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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Written based on a picture prompt from Imaginarium House



“Hey, Jack, take a look at this,” Rob called out as he turned the computer monitor toward Jack’s desk. 

“Where did that come from?” Jack asked as he rolled his chair over to Rob’s station.

“Caught last night in sector seven, out by the perimeter.”

“Man, I thought that all the COVID-T females had been eliminated,” Jack exhaled slowly as he flipped through the six frames that showed the woman moving through the woods, quietly stepping as if following something or someone.

“That’s what I thought, too, but she has to be one.  Has that mark on her forehead.”  Rob expanded one of the clearest frames to get a closer detail of the woman’s face.  “Why would she be wearing a mask?”

“Don’t know.” Jack replied.  “Maybe to keep from being recognized.”

Rob and Jack continued to scroll through the frames, expanding the view to get a closer look at the young woman.  After a few passes through the frames, both Rob and Jack leaned back in their chairs.  Today would not be a normal day spent reviewing the video from the surveillance cameras. 

“We have to call this in,” Jack stated flatly.

“Not so fast,” Rob pulled up another shot of the young woman.  “What if we sent out a drone and see what we can find first?”

“What?  Are you crazy?”

“She didn’t trip the motion sensor.  I checked that first before reviewing the video.  Saves time,” Rob said tapping his watch.

“So, what difference does that make?”

“Simple, we don’t know if she was real or just projected.  I don’t want to look like a fool and report something that wasn’t there.”

Jack sat back in his chair and scratched his chin slowly.  “You do have a point.”

“If she is real, then we have a bad motion sensor to get fixed.  Besides, I would like to get a better look at her.”

“Me too.”  Jack nodded and rolled his chair back to his desk.  Suspecting a bad motion sensor would be a good reason to send out a drone.  That would not be questioned by HQ.  Going out to find a COVID-T female, that would raise a lot of suspicion.

Rob and Jack quickly scanned the remainder of the video from the night.  As the last frames flashed across their screens, both men stared at the darkened screens.

“She never left,” Rob said as he pulled up the image that he had saved of the young woman.  “Does that mean she has to be inside the perimeter?  Hiding?”

“Wow!  I hadn’t thought about that,” Jack looked across at Rob.  “We better get that drone in the air.”

Rob pulled up a live feed from the camera where the image had been captured and used his controls to rotate the camera in a slow pan of the area.  Nothing appeared unusual.  Next, pointing the camera toward the ground, he zoomed to see the detail of the place where she had been walking.  That is when he saw it, a broken branch.

“She is real,” Rob pronounced as he pulled up the image from last night next to the live feed.  “Look at this.  “See that branch in front of her leg?”

Jack bent down to look at the screen. 

“It’s broken now.  She must have broken the branch as she moved.”

“It sure looks like it.  Can you see any footprints?  Jack asked.

Rob adjusted the camera angle and tried to pull up a closer image of the path.  “Can’t tell from this angle.  We need to look at it from overhead.”

“The drone is ready to go.” Jack said as he set the drone controller next to the keyboard.  “Let’s find out what we have.”

Rob refilled his coffee cup and pulled up the video feed from the drone’s camera.  He hated watching the video from the flight and always became nauseous if he watched too long.  Jack pulled up his chair up next to Rob and waited as the drone flew across the protection zone. 

This is the barrier, the protected zone that kept the women infected with COVID-T from returning to the city.  All those infected had been banished to the outer region without food or water.  Banishment gave them a chance to survive, abet, extremely small.  That had been their sentence rather than face death by execution as had happened to the infected in the nineth wave of the pandemic of the COVID virus.  COVID-T was the twelfth mutation.  This mutation, fatal to every male infected, was only carried by women, women who had given birth.  Bus load after bus load of women, mothers, were driven far into the desert and abandoned until no infected women remained in the city.

Jack slowed the drone and guided it toward the perimeter camera placement.  This would be the best starting point for a crosshatch surveillance of the area.  But first he knew that they needed to look for footprints. 

Keeping the drone above the trees, Jack hovered the drone over the spot where she had been seen.  Zooming the camera for a clear image of the ground, he first spotted the small broken branch and the focused on the ground.

“I think I see something.  That might be an indentation in the grass.  Can you tell if she was wearing shoes or not?” 

Rob scanned the image of the woman.  Her feet were hidden by the brush.  “Can’t tell.”

“I’m going to try to follow the path she was taking.”

Jack slowly moved the drone forward and scanned to ground for more footprints.  Jack concentrated on keeping the drone steady as he panned the camera side to side.  Without warning, the drone shot up, flipped over and then flew directly into the ground. 

“What the hell just happened?” Jack exclaimed as he franticly worked the controls for the drone.  “Put your camera on the drone.  I have to see what happened.”

Rob quickly swung the perimeter camera around and searched for the drone.  “Where were you flying?”

“I was following the path.  Looking for footprints.  Maybe a hundred yards or so.”

“Found it.”  Rob zoomed in on the image of the drone lying upside down on the ground, all four blades still spinning, an arrow through the center of the fuselage.

“Damn!” Jack exclaimed.  He tried the controls once more, but the drone failed to respond. 

“Now what are we going to do?” Rob asked.

“We have to go out there and get that drone back.  That’s what we’re going to do.”

“We can’t do that,” Rob said shaking his head.  “We need to call HQ and report this.”

“Do you have any idea how much shit we are going to catch for crashing a drone?  Are you coming or do I go alone?”

Rob reluctantly followed Jack out to the ATV and climbed onto the back.  Jack started the engine and sped away, following the dirt road toward the perimeter.  They rode in silence, bouncing over dirt berms and avoiding large rocks that littered the road.  Rob was the first to spot the pole that support the perimeter camera and pointed it out to Jack. 

Jack stopped the ATV about twenty yards from the base of the camera pole and the two men dismounted.  Jack slung a pack over his shoulder.

“We might need this,” said as he pulled a pistol from under the seat of the ATV.  “Here, take the binoculars and see if you can spot anything.”

Rob scanned the surrounding area before the two men began the short walk to the base of the camera pole.  Rob opened his tablet and brought up the mobile connection to the camera.  Instantly, he tossed the tablet and jumped back.

Jack and Rob both stared at the image on the screen.  There was no mistake, it was the girl, directly in front of the camera.  Only her eyes, and the top of the mask showing. 

“What the hell?  That camera is thirty feet in the air.”  Rob exclaimed as he stared up at the pole and realized that the camera was no longer there.

The two men slowly circled, trying to take notice of anything that would indicate what had happened.  The sound of the ATV starting broke the silence.

“Oh, shit!” Jack exclaimed and began running back toward where he had left the ATV.  Quickly he pulled the pistol from his belt and fired two shots in the direction of the speeding ATV.  Jack continued running after the ATV and stopped when he saw the it disappear into the trees, the girl racing away. 

Rob ran up next to Jack and the two stood for a while staring at the cloud of dust that quickly dissipated. 

“What are we going to do, Jack?” Rob asked.

“Walk back to the OP.  She isn’t going to come back and get us.”  Jack said as he replaced the pistol in his belt and straightened the pack on his back. 

Neither Jack nor Rob said anything as they hiked the three miles back to the observation post.  Things were bad and not going to get any better for either of the men.  Both knew that they should have reported the sighting from the very start. 

“We never got the drone,” Jack interrupted the silence.

“My tablet is lying back there also,” Rob added.

“We don’t even have a bottle of water with us,” Jack remarked.

“Yeah,” Rob acknowledged. 

That was when they heard the radio crackle and a soft female voice came on.  The words sounded strange, almost a different language, but then the transmission cleared and were replaced by a man’s voice.

“May Day!  May Day!  We are under attack.  Sector seven.  Repeat.  Under attack.  Sector seven.”  Then the radio went silent. 

Jack and Rob stared at each other trying to comprehend the message.  Sector seven was their sector. Their moment of reflection ended abruptly with the road of engines and crashing of trees behind them.  The men turned to see busses fitted with heavy blades moving swiftly toward them.  The men ran into the woods to get off the road and out of the path of the busses and find a place to hide.

They crouched low as the first few busses came through, leveling trees and expanding the road for the other busses that followed.  Jack was the first to peer over the berm.  Rob quickly joined him. 

“They’re all COVID-T women.  They were supposed to die out there.”  Rob said, shaken by the sight of bus loads of women, all armed, all wearing masks.

 Jack sank to the ground and held his face in his hands.  “It’s over, all over.  And we let it happen.”





Submitted: May 17, 2020

© Copyright 2021 ratwood2. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:



A really well written tale, ratwood2. And very original, too!

Mon, May 18th, 2020 6:59pm


Glad that you enjoyed it. Took me a while to bring the story together. I knew where I wanted to start but then had to let the rest play out on its own.

Mon, May 18th, 2020 1:45pm

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