Bless the Infected

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
In a dystopian era, a lonely survivor struggles to find her purpose.

Submitted: March 02, 2012

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Submitted: March 02, 2012

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“WELCOME TO WASHINGTON DC. POPULATION = 599,997 0.”

As Arianne traced the zero with her finger, a sigh escaped her lips – a sigh as hollow and as empty as every dry river in this wretched wasteland. As she gathered the fragmented remains of her emotions, she turned to gaze indifferently at the shell of a landscape. Years ago when Arianne was a young and vibrant girl, a site such as this would have reduced her to tears and sickness: dried ravines scraping their way along the landscape, cracked and desperate for water to flow through them once again; corpses, both animal and human, littered the site like an infestation of flies. But now, her gloomy eyes sweep across the scene with disinterest, but not acceptance – though this cruel land has been her home for 9 years, she refused to accept that this is her inevitable past, present and future. If they had not purged the cities and countryside of the infected, there would be people here still. Then again, if they had not been narcissistic and greedy enough to squander the world’s resources for their own ‘green’ purposes, they would not have found it a necessity to create the hideously toxic chemical energy that lead to this disaster. Shaking herself free of pointlessly evil thoughts, Arianne dragged her vision away from the decrepit land and walked away.

As Arianne strolled through the city, billboards to the right and left shouted, “GREENER FUTURE!” back to her, their artificial lettering coated with ashen vapour. Unfortunately, their new ‘energy fix’s’ waste product had been the shade of green that can only mean poison. How ironic. Engrossed in memories that surfaced defiantly from the recesses of her mind, Arianne walked straight into something – something warm and strong. Another person! Arianne gasped with shock and looked up, to see a black haired, dark eyed boy of about her age staring back at her, a look of questioning and incomprehensible awe on his face. This was fate.

Days had passed since their chance encounter, and they had been so desperate for the soft caress of human flesh that their brief friendship had soon become one of intimate qualities. As they cuddled and talked in an abandoned department store, Seth proclaimed that he had a confession to make. Surprised, Arianne pulled away and looked into his ocean eyes while he steadied himself with shaky breaths.

“Arianne… there is a reason I cannot kiss you,” he faltered, analysing her expression, which was one of woe and sadness as she recollected it. He would hold her and caress her, but never would he press his warm, strong lips to hers, and she was not sure why – he was always more concerned with surveying their surroundings, searching for an unseen danger. Though now, it seemed as if she was going to find out. Seth shivered with apprehension and continued, “It is the same reason I am… somewhat cautious of our location. I… am infected.” Arianne’s eyes widened with shock, but she let out a breath for she had expected herself to be more fearful. She urged him to proceed, and he did, “I was quarantined last year. But I refused to be caught. My family hid me from the army and the government, but they were found too. I watched from a hollow alcove as my family’s throats were cut for disobeying Them. That just drove my desire not to be caught.” He stopped and breathed in, shivering. Arianne gave him a look of pure frost:

“I cannot believe you didn’t tell me! I have told you things about Them taking my family away and torturing them, things that… things that still kill me inside. You were keeping from me something so important – that you are infected! This means that you could infect me… This means that… you could die.” Choking on the last word, Arianne sank forward out of Seth’s grasp and wept into her frail knees, “the first time I have ever let a guy get close to me, and know me, and he is due to die!” Seth knew he was powerless to stop her, and so he held her gently as released years of sadness. When Arianne’s own rivers ran dry, she sniffed and drew Seth towards her, craving his warmth with an unfamiliar intensity, “So… the infected were all given predicted death times. Were you?” Nervously, Seth nodded. He told her gloomily that he was predicted a time long after he had been diagnosed because apparently his immune system was highly strong. Stealing himself then, he told her his death time: Friday 13th November. This was two weeks from the date. The only good this did was to trigger Arianne’s terrible weeping again; the sound ripped through him like knives through necks. Horrible, awkward minutes passed before she stopped, and sat up to take his hand with a gentle firmness:

“I have seen more than enough to make me hate them. This has just fuelled my hatred even more. I desire more than anything to make them bleed and cry in agony. ” She looked into his eyes as she spoke; convincing him with hers that she was telling nothing but the truth. Smiling a tiny smile at her, he stroked her alabaster hand with love, and told her with conviction one thing that he hoped was true: They would always be together.

The department store’s supplies of dusty staple foods were soon depleted, and days of uncomfortable hunger had passed before Arianne and Seth finally admitted that they had needed to move. Seth’s desire to avoid danger was also a huge factor. They had travelled hand in hand in this beautiful hell in harmonious peace, but the tension between them was colder than the hearts of their enemies. It was a simple reason, one that held Arianne’s normally-free tongue and drowned Seth’s blue eyes in melancholy grey – today was the day of Seth’s death. The last week – or what they presumed to be a week in the lack of any variety of regular time – they had spent clinging onto each other as if the power of their whirlwind romance could cheat Death itself. Whispered words of an eternity in Heaven had been the only sounds that crept over the plains as their hands clenched more and more tightly in premonition of the events that were to come. Now, they had settled into an abandoned mansion, and eerie and comfortable end to what had been a short and beautiful relationship. Arianne sat rigidly amongst velvet cushions and the remains of their owners, staring at the broken grandfather clock in the vain hope that time would go backwards and reverse this imminent disaster. Seth had been unable to keep himself that rigid and he paced restlessly, tidying this house as if it were his own abode. The only possible suggestion as to how fast or slow the minutes crept by was the setting of the lazy sun behind the ashen cloud; barely visible and sending a cruel, grey shadow into the room in which they rested. As if to make the situation worse, Seth’s nagging persistency to check for enemies and danger was overwhelming, and during his frightful to-and-fro journey he frequently stared out of the window like an angry lion watching over its territory. It had been mere weeks since he had first met Arianne, his lover and only companion, but his craving for affection and her radiant beauty had captured his heart. If only that beauty were a force to protect him. Seth’s predicted time of death was 8pm which, in this lonely and murky land, was the same time the sun went down – day after day, season after season a repetitive drone of an 8 o’clock sunset. Having constructed a makeshift sundial from ridiculous ornaments around the mansion, Seth now ceased his pacing to sit in front of it, holding Arianne’s hand in a painful vice – Arianne, however, was numb to this pain, and the only pain she was aware of was her heart slowly breaking as the tiny shadow neared the point of his death. She looked at Seth:

“So I guess, this is it,” she said, barely able to contain the cracking of her voice, “you’re…going. I just want you to know that I love you, as I’ve never loved anyone before, and we will meet again in blessed Death, if it kills me!” they both laughed at the pitiful pun. Seth pulled her towards him in a near-violent embrace, stroking her gentle face. Words didn’t need to be said, for they both knew their feelings towards each other were mutual and warm. Together, breath held to the point of agony, locked in that silent embrace they watched the shadow of Death move towards the mark of Seth’s demise – and pass straight over it. Speechless, they sat for a moment, completely stunned. Then, Arianne pulled away sharply and shook Seth:

“What’s wrong? Are you okay? Do you feel pain or anything?!” she almost shouted, panic and relief streaking her voice. He shook his head:

“I feel…fine. I feel fine!” he exclaimed – he picked her up and swung her about the room as they both laughed joyously and Arianne dared to do the one thing that had been forbidden to her – kiss him. And in that moment, Seth had never felt more at peace, “We’ll be together forever,” he murmured, as they kissed and smiled.

 

Suddenly, the door burst open, breaking clean off its hinges. All Arianne could register was a shout of: “Purge the infected!” before she bore witness to a green-clad man tearing towards Seth and slicing a knife through his throat in a jagged line. She gagged, clinging to her bleeding lover; looking up with nothing more than vile hatred and loathing, she felt a metal as hot as hell rip an abyss into her skull and agony overwhelmed her, dragging her down into darkness.


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