“Oi! I’m talking to you mate. What’s it gonna be, you or your daughter?” the brutish man whose breath smelt like rotten meat asked me, as Sally, my daughter, flashed before my eyes.
For the umpteenth time that day my heart sunk.
How I ended up handcuffed to a rusty metal table in the middle of nowhere smelling like the bottom of a sewer, is one that even I couldn’t have imagined. Things had changed and I was no longer the CEO of what was, at one time, one of the best firms in the world.
So, how did I go from that to nothing you ask?
2 years ago the world changed forever. Tom Langal, the head scientist at some remote government testing facility, accidentally contracted the IPF-S1 virus that he created while conducting some tests in the lab. With one simple prick and a covered cough in the facility lounge area, the virus spread like nothing we had ever seen.
In a matter of days, it had covered 50 states, and in months, the entire planet. Those who survived were deemed lucky but now that I come to think about it, I believe those who died were truly the lucky ones.
“I……. couldn’t you……is there no way you could give me two. That’s all I need, please my daughter…”
“Listen mate, like ma said, we can only give you one then you gotta be on your way. Get on with it!”
Soon after the outbreak I made the decision to move to our remote farm house a few kilometers away. It was safe, had most of the necessities we needed and there wasn’t anyone in site for mile. But as we made one last stop at a deserted super market, things turned for the worst.
I had left the car running with Sally in it when I heard her scream.
Rushing out through the aisles to the car, my worst fears came to life when there, I saw my daughter fighting off a woman in tattered clothes.
“HEY, LEAVE HER ALONE!”
As the woman turned around, my world slowed down.
She had blood oozing out of her openings and her paws, her filthy infected paws, were on Sally and almost immediately everything went red. I remember grabbing a piece of metal laying on the street and telling my daughter to duck, as metal met brain in a collision that changed me forever.
It was the first time I ever killed anyone and I knew it wouldn’t be the last.
When I looked at Sally the look on her face affirmed what I was thinking, she was infected and I now had hours to get to Pineburn if she was to survive.
Pineburn was a building about 10 kilometers east from our location that housed the antidote to the virus, or so I was told a long time ago, so off we went in search of the impossible.
Sally, now writhing in pain when I packed the car behind some bushes close to Pineburn started to cry out. I assured my daughter that I’d be right back and scurried off in the direction of the building but in my haste to get there I hadn’t noticed that someone had been following me.
I turned startled.
“I’m sorry you have the wrong person.”
“No….NO! It’s you …………. You’re that fella, Tom Langal ……the guy who caused all this. I knew I recognized you!”
All that time that had passed, hadn’t people moved on?
“Look man, you got the wrong guy okay. I’m just out here looking for some food, that’s all” I said turning away with the hope that that would settle things.
“Now you’re gonna listen to me Tom, Is that understood!” he said as he cocked his gun
His name was Peter and as he wept telling me about how he lost his entire family because of me, my blood boiled because of Tom.
Tom was my brother. We were twins, not the closest anyone had ever seen, but none the less twins. From a young age, we both wanted to be different, and we hated being in each other’s shadows so it was no surprise as we grew older our paths took different turns.
Years passed without a simple hello here or I am doing this there but on 0ctober 21st 2020 when I saw his face splattered all over the news I knew I would end up being back in his shadow. So made the decision to get out of town when my neighbors started seeing the resemblence.
All those years of running away and here I was again stuck in the shadow of his mistakes even after his death.
“I am sorry about what happened to your family Peter and I can’t pretend to know…..”
“NO, YOU CAN’T! NOW SHUT UP & KEEP MOVING!”
As I made my way through the woods with him following closely, I felt a prick on the side of my neck.
Shoving him away I asked why and he simply replied “Now you’ll know what it feels like.” And with that he placed the gun’s tip in his mouth and pulled the trigger
“Papa…………. Where’s my papa?” I asked the woman cradling me in her arms.
“Hello there Princess.” She said with the warmest smile, “Your papa told me to tell you that he’ll come for you soon but not to worry, you’re all better now.”