Please note that Epidemic contains grraphic violence, Adult Language and content, as well as diragatory terms. Reader discretion is advised.
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Part I: The Calm before the Storm
At this point in time I must admit…. Substitute teachers are really freaking annoying. So there I sat that September 4th day in a 9th grade history class. Of course, I had no problem with the latter which was history, which was indeed my favorite subject; I hated when Subs came out of nowhere, and got everything wrong.
The classroom I was in wasn’t the biggest in the school, but with its wide walls, nearly unbreakable windows (I’ve tested that theory when I accidently let a chair fly out of my hands, don’t ask what I was doing) and rows of assembly line like student desks, it felt more like a fortified prison than anything else.
All over the room were posters of World War I and World War II American propaganda. “BUY WAR BONDS.” “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING.” Some weird picture of a German and Japanese person beating on an American soldier with the words under it saying,” Don’t let America get pushed around anymore, join the military.”
I sighed as I leaned back in my chair, a position most other students in the classroom were doing. The Substitute was at the front of the classroom pointing at the map of Europe. He was saying something about how Mustard Gas was a defensive mechanism of a flower and the Germans controlled it and turned it into a weapon, obviously a fallacy.
I looked at my best friend Owen Charlie whom sat a few seats away from me. He shook his head at the idiocy of the substitute. We have all manner of idiots in our class, it just added to the torture.
“As you know, Japan had a score to settle with China and invaded constantly during the First World War,” said the Sub.
“Wait… aren’t China and Japan the same place?” asked a girl named Amber.
I slapped my palm across my forehead and groaned in annoyance. I could hear Owen do the same thing. This was the kind of idiocy that occurred EVERYDAY! Amber was especially incompetent when it came to history, she thought Sadam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden were the same people, that the Normandy landings occurred in Africa, and that the Czech republic was a place in World of War craft (she wasn’t a player but she made fun of people who did).
“Oh… HaydenWinchester is it?” asked the Sub.
“Hayden Ruano Winchester,” I corrected.
“Whatever, do you think you know history better than most of us?” He asked.
I thought about it for a moment, not on what he would ask but how to snidely reply back.
I then nodded my head and said yes. I could see his lips move as he gritted his teeth. “Really Hayden, tell me, who where the allies on BOTH sides?” He asked.
“Easy, on the Allied side were America, Russia, Britain and France. The Central Powers where the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and Germany,” I said in my most know it all tone. I felt like Hermione Granger in this class.
“Ka-boom!” Owen whispered from his seat.
I winked at him and looked back at the sub, then looked at Amber smiled and shrugged. She growled and seemed to spit fire at me. Before the Sub could reply, the lunch bell rang, signaling our break time from the prison. I sighed in relief and got up from my seat and joined Owen.
He was a pretty short guy but he was well built for his size, a muscular boy with a four pack, a man on the wrestling team, he was a fit. His hair was medium in length and shaggy. His face was one that many girls thought as super attractive, he had brown eyes, which I teased as being full of shit at times, smile scars at the corners of his lips, and a bit of hair under his chin. He was wearing an AC/DC short sleeve black shirt, grey skinny jeans and black vans.
I had known Owen since 1st grade; I had met him when I accidently spilled milk all over a girl annoying him. We became quick friends after that. Since then, we were usually in pairs when we got sent to the principal’s office.
“Shit man, that was funny, you showed him up,” Owen said as we left the classroom and out into the hallway.
We were on the second floor of Tahoma Junior High school. We were in the top left corner of the school which was the history and English sections. At the right corners of the top floor was the math corner, it was divided into General Ed and Special Ed, underneath the math section was the 8th grade Science section, while underneath the history and English sections was the 9th grade science wing.
I smiled and nodded. “He’s probably going to think of ways to kick my ass when I get back,” I said.
“Fudge, anyway you heading to Shane’s party today?” Owen asked.
“Nah man, I got Homework out the Ass to do, you know how that goes, Mr. Jenson and his damn science reviews. I already have a D in that class, so if I don’t study, this test will destroy my grade,” I said.
We went down the staircase that led down to the 9th grade science wing. There were two sets of stairs, one located here that connected the History/English to 9th Science, and the opposite side Math to the science. The Stairways were two way, meaning it was for people who were going either up or done and since there were a lot of students at the junior high, it was crowded.
The lunchroom was located to the north of the school, on the way to the counselor’s office and even further down to the Health, Auto-Shop, and P.E classes.
Amber bumped past me, obviously angry. “Nerd.” She muttered as she passed.
“Dumbass,” Owen shot back. He then looked at me and smiled. “I got your back brother.”
Owen and I were suddenly separated as an arm wrapped around each of our necks. Another one of my best friends and Owens’s girlfriend had found us. Tall, athletic and extremely beautiful, Kelsey Fisher smiled in greeting at the both of us,
Owen kissed her cheek as we kept walking. Kelsey had long brown curly hair, beautiful light brown skin and grassy green eyes. She wore a brown leather north face jacket, black yoga pants and Native American looking moccasins. I had known Kelsey since the second grade; back then she and Owen were just friends. I set them both up in six grade and they’ve been dating ever since.
Kelsey was one of my closest friends however, once maybe, I had harbored romantic feelings for her and vice versa for her, but that liking had transferred into a more brother-sister relationship.
“What up my homies?” She asked cheerfully.
“Oh you know, gas prices, the usual,” I replied.
“Hayden’s pissing off more Subs today,” Owen said, grinning.
“Again? Didn’t you getting kicked out the last time teach you not to mess with them?” Kelsey asked, laughing.
“When their idiots, I’ll input, what can you do y’know?” I said, raising my shoulders.
We made our way through the crowded hallway and entered the cafeteria. The School security guard, Mr. West, scanned the crowd of moving students, looking for signs of people “under a certain influence”. Weed and Alcohol was a somewhat big problem at the junior high.
The bathrooms by the science wings reeked of Marijuana in the morning. On the way to the doors that led into the lunchroom, someone bumped past me. Looking back, at saw a boy glaring back at me as he walked away, I returned the facial expression.
The glarer was a guy I had hated since seventh grade. Samuel Martin, the boy I had almost come to blows with because he had tried to bully me since I was extremely intelligent, and I wasn’t assertive for myself at the time either, so I was easy prey. I usually didn’t fight or throw the first punch unless I was pushed beyond the line.
I returned my glance forward as I entered the lunchroom and the three of us headed towards our table. The cafeteria was a pretty large and wide area. Almost as big as the gym, it held dozens of large round tables. Our preference was the table by the big windows surveying the fields at the back of the school.
We took our seats at the table, not even bothering to go get lunch because 1, the lunch line was long and it would take FOREVER, to get food. Second, the food was more plastic then actual so we brought our own lunch.
Suddenly the electrifying feeling of someone jamming their fingers into my side made me jump. I looked back and saw my third best friend, a British girl laughing. She quickly sat beside me and winked.
“Jesus Christ Chloe, really?” I said, smiling.
Chloe Masterson in the fourth grade was a foreign exchange student originally from London. Her parents had decided that America was a great place to live, more specifically Washington State was a gorgeous state and so they had finalized moving here. I met her during a detention when the old uh… warden of the detention room, had place her by me.
The Detention teacher was extremely old and obviously deaf, so Chloe and I had shouted profanity and private body parts and their slang terms. The teacher obviously heard none of it, but Chloe and I had bonded through that experience. Since then however, Chloe had become my closest female friend.
Before dating another one of my best friends, whom I will introduce shortly, Chloe had almost figuratively lived at my house. We spent weekends and weekdays together at each other’s house. To be honest, no I didn’t like Chloe like that, I’ve never once thought about “putting Percy in the play pen” with her.
It was obvious though however that she had at one point harbored romantic feelings for me. Don’t get me wrong, Chloe was an INSANELY attractive girl. She had amazing Hazel eyes which were her best feature, even better than her, as most other boys obviously pay attention to, D cups. Even though having large “boobies” as Owen joked, she was skinny and well built. She was already modeling and would probably follow that career after high school.
Her hair was braided into a ponytail, not the kind that hangs above a horse’s ass but the kind that hangs down your head and across your back.
“So what’s up for ass today?” She said smiling, her strong British accent making ass sound like uss.
“You know, sticks and shit,” I said.
“Yeah and shit, nice pun,” She said.
My fourth best friend. Dylan Cole, your average Joe, I had met him at a Wal-Mart where Owen and I were doing shenanigans. We had taken Dylan under our wing and saw to it that he be trained in the art of being witty.
Dylan was a tall well built boy, a basket ball player, Dylan was athletic. He and I had been in the cross country team last year and we were the best on our team. We both loved our cardio and worked at it. Dylan had short hair, brown eyes that bulged a little too often, especially when he was excited or laughing. I could only imagine the awkward stares that exchanged between him and Chloe when they… you know.
Needless to say, Dylan made us proud and thus the three man squad that we call PNS or pretty nigga squad was born (despite neither of us were African-American). We were funny in classes that we were together in, we got in trouble A LOT last year, and coincidently enough, the three of us where not in any classes this year. We think that there is a conspiracy going on in the school that they don’t want us all in the same class because we make things “too fun”.
I winked at him. “Hey pretty boy!” I said.
No, I’m not homo-sexual so don’t get offended. The thing was that Owen, Dylan and I joked that way. The three of us were defiantly hetero-sexual, (Straight for those of you who don’t understand science terms.)
He clicked his tongue and winked back, then put his arms around Chloe. The two have been dating since last year.
Finally, the person I was secretly waiting for, my fifth and last best friend was walking towards our table. Her long blonde hair seemed to wave despite no air blowing in the cafeteria. Her sea blue eyes shined and were bright with life. Her smooth pink lips shined from the gloss of the lip gloss she was wearing. As she got closer, I could smell the amazing perfume she was wearing which gave a rich strawberry scent.
She was a tall and thin girl. She was as tall as I was, but beside our height, a thing we had in common was that we were both part Italian. Both parts even hailed from the same place, Florence. But the other part for her was French while for me it was Native American.
As she approached, she smiled which sent butterflies into my stomach. It was the most stunning smile I had ever seen in my life. If my biased description of her didn’t give it away, I liked her… a lot! Hell, just thinking of her sometimes makes me tremble with anxiety.
I took a deep breath and smiled back at her. I turned around and sighed. Hailey had friend zoned me, the worst feeling and place for anybody to be. Make matters worse, she just started dating jock douche bag Thomas Drake, Quarterback of the football team and every girls dream guy.
To speak of the devil, he came behind Hailey and tickled her sides. I looked away in jealousy and disgust. Both came and sat across from me, Hailey waved at me and I gave her a nod.
“Weird shit going on,” Dylan said, looking over his smart phone.
“What is?” I asked.
“Pop just texted me a link to a news article, it says a guy was found mauled at a public park last night, said it looked like an animal attack,” Dylan said.
“That is weird,” I said, taking a sip of the bottled apple juice I had.
“Not as weird as being strapped to a log with 5 clowns up in your face and tickling your shit,” Owen said.
We all looked at him with weirded out expressions. “It’s weird that you would think of something like that,” I said.
Owen shrugged. “I have bad dreams sometimes.”
Dylan laughed. I turned to him, locked eyes and said with the straightest expression ever, “Pudding.”
Dylan burst out laughing, Owen and I laughed in exchange. Dylan was the easiest person to make laugh. You could literally say anything, even if it’s not funny, and he’ll be in hysterics.
“Baby, why do you sit here, these guys are boring,” Thomas said to Hailey.
“What was that?” I said, obviously offended.
“BORING,” Thomas said, turning his attention to me.
“Yeah? Better than sitting with your douche bag wanna be cool guy friends,” I said, letting my temper get the better of me.
Thomas rose from his seat. “Yeah?” he asked, challenging me.
I rose from my seat. “Yeah.”
Hailey up from her seat and put a hand on Thomas’s arm. “Baby not here, please,” She said pleadingly.
“Maybe if this fag wouldn’t insult my friends,” said Thomas.
“Oh so I’m a fag now, you little-“ I said, raising my fist.
Owen jumped out of my seat and grabbed my arm. Chloe did the same and grabbed my shoulder. “Hayden no, come on lets go take a walk. He’s not worth it,” Owen said, trying to lead me away.
“Yeah, do as your friend says, you’ll live longer,” said Thomas.
“Will you shut the fuck up,” Chloe said, obviously annoyed.
I shook my head then locked eyes with Hailey. “Nice boyfriend choice, he’s a keeper,” I said as I walked away with Owen and Chloe.
When we were away from the Cafeteria, Owen shook his head.
“Dude come on, not cool,” He said.
“So you’re taking his side?” I asked annoyed.
“You know we aren’t, it’s just you shouldn’t be picking fights with that buffoon is all. Last thing we need is for someone getting hurt,” Chloe said.
“You don’t think I could take him?” I asked her.
“I wasn’t thinking about you or Thomas. Think about Hailey, where do you think this puts her? Having her boyfriend and best friend fighting,” Chloe said.
I sighed. “Yeah, yeah your right. But he doesn’t have to be a bitch?” I said.
“He’s a jock, what do you expect. This school is so cliché that all the cliques act stereotypically,” Owen said.
I nodded. “Lunch is almost over anyway, let’s just head to class yeah?” Chloe said.
I nodded and we left.
After school was over, I was picked up from school by my Father, AnthonyWinchester. As I entered the passenger seat, I waved hello. “Hey Big D,” I said.
Big D was a term my mother used for my father. NO! It’s not what your probably thinking, get out of the gutter. Big D meant Big Daddy, Mom had told Dad the day she revealed her pregnancy that he was going to be a ‘Big Daddy’, when they told me about this, that became my Dad’s new name.
“How was school Hayden?” he asked as we exited the school parking lot.
“Filled with excitement as usual,” I said.
My Dad was full Italian, yet he didn’t speak with an Italian accent. His family moved to the U.S when he was 6 years old.
“How was work?” I asked.
“Weird today actually, you remember Bobby right? He came to work today normal and mid way through the day, he gets really sick and I mean really sick. Gets a fever and spends the day vomiting in the bathroom. After words, the boss said he had to go home and rest and he faints before he can leave. He’s in the hospital right now,” Dad said.
“Damn, poor Bobby. Hope he gets better, did you hear about that guy found half eaten at the park in Seattle? Dylan told me about it,” I said.
“Yeah, there have been a few weird stories in the news lately, a lot of bodies found half eaten, people getting sick, it’s strange,” Dad said.
We rode on towards home, on the way we passed four corners which was like the marketing center of the city I lived in, Maple Valley. True to the name, there were four corners, on the top left corner sat a target, Olive Garden, and a hair salon.
The bottom left corner housed a gun shop, a Dairy Queen, a martial arts center, a Christian chapel and chiropractic. The top right corner had a Safeway, a McDonalds, and a dentist office for kids and Blockbuster video.
The bottom right corner had Goodwill and to the right of it was the forest that separated Maple Valley and Four corners. We drove to my neighborhood, Cherokee Bay, which was ironic because my mother was Cherokee Indian.
There were two entrances to Cherokee Bay and both were up steep hills. At the base of the neighborhood, there was a hill to the left and one to the right. We drove up the hill to the left and turned a left. My house was the third house on the left and had a white picket fence surrounding the garden.
Pop opened the garage to our house. The place was a one story building, was smaller compared to other houses but it was enough. I entered through the garage and went inside. The first area of the house had the first living room; yes we have two, connected to the dining table. We mainly used the first living room to house furniture like our extra couches and seats.
It was mainly used for when friends, either mine or my parents, came over and just to chat. There was a dining table to the right of the first living room but we barely used it, it was mainly for looks but was used when friends were over.
Then came the second living room where the family T.V. and couch was. Behind it were the kitchen, fridge, and the Island (it was a table built into the floor that is shaped like an island. The island is mainly where we eat food, and also were my parents reviewed paper work, checked over bills and such.
Down the narrow hallway away south of the island was where my parents room, my room and guest room resided as I had no siblings. Yet…
Anyway, as I entered my house, I saw my mom, tall black haired women with dark brown eyes looking through old papers. This was my Native American mother, though she looked nothing like a native, my grandparents did. She smiled when she saw me.
“Hey honey, how was school?” She asked.
“Amazing,” I said.
“Be careful around sick people Hayden, you wouldn’t believe what work was like today,” She said
“You too?” Pop asked, as he came from the garage.
“What happened?” She asked.
“Bob, came down with something fierce at work, was burning up, vomiting and had to go to the hospital,” Dad said,
“Strange, several people today had the same symptoms,” Mom said.
Dad kissed her hello and went over to review bills. “Well I got homework, I’ll see you guys for dinner,” I said.
They nodded as I left for my room. Putting my backpack by my desk, I sat on my bed. My room was simple, a bed in the right corner of my room, a T.V on top of my dresser, my laptop on the desk. I had science tomorrow with Hailey, Chloe and Dylan. So I decided to study.
I turned my laptop on and went on to yahoo. We were studying the disease and Epidemiology unit, studying mode of how viruses were spread, the vectors, if they were communicable, infectious or non-infectious.
As I went on, I went onto the Seattle times to see if I could find more on what my parents were talking about. Maybe I could do the upcoming project on it, looking it up; I saw a recent post by the CDC in Seattle.
I clicked on the recent outbreaks and incidents link. The most recent link had been posted last night; it read Outbreak of unknown sickness in Washington State. I clicked on it.
Reading the article to myself it said:
“The CDC is now investigating with Public Health officials on a series of strange cases of illnesses. Officials are surprised at the recent outbreaks and have been quick to contain and Quarantine infected individuals. However as Washington is a large state, containing every person infected is nearly impossible. What is known is that the virus is highly communicable and infectious. Causing high fevers, nausea, and formation of bumps, warts and boils.
The virus also causes patients who have been infected for more than 24 hours to vomit blood. Blood seems to also exit the nose, eyes and ears. The rate at which the infection is spreading is alarming and the CDC is considering quarantine the state of Washington if things get worse. The CDC advises anyone to be infected to stay home and to contact the CDC immediately. So far, the disease is not one that is known, that it has the characteristics of several other diseases or viruses. Bio-Terrorism and mutating diseases are plausible theories. The CDC advises to wash your hands, and to be cautious of whom you are near.”
Well that was refreshing… strange that a sickness like that would come out of nowhere. I would research more into tomorrow, for now I had a science test to study for.
In the Next chapter of Epidemic: A strange Sickness spreads around Washington. The CDC quarintines the State. A Lockdown Occurs a Haydens School. Check out the next Chapter "What's the Worst that Could happen" when it comes out.
Chapterly Question (Note: The Chapterly question will be an opinionatedquestion at the end of each chapter that you can answer with your own thoughts and it can help you make a better comment as well as shows me whos reading and whos skimming just to get me to read their stuff.
Question: Which of the six characters, Hayden, Hailey, Owen, Kelsey, Dylan and Chloe is the most relatable? Which character should be worked on more?