Infection. Short Story.

Babysitting a puppy isn’t as fun as it sounds. Particularly when that puppy is bigger than a Labrador.

It’s adorable and cute at first, then you remember that puppies are kind of assholes.

It’s not really his fault it’s so stressful, there’s two other dogs here, the puppy (Finn) wants to play and the other two don’t want to know. So we have to keep them apart and monitor them while they’re together to make sure the puppy doesn’t push the other dogs too far. It’s been mostly successful at least.

Hope everyone is having a good week,

on with the show!

________________________________________________________

He walked slowly, ignoring the crowds of people streaming past him. They seemed to part for him as they grew closer, perhaps they saw something in his face that made them wary. No one jostled him, or even brushed against him. He looked at the people going by, the young woman carrying a baby, the drunk, strolling along with his brown bottle, a businessman screaming into a phone about something. He shook his head slightly. He used to be like them. Not any more. The chant had started this morning, low and steady in the back of his mind, slowly growing louder. “do it. Go on, do it do it do it doitdoitdoit” he shook his head, trying to clear it, it didn’t work. He knew where he had to be, what he had to do. He kept walking.

Finally he found what felt like the right place to stop. He could hear cars honking, so loud and impatient. He felt calm, peaceful. He reached into his messenger bag, hand wrapping around the cool handle of the gun. He pulled it out and slowly brought it up. The message, still playing, faster now, urgent, intense. He held the gun to the side of his head and pulled the trigger. A young woman nearby started to scream, she was splattered with blood and gore. Others tried to run, creating a panic, it was already too late for them.

Twelve people were trampled to death on the day Patient Zero shot himself, over a hundred more injured. Reports at the time were sketchy, people claiming it was a terrorist attack, that a mad gunman had opened fire on the crowds. He had, in a way. Life continued on as normal for a few weeks, then there were more of them. There was no pattern, no reason. People committing suicide in very public, very messy ways. A young woman had slit her wrists and while she still had the energy, walked through a crowd of people throwing her own blood at them. At first people thought it was a protester or some kind of art piece, until she finally collapsed. She convulsed once, a fine spray of blood mist splashing out from the body, then she lay still. A middle aged banker with three children and a loving wife stepped from the roof of his building, his body hitting the ground, sending out a wave of blood and gore.

Then the wave of suicides stop as suddenly as it began.

The symptoms started three months later. Strange sores and an almost fuzzy growth on the back. The fuzz grew to cover the entire body, the sores weeping and oozing. More sores would appear on the stomach and chest, the arms and legs were free of them. The eyes would leak a thick, viscous fluid, though vision wasn’t affected, the nose and mouth remained clear. People were still hungry, they were still alert and the only thing that pained them were the sores. It was determined that the illness was caused by the spores of a fungus, though which one wasn’t discovered.

People started to hear that small, insistent voice, pushing them to do things, things that made no sense. Most obeyed, those who resisted died without warning. They were of no use.

Fights started to break out between the sick, areas were divided, unofficial borders were put up, any who crossed would be attacked to keep the area safe. Those who were uninfected were prized, as they were new members of their army. No drug would touch the fungus, there was no antidote. But the illness never reached it’s predicted conclusion, everyone on earth under its control. Some had the fungus, but it was dormant in their system, for years, sometimes decades, until one day it activated. Others remained completely healthy. They set up settlements, places that were safe, free cities. Occasionally there would be an attack or raid by those infected by the fungus. They never took food or water, but they would steal people, both young and old. The attacks were always a coordinated effort, smaller groups of those infected joining together. No one knew how the healthy were divided up amongst them. At first it was feared that they were eating the healthy, until people began to see those who were missing amongst the raiding groups.

Then one day, it stopped. The raiding parties no longer harassed the cities, travel became safe. No one dared enter the claimed zones, not for the first month. Groups had been sent in before in the hopes they could record what was happening, but they never returned. For the first time, a group came home. The people had seemingly lay down and died. Their bodies were apparently being used as individual compost heaps. Their bodies covered in the fuzz, but it was thicker, darker with strange flowers blooming around them. The areas were destroyed. Groups of men and woman walking through with respirators and flamethrowers, trying to rid themselves of the fungus before it could spread. Those who were still infected were rounded up into quarantines and discretely exterminated. Whole countries managed to cleanse themselves of the fungus, but others were not so lucky. Strange creatures began to appear, growing from the bodies, they were angry and violent. There were entire countries that went quiet. Guards posted along the borders never reported seeing anything, it was as though the people just vanished.

The countries became wastelands, grass and plants dying, animals disappearing. The borders couldn’t stop it as the dead lands grew each day, forcing people back further and further. Small pockets were safe, islands, countries that were able to band together to exterminate the fungus.

The war appeared to be over and no one quite knew who had won.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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