The Outbreak

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
When the human race is faced with extinction...

Submitted: July 08, 2014

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Submitted: July 08, 2014

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The Outbreak

First contact

He walked into the sleepy bucolic serenity of the farm, past the rusty old tractor that he had once ridden with his father when he was a kid. Everything looked the same, nothing ever seemed to change here. It was as if time had left this piece of earth alone in an isolated glass ball devoid of contact with the outside world. He worked in the far-off city, having 14-hour shifts 5 days a week with the weekends working as a salesman to make some extra money for his son’s college tuition. This once, against all odds, he had been able to get a weekend off and he took that opportunity to visit his roots. The wooden gate to the picket fence creaked as he opened it.

It was almost 9 in the morning and the farm should have been bustling with activity by then. There were always so many chores to be done. Someone had to feed the hens, the sprinklers’ motor had to be checked for oil, the manure had to be collected and put into the biogas tank, so on…one could never get bored out here but today…today all was quiet. Even the animals seemed to have gone mute. Maybe he was in a dream where he could not hear sound, just moving pictures reminding him of what he missed so much. No, this wasn’t a dream…he could see his car parked right under that oak tree. He had driven a 100 miles to get here, he was tired and famished. No, this was real. He walked upto the door and called out like he always did – “Maa ! It’s me. Where is everyone ?” Nothing…as if no one had ever lived there. Something didn’t feel right.

He realized the door was open. The wind-chimes jingled in the slight breeze as he kept his bag down and walked in. The Television was on but it just showed a bunch of dots fighting each other noisily. “Mother ? Is anyone home ?” As he moved towards the kitchen, a pungent odour hit him. With a strong sense of foreboding, he advanced, his heart pounding against his chest.

She would have looked peaceful but for the dried streams of blood that had seeped out of her nostrils. She lay there on the cold, hard floor surrounded by her own vomit. Sores had cropped up on her arms and neck, making her look like some non-human creature. He stood shocked, frozen to the ground. That was not his mother, that sweet, gentle lady who used to sing while she made supper for them all. The blank eyes of the corpse seemed to have the look of someone who had died watching Death snatch away their soul from their very hands. As realization dawned on him, he fell down on his knees gasping for breath. He wished this were just a nightmare but he could never have imagined something like this, even in his worst dreams. He held up her pale face on his lap and sobbed. He needed to call someone. But first he had to clean her up a bit. No one could see her like this. He could at least retain her dignity for her.

After cleaning whatever he could with his trembling hands, he ran out the door. He needed to find answers and there was only one person who could give them to him. He ran towards the village to find the Govt. Physician. There was the same morbid silence in the village as in the farm that he had left behind. Where the hell was everyone ? He walked into the empty office of the doctor. His knew his shift started at 8 and he never left till 12 that too for a quick lunch. He looked around, shifting papers and files. He knocked on the rest-room door. It was closed from the inside. “Hello ? Doctor are you in there ?” His cries were met with silence. Something had happened to the doctor too. He slammed the door hard…again and again until its hinges showed signs of tear. He stepped back and slammed with more power. The door burst open! He almost vomited from what he saw inside. The doctor sat on the toilet with his pants down, his body slumped against the tank behind him. He was covered with angry red sores which had been bleeding…just, just like his mother. Covering his mouth, he moved backwards barely keeping his balance. He made it outside the door but that was as far as he could go. His legs gave away and he fell on the grass, unconscious.

Containment

The world was a blur when he opened his eyes. His head was swimming and he seemed to have lost all feeling in his body. He tried to raise his head a little but it seemed to be strapped by contraptions to the bed his lay in. He shifted his head to the side, as much as he could, and saw tubes running into his arms, coming from a set of machines that whirred and beeped with wavy lines running on the screen. Where am I ? He knew he won’t be able to move his lips to speak but he was going crazy inside his mind. He saw some movement outside the translucent plastic cube he had been kept in. A seam appeared on the plastic cube and a yellow-suit walked in. He was too drugged to see who was inside the suit but he had a feeling he would get some answers from this person. The Suit stopped about a metre from his bed and stood there observing him. With herculean effort he managed - “H-hey where am I ? What is this place ?” The Suit took out a metallic clipboard and started taking notes completely ignoring his questions. He disappeared into the seam and returned a minute later with another Suit. This one carried a long shiny rod with a sharp tip. Never coming closer than a metre, they touched the sharp tip to the sole of his foot. He felt a slight pinch but he could not move his foot yet. They are taking samples! What is going on here ? One of the Suits changed some settings on the machines and his eyes felt heavy.

Outbreak

He held his mother on his lap, her listless eyes staring into space. She looked clean, serene, pure. Suddenly sores broke out on her skin, oozing pus and blood. With a jerk she sat up and pulled him close to her mouth. “Go away ! Run ! We are all going to die…” – she whispered into his ear as he shivered. He woke up with a start, beads of sweat forming on his forehead. How long have I been sedated ? Although he felt exhausted, he could now move his hands and feet. He had to get out of there. He had to find his son. He could not let anything happen to him. After his wife’s death, he was all he had. He pulled out the needles off his arms with a wince. A camera whirred as he moved. He saw himself staring at him through a small monitor in the corner of the plastic cube. They are watching me. He had to escape at any cost, even if he had to die trying to make a run for it. He remembered where the seam was. He grabbed a needle and tore through the enclosing. As he stepped out, a loud alarm went off somewhere. They would be here any second. He ran! Gathering whatever energy he had left he ran towards the end of the hallway hoping to find some way out. A Suit came out of nowhere but he jumped on him pinning him to the floor. He punched on the helmet cracking the glass shield. The Suit pushed him away and ran away screaming. They are afraid of me. But why ? He reached a door but it was bolted shut from the outside. No no no. There MUST be some way out. He heard noises coming from the next turn when his eye fell on a door marked Service Personnel Only. He pushed through the door and found himself in a storage room. The only window in that small, cramped room was a skylight about 10 feet from the ground. That is my only way out. It’s now or never. He did not have the slightest idea how far the ground was on the other side but what the hell. Once he was out, he would think of something. He climbed on the metal racks, cutting his feet in a dozen places. His thin membranous shirt caught onto something and ripped. He took it off and kept climbing. The skylight was a few feet away from the top of the rack. He had to jump. Just when he grabbed onto the edge of the skylight with his feet hanging in mid-air, he head commotion outside the door. As he pushed the skylight open, he heard someone shout and break through the door. He struggled through the skylight trying to pull one leg up. As he helped himself forward through it, he felt someone grab his feet. “LEAVE ME ALONE !! LET ME GO !!” He jerked and pushed away the hand pulling him inside. He had to do something to scare them away. That would be his only chance of escape. He bent his head back a little and looked at his captors. He could see through their helmets that they were angry as well as scared. He studied them for a second and then suddenly spit on the nearest Suit. He let go of his legs as an act of reflex and fell back taking the others with him. Without wasting  a moment he went through the orifice. He fell through space for what seemed like an eternity. He fell on a hard surface, bounced on it and hit the ground. As he opened his eyes he saw himself lying beside a garbage trunk. He picked up rag, wrapped it around his head and ran into the jostling crowd in the nearby street. He looked back to see a Suit running around looking for him but he was invisible now. He had made it!

 

Author’s Note:  I had always wanted to write about a pandemic apocalypse. And a few days back a particular news article gave me the idea I needed to write one such story. International Health Organisations have reported a rapidly spreading Ebola Outbreak in West Africa and have warned all nations that they should prepare themselves for a possible outbreak. This is a scary but very plausible future that human beings might be confronted with. You can read about it in the following references:

http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/guinea/ (From the Centre for Disease Control)

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/ (WHO)

 

 

 


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