The Worst Thing About It

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
"The Worst Thing About It", a city faces an unknown sickness that appears to spread through the city's public transit. Medical experts are left confused and bewildered and only a smart city detective can figure out the truth. But is she too late?

Submitted: September 17, 2015

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Submitted: September 17, 2015

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The Worst Thing About It

 

By Tavera Del Toro

 

 

 

“Damn it, where is it?”

 

It was now 8:35 AM and the 17 West Thomas Road bus was nowhere in sight. He was going to be late again and Megan was going to be furious. His supervisor was always OCD about time; considering at worst he was always just a few minutes late but she always made it a point to scold him about it. Usually in front of as many people as she could find.

 

 He pulled out his phone and texted his boss a pre-warning of his tardiness.

 

Todd heard the sound of the nearly empty bus roar by as it approached the corner and he tucked the phone away in his pants pocket. He cursed the driver and all the passengers for screwing with his life but waited patiently as the bus pulled into the stop. A few passengers lumbered off slowly, one passenger deep in a train of thought bumped into Todd as he exited the bus.

 

“Ex-cuuuse me!” the passenger yelled out and kept on walking, almost as if he was ordering Todd to step aside and make room for his passway.

 

Jerk. Nothing but jerks and drunks Todd thought and inserted his bus card into the slot. At least that works, he laughed and picked a two seat section for himself at the back of the bus.

 

The driver Jeffrey Evan, who appeared to be in a trance, watched Todd sit down in his rear view mirror. He barely noticed the faces of even his regular riders anymore. He had larger concerns these days. The impending strike loomed ahead and the company clearly was readying itself for a fight. Jeffrey scratched his neck as he accelerated towards the next stop, two blocks ahead; three days from now he’d be walking in front of the corporate office,sign in hand, yelling in front of tv cameras.

 

Three teenage boys who sat at the back of the bus talked in whispers as the focus of their talk seemed to be the enormous man seated behind Todd. The man was close to five hundred pounds and wore a very tight black suit. His neck stuck out of his collar like a balloon filled with lumpy oatmeal. His skin seemed to be filled with either acne pockmarked or possibly smallpox scars The suit was painfully small yet he seemed very comfortable and had a constant smile on his face which Todd noticed had as he sat down.

 

He always made it a point to avoid all eye contact with other riders. One never knew when you’d meet up with some crazy fool, he always told his friends. Avoidance was the best tool when dealing with the unknown. Here he was, thirty years old and while he wasn’t a rich or a successful man, he was a hard worker and even if he just worked at Paqers,the largest online packaging materials supplier, he was not some vagrant or scumbag like most of the folks who he rode with daily. If it wasn’t for his damn epilepsy, he would never step foot into the cesspool that is public transit. I’m the unluckiest man on Earth, he told himself, something has to change.

 

“Tuum erit , qui sedet in tenebris unum tangi” , the Black Suit man mumbled.

 

“Tuum erit , qui sedet in tenebris unum tangi”, again he stated slightly louder..

 

“Tuum erit , qui sedet in tenebris unum tangi.” This time he spoke louder than before.

 

What is this freak saying? Oh, why do I even bother asking, Todd thought nodding in disgust. The state didn’t have enough cash to pay rent for all the loonies in this town, he mockingly thought. Rent on the Moon he wished. Just ignore the nutcase, just ignore him.

 

The young men began to repeat the Black Suit Man’s chant, although they clearly didn’t understand him.

 

“Turn it key,seen it tempers you a tang!” laughed the tallest of the three kids.

 

His friends giggled like five year olds as The Black Suit Man kept uttering his line, ignoring the mocking kids utterances.

 

“Tuum erit, qui sedet in tenebris unum tangi”

 

The boys broke out in laughter.

 

An elderly couple stared from the front seats at the verbal rantings going on and nodded in disapproval. Todd thought, yep, here it comes, the old man is going to get involved. Here we go again. Some folks never learn.

 

“You gentlemen need to quiet down back there! This isn’t a concert or a church!” the old man yelled at the teenagers and The Black Suit Man.

 

“Hey, we’re not making noise, it’s that guy!” yelled out the shorter kid with a large tattoo on his neck in the shape of a dragon. His friends tried to cover their smirks.

 

“Listen folks, would everyone please just stop yelling! If this continues I am going to have to ask you folks to leave the bus!” the driver blasted over the bus’s intercom.

 

Todd looked at his watched and worried, another incident would definitely make him even later than he was yesterday. He rubbed his forehead and noticed he felt somewhat sweaty and warm.

 

Stress is going to kill me, he thought.

 

Todd pulled the orange cord to signal his stop and not a second too late. The Black Suit Man was now officially shaking, his large frame shaking the whole bus. The obnoxious kids were now staring in shock as the man’s white hands began to vibrate as they tried to clasp the metal handrail. Sweat dripped down his face but his eyes looked stone dead ahead.

 

“Hey, driver this guy is having a fit or something!” yelled out one of the kids.

 

Driver Evans turned around to look as he opened the back door to let the passengers out and saw the Black Suit gentlemen’s total body seizure. He picked up the CB and yelled at the dispatcher ,”10-87! Now!”

 

The elderly couple gingerly walked off the bus, as did the three kids and Todd and a few young women who had been silently observing the whole episode from the front section. Black suit man had fallen to the floor but continued his massive seizure fit.

 

A few onlookers had walked by the bus and were now recording the event with their phones. The three teenagers laughed as they imitated the man’s body contortions as they stood outside the parked bus.

 

Todd just continued to walk off to get to work, having enough of the show for a day. He was starting to sweat now as he rushed to work. I need to start writing these things down, I swear all these freak shows make it an event just to get to work. Anyway, he had to hurry now to work, having still not caught up the past day with the extra workload: ever since three of his co workers had been let go, due to theft, the entire staff had been on a crazy pace. I deserve better than this he thought, surrounded by scum everywhere I go.

 

“Tuum erit , qui sedet in tenebris unum tangi”, Todd mumbled under his breath.

 

Why did I just say that? Wasn’t that what that psycho had been mumbling on the bus?

 

Talk about letting the crazies get inside your head. Next thing, he’ll start shaking like a leaf too. He was sweating more profusely now too, even though it wasn’t that warm, which added to the dizziness he was beginning to feel as well. Maybe that guy had something, like a flu bug or something he thought. Just get to work, I’ll feel better inside, Todd told himself.

 

As he stepped past the sidewalk into the street, he didn’t notice the street lights. An SUV sped through the intersection, the driver not expecting anyone to be crossing with a “Do Not Walk “ light blinking, rammed into Todd. The driver watched Todd’s body bounce off

his windshield and get launched into the air. The force of the impact had instantly severed Todd’s spine and as his limp body rolled onto the asphalt his last few seconds of consciousness retained only one thing.

 

“Tuum erit , qui sedet in tenebris unum tangi.”

 

Chapter Two

Detective Nice didn’t like mysteries. She hated them ever since her childhood, even when they only consisted of wondering who had taken the last chocolate chip cookie, her brother Mark or their father. Things today were a bit more complex. She walked up to the crime scene behind the dumpster. Three dead kids.

 

“We have five now dead, all in the last twenty minutes!” Officer Jim Phillips informed her, receiving the last bit of information from his friends at dispatch. He had a weird shrill in his voice she thought, like he was enjoying the drama. Rookies.

 

“All within the three block radius ,eh?” she asked.

 

Strange she thought. Sometimes the devil gets his due all at once.

 

“We have Todd Sams, 34 , dead from head trauma; Phyllis Jones, 67, and Frank Mills, 69, both dead from a mugging. We also have these three unknown young men, apparently from an overdose of as yet unknown substance.” Officer Phillips quoted as he pointed down at the corpses at his feet. He spoke the facts like a nervous new waiter would, making sure he got his order correct with a hearing impaired customer.

 

“Very strange, very strange…”, Det. Nice mumbled. She looked at the three bodies. Three healthy looking kids, none looking older than nineteen. Without any visible wounds on themselves. It had to be a batch of something very bad. Looking relatively normal, with peaceful expressions on their faces, the kids almost appeared to be asleep at their own beds, she thought. Death has a peaceful bed awaiting us all.

 

“I’ll wait for the coroner’s report for them but it seems obvious what got ‘em”, she recorded into her phone. Where was that damn partner of hers, he was no where to be seen.

 

Five deaths in so short a time. All so close to each other. Even in a large metro area like Phoenix, that was abnormal. I don’t like, she thought. She got a text from Phillips. A sixth death had just been taken from a bus to Good Christian Hospital. Seizure or something. The driver reported the guy was sweating and freaking out, chanting some insanity. Maybe the same stuff the kids had taken she thought. Another new drug of the week maybe. The same old thing and yet,today felt so strange.

 

She went back to her car. More work to do.

 

“What time are you guys supposed to come here by?!?” Devin yelled.

 

“Sir, we had a medical incident and it made the bus late, I’m sorry,sir.” Janet Barnes told the angry passenger. They were all in a foul mood today. Evans had warned her as he had switched buses with her. He was feeling sick and took the afternoon off. Now she wished she had as well.

 

“Damn it, don’t you know people work and have appointments!” Devin Jolleck told her with his face flushed with blood and rage. He had enough of these lousy drivers and their excuses. Today he was going to let them have it, with their strike coming in a few short days, he may not get a second chance for a while. Make me suffer he thought, I’ll make them pay.

 

Oh god, these people think because they ride here that they own these damn things, Janet moaned. The strike couldn’t come sooner as far as she was concerned. Janet closed the doors and after the hydraulics eased, she accelerated the beast towards her first stop.

 

The morning sun had climbed and the afternoon death ray was starting to bear down on her face. Eight hours and hit the bed she thought. Her son had caught some bug and he’d been up half the night coughing his lungs out. Her achy eyes and throat told her it was going to be her turn very soon. Kids, oh the joy they bring.

 

She picked up a few passengers, a couple men and a young girl and she was flying through her stops. Best to make up time now before she hit the high school and the horde of kids getting on at 44th street. Oh, the fun she laughed.

 

Someone pulled the cord and she slowed down at the approaching stop.

 

Janet parked the bus and pulled the lever to open the doors as usual but noticed no movement or heard any sounds of anyone getting up and leaving the bus. She checked her rear view mirror and saw no movement. An early puller. There’s always one every day. She nodded and asked, “did anyone want off this stop?” No one replied.

 

Fine, she muttered and closed the doors and hit the accelerator and slowly counted to five, as her therapist had taught her. She had just completed a two month course mandated by the company to control her temper. A few bus riding snitches had complained about her gruff attitude and she found herself in trouble with her bosses at Riderrun.

 

Who wouldn’t be driven insane by these folks, she often wondered and today was not disproving any of those thoughts. Off to the next stop.

 

“Bing!” the cord was pulled again.

 

She smiled knowing the early puller would now have to show him or herself this time and she casually looked in her mirror to see which one of her passengers had jumped the gun.

Again no one rose up or even flinched a muscle.

 

What is going on here? Janet turned around from her cushioned driver’s chair and noticed feeling dizzy as she stood up. It was like being on a rollercoaster and stepping off too quickly. Her feet felt weak and she barely noticed the passenger on the ground lying prone, a young man in his early twenties in jeans and a white shirt. She kicked into him as her knees buckled and she toppled onto him.

 

Her eyes gazed heavily onto the other passengers, all slumped in their seats, motionless, with her heavy eyes peeking through a foggy mind. She noticed the young girl in the back, who had her arm wrapped on the broken stop cord on her seat. There she is, Janet thought, my puller.

 

The man under Janet mumbled something, something foreign to her ears. His lips barely moved but he kept mumbling the same phrase over and over.

 

“Tuum erit , qui sedet in tenebris unum tangi.”

 

Janet closed her eyes for the last time at 12:37 PM.

 

“What is this now? A biological event or terrorism?” Captain Don Kipling yelled into his phone. This was the call he never wanted to receive but here it was at last. A bus with passengers, all deceased along with their driver. His acid reflux was beginning to boil up now into his raw throat.

 

“We’re really not sure at this time”, Sgt. Jackson told him with nervous voice. Jackson’s voice sounded like someone talking through a mask, which obviously he was, since protocol ordered them to wear a mask in such situations. Masks that really helped the officers’ state of mind but not as effective in keeping out viruses and cooties, Kipling thought.

 

“The CDC is coming in on this one and Homeland Security. It looks big!” Jackson muttered.

 

“Keep watching, if the CDC comes in, give me a shout,okay?” Kipling yelled into his phone.

 

“Will do.”

 

What the hell was happening to this place? Todd asked himself. In all his years in the Phoenix PD, he had never seen anything like this. Forty-five people were officially dead and another ten lay near death or unconscious. No signs of trauma, disease or anything worse than a bug bite according to the coroner. Just stopped breathing. Really like they held their collective breaths till they expired. Had they ingested something or breathed in something? Dr. Collins, at the city morgue,had found zilch.

 

As for now, the only connection was they had all been passengers on public city buses. A

total of eight buses as of 1:30 PM but the company had shut down all city buses in fear of something widespread. The executives at RiderRun were jittery before this mess, dealing with the impending strike and now with passengers dying, they had gone into turtle mode. Soon they’d be speaking only through their corporate attorneys.

 

“City bus passengers dying !” blared the tv news, as Captain Don Kipling rubbed his eyes and leaned back into his chair. TV folks were now ready to scare the public into a pure blind panic he thought. Can’t wait for this to happen. Half wits scaring the witless to death.

 

“Reports have the number of affected riders approaching forty dead as of a few minutes ago and more in critical condition in various hospitals, Sean.” the sun tanned reporter yelled alongside other affiliates’ reporters who were all swarming the police station’s front office.

 

“The CDC and Homeland office are now involved in this situation and we’re getting reports that a biological agent is the most likely culprit right now. Our sources are telling us that it appears likely a neurotoxin was used to poison passengers. We have no groups or organizations as of yet, taking responsibility either.”

 

“Okay, thanks for the update Kirk!” the anchor team on Channel 4 spoke in unison. They were happy with themselves, Kipling thought. Dead folks get ratings. Boy, were there dead folks today.

 

Kipling was staring out his office window when he felt it.

Kipling’s office shook with the temerity of a small earthquake. It wasn’t an explosion but it felt like a giant had bumped into the five floor police station, similar to someone bumping into a chair in a crowded restaurant.

 

Officers were running around like scared kittens through the hallways and radios were buzzing like mad throughout the corridors. Now something has taken a bite of us and we’re freaking out like the tweakers rotting in our jails. He grabbed his jacket and walked down to the front .

 

The glow from the windows reminded him of a strange film he had seen as a child,something involving aliens and John Huston,or was it angels? The film made no sense at all. Fitting thought for today.

 

Bright white lights blinded him as he approached the window and his sunglasses provided little defense against the glow, which hurt his strained eyes. He tried to peer through the glow to figure out what was giving off such radiance, visible even on a bright Arizona sunny day, with his hands blocking some of the light.

 

What he saw was bad.

 

A city bus had driven through the police station’s front doors and with it’s headlights on,

was parked in the police lobby. A few officers peered into the bus but only a driver lay visible, slumped in his seat, knocked out cold. It was rather amazing that no reporters had been injured. How unfortunate, Kipling thought. Bigger issues to deal with though. Another one. Kipling had now nine buses to worry about.

 

 

Chapter Three

 

“Is this the guy?”

 

Dr. Colins nodded.

 

“Okay people,let’s get him prepped. I want him out of here and bagged and ready for evac in less than twenty, folks. Let’s save the testing for later and I want all his tests and samples as well. Hurry people,let’s hurry!” Dr. Icwicz yelled in his phone.

 

This was not what he wanted or needed on the week before his long planned vacation to Hawaii. It always annoyed the heck out of him, this last minute disasters,right before his vacations but it was the job entailed. The CDC had it’s perks and pains.

 

“Dr. Icwicz, I’ve told you and your staff repeatedly, he doesn’t have any known toxin or biologic! Why are you taking all of my stuff?” Colins screamed. Icwicz knew this was going to happen. It always happened.

 

“Doctor, we appreciate the job you’ve done but we need to analyze your results and do our own set of tests to be certain of that fact. It’s for the best you know.” Icwicz calmly informed the coroner.

 

“I just want there to be paperwork, clarifying my role here.” Colins mumbled.

 

What a jerk, he was hoping that if something was found, he’d get his name involved thought Icwicz. Egos everywhere. Death meant so little to these guys. They see it everyday and it becomes bland and irrelevant.

 

“Absolutely, I always have and will, rest assured about that!” Dr. Lance Icwicz, who shook Dr. Jerry Colins’ hands and left for his helicopter. He had larger and more dangerous devils to fight.

 

The CDC team wrapped the corpse of one large man who only hours earlier had collapsed on a city bus. His black suit was now off and he was wearing the hospital gown that three nurses had fitted on him as they had sent him in for testing. He never made it through with the CT scan and perished on the machine.

 

He had later been diagnosed with a slight fever and allergic reaction to an unknown

substance but beyond that, he was in good health. “He” because he had no ID in his wallet and no one had claimed him yet. John Doe.

 

The team loaded the man into the bright yellow medivac and they flew towards the airport. Their transport plane awaited them. It was three hours from Phoenix to Atlanta and time was important in a case like this. Time would tell if this was some new virus or if there was some non biological explanation. Time would explain it eventually, it was always a matter of whether they had enough of it to safeguard everyone, Ickwicz wondered.

 

Chapter Four

 

Captain Kipling’s office was filled with staff and officers, it had become the makeshift headquarters for this mess. Fifty-six folks had died and five now lingered at death’s door. It killed them fast and yet quietly.

 

Kipling knew where all of this was heading,there could be no doubt now. There appeared to be only one connection to all the victims and that was they had been on a city bus sometime over the last six hours. This has all the makings of a terrorist act. The feds would figure this out shortly and then the bastards in the media would blast this over the web and tv. Phoenix city buses, poisoned by an unknown contaminant.

 

Kipling still had time to steal the FBI’s and Homeland’s thunder, if he was quick and smart. Show up those big boys with a little common sense and desert savvy.

 

He tried to piece it all together, sitting in his chair while ten people yelled at their phones, dragged folders and just stood in trances or ran around his desk like a mad dog. A kennel made up of uniformed police. Sherlock Holmes could’ve helped at a time like this he mockingly told himself. What was happening? He needed a break to collect his thoughts.

 

Detective Nice watched the CDC and Homeland Security folks move around the buses, parked in the street. She hadn’t been able to get near them in hours and her blood pressure rose to an unhealthy high. They had come in and taken over, leaving her in the dark and she didn’t like it one bit. The buses held the key to unraveling this case and she was sure it wasn’t a virus. Even though it appeared to be a virus, something gnawed her gut, telling her it was not so. Logic had little to do with this case, she knew that already. One thing made her sure of it. She had to find the clue. Phillips has something.

 

Officer Phillips knew a lot of people,freakin’ social butterfly he was, and through those connections he discovered the identity of the large man initially found at the first bus incident. He had checked and doubled checked and was sure of it now. What didn’t make sense was, why him? Nice and Phillips couldn’t get it.

 

Jared Angor was not a nice man. By fifteen, he had racked up ten arrests ranging from

robbery,car theft ,drug possession to assault. He was a large man child, his six foot- five frame and five hundred pound frame scared most people into submission. Jared was learning his craft and when he hit eighteen he stepped up into the pros. He had all the gifts for such a career.

 

He spent his twenties working for a professional car ring, making some extra cash selling meth and grabbing and taking what he could from anybody. Very few folks would put up a fight. For a first, he had just finished serving time for assaulting his neighbor,a silly man who complained about Jared’s loud music. Jared had knocked the man’s front teeth with one blow of his fist. Cops had come and found the guy’s tooth lodged in one of Jared’s knuckles.

 

Her instincts told her to check out the guy with new dentures.

 

“I fink he’s a pife of crab!”

 

Melvin Harris was still talking funny even with the new dentures which apparently didn’t fit very well. His beet red face told Det. Nice he still had lost no love for Mr. Angor.

 

“I hofe he drofs deed!” sputtered Melvin, obviously not aware those words would be used in a court of law against him , if such events warranted. Melvin weighed all of 140 pounds after a big dinner and was all of 5’5. Det. Nice smiled and tried to soothe the beast.

 

“Mr. Harris, I have to ask, when was the last time you saw Mr. Angor?”

 

“I haaben sven him sinze he punked me! He rwined my teeft! E’m currwently suing heem for ten gwand!” Melvin spit out. Melvin was angry but happy, he figured he’d make a tidy amount from this incident, that was for sure.

 

“Well, that’s interesting Mr. Harris, but you’re saying you’ve had no contact with Mr. Angor since your altercation then? No phone, electronic or even hand signals from a distance?” she spoke very close to Melvin’s face, trying to see any pupil changes as he spoke. Nothing just anger.

 

“Awe told ya, he hazn’t been heer sinze da figt. You guyz came and toof him away. Thank gowd otherwize I’d punf him to a pulf!” Melvin spewed.

 

Melvin punched the air as he spoke and Det. Nice laughed to herself but was careful not to show it. She doubted he’d have the power to knock out an elderly mosquito much less a hulk like figure like Angor.

 

“You shild ask the manger about hem, if yoe vant!” and pointed her to apartment number one. She nodded and waved him goodbye. He stared back at her with a cynical grin. No need for words, this guy was an idiot; Angor hadn’t the patience for him.

 

She knocked on the manager’s door.

 

A silvered hair woman opened the door, appearing to be quite annoyed by the knockings. Her disheveled hair implied she had been resting her eyes.

 

“Yes? Can I help you? “ she asked.

 

“Hi, I’m Detective Nice from PPD and I was wondering if you could answer some questions about a former tenant of yours, a Jared Angor. We are doing a bit of a background check on him and would appreciate any information you have about him.” Nice stared at the medallion around the manager’s neck, some out of shape polygon.

 

“Oh, that guy. Sheese. He was a nightmare, a pure nightmare. Fights, late rents and those scary friends of his. I’m glad you folks took him away. I’d have to evict that thing and the very idea of it scares me to death!” her voice rose as she spoke.

 

“Yes, Mr. Angor was a troublemaker, wasn’t he?” Det. Nice answered mildly paying attention to the manager’s words. She saw someone’s shadow appear behind the manager. Creeping up on me? She thought and slowly reached for her weapon on her hoster without being too obvious.

 

“Mary Beth Torrance, sorry I should’ve have given my name. Actually, it’s a good thing you came today officer, me and Bill were planning on dumping his junk later this week too.” Mary Beth nervously spoke as she shut the front door behind her and tippy toed walked to a tin shed located near the apartment complex’s entrance.

 

Nice knew something was up with Bill; Mary Beth had wanted to get away from her apartment as fast as she could. “Bill” could be cooking something back there or possibly had a habit of avoiding the police? The neighbors were as bad as Angor, and just as creepy, she thought.

 

Mary Beth pulled out a large key chain and fumbled for a few moments and finally grabbed a key and proceeded to jam it into the padlock on the shed’s door handle. Nervous thought Nice, normal but Bill’s lurking behavior had her on edge. Again something didn’t smell right.

 

“We dumped all his stuff here just a few days ago. He had some weird items too! Boxed it up and put it in here. I figured after the way he slugged Melvin, we’d not see old Jared for sometime, if ever! The bum was late on his rent and I am running a business here after all, not a shelter!” Mary Beth punctuated every last word she spoke like a bell, giving the listener a signal to speak.

 

Detective Nice peered at the collection of boxes and items crammed into the ten by fifteen foot tin shed. She opened a few boxes and moved the larger items out of the way and made a beeline for the large thing covered with plastic on the floor, taking up most of the shed’s

space.

 

“Oh, that thing! It gives me the creeps!” Mary Beth yelled, more as a warning than a statement.

 

Pulling off the bubble wrap, Det. Nice was staring at a goat’s head, quite large actually mounted onto an oak board. The eyes on the creature seemed too large for normal and the horns seemed especially large for the animal’s head. Someone had gone out of their way to make this thing look scary.

 

“He was a creeper, we found this and some of those evil devil books in his bedroom”, Mary Beth spoke while biting her fingernails,like a five year would. She was very nervous, Nice thought. She turned to check out the boxes.

 

The books looked old and worn, one titled The Devil’s Guide, another about witchcraft and a collection of sketches. Seems Jared could draw, if only mythical beasts of some sort.

 

“Were any of his items thrown out?” Det. Nice asked. She knew landlords always kept the goodies and dumped the trash, from evicted or missing tenants. TV and electronics always stayed, clothing and bedsheets always dumped.

 

“No, that’s it. We threw out the food; his fridge was rotten and moldy. The jerk never cleaned it out, I think.”

 

Nothing here. Oh, sure the police were going to get a warrant and check every bit of Jared’s stuff but they would find nothing of substance, Nice thought. Her forehead was beginning to hurt. A headache.

 

“Thanks Ms. Torrance, I do have to tell you the FBI will be here shortly, so it best to leave everything as it is right now. Let’s go.”

 

Det. Nice knew the big guys from Virginia were on their way here any second now. It was best to get out of here. Jared home hadn’t explained anything; she hadn’t bothered to go into his apartment, she knew Torrance and her helper had likely scrubbed and taken away anything of value by now. Most likely clean as a surgical room by now. The blame arrow seemed to point on Torrance, she was hiding something from view but what?

 

Time to check out Torrance’s background.

 

Chapter Five

“What do you mean activity?”

 

“I mean it seems that when the corpses are within a few feet of each other, their EEG reading begin to show activity!” Dr. Icwicz mumbled into his phone. A presidential advisor,

with no name had demanded he explain the situation. Spooky folks. It was best to explain carefully.

 

“I’m not a doctor but once you’re dead, I assumed brain activity stops?” the adviser shouted into his phone, sounding mad at what the CDC head was telling him.

 

“That’s true, which is why we are now classifying the victims as coma patients”, Dr. Icwicz muttered. He was as confused as hell: the victims didn’t show any measurable heartbeat, most had started decomposing and yet there it was, measurable brain activity. It was impossible.

 

“I assume we have these people isolated and in secure locations?” the voice asked.

 

“They are secured in our isolation ward, deep underground with 24/7 security measures. I can assure you, this is not a viral or bacterium related cause. We just are at a loss on how to explain it, sir.” Icwicz mumbled, sounding more like a confused grad student, not a man with multiple doctorates from MIT and Harvard.

 

“This situation must be resolved doctor, the sooner the better. I will call back in twelve hours; tell me something solid doctor by then!” and shut off the line. A ghost in the wind Icwicz thought.

 

Icwicz stared at his computers’ screens and slumped into his chair. It was bad, really bad. An unknown agent was doing this to human beings and world’s greatest scientists were at a loss to explain this. Sixty-two individuals. They were no longer classified as living, they were strapped to gurneys in a level four biomedical lab. If needed, he could incinerate the whole section and rid the world of this mess with a touch of a button. He knew the situation could arise but as for now it was wait and see. No barbeque today.

 

He wonder what their brains were doing or even if what they were doing could be called activity.

 

They hadn’t discovered the measureable activity until an hour ago, since most people who start to decompose don’t need to have an EEG; it was only discovered when Dr. Jose Cruz who had been interested in measuring the toxins levels in the patients brains’ that it was discovered in the first place. He had a revolutionary method of using a fMRI to detect chemical compounds in the brain tissue. When he found the slight indication of blood flow coming from a patient’s brain, he was alarmed and and an EEG was used.

 

After wasting a few hours fighting back and forth on the impossibility of it all and false stops and starts, they learned the patient’s brain activity only occurred when two or more victims were within ten feet of each other; anything further reduced the brains back to the “dead” range. It was like playing with magnets as a kid, the pull of each separate magnet was felt

only when the other magnet was within electromagnetic range. If the magnets were further apart, the magnets didn’t move.

 

That was great when it was small magnet bought at your local hardware store; not so great when the objects were residents of an American metro area. What was occurring didn’t make any sense, he didn’t want to say it but it was alien.

 

Could it be possibly an unknown entity, a long forgotten bacterium or organism that had found it’s way back into the global environment after a long hibernation? Even a microscopic passenger on a comet or space debris? Nothing was out of bounds now, he thought, it was contained for now at least. Now to define it and understand it. Ickwicz shuddered.

 

Chapter Six

“I told you to hide you big dummy!” Mary Beth yelled. “If that cop lady had seen you, we’d be in a huge mess right now!”

 

“Ahh, shut up!” Billy screamed back. She was always blaming him for something. He didn’t know why he put up with her crap anymore, he now had the power to do anything, be anything. He was a god now.

 

“Don’t get cocky with me now, you damned fool!” Mary Beth fumed. The idiot didn’t know anything, if the cop had seen him, she would’ve easily figured out something was off the mark about her story. Billy was living in his own demented little world, he would’ve told the lady everything. Everything. She rubbed her head, which had been throbbing for hours now.

 

“I would’ve evoked something to wish her away,or erased her thoughts!” Billy spoke like a magician at a county fair would, trying to build an aura about himself.

 

“You can’t evoke a paycheck, what makes you think you can ‘E-voke’ anything, you damn looney!?” Mary Beth almost hissed at him.

 

“You saw what I did, don’t you deny it!” Billy roared back at her.

 

Mary Beth nodded in disgust. How did she ever hook up with this guy? An out of work (and out of his mind). Street magician. He had always been sweet and at first his clumsiness and earnestness had endeared him to her but he had crossed the line between sanity and delusions. His behavior bordered on psychotic delusions and she couldn’t put up with much more.

 

His book collection, a big pile of rotten, moldy books and manuals had taken up their bedrooms’ total free space; it was a hoarder’s paradise. She had to crawl into her bed, the path consisted of a narrow tunnel maybe three feet high. The mole lifestyle was not very entertaining, and his rantings and raving grew more insane by the day.

 

She would’ve have thrown his ass out of the apartment if it hadn’t been for the Jared thing. It didn’t make any sense and it was beginning to scare her. Something had happened to Angor, and all those folks riding the buses. Had Billy done something?

 

Those sinister books he read, sometimes all night, what did he think he was doing? She had skimmed through some of them: Black Magic Arts, Necros-art of the souls catcher, Neoworld Magik. Devil conjuring, black magic voodoo. it scared her to tears. She seriously believed either his madness was making her insane as well or the world was going mad. What had happened to Angor didn’t make any sense. If she hadn’t seen it with her own eyes, she doubted she’d would have ever believed it.

 

She knew her boyfriend had done something to Angor and those people but what? She did not know. No one would believe her if she mentioned his witchcraft/devil books as the explanation to the mysterious deaths, the cops would get suspicious and think it was murder. She wasn’t going back to jail, no, that was for certain.

 

She had done a year for that credit fraud, years ago and that wasn’t going to happen again. The beatings and the torture those other women had put her through. Pure hell. No, she would get rid of wonder boy, Billy and clean herself from this mess. That was the only way.

 

Mary Beth opened her kitchen cabinet and found the rat poison box, hiding in the back corner. The box had a cartoon rat dead with “x” on each eyeball. It had worked on those rats in apartment four last year, just put some powder in some peanut butter and those foot long demons who had nibbled at that poor dog were no more. She wondered how much she’d need for a one hundred and eighty pound rat. Afterwards, she needed a place to dispose of him as well. It was the only way.

 

Billy’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch would be his last meal, god willing. Mary Beth smiled.

 

Things to do, Billy thought things to do. Erase the detective’s memory, make the bank teller give him a million dollars, get rid of Mary Beth and put a spell on that cashier at the grocer’s, the one who wouldn’t say hi to him if she had been bribed a million dollars to do so. Heck, he could have the Dallas Cowboy cheerleading squad if he wanted now.

 

Tomorrow, the spell he would evoke would give him absolute control of the planet. It was Billy’s world, right now everyone else was renting it from him. The day of reckoning was coming for everyone not named William R. Stockley. It was good to be king.

 

He was still amazed at the simplicity of the damnation curse he had placed on that cretin Jared. His taunts and mocking words at Billy had been to make most men want to punch him, but Jared was a beast of a man. Billy would’ve ended up like that other jerk who had tried to punch it out with that monster and have a new smile looking back at him in the

mirror. No thanks, Billy was smarter than that.

 

It only took a little improvisation. A little changing of the chant; he had worried it would change the spell but Jared had fallen ill and died rather quickly. All those lumps on his body, those blisters. That was only the beginning Jared my boy, only the beginning, mocked Billy. What followed would be worse Billy thought. Much worse. A big grin grew on his face.

 

The thing that bugged him were the others. He was at a loss for what had happened to those people. Collateral damage he mused. Best get used to it. Gotta show some spinal fortitude,as his old PE coach had told him back in grade school. He was going to have to get used to destroying people literally now. But what bothered him the most was the concern that maybe he didn’t have full control his new power. Perhaps his skills needed some fine tuning still. There was still time, he mused.

 

He pulled out his tablet and stared at the message on the screen. It was vague but effective he thought. Not too literal but it worked. He had placed the words where Angor would never expect them to be, right under his big old feet. Billy had watched Jared’s daily movements, he knew his bus route just right. A little detective work and he knew which bus to write the words on. Probably should’ve written it on Jared front door mat but the cops would’ve seen it; look at that detective woman, she was already nosy enough. He had done the right thing.

 

Billy was feeling a bit warm, and his head was starting to ache. He had read too much and the tension had been horrid this past week with Mary Beth. Tomorrow, he was getting rid of her and getting a new girlfriend. One who didn’t treat him like dirt. Like some vermin.

 

He turned on the tv to watch something, maybe a game or a dumb reality show, anything to distract him for a while. The news broke in as he was watching a tabloid gossip show.

 

“Eight buses now affected! The death count grows by the hour!” the newswoman shouted.

 

She seemed secretly excited Billy thought but she was obviously hiding her glee at the news. Eight buses affected? What was she talking about? Billy hadn’t watched any tv or even logged online in days, he had important work to do after all. Eight buses. Must be one hell of a wreck he thought, picturing the bloodshed and mayhem in his mind. Wait till I get to work he thought, that will be nothing. Nothing.

 

“Here’s your lunch, don’t forget to throw out the trash too you lazy ass!” Mary Beth handed him a platter with a PB and J sandwich and chips and lemonade. She walked back into the kitchen rapidly.

 

Run you little witch, you’d run away if you had any brains. You’ll be lucky if I just let you run from me, maybe I’ll turn you into a roach and smash you like a bug. Squashed under my

shoe.

 

He nibbled on his sandwich, his eyes full of hope and glory.

 

Chapter Seven

 

“The situation is critical, please all non essential employees vacate level four NOW!” the recorded voice yelled. The crowded elevators were filled with lab workers most with terror filled looks in their eyes. Others were hugging themselves in a self calming manner as the elevator car moved upward to level three. The door quietly opened and a few of the riders stepped out. Three armed men stood to the side of the door.

 

“Step forward, everyone! Do it in an orderly fashion!” one of the soldiers dressed in a camo colored suit yelled to the frightened workers.

 

They pointed the group towards an opened door, where other people were seated in a conference room. The group left the hallway and gradually seated themselves in the rather large auditorium. No one spoke but the room easily contained a hundred confused and terrified workers who were being watched by a group of ten military individuals, all armed. Everyone looked concerned.

 

A few small of groups of people sat together and whispered back and forth to each other. The all looked like high school kids whispering about gossip, trying to not get the teacher’s attention for fear of being caught. Most of the employees just sat looking very tense and stared at the entrance and the soldiers walking around the room.

 

A loud humming noise came from the front of the room and a large screen lowered from the ceiling. Most of the crowd jumped a bit from their chairs at first but calmed down in a second or two.

 

The screen glowed and a familiar face appeared on the tv screen. Dr. Lance Icwicz , the head of the CDC smiled on the thirty foot screen at them all like they were his children.

 

“I know most of you have no idea at all at what is happening, so let me reassure everyone right now. The situation required an evacuation of our lower levels and we have contained the emergency. You are all now safe and there’s no need to be in any fear or panic.”

 

“Due to protocol, unfortunately, you guys are going to have to stay there for the next few hours as we prepare your re-entry into the higher levels. To assure everyone’s safety, it will take some time to process everybody ,so please bear with the long wait. Water and some snacks are being offered in the back. My apologies but try to relax and you’ll all soon be going home.” Dr. Icwicz reassured and smiled as the screen turned dark.

 

One woman in a gray lab coat coughed as she rose up and was reaching for a water bottle

that a few of the soldiers had now begun placing on a large table in the back of the room. The boils on her neck didn’t show under her turtleneck but she was beginning to show perspiration on her face. She took one big gulp of water and slowly dropped to the floor.

 

The crowd screamed and many of them ran for the two entry doors. A few of the soldiers tried to block the mob but it was futile. Dozens of people jammed the doorway and the sounds of bones crushing could be heard. A few people who had beaten the rush at the doorway frantically pressed the elevator buttons, desperate to leave the floor. As the crowd continued to push towards the door, their enormous weight progressively began to crush the doorway. Many of the employees were now intertwined; arms and legs all caught together like a rat king. The moans and groans were only intermittently covered up by a few ear piercing screams as human tissue and blood dripped from the floor.

 

Suddenly gunfire broke from behind the human mess, as some soldier had decided to shoot at the mob to alleviate the issue. Bullets rang out and a few untangled individuals ducked behind the chairs as one of the soldiers blasted his automatic weapon at the group. Another soldier joined in and the two of them blasted their ammo into the crowd frantically.

 

The human mess barely bulged but it’s weight continued to lean forward and the door’s frame now began to crack visibly. A few seconds later a shower of legs, arms, heads and torsos rained upon the few folks trying to press the elevator’s buttons in the small hallway. A metallic groan was heard as thousands of pounds fell upon them.

 

The elevator’s lights didn’t glow anymore.

 

In the back of the auditorium, a few people sat in their chairs, all too weak to even attempt the mad dash for the door. They all coughed and a few felt the boils growing on their skin. The two shooting soldiers turned their attention on the dozen or so workers left and pulled out new cartridges for their weapons. In a few seconds the seated employees no longer felt any more pains.

 

At last, the two soldiers aimed their weapons at each other’s faces and pulled the triggers. A quick spit of gunfire silenced the room.

 

Chapter Eight

 

“The situation is lost sir, we are unable to control its spread!” the sweating tech spoke into his phone to Dr. Icwicz. “It’s hopeless sir. We ran out of time. There is no agent, no virus, nothing. What do we do?” he frantically asked the CDC head.

 

“Then that’s it, I’m sorry.” Dr. Icwicz coughed ,”I am afraid my time here is short as well.”

 

“Me too. What killed us?” the tech coughed out. More esoteric than not.

 

“Hate. Pure hatred I think. Something was sent here.” Dr. Icwicz thought of Jared, patient zero. Him and the original group were still down in level five, rotting away in the morgue.

 

“I am sorry son, but find somewhere peaceful and good luck.” Dr. Icwicz whispered.

 

Dr. Icwicz looked at the monitors, literally thousands of people in various forms of madness, trying to escape from the CDC. Not one could leave. Not one.

 

He typed the coded security code and sat patiently in his newly purchased leather chair; Staples for $150, he had thought it was a steal at that price. Not even broken it yet.

 

The gas began to enter his office, as it would throughout the whole CDC complex. He took in a few breaths and closed his eyes. He pictured his wife and two daughters, the time they went to the Grand Canyon a few years ago.. Arizona. His last thoughts were about Arizona.

 

Chapter Nine

Detective Nice knew things were grim now. People were not answering their phones and as she drove down the highway, cars were beginning to pile up, as numerous drivers had passed out. Jared’s syndrome had now spread throughout the land and panic was now taking over the Phoenix metro area. In a little over two days, the mysterious disease had taken over the state and was now laying siege to the nation. Even the CDC had shut down mysteriously and the news media was warning people to stay in their homes and avoid populated areas. Things looked bleak now. Doomsday was approaching by al


© Copyright 2020 Tavera Del Toro. All rights reserved.

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