A Weary World

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a small excerpt from a novel I'm currently writing that can stand on its own as a sort of short story. I'm posting it to see what kind of feedback I get, so feel free to leave comments!

Submitted: June 27, 2013

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Submitted: June 27, 2013

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 The world was weary, weak. She had fought with every last fiber and sinew, and won. It wasn’t an easy battle, fighting against ourselves. But you learn to question every sound, whip your head around at the slightest rustle, survival winning out above all else. In the old days, before all this, they’d tell you to put on your oxygen mask first, before helping anyone else. If your plane was going down, you were your first priority. You can’t help anyone if you’re already dead. Or if you’re running around with sunken eyes and dull bones poking out of what used to be an arm.

 

That fan fiction obsession with all things brains and “zombies” turned out to be truer than anyone could’ve imagined, than anyone would’ve wanted. The world was ravaged, picked clean, re-animated bodies using freshly ripped-out blood vessels to floss their yellow, decaying teeth.

 

The living death came, ironically, out of a quest for immortality. It seems almost poetic now. “Dr.” Zwenalto created D4X6527, better known as Talitas, way back in 2025. Clever con-artist that he was, he claimed that he had solved the problem of decay, proposed that he could prolong the human life span if not stop the aging process altogether. He claimed to have done numerous tests, and mortality-fearing humans that we are, we gobbled it up, fell for his bullshit hook, line and sinker.

 

Hadn’t we learned enough from Botox to know we would only be jumping down the rabbit hole with this? Just look at any picture of an old washed-up celebrity: it’s enough to see why messing with the aging process is a recipe for disaster. But the world, and the wealthy in particular, turned a blind eye to any risk, and jumped on this opportunity with eyes wide shut. Anything to avoid that crematorium, that cold wooden box, that black expanse of eternity that was enough to instill a deep-rooted fear in the strongest of men.

 

As always, there was a concerned minority carrying picket signs, protesting the unnatural solution to life’s trajectory. But this small, under-muscled band of college students citing scientific journals was not enough to sway the vast majority. It felt like the 1960s all over again, skeptical kids demanding retribution for the horror that was Vietnam. Except this time, the horror hadn’t even started yet.

In a short five years from the time the world was introduced to the concept of this drug, it was on the market. Advertisements were everywhere, showing doctored before and after pictures of test patients who had had massive success. The general public was slowly coming on board, beginning to see this as the cure-all to life’s ills. Of course, the only people who could afford this miracle drug were the disgustingly, filthy rich, all of whom probably had some nasty skeletons hiding in their closets. Soon there would be some new ones to add.

Arrogance, entitlement, pride; the main reason this horrific plague was able to take hold in the first place. As the privileged started popping their pills, skin turning from silky smooth to mottled and raw, they refused to tell anyone, confident they’d simply hit an unfortunate speed bump on the road to eternal youth, timeless beauty. Like all their secrets, they kept it close to the chest, telling only the absolutely necessary about the worsening side effects. Worried, some did try to get in contact with the manufacturer, but by then it was often too late. The ones who managed to voice their concern were told that their symptoms were common, a sign the drug was working, a minor allergic reaction. Explained away, the patients felt free to keep taking the drugs, convinced the symptoms would subside.

One week. That was all it took for the super-rich to become the super-dead. Well, almost-dead is probably more accurate. Because the drugs were taken orally, it took some time for the organs to become sufficiently infected and turn into a truly undead horror. The skin was the first sign, as always an outward hint of inner discomfort, infection. It looked like a bruise at first, the skin turning dark, purple. Soon it seemed to erode, peeling back to show the flesh underneath, raw and painful and almost black, it was so dark. By then though, other symptoms had already taken place. Already beginning to have trouble digesting a normal human diet, thick black vomit spewed endlessly, no matter what the patient tried to eat or drink. So tiring and painful were these episodes that patients often blacked out afterwards, too exhausted to keep their eyes open. The vomit was thick and as acidic as battery acid, painfully eroding the esophagus, vocal chords and mouth. Soon only moaning could be heard, caretakers mistaking it for pain. In reality, it was, but it was also hunger.


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