Author: madladypoet PM
Told from Alice Krippin's POV on the eve of the Manhattan evacuationRated: Fiction K+ - English - Horror/Tragedy - Chapters: 2 - Words: 3,216 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 1 - Published: 10-19-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4605141
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Alice Krippin stepped outside the doors of her apartment for the first time in two weeks. The cold air stung her lungs and she could barely breathe. A strong inhale allowed Alice to absorb the natural air and for a moment she closed her eyes to savor it. One last breathe of freedom. It's ironic, thought Alice, that one feels most alive when death is close by. Strolling along the streets outside of her apartment, Alice took her time to take in her surroundings. Prior to the outbreak, Alice walked from her apartment to her lab without noticing anything. She usually walked staring at the ground preferring to keep her concentration on her work and nothing else. Tonight, however, she wanted to take in everything. It was in these free moments that Alice began to realize the horrors of the outbreak. Stores shut down by the outbreak with signs stating that there was a sickness in the family. Posters showing rabid dogs infected with the virus. Piles of garbage filled with sheets, towels of the infected. Alice stopped in front of a closed storefront and inhaled for a second time. Under the cold air, Alice could smell the blood and the infection. She covered her nose and mouth in an effort to contain her nausea. Stumbling Alice fell into a couple walking down the sidewalk. The man pulled Alice to her feet. She turned to thank them and froze at the sight of the man and woman wearing surgical masks. Without saying a word, the woman handed Alice a poster and a surgical mask and the couple turned and walked away. Alice looked down at the poster. It had directions to a survivor's colony in New Hampshire. "The cold," it read, "will stop the virus from spreading." Alice shook her head. People, she thought, will believe anything when they are scared enough.
Alice crumpled the poster and tossed it into the garbage pile. She looked down the street at the couple. They were foolish to believe that cold would stop the virus. Like most life forms, virus's had the ability to mutate. Once they discovered a roadblock, thought Alice as she continued walking, they would change their form to overcome it. The cold may halt the virus, but it would never stop. No, thought Alice, as she came to a stop in front of a neighbor grocery store that was still open, the virus would continue its march until it destroyed everything in its path, including humans.
Standing in front of the store, Alice allowed herself to be bathed in its fluorescent glow. She had not been in a store since the outbreak when Robert Neville insisted that it was too dangerous for her to venture outside. For a moment, Alice agreed with him. Despite her need to be outside and back among the living, Alice recognized the danger of being outside unprotected when she was undoubtedly the most hated woman in America, perhaps the world. Still, thought Alice, it was Christmas Eve and even those hated needed a little Yuletide cheer. Taking in the deep breathe, Alice walked inside.
The store was small, containing only the usual sundry items. Still, it was well decorated and the owner appeared to be sitting at the checkout counter reading the newspaper. He nodded at Alice as she walked in, failing to recognize that the woman in his store was also photographed on the front cover of the newspaper. Alice saw the headline and accompanying photograph and cringed. The headline read, "Angel of Death in Hiding" and the photograph was of Alice at a benefit celebrating her success. Not wanting to be recognized, Alice ducked her head and headed to the liquor counter. Breathing a deep sigh of relief Alice found it: Johnny Walker Blue, the best scotch in the world. Looking over, Alice noticed another patron in the store and wished her a Merry Christmas. The woman looked up at Alice with dull red eyes and merely nodded in response. Alice turned and walked to the counter. She paid for her purchase and was about to leave when she heard a voice behind her.
"It's you!" hissed the woman.
Alice turned numbed that she had been recognized and saw the woman to whom she had extended holiday greetings was now staring at her. The woman's face was contorted by rage. She walked up to Alice with her finger extended. Her hands were trembling and it looked to Alice as though her hands had turned to claws that were reaching for Alice's throat. The woman's eyes were red and the dullness had been replaced by rage. Her breathe had become ragged and she seemed to have difficulty forming words much less sentences. The clerk stared at both women and then turned to the anger shopper.
"Look," he said consolingly to the enraged woman, "it's Christmas. Peace on earth, goodwill toward men right?"
The women grabbed the clerk's newspaper and turned to the page that had Alice's picture. She thrust it in the face of the clerk. Alice watched with growing horror as the clerk's face became ashen. His face snapped up with anger and he and the woman began to walk toward Alice. She began to walk backward and dropping her items, Alice ran out of the door. She did not turn around, but she heard the woman and clerk in pursuit. Alice ran at full speed and turned into an alleyway. She ran behind a dumpster and crept up toward the front of it. Looking out, she breathed a sigh of relief. Her pursuers had not followed her. Alice stood there for a moment trying to catch her breath, wishing she had kept in shape. Without warning, Alice began to giggle. How ironic, she thought, a woman who found the cure for cancer was so badly out of shape. Maybe, thought Alice, if I survive this, I can start working out. The thought of it made Alice giggle even louder. Trying to control her mirth, Alice stood up and began to walk back toward the street.
As she walked, Alice heard a bottle fall on the ground behind her. She turned and did not see anything. She began to walk faster and reached the street. Standing under the street lamp, Alice allowed the yellow light to warm her. Looking up and down the street, she saw no one out. A noise echoed in the alleyway behind her. Alice turned and squinted into the dark. She saw dark figures in the alleyway. They were scrambling and crawling on the walls. Alice stifled a scream. It was the infected that she had read about. They ran straight toward her. Alice began screaming that she was sorry and turned to run. Before she could move, they were upon her.