The B Virus

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The experts said the virus transferred from an animal and though it was contiguous, it was a mild bug that would soon go.

He knew differently but was sworn by the Secrets Act not to say anything. Bats were the contaminated animals but they hadn’t been captured from the wild. They had been born and lived in the lab to be the test subjects of a biological warfare drug.

It had been his project until the funding had fallen though. It was his task to destroy the bats but instead, short on money, he had sold them to a market vendor. He hadn’t given it much thought, the virus hadn’t worked and all the bats were fine.

He was slummed on the sofa, having fallen asleep in front the TV when the first reports came in. He awoke, stirred by the noise and saw that a new virus had been declared and the source seemed to be around a market area close to his town.

Perhaps, it was nothing? Just a coincidence. He went back to work; another month, another project, just enough money to get by on.

This thing will all blow over, he thought, the news likes to scare people and make it worse then it is.

But it didn’t go away. Day after day and months later, the virus had spread world wide. A pandemic was declared, people were dying and industry was at crawling speed. Streets and places like cinemas and shops were empty as people tried not to get ill. Everyday reports came in of rising confirmed cases.

He went to his bosses and told them he wanted to help make a vaccine. It seemed every scientists’ responsibility. It was agreed. He went to the archived biological warfare drug project, breed some new bats and got to work.

 

(Please note this is a fiction story and contains no true facts).

Dead Motel

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We had come to find and take scrap illegal.

Dawn was in the sky but it was still dark enough that we could hide if needed. Though I don’t think anybody cared. We pulled up in the empty motel parking lot and the headlights flashed across the keep out signs and the flapping yellow police tape.

The boss turned off the engine and the lights. We sat listening and watching for a few minutes. The power was still on here; lights inside and out were on. There was glass, furniture and other debris scattered around. There were tags of graffiti on the walls telling us that the vandals had moved in.

We got out of the car and slowly walked around. If there was anybody here waiting to give us trouble they’d been in for a shock because there was four us and we knew how to gang fight. Also, at least two of us carried guns and we all had knives.

Glass and rubble crushed under our boots. Birds and crickets were making a racket but nothing else came from the motel. A creepy feeling lingered, almost like we were walking into an empty grave. I felt my hair and skin rise, something was off about this place.

There were many in ways and after checking a few, we went into one of the rooms and began stripping it. Copper, other metals, anything that could easily be scraped with no questions asked. We moved through, doing as much as possible in the little time we had.

‘Not been abandoned long,’ Reggie mutter.

‘Few months at most,’ Ben hissed back.

‘Something went down here though,’ I added.

‘Double murder,’ the boss cut in.

We all looked at him, hands stilled on our work.

‘Owners hacked to death by one of their employees.’

‘Ah, I saw it in the news,’ Ben answered, ‘he buried them in the woods out back there then claimed the Devil told him to do it.’

‘Devils,’ Reggie repeated and shook his head.

Boss snorted, ‘let’s get on.’

When my turn for look out came – because always one of us has to keep an eye and ear out- we were close to the owners’ offices and apartment. I kicked the leg of a chair out of the way and looked at the still tied up police tape.

Beyond, the office looked a mess, someone had done a grand job of turning it over. I stepped closer, just wanting to confirm that no one was hiding in there. I had a small flashlight, that helped me not trip over anything.

I scanned the beam across a window then came to a stop. There was a bloody hand print on the glass.

‘Look at this,’ I called in a low voice.

Ben was closet and came over, ‘what?’ he whispered.

I nodded to the window and my light where we both then looked.

The bloody hand print was gone!

‘But…there was a…’

I shone the flashlight around, looking hard to see if maybe I had just moved off the print but no, the glass was clean.

‘Is there anything worth taking in there?’ Ben asked.

‘I’ll check it,’ I uttered, still trying to process what had happened.

Walking carefully forward, I tore the police tape down and went to the door. It opened easily and I stepped into the office. Papers and stuff were scattered around like a hurricane had blown in. The reminds of police things lay mixed in; a white glove, finger print dust, a vial.

Stepping on things, I looked around and spotted nothing worth taking. A door was blocked by a desk but a second door in the opposite wall was wide opening and leading through to the check in area.

Not enough light was entering there so someone could be hiding. Going on, I had the instinct to clutch the handle of my knife in my jacket pocket. The feel of the black, hard plastic helped reassure me.

Something crunched loudly beneath me and I looked to see it was a computer keyboard. Shaking my head, I nudged it away and carried on.

A groaning sound stopped me. I felt my breath hitch. Maybe, it was just the wind?

Under the counter something flashed and I went back to it. There was a plain gold ring on the floor. Bending down, I went to pick it up but a hand whipped out of the darkness and grip me!

I cried out and tried to break free but the fingers dug into me and I felt sharp nails leaving marking in my skin. With an unbelievable strength the hand pulled me down, causing me to lose my balance and I almost fell onto the counter top.

Dropping the flashlight and seizing my knife, I slashed out with the blade. I felt my hand released. I tumbled back, falling and landing heavily. Breathing deeply, everything screamed at me to get away and I tried to get up but then I saw the hand laying by itself.

It was the size of a man’s. The fingers were curled up and all bruised looking, the bloody, jagged nails were clutching at the carpet. The skin was yellow and brown, clearly dead. A small pool of dark blood was leaking around it.

There was no way I could have cut through bone.

Shaking, I fumbled for the flashlight and aimed the beam beyond the dismembered hand. There under the counter curled two figures. They were the size of small adults and dressed in stained clothing, one was a man and the other a woman.

They were kneeling and clutching each other as if desperate to hold on. The woman’s long black hair was covering her face which was pressed to the man’s shoulder. There were deep gashes all over her arms and legs. Her white dress was ripped up, blood and dirt stained. She had no shoes and her feet were cut opening as if she had been walking on glass.

The man had his face shadowed by the woman’s and his left arm was also hidden by her body. He was wearing a white shirt and black pants, both blood splattered and covered in dirt. Also, his bare feet were muddy and he was missing a hand.

One of them moaned then something like a word came out.

I felt the panic fade and my senses coming back. They were clearly homeless and drug users. They must have been so high or low that the man hadn’t felt his hand getting cut off.  They also smelt. The stench coming off them wasn’t just sweat but something else, like rot and putrid waste.

My hand pressed over my mouth and nose but it did little block out the smell now I was aware of it.

‘What are you doing here?’ I demanded.

Again with the mumbled word and the man moved his face. His skin was dark with something smeared across and his jaw looked to be hanging loose. The woman turned slightly and went as if to move her stringy hair but most of it stayed on her face.

‘What?’ I spoke, feeling my angry growing.

‘Help,’ the man’s rasping voice answered.

Frowning, I fixed the light on there close together faces and felt vomit raise in my throat. Their eyes and noses were gone and their faces were rotting away. Bones were showing through peeling skin. There were large chunks of them missing as if someone had cut off parts of their bodies and I could see things that were meant to stay on the inside.

‘Help,’ the man said again and raised the stump of a wrist at me.

He let go of the woman and reached his other arm out too. The woman followed, bloody arms parting the air and fingers searching. Their hands hit the floor and using this, they tried to pull themselves up and crawl towards me.

I shuffled backwards, my mouth opened and closed but no words came out. Both my hands shook. The flashlight that had been my guide and the knife that had been my protection temporary forgotten.

The woman let out an awful gurgling cry and lunged at me. As her hair flew back, I saw she had no jaw and the rest of her mouth was just a black open hole. A tooth dropped to the floor, clicking away into the darkness.

She grabbed my boot. I screamed, swung my knife automatically and lashed her across the face. Then I kicked at her and felt the force go through her spongy and brittle head. She let go, yowling as best she could with half a mouth.

The man reached for her, feeling his way and drew her back to him. They held each other like frightened children as the curled back under the counter.

Panic shot through me, I scrambled to my feet and tumbled out of the room. Slipping and trapping across papers and rubbish, I threw myself out of the office and screamed into the early morning air, ‘Go! Go!’

Bolting for the truck, I slammed into it and scrambled to open the door. From behind me, came running footsteps and shouting voices. I found the handle, yanked it and clambered in. Distantly, I heard other doors opening and shutting, the truck engine starting and the rumbling of the vibrations as we pulled away.

‘What was it?’ Reggie spoke.

‘Was someone in there?’ boss questioned.

‘Chad, you OK?’ Ben asked, ‘what did you see? A ghost?’

I didn’t hear him. Clutching my knife in both hands, I stared into the blade. There was no blood marking the shinny surface but the rotting face of the woman was reflecting back at me.

 

(Inspired by;

Help! #3LineTales

three line tales, week 213: an old school desk with lamp, rotary telephone and typewriter

I broke into the attic of the abandoned cottage for a dare. Carrying my small axe and torch, I walked over the creaking boards and saw nothing but a desk.

There was an old phone, lamp and typewriter. I pulled out the paper which was covered by a single word repeated over and over again; Help!

‘What the….?’ I trailed.

Behind me, the attic door snapped shut. I spun to look and a handcuff was slammed onto my wrist, imprisoning me to the desk.

A voice from the darkness spoke, ‘the replacement is here, Sir. Shall I brief him?’

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2020/02/27/three-line-tales-week-213/ with thanks).

Still #WritePhoto

I just wanted to be alone and still. I didn’t like the voices in my head. I walked around the edge of the village, following old rights of way across farmland. In my hand, I held a long thick stick. I waved it back and forth like a blind man or a child bored at play.

When the stick hit things, nice sounds of thunking and thudding echoed which broke up the birdsong and faint tractor noises. The rest of the countryside village was quiet as if a sleep spell had been cast over the place. I hated the silence, it allowed the voices to come through more loudly.

Walking by the edge of a large pond, I threw the stick as far as I could. It splashed into the water, sending waves and ripples back towards me. The sound was loud and shocked some birds out of a tree. I watched them wheel away in the dull blue, late winter sky which was strangely warm today.

I sat down under a mossy tree. My back against the rough, cold bark. I could smell the coming spring and around me nature was awaking from her months of sleep. There were buds of green leaves on the tree. Shoots of flowers in the grass and hints of purple, white and yellow colours popping up.

In the field across the pond, sheep were grazing. They were fat with their winter wool and also pregnant with their lambs. I had passed cows and horses on my way here but I liked watching sheep better. They looked like fluffy clouds skimming the grass and I could dream alongside them.

The voices in my head were constantly whispering and they weren’t nice. They made me doubt things, give me anxiety and fear, made me think there was no reason to go on. They took the form of the girls who had bullied me when we were teenagers, tapping into weakness from my past.

Doing things to myself sometimes helped. The voices eased when I give them pain or blood. It was even better after the times I had given into them and given up. I had been saved from myself and for a few days, there had been no voices but then they had returned and continued haunting me.

I looked around and saw I was alone. A stillness had settled over things again. I took off my clothes and folded them in between two tree roots. Naked, I stepped to the edge of the pond. I shivered, goosebumps rose on my skin. My toes brushed the water then my feet were underneath.

Chills wrapped around me, warning me away. I went in further, up to my knees, my hips, my stomach. The pond bed was muddy and the hardness of rocks and branches half buried. I felt the drop and slightly panicked. Starting to swim, I went into the centre of the pond, trying to ignore the sensation of an icy layer across my skin.

I took a deep breath and dived down. The water was semi-clear and I could see weeds and rocks. Was that the stick I had thrown in earlier? There were too many down here to be sure and other things beside. I felt the urge to swim back up, the need for air calling in my brain.

The voices told me not to. They told me stay here and drown.

It was hard though, I had tried once in a bath and the instinct to rise up and breath was too strong to be fought. I twisted about, angling downwards and snatched up some of the weeds. I pulled at them, they were strong. I wrapped them around around my legs and hands, letting them anchor me down.

My lungs burned, I needed to go up but instead I gulped down water.

I looked up and saw the surface of the pond. Up there all was still and soon enough I was too.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2020/02/20/thursday-photo-prompt-still-writephoto/ with thanks).

Plague Pit

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We should never have returned to the dead planet. And yet, it was full of resources. The colony need supplies for its continuance and there were people who’d pay us well for a rare item or ancient artifact.

As I walked over a wooden beam, distracted by fixing my orange radiation mask, the beam give way under my weight. I tumbled into a dark shallow pit. The sounds of falling earth deafening me as it showered down.

I lay still, trying not to panic and stay calm. I had fallen underground before and soon my team would be here. The waterfall of noise faded and I heard distant voices calling. Then a powerful light came on from above and I saw what was facing me.

The empty eye sockets of a human skull were staring back at me. The dark pits of those hollows questioning and demanding answers.

I shuffled backwards and heard the rattling of bones as my hands and feet skittled across them. There were more skulls surrounding me, their empty sockets seemingly watching me as well.

There were too many! Far too many to be a normal burial place. This was a plague pit!

I tried to fight down the firing panic and the hint of vomit in my throat. I had to stay still and in control. Repeatedly telling myself it was okay, I shut my eyes and breathed heavily into the mask and air ventilation systems.

A rope bashed my helmet with a thud. I reached for it gratefully and let my team pull me up. Scrambling to the surface once more, I lay down and just breathed. A fine mist fell then a cloud of white drenched me. I was being decontaminated.

This plant was dead for a reason and I didn’t want to become it’s next victim.

Postcard Story

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Dear Alma,

Very cold, snow keeps coming. We are in old church, trying to keep warm. It feels wrong to burn fire inside but if we don’t we’ll die. There is little food and water, we are trying best to survive. Must hold out till support and supplies arrive.

It’s wrong to go war with Russia in winter. The people are use to it and know how to survive. We don’t and are badly equipped. I fear I never see you again and this church will become my grave. I hold tight to memory of you and pray all time for saviour.

love, Viktor

Blizzard

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The blizzard arrived like they said it would. The snow and wind came down blindly fast. Things ground to a stop like the rusted cogs of a clock. People battled against nature, trying to get on. Children free of school were sledging and building snowmen. It seemed right to join them as not much else could be done.

Days, weeks and months past by. At first it had been fun and slightly annoying but now the blizzard was frustrating and angering people. Cars and houses were snowed in. Transport was limited. Buildings were closed due to burst pipes or lack of heating or it being too dangerous to open.

Homeless people were frozen solid in the street, buried under snow moulds that became too much effort to dig them out. Rubbish piled up around them, unable to be removed as the roads were too blocked up. People who dared to go out risked tripping over the hills of such things.

Other people froze or staved in their homes. Their bodies left because even if they could be recovered, how could they be buried?

Those luckily enough to move away did so and soon that was the only answer. The snow kept coming, the city turned to stone, trapping the people that remained.

Scary

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They had spent the night telling scary stories and laughing at their fears. Little did they know as the fire died and the forest settled into complete blackness, something was stirring through the undergrowth.

The blade of an axe, a glint of light and spots of blood hit the floor.

Screaming

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A murder happened in the apartment block and ever since the screams of the woman could be heard each night.

 

Burn

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The world burns, trees die and smoke chokes the air. We die alongside but we shall raise from the ashes.

 

(Please help to stop the fires in Australia; https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1224506/Australia-fires-what-can-i-do-how-to-help-Australia-fires)