential systems. Death occurred within twenty-four hours of the symptoms showing in all subjects”
Simon shifted uneasily in his chair; his fake smile became difficult to maintain. “Mm-hmm. And is the information factual regarding this virus having been created artificially by terrorist groups?”
“The information is very factual. It is clear that the strain was mutated under laboratory conditions. Having seen the makeup of the virus, I can promise that this is no genetic accident. It has elements of the Kuru strain native to Papua New Guinea. This has been manufactured, of that there is no doubt!”
“And the fear that this virus is out there is genuine?”
“Three test subjects escaped the compound in CERN two weeks ago—all of them very contagious—and we have been unable to locate them since.” Schaffer went quiet momentarily and then looked at Simon almost apologetically. “I am yet to tell you the worst part of our findings.”
“There’s more?” asked Simon, leaning forward.
“As far-fetched as this may sound, I assure you it is the truth. After a given length of time, assumedly after enough blood cells have been consumed by the virus, the corpse of the infected reanimates and their decomposing remains are overcome with a vicious bloodlust.”
Ryan burst into a fit of laughter, clutching his belly. He’d never heard anything so ridiculous in his entire life. “This German bastard is off his trolley!” he said, still laughing and missing part of what was said next.
“…know that a bite from the reanimated corpse infects the person bitten. Their decline is much more rapid and severe than those infected in other ways. They suffer the effects of the virus and die within thirty-six hours, returning as a reanimated corpse also. Believe me when I say that this virus could very well threaten the entire human race.”
“Oh, shut up!” Ryan said derisively.
“Are you close to finding a cure?” Simon asked.
Schaffer paused for several seconds, a nervous look etched onto his grey-bearded face. He scratched the side of his head, causing his glasses to flick up and down on the bridge of his nose, and then looked back at Simon. “We are doing all that we can. I can offer no more assurance than that at this stage.”
“Is there any advice you can offer the people of Britain to safeguard themselves against the threat of this virus?”
“Stay indoors as much as possible,” Schaffer said seriously, looking into the camera.
Ryan switched the TV off. “What a load of bollocks!”
He stood up from the couch and rubbed his short-shaven coffee-brown hair before approaching the lounge window. The early springtime sun looked inviting with hardly a cloud present in the sky.
He shelved his idea to stay in all day and went to his bedroom to get ready. Stripping out of his t-shirt and jogging bottoms, he admired himself in the mirror for a moment. He stood to his full six feet and one inch, looking his naked form over. “She misses you, Lloyd. She knows she misses you.”
Ryan had been finished by his girlfriend of two years just a few weeks ago after she found out he’d cheated on her—the one encounter she knew about!
The twenty-seven-year-old man was deeply good-looking with warm hazel eyes and a naturally disarming smile. He was in good physical shape and his light brown torso was adorned in tattoos, as were his muscular arms. Ryan was mixed race, his maternal grandfather a Bahamian, and that gave him a tanned appearance. The unfortunate by-product of his physical allure was a personality laden with narcissism.
“I’ve gotta get to the gym. Get those abs back to their former glory and she’ll be around here in a flash!”
He took one last look in the mirror with a laddish grab of his manhood and then got himself ready to leave the house. After that, he headed back downstairs into the lounge and again looked out of the window. A neighbour, who’d just arrived home, noticed him and gave a friendly wave; he waved half-heartedly back.
Schaffer’s interview came back into his head and he smiled with amusement. The fact that the man had basically told a zombie tale amused him greatly. How stupid did he think people were? And yet, he briefly imagined looking out of the window to see hordes of decaying undead looking to feed off the living.
He shook the image out of his head as quickly as it had gone in and pursed his lips. “Crazy German bastard!”
Ryan walked away from the window and to the front door of his house, slamming it shut behind him.
TO BE CONTINUED