Author: GlassPeregrine PM
When conspiracies abound and innocent blood is needlessly shed, who will be there to pick up the pieces of the shattered lives? Comment, Review, Constructively Criticize!Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Drama - Chapters: 2 - Words: 8,203 - Reviews: 2 - Updated: 07-19-11 - Published: 06-20-11 - id: 7102854
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Blood Requiem Series
Season 1– Blood Ties
Volume 1 - Mutation
Chapter 1 – Infection
Blood trickled slowly down his athletic arm. With his finger on the trigger of the nine millimeter handgun, he stood looking down toward the bleeding creature near his feet. Even if parts of the monster still resembled their original human hosts, the monster was no longer human, but a beast. It was seven feet tall, and had gigantic hands with finger-length claws and teeth seemingly designed to rip flesh. It was a dreadful creature from the bowels of a horrifying science fiction movie.
He squeezed the trigger, sending a final thundering blast of hot metal into the creature's skull, ensuring the end of its struggle. It shuddered pitifully then stopped moving completely, lying limp on the once tan living room carpet. Distant explosions rocked the small house in which the young man was standing, with a grave wound on his arm and a smoking gun in his hand. He was youthful, not even in his twenty's, yet there he stood defiantly, looming over the monster.
Earlier, around 6:30 in the morning it seemed to simply be an ordinary day. Grace had awakened beaming brightly into the crisp sunshine. She looked around the brilliantly lit room with peach-colored walls and soft white carpet. Or at least, it was white, before her cousin Mirena Flores moved into the adjacent bed over a year ago. Mirena was from Grace's step-father's side of the family. Her parents had decided they were fed up with Mirena's wild-child tendencies of staying up late, playing her guitarra for all sorts of strange people and getting into fights with other girls back in Puerto Rico. And Grace just didn't understand how the girl could be so messy. There were several occasions in which Mirena would walk through the house eating pizza and chips and all manner of greasy, staining, fattening foods. And yet, Mirena still miraculously kept her trim figure.
In any case, Grace let those thoughts slip away as she made her way down the hallway to the bathroom, where Mirena's favorite band, Gafas del Sol, was already playing loudly from the cd player, the girl singing along to the mariachi-rock group. Grace would never say it, but she enjoyed listening to them as well. It was hard to ignore or resist the mellow essence of the flamenco guitars, the energy and spirit of the mariachi guitarras and the heavy, rebellious undertones of power guitars and drumlines. Before she knew it, she was combing her shoulder-length blond hair in the mirror and humming softly along to the music as well as she waited for Mirena to finish in the shower.
Grace sighed heavily as she studied her reflection, the comb still in her hand and the shower continuing to drone on, Mirena singing happily. "Today," said Grace, "I have to ask him today." She was thinking specifically about the upcoming prom. Today was the last day to buy tickets and she had been much too shy to ask him. It didn't help, of course, that he seemed to always ignore her.
Steven looked at his bare chest in the mirror. He splashed cool water from the sink onto his face, letting it trickle down to his neck before wiping it off with the face towel near the sink. He looked closely at the prominent scar running diagonally from his right shoulder down to the top of his abdomen. Sighing, he pulled the white t-shirt on. Tucking it into his usual tattered desert camouflage-colored cargo pants; he settled a brown leather jacket on and grabbed his keys and helmet.
Life in the group foster home was by no means a walk in the park, but it was still by far easier than the orphanage and safer than the military base. As far as he knew, many of the cities' orphans and foster children were a part of the afterschool military training. If knowledge of its existence wasn't completely confidential, he'd feel more inclined to ask questions of certain classmates. The sleek motorcycle roared to life under Steven's body, and as the wind enveloped his athletic frame, he allowed himself to consider another mystery entirely.
Nonetheless, Steven's mind continued to wander helplessly. There were a couple of girls that seemed to have taken an interest in him. One was a crazy Puerto Rican girl. She was very pretty, but too flirty for his taste. Of course, she was the cousin to the girl that actually interested him. She was blonde and kind of shy, and he could usually catch her staring at him during lunch, while the Puerto Rican tried to talk his ears off. He wasn't quite sure why the blonde girl would be interested in him, but maybe that was the best part. There wasn't a student in the school who didn't know he was an orphan. Or that he could fight. No one said much about it, though, because the last guy that made fun of him ended up in the hospital "accidentally". He supposed that he looked like one of those bad-boy stereotypes, but all-in-all, he was probably the quietest and friendliest student at school. He never really had a longing to prove it, however.
On the other hand, it seemed that girl had an absolutely opposite life. She was beautiful and popular. She had been nominated for class president and homecoming queen since ninth grade, but turned down the positions each time, showing a severe side of humility. Her parents were rich enough to take care of her and that crazy Puerto Rican cousin of hers; not to mention getting her a car for her sixteenth birthday. She seemed to be everything he wasn't, and also seemed to have everything he could ever hope for, a family notwithstanding.
He stopped the bike at a red light, looking at the now buttercup-yellow sunshine spreading across the city. Ahead of him lay the stretching highway to the school. To his right, the school bus pulled up, many of the students aboard. Behind him, an expertly restored and detailed older model silver BMW glided to a stop, inside it were the very two girls that were causing his mind to wander. The crazy Puerto Rican was waving flirtatiously at him from the front passenger seat of the car, as was her habit since she found out he drove along the bus route. Unfortunately, any other way was nearly impossible, with the city being so out of the way that it only had a few major streets, and none of the side-streets went anywhere near the school. He nodded reservedly back at her, then he turned his attention back to the road ahead. The light changed and he accelerated to the speed limit, the small motorcycle easily slipping ahead.
Blue Rock, Arkansas wasn't that different from most mid-sized cities, except for the Biological Research Hall and the Newton County Navy Base, both in the center of town, for easy access to those with valid authorization. Of course, there were very few with access to the base, and even fewer with access to the Research Hall. The Research Hall provided the local hospital with new versions of vaccines and pharmaceutical drugs on a regular basis, as well as researching biological weapons and developing countermeasures to them. For those very experiments, access to the Biological Research Hall had to be restricted to authorized personnel only. It was also the reason that Blue Rock, Arkansas was as remote a city as it was, and was forced to provide most of its own infrastructure, such as water, sewage and electricity.
Today was fairly far into the school year. It was nearing Halloween, in fact, and Blue Rock High was adorned rightly for the occasion; with spider webs, jack-o-lanterns, skeletons and all other manners of "scary" things. Steven sighed as he closed his locker. Halloween never really had much of a scare-factor for him. He actually found it quite cute that when people tried to scare him in their costumes, they left feeling deflated. This year, of course, marked the three year absence of anyone trying to scare him. Once they found out it couldn't be done, they just gave up. It honestly disappointed him a little. Fairly soon, though, he wouldn't have to feel left out. He'd be joining the military after graduation. After all, he might as well put all that afterschool nonsense to good use fighting in another senseless war.
Mirena covered his eyes from behind, "Hey," she said flirtingly in her thick Hispanic accent, "guess who!" He half-heartedly pretended to be surprised, and said with an unfortunately clearly fake gasp, "The blonde girl's cousin, right?" she took her hands off of his eyes and when he turned around to face her, she pushed him into the locker. He grinned a little. She looked at him furiously and said, "How many times do I have to tell you, Steven? My name is Mirena, and that 'blonde girl' is Grace. Got it, esé?"
Steven's grin grew wider, and he said, "You'll just have to keep telling me until I get it right, I guess. Or until you get tired of it; whichever comes first." This caused both Grace and Mirena to giggle, though Grace tried to hide her blushing cheeks immediately. Grace looked down at her feet and started biting her lip, her cheeks ablaze. Mirena looked satisfied and began to walk softly down the hall. Grace looked up nervously, and said, "Umm…" she looked at him longingly, "will you, umm…will you take me to the prom?" he smiled softly, "How about you let me think about it and I tell you in class?"
The shade of her face deepened sharply, and she said, almost too quickly and with a slight squeak, "O-Okay. S-See you then…Steven." She jogged slightly to catch up with Mirena, who turned around and blew him a kiss. He turned back to his locker smiling and pulled his History book and a notebook out, stuffing them into his backpack as the five minute warning bell echoed through the hallway.
Steven laughed to himself silently as he walked to his homeroom. The homeroom teacher, Wayde Harper, wasn't usually interested in much besides reading the novel of the month for his book club, so the students pretty much used the hour to do whatever preparations they still needed. Or, they simply talked among one another. It really just depended on the student.
Steven was relatively reclusive, however, and used his time in homeroom to work on editing the few pages he had written of his essay on Mendelian Genetics for Biology class. The topic had caught his eye, simply for the fact that the entire reason anybody knew about Blue Rock, Arkansas was because of the renowned geneticist Grady Orion Richards, whose revolutionary ideas were expected to change the world as everyone knew it.
Richards was known for his dabbling in human-based genetic experiments, supposedly attempting to create a super soldier serum like in the old comic books. According to recent reports, he'd gotten close to a viable serum, but the effects were still too unpredictable for use on actual human subjects. What exactly the components of Richards' research happened to be, it was highly classified. Steven's paper was barely five pages, and the majority of it was speculation.
Just before the bell rang, Steven packed his essay back into his standard-sized black backpack. Having only five minutes between bells, he had gotten good at slipping through the semi-crowded halls of the school. He swiftly turned the combination lock on his locker, opened it and extracted his sketch pad and other art supplies. Having art class first was awesome, because he didn't really have to think about it, so it gave him a chance to wake up before the tough stuff. He supposed he also liked it because he'd be able to talk to Grace without Mirena taking over the conversation.
In the art classroom, there were several long tables, spaced oddly throughout the room, and pushed back-to-back, the chairs set up so that the students had to sit in groups. Just as the bell rang, Steven had taken a seat, making sure it was right next to Grace. The art teacher Artemis Fletcher, a short and spindly balding man in his forties with hazel eyes behind rimless glasses, lazily handed out their instruction sheets for the day, while explaining them in an airy southern drawl. "I believe," he started, "that you all have gotten to the point where you should be able to draw a still-life with the correct techniques. You'll work in pairs today, and you'll draw a still-life portrait of the partner you've chosen. Make sure you only take one hour each, so that everyone gets a chance to work unencumbered with the difficulty of trying to draw a body in motion."
Steven turned to Grace, who was already beginning to blush with excitement, and said, "Will you be my partner?" Instead of words which were clearly failing her for a moment, she nodded her head a little vigorously. "I…wasn't expecting you to choose me to work with you today," she said finally. "Well," he said, pulling a mechanical pencil from his pocket, "you did ask me a question earlier, and I promised you an answer." She turned beet red, and started to play with her hair a little. "Th-That is true, I suppose," she replied, "s-so. What do you say? Will you take me?"
Steven had already begun drawing on his sketch pad, angled so that she couldn't see it, of course. He looked into her eyes with a serious expression, wiping away some of her embarassment but adding to her nervousness. He drew a slow breath, then asked, "Before I answer, there's something I want to know." She tilted her head in confusion a little. He continued, "I want you to tell me. What about me is attractive to you? And, more importantly, what's up with your cousin flirting with me all the time?"
Grace giggled softly, trying not to be noticed in the steadily growing din of conversation in the art class. "To be honest," she said slowly, turning impossibly redder, "I'm not entirely sure what all I like about you. There's just something about you that's not like all the other boys I know." She didn't say it, but she was thinking that it helped that he was cute, too. Steven nodded his head slowly and waited for her to answer the second question. "And, about Mirena," she continued, "she calls herself a love guru. I guess her flirting with you is her way of trying to set us up together."
"That's very kind of her, I suppose." Said Steven, pausing a moment to stare at her nose, making her squirm in her seat a little. "More importantly," said Grace, in a voice with a slight amount more confidence, "did it work?" It was Steven's turn to snicker softly, his deep voice tickling the air. "I suppose," he said, "but I noticed you were attracted to me long before then. I just wasn't sure how to approach you, to be completely truthful."
Her expression softened, and they continued the class talking about their home lives, Steven telling her about growing up in the group foster home, and Grace telling him about her parents and living with Mirena. "Wow," said Steven, "sounds like she can be a bit of a pain at times, huh?" Grace laughed, maybe a little too hard because she slipped off her chair a little, but caught herself. "Yeah, you have no idea," she said, "she's a pretty good musician, though. I suppose I should give her credit for that."
There was a soft chink of ceramic on the floor tile. Steven and Grace, along with much of the rest of the class, looked up to see Mr. Fletcher clutching his chest as though he couldn't breathe, his coffee cup shattered on the floor. A few students, including Grace, began to panic horribly as his flesh turned from fair and smooth to leathery and grey. The whites of his hazel eyes turned a horrible shade of red, and blood poured from his mouth a little. He fell to the floor as a couple of students who were on the football team rushed over to him.
Some other students were going over to try and help as well, others running to get the school nurse. Even still most looked on in horror as their art teacher spasmed and coughed blood in the arms of the two burly football players. Steven grabbed Grace's hand as she started toward Mr. Fletcher. She looked at Steven with disbelief, "Let me go." He shook his head, "Wait a second," he said, cutting her off as she attempted to respond with, "I can't put my finger on it, but something's not right about this." She looked into his eyes with confusion and fury.
She turned her head at the sound of cracking bones, only to see one of the football players smashed against a wall, some blood spattering the blackboard and floor. Mr. Fletcher had turned into a hideous five-foot-tall creature with massive hands and a tiny, misshapen head. With his other hand, he held the other football player at least two feet off the ground by the neck. He looked around the room as he began squeezing the neck, his finger-length claws penetrating the football player's flesh easily, causing a light gush of blood.
Without blinking an eye, Steven ushered Grace out of the classroom, avoiding the many other scared and panicked students. Just as they were leaving the classroom, he noticed the monster that had been Mr. Artemis Fletcher was drinking the blood of the two students he'd killed, and it appeared to be making him grow even larger. Steven urged Grace to run with him. Once they'd turned a few corridors he turned and asked, "What class is Mirena in right now?" Grace replied to him, shakily, "M-m-m-math, I think."
Taking that as an appropriate answer, he turned them right and they entered the crowded stairwell, just as they heard a wall back the way they'd come crumble and shrieks of panic and pain. They got to the bottom floor, and saw the body of the front office receptionist slumped against the wall, with a clearly defined bullet wound in her chest. They ran at a terrifying speed, Steven from training and Grace from adrenaline.
Another monster, this one seeming to have been the Math teacher and wife to the art teacher, Olivia Fletcher, stood over several bodies of students in the middle of the classroom. Her mouth was salivating with blood and several of the desks had been smashed or moved. Mirena was cowering next to the teacher's desk. The monster that had been Mrs. Fletcher turned to look at Mirena, a soft smile curling her lip and a low growl shaking her leathery skin.
Mirena screamed as the monster rushed toward her. Steven, without thinking about it, ran forward some and shoved his left shoulder violently into the monster's side, knocking it over onto a few of the remains of desks. He felt a sharp pain in his arm, as though he'd dislocated the shoulder joint, and cringed. He turned, grabbed Mirena by the hand and helped her up. The monster roared angrily as it attempted to rise to its feet, the metal leg of a broken desk pinning it momentarily to the floor.
Steven, Grace and Mirena made it outside quickly, but it was utter pandemonium with students attempting to flee from the school, many of them hiding inside parked buses or getting into the cars of those students fortunate enough to have them. There was no sign of any of the monsters here, but instead the bodies of the school security guards, both apparently gunned down.
Steven's smartphone chirped, and he pulled it from its place in its belt holster. It was the base. He answered as he and the girls continued to walk. "Operative Steven Joseph Fuller," the voice on the other end of the phone said, "this is Corporal Jake Lawson. Intelligence registered a bio-organic weapon disturbance just now. We need you to arm yourself and eliminate the threats in your area. You have one hour to quell the threat and radio back before we send a strike team. Details will be discussed in debrief as soon as we can stabilize the situation. Good luck, Operative." There was an audible click as Corporal Lawson hung up his end.
Steven went to his motorcycle, where he kept a nine millimeter handgun and three fifteen-round magazines in the saddlebag. He collected the handgun and its accessories, unaware of Grace and Mirena's looks of utter horror and confusion behind him. "What the hell, esé?" yelled Mirena, "You never told us you were packing like that!" He turned around, inserting a magazine into the slot on the gun and cocking the slide. "I'll explain later, if I can. Just try and get out of here safely."
"Don't worry," he said to Grace's look of utter confusion, "I'll be fine." The engine roared to life and seconds later the girls were going farther down the street. He turned around to face the school, the Mrs. Fletcher monster bursting through the brick wall easily, roaring in absolute,uncontained and unfathomable rage.
Steven raced toward the monster, bounding over the parked security car and dodging just as a large chunk of the brick wall slammed into the car with enough force to send it across the parking lot about thirty feet. Steven dropped and slid to avoid another, smaller chunk of brick wall, taking careful aim and firing twice. The bullets penetrated the monster's chest, causing it to ooze a relatively large amount of blood, permeating the air with the scent of half-rotted flesh. The monster roared deafeningly. It grabbed the iron railing on the small flight of stairs and ripped a piece off as though it were a paper towel. It swung hard with its new serrated iron pipe, narrowly missing as Steven dived to the right. He rolled and got back on his feet, ran a small distance, and turned around just as the monster was upon him, having moved faster than he'd expected.
Steven squeezed the trigger twice, the first shot going wide and glancing off the top of the head and the other one penetrating the monster's right eye, causing it to grab at its face. No blood came from the eye, but he'd clearly hurt the creature very badly. It swayed, roaring pitifully. When it pulled its hands down, Steven had a clear shot and took it, connecting directly between the monster's eyes. It crumpled to the ground, twitched for a few seconds and then stopped moving completely.
Looking back toward the parking lot, he noticed that his motorcycle had been crushed by the security car. He looked at the monster again, hung his head and sighed. "Out of all the vehicles in this town," he said, "I still have payments on that blasted thing…not that it matters now, I guess." He looked up, "Maybe Corporal Lawson will replace it for me," he said hopefully, secretly wishing it to be true as if attempting to will it into existence.
"Pay attention, blast it all!" he said to himself, finally. He looked back toward the building. The majority of the noise had died down, as the students who had not been injured or killed had finally left, congesting traffic nearly a half mile away. Sneaking a glance behind him, he noticed Grace's car hadn't moved. She and Mirena were apparently hiding, because they'd closed the drop top and were unseen through the windows.
Steven noticed, as he re-entered to look around the school building, that there were several monsters at odd intervals through the halls. From strips of clothing, he guessed that they were all teachers. The question was, though, what killed them? For that matter, of course, why'd they change in the first place? An ominous growling sound filled the bloodstained hallways, flourescent lights flickering from several areas of exposed wiring. He heard the distinct sound of something slurping. He placed his back completely at the corner of the hall, looking around to make certain whether or not the source of the sounds was truly there.
He looked around carefully, quickly spotting a monster on all-fours, grappling with the flesh of another. The remnant of bloodstained khaki fabric sticking to the snacking monster's leg revealed it to be the one that had been Gladys Jonston, the originally slim-built gym teacher. It looked up a little, and sniffed the air. With an air of vigor, the monster roared happily and snaked a long tongue across its face in anticipation, finally turning and looking an awestruck Steven Fuller directly in the eyes.