Description: What would you do if, six years after the apocalypse, your shattered memory began to return? Piece by piece, everything that happened and the tale of your survival unfolds right in front of you and at the exact same time, the past repeats itself. Would you stop the process? What if you couldn’t?
Some believe extraterrestrials will end life as we know it. Others believe the risen dead will ravage the population and dominate the Earth. And then there are the others that think terrorists will wipe us out.
I say, “why not all three?”
The year is 2020, nearly six years after much of the planet’s population has been wiped out. Through the eyes of a man named Dante Marcellus, you experience the reclamation of memories lost due to unknown reasons.
With the undead and a slew of monstrous aliens (spawned from a rift in Manhattan) walking the desolate planes of the United States of America, the remaining population fights to survive under the protection of a group named PaxCorpus.
But to make things even crazier, the homicidal terrorist movement, ZeroFactor, threatens to murder anyone not affiliated with themselves – a new world order, they say – extinction.
Fighting tooth and nail to get a grasp on the events of his past, Dante unknowingly causes a chain of events that lead to an almost mirror of the events that caused humanities’ situation to begin with.
And with a vulgar, blood-stained kick to the face, everything unwinds right before him, with the barrel of his own weapon aimed between his eyes.
This isn’t about glampires or raging teenage hormones – this is PaxCorpus – the beginning of the end.
Muffled voices of a man and a woman, slip through the cracks of comatose consciousness, arguing left and right – “Where are we taking him?” she asks.
“Harrisburg,” A deeper voice responds abruptly, then hesitating for a moment, “I’ve got an idea…”
“Why not just leave him with the rest of the forsaken?”
My lungs constrict and tighten, ready to implode. An invisible hand grabs my heart and squeezes with all of its might. I wanna scream, but not a muscle moves.
“He’s going into cardiac arrest, administer the sedative!” The woman’s voice bursts through my eardrums like an Earth shattering sonic-boom.
A quick sting to my neck, like a hornet, then extreme cold bursts through my veins. Grey meets black and they swirl together; dancing back and forth behind my eyelids as they tether and snap, spinning, swirling, washing away and here we are –
Chapter 0:Ground Zero
Looking to my left, I see rioters and looters pushing office furniture through the window of a glistening high-rise. To the right, you see the dead ripping flesh from bone, with the entrails of someone you hadn’t known, hanging from their gnashing teeth. A blurred cloud of panic and chaos erupts from the volcanic streets of Manhattan. Behind you, the deafening sound of chopper blades, lifting and dropping in unison, with the bellowing sound of a ship’s horn breaking through each millisecond of a pause.
The scenery is smudged water color, red and grey, bouncing off the top of skyscrapers. Something you’ve never really taken notice of, thinking to yourself, with the stench of foul eggs tickling at your nostrils. The roads and sidewalks littered with twisted and over-turned vehicles, military men and their “so-called” crisis situation training being put to good use – the muzzle flash of a hundred guns going off in the distance, once again, pondering the realization that maybe, we weren’t prepared for this, no matter how many times we’d trained for it.
Bullets whiz by from all directions. A shred of cloth flutters from your shoulder, the impact throwing you back, leaving a sticky red substance in its crater like shape. Shaking and nervous, you pull a needle from your front shirt pocket and drive it directly into the large blue vein on your wrist. Depressing the pump, you pull it out before you even have a chance to react to the pain.
You crouch, watching bodies drop, then rise, drop, then rise, head swirling – you stop, mouthing inaudible words to an invisible listener, “Make it f**king stop!” Preprocessed meat and synthetically made French fries climb through your esophagus, spilling out of your mouth and onto your brand new, police issue combat boots.
In a book or a dictionary, you might’ve read that the apocalypse would have been the hand of God destroying all evil. You may have thought that this was necessary. What you don’t know or might not have considered, is the fact that maybe God sees evil in all of mankind. If there really is a God – a question you constantly ask yourself.
Out-of-body, watching the back of your head, turning from the crowd in a soulless, milky-eyed trance, he says, “When death sleeps…” The sentence trails away, lost in a catacomb drenched in two-toned shadows.
On both sides of him, shoulder-to-shoulder, a squad of New York’s finest yell obscenities, saliva streaming from their mouths, a light shadow of yellow and orange reflecting from their disgruntled faces.
“F**kin’ kill ‘em, damnit!” He says, “We got this!”
“Blow ‘em back to Hell!” A woman yells, pointing to the crowd with the barrel of her gun, barring teeth and revealing the burning eyes of death-incarnate.
“Why won’t they just f**kin’ die?!” He screams this question, still firing, hearing bullets pelt flesh like punching a sack of potatoes.
There wasn’t really any distinction between the dead and alive, who could’ve blamed him. Not like he hadn’t seen this scenario before. Not like Hollywood didn’t shove it down his throat. Seems it’s a bit more frustrating in real life. You don’t have make-up artists spraying fake blood all over the blacktop. You don’t have flashy special effects; controlled fires forming a dotted line through the crowd; fake limbs being torn from fake muscle tissue. You don’t have emotionless and desensitized characters.
He could’ve pretended it wasn’t happening, but in the end, the blood would end up on Dante Marcellus’s hands – mine.
The pulsing tone echoing in my ears finally dies down. The morphine dissipates. There was nothing fake about this; we were killing indiscriminately – franticly. The outbreak was moving too fast to contain. Anyone who made it to the evacuation zone, made it out, infected or not, we had no way of confirming this many civilians. If they didn’t, well, let’s just say that Mother Nature’s cruel in her selection. Blame is always easier to place on faceless, irrelevant things.
Sitting behind the trenches of piled sandbags and empty shell casings, my stomach swirls around and my heart feels heavy, a frog emerging in the deepest part of my throat. “What the hell am I doing?” the little voice in the back of my head questions, before remembering that it had to be done, no matter what. I was here for a reason; I was called here and it was my duty, along with the rest of the police force and military, to secure as many survivors as possible. Even if it seemed like mass genocide, it wasn’t about my feelings. Those would come later, much later.
The first stage of grief is denial. The first stage of Hell is limbo. If you’re grieving, you’re in a transitional period. But what if you’re constantly in denial?
From the burning ember I rise with fists of iron, a smoking barrel in each hand and I say these words, “This is only the beginning.”
Sweat beading from my pores, the warmth of tears streaking down my face and the barrel of a forty-five glimpsing through the rising flames. Compared to this, the end of the civilized world didn’t seem so bad. I had seen the warning signs, heard all of what she had to say, but my stubbornness wouldn’t let me see the truth, it couldn’t.
Just moments from now, my life, our lives, they’d never be the same. It kinda makes you think, makes you wonder; would you give up tomorrow just to have today? Would you give away your soul just to have something you told yourself you’d never lose, but did anyway? Would you fill that gaping void, deep inside of you, with something, anything, just to forget the pain?
Whatever, it was too late for questions, too soon for answers.
Chapter 1:The Night Before
Before that fateful morning, it was completely and utterly obvious that we had something greater than a pandemic on our hands. But the public, our government, they ignored it as if it’d just go away with time.
The first Presidential speech involved an address to the nation. Schools closed for a week and people were urged to stay within their homes, avoiding contact with others to avoid infection.
Phase two involved an increasing amount of violence reported in the media – hysteria began. There were even reports of savage murders and acts of cannibalism all across the nation. We, the people, were turning on each other.
Three minutes from nineteen hundred hours, on the night of November fourth, twenty-thirteen, martial law was declared. The military moved in on every major city and town across the United States of America. I sat, holed up in my small, shitty little Manhattan apartment, flipping through channels, trying to find something interesting to keep my mind busy.
But all every channel had were still pictures of the White House or that multi-colored distress signal, which sounded off with that annoying f**king tone and the sounds of numbers dialing, like an old fax machine.
So I stopped on four, the one preparing for the next Presidential speech and I cracked open my last cold beer from a refrigerator powered by generators.
I’ll never forget that taste. I guess I was a bit of an alcoholic then.
“My fellow Americans…” The President began, in front of bullet-proof shields. ”It has come to my attention that our country, as a whole, is in a state of crisis.”
A secret service agent on his left and right and a raging crowd in front of him that spanned for miles beyond the cameras view.
“This will be my final address,” Moving the black tie around his neck, back and forth before clearing his throat, “The armed forces stationed in each of your cities and towns will ensure your survival if you follow their directions precisely and evacuate in an orderly fashion.”
“What are we?” I ask the television, lighting up a smoke, “Kindergartners?”
“I am asking all law enforcement personnel to please cooperate with the military,” Looking stern and important, “We need all the help we can get. Your sacrifice will not be forgotten.”
“So he’s asking us, no me, to stay behind for a suicide mission?” Out the window, past my unlit table lamp, rested on an empty bookshelf, the streets screech with tires and shouting, little bits of gunfire lighting up grey curtains that hid my presence and the dim light of the glowing television.
“We are dealing with a pandemic. The virus has not been identified but there are science teams all over the world working on a cure, as I speak. To you all, I bid good luck and mark my words, this nation will not fall!” Pounding a fist down on the podium that stands in front of him.
Anger reverberates through the crowd and the booing, screaming ensues.
“Yeah, great.” I puff and take another sip of my sweating bottle of beer.
He begins to move away from the stand and the camera shifts slightly. In the background, one of the secret service men, his face twitches and arms shake violently, unnoticed by both the President and the other agent. Another split second goes by and he’s pouncing on the leader of the once greatest nation in the world, taking a hefty chunk of flesh from his neck as silent screams of pain go unheard by anyone in the audience or at home.
I switch the television off, uncaring and not surprised in the slightest.
“S’pose it’ll be a long night, eh Dad?” I speak to a picture of my Father that hangs alone on the wall across from the boarded doorway, the only exit from my seventh story apartment.
On the coffee table in front of me, a black cellphone (that went mostly unused, unless on-duty) vibrates and rings loudly, for the first time in a week. Slamming my beer down, I sigh, reach for the phone with the palm of my hand and after contemplating the words that’ll be most likely exchanged, I flip it open and answer, “What is it?”
“It’s Jack, you see that shit?!” My only brother, that works the same job as I, shouts into the earpiece.
“F**kin’ hell, yeah, I saw it; don’t scream into my ear, please.”
“I got a call from the station, they want all of us there, now.”
“No shit,” I smash the butt of my cigarette against an overfilled ashtray, “They really expect everyone to be there, in the middle of this crazy bullshit?”
“I think it’s pretty exciting, I’ve never seen anything like this!” Spoken with enthusiasm.
“Exciting?!” Pulling the phone away from my ear and closer to my mouth, “You think the end of the world is f**king exciting?!”
“Erm,” He hesitates, “I didn’t mean it like that…” Going silent for a moment.
“Whatever, I’ll meet you there.”
“Alright, D. Just be careful out there, people are going nuts.”
“People were going nuts days ago. This is chaos.” I shut the phone and slide it into the back pocket of my only remaining clean pair of uniform pants, adorned with a beer stained and white muscle shirt.
From a hook on the wall hangs a double gun holster that fits beneath my arms and wraps around, holding a Glock machine pistol and a Colt nineteen-eleven, each fully loaded and unused.
The remaining water from the kitchen sink, just inches from the living room, provides a cold splash of water that shocks my buzzed and mind-crushing consciousness into reality. I blink and breathe in a few times, “Alright, alright.”
Grabbing my pair of boots, I slide each foot in and secure the laces till the veins in my ankles pump hard.
With a crowbar, smashing against wood, peeling like a banana, I undo the barricade that is the door to my apartment.
“No turning back, this is for the people of the city…” I say to myself as I inch the doorway open, a hallway full of people running up and down, all ignoring each other and making their way out to the streets. “This is absolutely insane.”