“So, how did you die?” I asked the very real ghost in front of me. Following the really fresh blood trail of whatever the hell was dragging Sydney around the house.
“You know how you eat something, and it makes you sick?”
“Yeah?” I answered
“Well I was shot in the face for making something that got people sick.”
“What were you making?”
“Human flesh for a bunch of cannibals.”
“Is that real or….”
“We’re here!” She flew her arms up in the air.
A rising panic built up inside of me as I just realized we weren’t following the blood away from this thing, but toward it. Before us was a torn up door complete with scratches, dents, and blood of the obvious victims unlucky enough to be found by this creepy bastered. The trail of blood continued under the door.
I felt the hair on my back rise as I became very aware of my mortality for the third time today, “I thought you were getting me out of here?”
“Yeah, but I need to figure out what’s going on here. Then we will get you out of here.”
“How do you not know what’s going on? Didn’t you like die here?”
A loud distinctive thud came from the other side of the door followed by a loud scream. We both turned our attention to what is on the other side.
“Wait here.” Temperance said handing me a remote, “If I am not back in 10 hit this button, and run as far away as you can.”
An order I was more than happy to comply with. Temperance walked through the door as I waited on the other side ready to hit the button.
I dozed off, not sure for how long. There was barely light in the sky when I fell asleep, but not completely black outside like it was now. It was restless sleep as I kept watching Angel again and again. Every time I would reach out to do something, anything to help her, but each time never being able to stop it. She just kept staring back at me blood running down her throat her eyes in horror. There was always something there just out of the corner of my eye watching me each time. I couldn’t completely focus in on it, I didn’t want to. As the events reshaped in my head again I forced myself to look. A vivid scream filled the air. I jumped out of bed, but wasn’t sure if it was real or not. I was paralyzed by the fear again, that mask what was that?
Footsteps came toward my door, as well as hushed argument just outside. It was almost comical how they thought they were being quiet enough that I couldn’t hear them. Kelly was a thick as they come. They continued to struggle with the lock as I took time to wake up feeling disoriented. The mask staring back at me, watching me now.
The door flew open Kelly quickly filling the gap coming right toward me, “You!”
“Me.” I replied.
Her boyfriend was trying to stop her advance, but a slap across the face quickly reminded him of his place to her. Kelly stopped at the foot of the bed. I made it a point not to get up or look intimidated. I wanted her to know that I didn’t care who she thought she was. It just made her angrier.
“How did you get out?”
“I obviously didn’t”
Kelly’s face turned a bright red glowing with anger and fury. It was the face I had gotten used to with her. We may have similar friends, but we never really got along. She had this constant air about her that she was the most important person the room, and I made sure she know how little I cared. Its almost came to blows before, but most of the time her boyfriend keeps her calm, maybe today was finally it. Maybe we would finally see who would shut up forever.
She pointed at me and was about to say something, but instead chose to walk off. Her lackey following closely behind like the whipped pup he was.
She left the door open, perhaps as a way of saying I was no longer a suspect. Even she couldn’t deny I was right here the whole time, she just couldn’t say it to my face. I walked out shortly after timing myself ensuring she knows it was my choice, not hers, to leave.
The hall seemed colder, but I was just under a large lump of wonderful blankets and pillows. I could hear Becky sobbing and I remembered How did you get out. Something happened, again. I followed the sobs to one of the bathrooms.
I grew up on a ranch. One particular night we went into town for a movie, a family outing. When we came back the entire heard of cows were together in one area, and the smell of blood filled the air. That sticky iron smell. My father took me out into the field. It didn’t take long to find the source. Wolves had come in tearing apart several of our stock. They didn’t even eat them they just tortured them until they had run out of fun. I would rather see that sight everyday for the rest of my life then what was before me in that bathroom. The blood pooled, the walls red, skin flayed, the suffering unimaginable.
That night when the cows died we made sure there was never another attack again. I could smell the smoke now. Wyoming girls don’t cry.
I’ve woken up to plenty of things in my life. Cats fighting, people drinking, the occasional drunk roommate vomiting on my bed. I have never woken up to a stuffed bear from another dimension with glowing red eyes choking me with a surprisingly strong grip. After the initial shock was over and fear of suffocating intensified I immediately threw the thing across what use to be my room. Used to be as my room was now traveling through space and what I can only assume is time. It’s a terrifying thing to fall through the fabric of reality, yet it happens so often especially with washing machines and socks. The landing was somewhat soft as the three thousand dollar Pure Bliss mattress, that had three payments left, absorbed most of the shock of the landing.
I prayed that I was dreaming, drugged, or lost grip of my sanity. Any combination would have been better than the reality that faced me now. It wasn’t so terrifying at first. I appeared from my trip in a shiny white walled room with no noticeable exit. The terrifying part came with a horror realization that the bear had also made the trip, and was now making its way toward me. It didn’t utter a sound, but the look upon its face screamed death (my death). With my quick thinking I punted the bear across the room. Unfortunately it didn’t let go but rather bit deep into my skin. Its cotton tooth bent at the bite, but I had no way of knowing that. I let out a scream a terrified scream not knowing for sure if I felt pain.
At that moment the door opened as two men entered in wearing large hazmat suits. I took the bear off flinging it at the first one who enter. It latched onto his face causing him to freak running right into a wall. The second man shot what was possibly a taser at me, hard to tell at that moment. It was confirmed as I fell to the ground in a heap of shaking flesh with large amount of volts flowing through my veins. My last thought before passing out was: try not to pee.
I awoke tied to a metal chair with my head covered by a burlap sack that smelt like sweaty feet. As my senses slowly returned to me I became aware of two distinct voices in the room. The female one ripped the bag off my head and my eyes were greeted by a blinding light. The woman wore a suit that looked a size too big for her, and the man’s suit was tight and stretched out he also had a large and distinguished mustache. I don’t mean like it was large, I mean that it was supersized. It’s like when you go to McDonalds and you ask for some fries. They ask how many, you point to that man’s face and say As many as that stash can handle. They will inevitably tell their co-workers We need all the fries.
“How did you break containment?” The woman asked, “Don’t attempt to lie. Each lie delivers a high voltage right up to that bug friend of yours.” The man lifted an eyebrow and pointed at his skull. It looked like a routine they had spent some time on. I won’t lie, I was kinda diggin’ it.
The silence filled up the room as they awaited my answer, I was still impressed with the whole routine, “I…I’m not entirely sure.”
We all awaited the shock that was sure to come. They gave each other a look, and then looked at the one way mirror. The man got up leaving the room obviously to check to ensure that the system is in fact working, and that they would get to electrocute me. Glorious stash and all.
The woman, not wanting to waste any more time, continued her line of questioning, “When did your overlords discover sanctuary?”
She sighed pulling out a handheld taser shocking it in front of me before putting it on my crotch, Which since I was previously asleep and only in my pajamas, just a long shirt, the whole taser on my crotch was terrifying to say the least, “I’m done fucking around answer the question. How did you get into sanctuary?” she asked oh so politely.
I could feel my testicles climb to my throat. Is this what happens to good people? But, that thought led me to a whole new series of thoughts like are you really a good person? After the awkward silence I responded. “I promise you I was just sleeping in my bed. I awoke to being strangled by a bear, and landed in that room where I was zapped be you people. I have no idea who you people are or what you want.”
A knocking came on the glass. Apparently it was her turn to walk behind the glass. The ball in throat feeling didn’t recede until she left the room. After a hushed argument, and her kicking in the door the feeling quickly returned. She cut off the binds holding me, and picked me up out of the chair. We walked past mustache man who apparently after checking on the machine got a coffee and a doughnut. That man had elegance and grace reserved only for kings.
We crossed down the hall toward another series of doors, passing through revealed what best can be describe as a nerve center with people on computers, making calls, and a large map of earth with flashing dots all around. Imagine a cheesy spy movie nerve center with more coffee, and doughnuts. Oh and imagine me with JUST a long shirt on.
I was pushed into a chair, by taser girl, and wheeled in front of the giant screen. A series of photos were on a loop. Cameras, from around the world showed that something was definitely different. People weren’t in the streets, cars weren’t driving. There was just large groups of people all in orange. They just stood there like they were waiting for something.
A man who looked very official climbed the stage, and began yelling to the crowd. “We just got these images from France, Belgium, and the damn United States. What your seeing is a gathering of infected. Some of you remember the same type of gatherings when the first planes left from the quarantine. We knew they were planning something, but we weren’t sure now with this man…” A long finger pointed at me kind of aggressively which made me completely aware of how naked I actually was, “…We are sure. They are planning to jump dimensions.”
There was hushed voices, and whispers as everyone was looking at me. The man spoke up again, “I want solutions yesterday. We need to contain this now.”
The man wore a red beret in a camo uniform. He marched right toward us staring me down, and then looked to the woman. He pointed really aggressively at me again. It was excessive I was like Jeeze man. “We need to know where the portal is, the big one. This guy should point it out like a beacon.”
“Oh no no… Ha ha see I don’t know where that portal is.” The man looked irritated walking off.
The woman rubbed her head, “Are the people from where you’re from dumb as you?”
“No…?” Apparently that was not the correct answer, or maybe it was. It’s hard to tell when people here are sarcastic assholes. That’s what dimension I landed in sarcastic asshole land.
We began walking to another part of the sanctuary, but I wasn’t told exactly what that would be. I decited to ask “So, what happened to earth? Those people don’t really look infected.”
“They don’t do they? That’s the issue, a parasite that doesn’t destroy the world by creating a shambling body of flesh hunting for fresh meat. They look like us act like us. They subtly spread their infection through love, and friendship. Started out as a cult. Groups of people meeting up talking about love, and generosity. Grew into an international movement. That’s how it all ended. Not a nuke, disease, or famine. It ended through world peace.”
She continued on, “It all started when Dr. Ellis started digging in the Arctic. They were doing research on global warming. Something was pulled up from the ice, something ancient, maybe alien, maybe it’s from Satan’s asshole. Either way a few months later Dr. Ellis was in Greenland leading a cult that spread across the world in a matter of months.”
It would sound crazy, even impossible, but I remember an article where Dr. Ellis couldn’t secure funding from congress. Tazer girl stopped in the hall looking at me, “We are all that’s left. Everywhere else is….infected. They just worship the worm, life carries on the same, except there’s no war, and lots of worm worship.” She sighed thinking of something, “When people take on the worm they become sterile the worm doesn’t know how to reproduce, but it wants to. We thought for a while when they couldn’t find any more sanctuary outposts they would try to jump dimensions continuing to spread the worm.” She pointed at me, “You’re a beacon because when you traveled you brought particles with you. They will want to return to where they came. You will know where we need to go when the time is right.”
When the time is right is when my head is about to explode from the pressure of every particle in my being wanting to return home to prevent a paradox. Most likely killing me in the process.
We continued to move as the white walls slowly faded to a grey stepping into an elevator. The woman continued to lead. I realized at this point I had no idea what her name was, “Do you have a name?”
We walked out of the elevator (quick trip indeed, or did she not talk the whole way up? The world may never know) “DD44, we are stripped of traditional names as they are unorganized, and useless. Humanity had to pick between two utopias. The peaceful non-violent one, and the structured to a fault one. Both force cooperation, and ensure compliance. When we are finished with the bugs then we can return to freedoms but not until that moment though.”
As we walked out of the elevator a large hanger erupted before us. People were running supplies, and getting ready for what looks like an assault, maybe people here just ran around a lot. DD44 was handed equipment from another person, and began putting on a bullet proof vest. Funny name as they really only stop one bullet. It made her look even funnier with her over-sized suit on. Next was my turn. I want to still remind you that I am in JUST my long shirt as they handed me a vest. I yelled, because it was louder than shit in here, not because I’m an asshole, “Can I get some pants, and a normal shirt.” The two who brought my clothes gave each other a funny look, and left. Hopefully to get pants.
DD44 laughed, “We thought that’s what people in your world just wore. We were taught not to judge anyone who comes from the other side. Different cultures, and everything.”
I ended up with some tight combat pants, a vest, a helmet, and a ton of other stuff that had to add another fifty pounds to my body. We were ushered into a helicopter, and strapped in. “Is all this necessary I mean aren’t they peaceful?”
“Peaceful in the same way a group of Triggers are peaceful. They breed till their numbers swell, and kill anything not theirs. Some of the last countries with a functioning military were overrun, and killed. The whole National Guard from the state of Wyoming was crucified.”
Triggers ,as I would learn later, are a genetic creation that went really wrong. A Dr. Ron Albert was working on the perfect killing machine when his lab was raided by a bunch of starry eyed college students who believed in world peace things, pre-worm. The triggers killed them all and bred like crazy. Eventually Russia, because who else would make something like that, surrender an island to them. I would learn, through some illicit means, that Dr. Ron Albert was still working on his animal in my world with the kids who broke in and tripped an alarm, and now they are in a gulag somewhere. What is with evil people having Ph.D.’s?
The hanger opened up, and we lifted off. I could feel my body sweating, as I shook. DD44 held a large scanner. She had put sticky tabs on my head, without asking, and kept cycling through numbers.
“What the hell is happening to me?” I asked.
“Your body want to go home.” DD44 replied.
We left the hidden structure that was just a hollowed out mountain. I could feel my body ache more. My sweating became more profuse, dripping off my head. I clinched my eyes closed as my head exploded in pain. “Don’t worry, you will cycle like this. It tells us where the portal is.”
DD44 scanner was flashing, and buzzing. She collected the sweat off my skin, as it was floating in the air. It was literally floating like zero gravity style. Her scanner began creating a readout, a longitude, and latitude of the large portal that would open releasing billions of these worms into my world. Conveniently, the spot was easily reached by helicopter, and only an hour away, however it was filled with a million (not literally) of these things awaiting their new homes.
We entered under the cover of darkness. We were set down several miles outside of the city, and began the hike in. The entire time I kept trying prevent the pants from riding up. My legs were thoroughly chapped as we closed in on the city. What was strange to me during the hike, and I am sure that you were able to pick up on it as well was how the bug made the people sterile, but was capable of inter-dimensional travel. It didn’t change any of their body chemistry, it only latched onto their brain controlling the human like a sugared up tween playing X-Box. People kept all of their memories, wants, and needs. Just the bug took over. So, how did a bug that was able to build an inter-dimensional rift through space time not figure out the basics of human breeding? It goes back to when the bug first arrived on earth. An asteroid hit throwing ash high into the air, and carrying the bug across the planet for the first time. The problem with these bugs is they are designed to learn the anatomy of the largest animal group on a planet, which happened to be dinosaurs.
So when the first humans became infected there was enough shared DNA that the bug could make corrections allowing for full control of the human, but not enough knowledge of the human to breed. The bug had an idea of what sex was, and tried many times for it to work. The problem always came back to the same issue, where are the eggs? This tiny error made it so that an entire population of people in this dimension were unable to reproduce leading the bugs to attempt to find a way to breed into another existence. The next terrifying part is that there is probably another universe where they successfully breed enslaving all of humanity.
The city, if you could really call it that, sat in a valley surrounded by mountains. We worked out way up from the South. There was five of us. The agent, myself, and three guys with really big guns. I kept thinking even if they had the numbers we had the guns. Why even bother just end them with a few nukes, and by the time the human race is ready to spread again the radiation should be down.
“Can’t you just bomb them, or shoot them.?”
Apparently that was the wrong solution as everyone looked at me like I was stupid. It was one of the big dudes with the biggest gun that responded. DD44 obviously was tired of answering my questions.
“We tried guns, but they had bigger. We weren’t the only people who went underground. In fact we were the smallest colony, with almost no arms. The bigger sanctuaries, were overrun, nuked, or starved out. The infected are one large hive mind with the ability to accomplish anything, expect breeding.”
I felt my body shaking, and my head beginning to explode again. The pain was blinding I puked all down my vest which wasn’t the coolest thing I’ve done today. I really wanted to go home. DD44 and the others waited until I was done “being a whiny bitch” before we moved again. The after effects felt like a hangover, but as we proceeded getting closer to the rift the cycling illness would come more often.
If you were to look at the history of Jesup Wyoming you would find that it doesn’t exist in our world. That’s the thing with multiple universes each one has subtle changes that could affect others in a big way. Jesup exists because a woman by the name of Carter Jesup found gold, and murdered her entire camp party. She created a town over their buried remains, and advertised the place as a lifetime find. What followed was a large rush, and the creation of the biggest city in Wyoming in this universe which is still small relative to other cities.
A large gathering of orange could be seen far off. It was like a sea of infected all standing facing the same way, waiting. In the middle of this large wave smack in the center was the portal. Or at least that is what we were thinking its impossible to see through the walls of the building they surrounded. From here they would sent the first wave through setting up a beachhead for the rest of them to follow. Our idea was that the main force that came with us would fire at the mob from the mountains, slowly working their way back hopefully bringing with them the bulk of the mob. They would leave another group to assault the rest in the city, and finally us working through the chaos to our lovely portal where we all hoped could be destroyed by bombing the hell out of it. With any luck we wont have to resort to nuclear hand grenades, an actual thing that existed in this world. They were a fun little thing cooked up by infected who fought against the worlds army’s. They would sneak to camps, and light them off taking out whole bases at a time.
The night kicked off as several rockets pounded the city. We were far enough away that we couldn’t see the carnage, but could hear it. DD44 listened in on the radio nodding as information traveled to her, and only her. The rest of us just sat there waiting for her to give up something. The sounds of rifles followed. DD44 with all her high tech crap watched from a drone above as a huge group of the infected moved toward the shooting following them out into the mountains. Next came the assault from the flank as more rockets hit. It was our turn now to sneak in now that the area was clear. She put down the headset, “Infected are coming toward the city we don’t have too much time.”
One of the men asked, “How many.”
“All of them.”
All of them, that would be the five billion people infected. That was all the motivation we needed to work our way through the buildings. Bodies of the rocket victims laid about. Some killed by the shrapnel, others the blast. We moved quickly not slowing down as the sounds of bullets could be heard, and screams of the dying.
The best part of a zombie is that it’s a dead human. Anything that was that person is gone in a zombie. It’s a walking heap of flesh that forgot to stay dead. When killing it, its more like we are doing the thing a favor really. Why of course I will shoot you Mr. Zombie there’s nothing left for you in there. These people they weren’t dead, and they don’t understand why they are dying. One mans freedom fighter is another’s terrorist. Or one mans freedom is another mans brain bug utopia. They crawled, and cried over each other. I had to stop running. I had to help.
DD44 slapped me, “The worm already took them. Let’s go.”
I still debate that in my head even now. Imagine if we could have world peace, but sacrifice our freedom. Wouldn’t that still be worth it? Everyone collectively working toward the same goal, and being unable to deviate from that life? Even the people of the sanctuary had to give up freedom for their peace. Constantly under surveillance living in a glass house, even the leaders. I always come to the same answer, Better to be free and dead then alive a slave.
I could see parts of the worm on the ground. Some of the dead people had the thing crawling out of their ears, eyes, other holes that were not meant to have things come out of. The bright orange bug screamed, literally screamed as its host was dying. The hive could hear it around the world. They all could react to it, and they were on their way.
We reached the house with little resistance just mostly dying bodies. The bug wasn’t a tactician it was a hive. The hive’s response to a threat is to kill the threat. If we weren’t the threat then it didn’t want to kill us, but I had a feeling that would change as soon as they learned of our mission.
The portal was housed at the center of Jesup in Carter Jesups house, the lady who murdered her whole family for gold. I can’t tell what was worse, that she murdered her children, or that they were the first thing on display when we walked in. There was even a facial reconstruction imagine next to the protected pile of bones that was done by the University of Southern Wyoming. Which if you look the University up you will find that it also does not exist in our world.
The house has the whole western touristy thing down. At the entrance was the gift shop full of those huge cowboy hats, and fake six shooters. There was also some rock candy. I wont lie I took a hat, I mean why not? Next to the gift shop was the portal. Yep, I know small place I was just surprise as you. Figured there would be some climatic action scene where the heroes (us obviously unless your an alien parasite) would sacrifice their lives in a last ditch effort to save the world. Yeah, nope looks like for the first time in history no snags to an otherwise great plan.
At least I thought so until I heard the inhuman screaming. The first bugs to infect humans were eggs that went right in the persons nose. It could take days, or weeks even to incubate, and grow. Pretty soon you, and the bug want the same thing. Share the love, and spread. You don’t even realize that your entire existence, and the feelings you have are manipulated by the bug. It just takes control. When doctors first tried to remove a fully formed parasite they found that of those subjects who lived couldn’t even perform the most basic of functions. Some completely forgot how to breathe, there was no point to anymore. Without the worm they lost all will to live. The worm, however, only needed us to have the ability to move freely about the planet. To build a slave army for it. It could exist completely separate from us.
The scream came from above, the one place we weren’t looking. Not that we hadn’t glanced up there before, but this time it was full of these parasites. The creature was a thick worm that was about the size of a fist and bright orange. It has long mandibles that latched onto surfaces, and was how it controlled humans. One of the ones from the ceiling fell down right onto one of the guys (whose name I didn’t bother to learn) face latching on working its way inside. It was a less effective way of infecting someone, but hey what can a bug do?
The rest began to fall. Our side, having just recently learned from dude with latched on parasite face, ran out of the room mostly it was just me who ran out of the room. DD44 began firing wildly at the parasites, while the other two guys kept working on getting the portal set up to explode.
At this point I wasn’t entirely sure it was so much safer out here, especially since all of those infected people were suppose to have been lead off into the mountains, not surrounding the Jesop House full of dead children. They didn’t look mad, or upset that we just killed several hundred of their fellow bugs. They just stood there, like the moment of salvation was at hand.
The shooting stopped in the inside as the three busted out of the room ready to send Jesops house straight to hell. They all too stopped and stared dumb founded at the horde before us. I assumed from the continual streams behind us that the third guy was still struggling with the bug. The bug leader, I assume he was the leader as he was wearing a orange robe with a crown made of the bugs. I was trying to think what we were going to do, but I didn’t have long to think as DD44 blew the house up. She didn’t wait for a monologue, or try to help get us out, just hit the button like the asshole she was.
Movies are dumb, because they make people believe that they can stand a few feet from a bomb, or explosion and walk away. The dude that was made of nothing but muscle and bone blew a part in the blast knocking me down. I could feel the heat as it burned my back blistering it instantly. The whole world was drowned out by the ringing in my ears. I didn’t see DD44 anymore, not that I think much would be left of her. The explosion knocked down several of the infected, and well they didn’t seem too upset that their portal was just destroyed either.
As they cleared I could hear them saying, “All hail the savior. He arrived, just in time for us to open the portal.” The man pulled out a dagger, and began to approach me, some of his infected held me up as he brought the knife above his head. My body shook, and my head exploded in pain. I stared death in the eye, and was ready to take my fight to him. That was until you showed up.
Jasper set down his official statement looking at Agent K and Agent J, “When you shot the gun out of his hand, and stormed the area. Pulling me out.”
Agent K laughed some, “That last part you failed to include how you were crying in the fetal position when we got there.”
“What is going to happen to all those people? What is going to happen to that world?” Jasper asked.
“The FPI’s stance on that is neutral. They are experiencing a level G event, and if its not affecting other universes there’s not much that we can do. Besides sounds like you did your job, stopped the portal, and kept them from spreading. Also sounds like you spent some time in the library reading up on it.” Agent J said.
“Yeah, I mean wouldn’t you? Whats going to happen to me? I mean can I go home now? Its been a few weeks”
Agent K smiled, “Yes Jasper, you can go home.”
Agent K knew that Jasper could never really go home. He would think he would have though, and ethically that’s all that mattered. The kid does have a freaking portal inside of him, not like they could just drop him off back home waiting for the day he accidentally gets in a car wreck, opening him up, and bringing in the bug monsters officially creating a level H event. They already had to destroy the portal that came from that damned bear. No, one earth was enough to lose in a day, they didn’t need another hive on the loose spreading across time space.
She wondered if Agent J knew what processing looked like, or if they just skipped over that part in training nowadays. Jasper was in for one hell of a ride as they uploaded him into the fake reality MindSpa. His physical body would be disintegrated, and introduced to a world so similar to his own he shouldn’t miss a beat. His family, his real family, would mourn his disappearance, and in time learn to just accept him as dead. Just like everyone else who comes here. Or maybe they’ll drink themselves to death. Agent K stopped herself from thinking that way, her job wasn’t over yet.
Things were in motion now like they have never been before. Something was coming, but she couldn’t be sure of what yet. All in time she thought, but right now she still had a haunted house to fight.