Summary: When the virus spread, people were scared. When the virus mutated, people were Hunted.
*AU, B/E, Romance, Drama, Action, Adventure, Horror. Sci fi.
*This is NOT a story about a realistic pandemic. Make no mistake, there will be zombies here.
*A special Thank You to CoppertopJ for pre-reading, editing, collage making for Facebook, and being an all-around awesome person! You have helped me in more ways than you know!
No copyright infringement intended.
Chapter 1 – Mutated
"The Diaemus-22 Virus, which is thought to have originated in Central America, is being called a global pandemic. There have been over two-million deaths worldwide in the last two weeks since the news of this virus was first made public, and the numbers are skyrocketing by the day.
"As the president issues mandatory closures of all schools and social gatherings in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus, people have flooded the grocery stores and suppliers are having trouble keeping up with the demand. Simple necessities such as toilet paper and hand soap have been missing from the shelves for days, and the retailers don't see them being restocked any time soon. Once popular tourist spots are now like ghost towns…"
"Turn that shit off. It's game day," my dad grumbled as he stormed into the room. "I thought I told everyone that I don't allow CNN in my house."
"It's not CNN," Jacob told him. "It's Fox."
"Well, I sure as hell don't allow Fox News in my house."
"It's not Fox News either, it's just the regular Fox channel, which you had on," Jake said like a smartass.
"The only reason I would watch this channel is because it's where they air the game. Now, why are they playing this shit instead of my game?"
"These reports are on every channel," Jake told him while grabbing the remote and flipping through to prove his point. "There is nothing but virus updates twenty-four-seven."
"No!" Dad whined. "The game is supposed to start in three minutes. They better not make us miss it for all this nonsense."
"Dad, I don't think it's nonsense," I told him. "The death toll is rising by the hour."
"It's a flu. It comes every year, and unfortunately people die every year. It's just a part of life. People are only being paranoid because the media is exacerbating it for some kind of political gain."
"Which are the bad guys this time, Charlie?" Jake asked with a laugh. "The Democrats or the Republicans?"
"They're all corrupt! The only national organization I trust anymore is the MLB. Now, where is my game?"
"Everything has been canceled," I told him, unsure why he was surprised. "The world seems to be coming to a standstill."
"No!" he shouted again. "No, it can't be canceled. Just the other day they announced that it wouldn't be canceled. The stadium would be closed to spectators, but they would still play, and it would air on live TV."
"I guess the MLB isn't trustworthy either," Jake said carelessly.
"Where's your dad?" Dad snapped at him. "He was supposed to be here to watch the game."
"Mandatory tribal council meeting. He knew the game wasn't going to happen."
"Why am I the last person to know?" Dad asked frustrated.
"You refuse to watch the news," I stated the obvious.
"Because it's all nonsense!" he spat, and then he looked at Jake. "If your dad isn't here, how the hell did you get here? I didn't see your bike outside."
"Dad, I picked him up after school," I told him, wondering why he would even question it. I always picked Jake up after school; it was the routine we had since I first got my license three months prior. In fact, I had no idea what I would do with my time if it weren't for him. We had been practically joined at the hip since my dad and I moved to town when I was in the second grade.
"Right. No, yeah, I know. I'm just a little… pissed off about the game and not thinking straight," Dad said, sounding flustered.
"Are you feeling okay?" I asked him concerned.
"Don't even start with that bullshit!" he scolded me. "I'm absolutely fine. Healthy as a horse. Everyone around here just needs to calm the hell down. Not every little sniffle means they have the virus. Allergies still exist, for God's sake."
I rolled my eyes. "No one thought you had it; I was just asking if you were okay."
"I would be more okay if the damn game was still on."
"People are scared," I told him. "I'm surprised you thought they would actually go through with it in the first place."
"Yeah, first was all the schools closing, and then the whole 'social distancing' thing," Jake interjected. "All the non-essential businesses have been shut down, and the grocery stores will be next. So there is no way they would go through with any sporting events. It's Armageddon out there. And if the world is really ending, I have a good idea of what we should do with the little time we have left," he said with a scheming grin and wiggling eyebrows directed at me.
"Excuse me?" my dad said with a reddening face and an angry huff.
"I meant just hanging out," Jake said defensively. "Or hiking and fishing and all that fun outdoor stuff."
"Back away from my daughter," Dad insisted. "Like, three feet away. No touching!"
Jake threw his hands up in surrender and took a step away from me.
"Oh stop, I'm allowed to kiss my boyfriend," I said while grabbing Jake's shirt and pulling him back to me.
"Not with this virus going around. On the news they recommend everyone keeping a three-foot radius from everyone else. That's not just me saying it."
"We just established that you don't watch the news," I pointed out.
"Even so, it makes sense," he maintained with his arms folded in front of him.
"They want everyone to keep their distance when out in public. It wouldn't do any good inside one's home," I explained as if he was serious with his comment. "Besides, you said everyone was paranoid."
"Doesn't make them wrong. But more importantly, he was implying you two were going to do a hell of a lot more than kissing in your free time. You're too young for that shit. Just stop it!"
"Ugh, whatever. Jake, let's go to the beach or something," I suggested.
"How about you just stay put for a while," Dad said sternly.
"Fine, let's go up to my room," I said, not waiting for a response before I dragged Jake up the stairs.
"Leave the door open!" Dad called after us.
"Sorry about the… you know, innuendo down there," Jake said when we were finally alone. "I didn't mean Charlie to think anything."
"It was only a little embarrassing," I told him.
"Yeah, I'm sorry," he said again.
"So, what are we going to do with all our free time?" I wondered. "You know, this is actually not a good thing, right? They're going to force us to make up the time by extending school into the summer."
Jake groaned. "I hadn't thought of that. Shit man, I have plans this summer."
I laughed. "Like what? Working on your car from sun up to sun down?"
"Hey, summer has nice long daylight hours. I can finally get the thing done. I need it before I turn sixteen."
"Good afternoon children," Edward said as he breezed into the room unannounced, uninvited, and entirely unwanted.
"What are you doing here? And get off my bed!" I growled when he immediately made himself far too comfortable by lying down. "You have your shoes on my covers!"
"Relax," Edward said casually. "It's not like the virus can survive on the bottom of my shoe. For what it's worth, I wiped them on the mat before I came into the house."
"I don't care about the virus; I care that you have your dirty-ass shoes on my bed!" I screeched.
"Dirty ass shoes? Those are not nice words for children to be saying."
I huffed. "Can you just tell me why you're here?"
"My dad's car is in the shop, so he needed to use mine," Edward explained while grabbing my journal off my nightstand and opening it.
"Hey!" I said while yanking it from his hands.
"So, why didn't you just stay home if your dad needed your car?" Jake questioned bitterly.
"He made me come here with him. He said I needed to babysit you guys."
I huffed. "Not that we would need babysitting, but my dad is here. Your dad is supposed to be here too, watching the game."
"All sporting events have been canceled," Edward said with a smartass smirk.
"Yeah, we know, but either way, my dad is still here, so why would your dad even joke that we need a babysitter? And why do you still have your nasty shoes on my covers?" I growled while shoving his feet off the side of the bed.
"Bella, you should really work on your anger issues," he laughed.
"The only way to fix my anger issues is for you to tell me the real reason for your intrusion, and then for you to leave!" I said through gritted teeth.
"Alright, alright, calm down. My dad said he thought I should hang out with you today. I'm not even kidding about that. He mentioned something about little girls shouldn't be left home alone during times like this. Apparently, he needs Charlie at the hospital for something."
"Well, she won't be alone, I'm here," Jake stated.
"Kids can't babysit kids," Edward retorted, jokingly serious.
"You've only been eighteen for like, five minutes," Jake argued. "Bella is sixteen and I'm almost sixteen. You have no business babysitting us."
"Look Sport, I didn't ask to come. My dad insisted, okay?"
"Did you just call me Sport?" Jake asked evenly.
"Edward, it doesn't really matter why you're here, you could try to be a little less annoying," I told him.
"What fun would that be? I love hearing that irritated tone to your voice, and seeing that little crinkle of anger between your eyes. Simply adorable."
"Bella, why did your aunt have to marry his dad?" Jacob whined.
"Hmm, rich, good looking doctor; you do the math," Edward answered for me. "Esme would have been blind to not want to marry him. That man has some amazing genes – if I do say so myself."
"Dude, you look nothing like Carlisle," Jake told him.
"Too bad for him," Edward said smugly.
"You are an idiot," Jake spat.
"That may be so, but I can sure get a rise out of you. What's got your panties in a bunch anyway, Pup? Did I walk in when you were trying to convince Bella to…" He used his hand and his tongue in his cheek to make an obscene gesture.
"Fuck you! And don't call me Pup, or Sport, or Kid, or any other stupid little name you can come up with!" Jake exploded.
"Okay, just stop!" I said, trying to diffuse the situation. "If you have to be here, can you at least get out of my bedroom?" I asked Edward, which was more of a demand than a request.
As much as I loved my dad's sister, I certainly wished she found herself a husband that didn't come with an annoying and intrusive son. The guy could never take anything seriously. He even pretended to be drunk at their wedding two years prior. It was nothing but an embarrassment for Carlisle and Aunt Esme both, and I was embarrassed for them. For an eighteen-year-old, Edward still sure as hell acted like a child.
"Can't a guy spend a little time with his baby cousin?" Edward asked facetiously.
I scowled. "You are not my cousin."
"We are cousins by marriage; therefore you're stuck with me… At least, until Esme gets sick of dealing with me and my dad, and then we can all pretend that the other doesn't exist, just like we've been doing with my dad's last few exes," he said casually.
"You're crazy!" we heard Charlie shouting, so our petty little bickering abruptly came to a halt and the three of us followed my dad's hollering down the stairs. "This is madness, Carlisle! I can't do that."
"You have to," Carlisle countered heatedly. "We have no other choice. This virus is getting out of hand."
When they noticed the three of us standing there, listening to their conversation, my dad got upset and ordered us back upstairs.
"No!" Carlisle disputed. "They should hear this. Everyone will know soon enough; it's better if they're prepared. This virus has officially reached our town," he told us solemnly. "We have seven confirmed cases in the hospital right now. We are doing all we can to keep it contained, but I know our efforts won't be enough. By the end of the week, it will get out and start spreading. I don't have a doubt."
"That must be what my dad is meeting with the council about," Jake mused.
"We have to act quickly if we are going to keep the people safe," Carlisle added.
"You're talking about locking up American citizens," my dad disagreed heatedly. "Putting them in concentration camps. I won't be a part of it!"
"Not concentration camps," Carlisle disagreed. "Secured quarantined sects. We need more space than we currently have in the hospital. This virus is unlike anything we've ever seen. It's spreading like wildfire… and it's showing signs of mutating. What it will become, we simply don't know. If we don't separate the healthy, there won't be anyone healthy left."
"So, we continue to do what we are doing," Dad suggested. "As soon as someone shows symptoms…"
"By the time someone shows symptoms, it's too late," Carlisle cut him off. "Before the infected even get the sore throat, they've already exposed everyone they had come in contact with over the previous two days. That's how it's spreading so quickly. People don't know they're sick until they're already contagious."
"This is more serious than I thought," I mumbled, mostly to myself.
"It's a flu," Dad disagreed, still in denial. "The flu kills thousands every year and people don't panic like this. It mostly hurts the elderly and babies. You're going to be okay, sweetheart," he told me.
"It started out that way," Carlisle informed him. "But this virus… with the mutations, it is growing and becoming unresponsive to even the healthiest immune systems. Charlie, everyone is at a huge risk with this one. We must act quickly. As the Chief of Police, you can enforce this. The people of this town look up to you for leadership. They will listen to what you say."
My dad let out a long, slow breath. "Fine. I will contact the mayor and discuss it."
"The mayor is amongst the infected at my hospital," Carlisle told him regretfully.
"My God," Dad said, suddenly looking worried for the first time. "Well, if people are contagious before they even know they're infected, how will we decide who to put in this quarantine camp you're suggesting? All it would take is one healthy looking carrier for the entire camp to get it."
"Wait, you're talking about putting the healthy people in this camp?" I asked in shock.
Carlisle nodded. "It must be that way. Before we know it, there will be more infected than not. We must isolate the healthy before everyone gets it."
"But how will you know if they are truly healthy?" my dad questioned again.
"We have developed a test through bloodwork. We need to lock down everyone in their homes for five days, which is enough time for the virus to be detectable. Then we go around and test every household. If they're negative, we take them to the camp. If any one of the people in the house gets a positive reading, we take none of them."
"We take none of them, and then what happens to them?" I questioned anxiously.
"We let the virus run its course," Carlisle explained gravely. "I know it sounds harsh, but that's the reality of the situation we're in. I have volunteered to remain at the hospital and do what I can for the infected, but…"
"But what?" Dad prompted when Carlisle hesitated.
"But we are talking mass casualties of biblical proportions, and I'm not sure any of our efforts to help the sick will work."
"So… you want me to order the town to self-quarantine in their homes… and then move everyone testing negative to a safe location?" Charlie clarified.
Carlisle nodded. "There are a few camp grounds in the Olympic National Forest with cabins. I've already had a team begin to bring in non-perishable food and supplies up there to last eight-hundred people up to two months."
"Eight hundred? Surely there will be more healthy than that?" Charlie asked.
Carlisle sighed. "I certainly hope there will be more, but the projection I'm seeing is alarming. Best case scenario is that we have double or triple that number heading to the camps and we will just have to go for more provisions sooner, which should be doable." He took another deep breath. "But I fear we will have more than enough food up there. By the end of this in-home quarantine, I foresee most households showing signs of the infection."
We were all quiet as we processed Carlisle's words, and then my dad nodded to himself. "Okay, go down to the station and arrange for a press conference."
"I've already arranged it. They are scheduled to be at the hospital in one hour for your briefing."
"By God. This is really happening," Dad said in surrealistic disbelief.
"I'm afraid that it is," Carlisle confirmed. "I brought Edward to stay with Bella while you come with me to the hospital. No one should be alone after this announcement is made. I'm worried there will be mass hysteria, and people could become violent and start raiding homes for supplies."
"You really think it will get to that?" Edward asked his father.
Carlisle's heavy expression was all the confirmation we needed.
"Why didn't you tell me this before we came here?" Edward asked, getting surprisingly upset. It was the most serious I had ever seen him act, which was sort of sobering, in a way. If Edward was worried enough to be serious, maybe the world really was ending. "I should be going to Tanya's house, not staying here to babysit."
"I didn't tell you before because I knew you would want to go to Tanya's house," Carlisle confirmed.
"Uh, yeah, because she is my girlfriend," Edward said bitterly.
"Tanya has her entire family to look after her," Carlisle argued. "You need to look after your own family right now, and that means Bella. She is your priority while we are gone. Do you understand me? I'm needed at the hospital, Esme is there right now, helping wherever she can, and Charlie might need to help keep order. I have no idea how long it will be before we come back. Stay here, lock the doors, protect Bella. Do you understand me?"
"I'm eighteen. You can't make me stay here…"
"This is a very serious situation," Carlisle said intensely. "Bella needs you now. You will not leave her. Do you understand?"
Despite Edward's age, the sternness in his father's eyes made him back down and nod his head. He didn't have to like it, but he was going to obey, which only scared me even more.
"Jacob and I will be fine here without him," I tried convincing them, hoping to get them to allow Edward to leave. I couldn't help but sympathize with his desire to be with his girlfriend. I'd hate for them to separate Jake and me for that long.
"We're taking Jake home on our way to the hospital. He is a minor; he needs to be with his parents," Carlisle informed me, confirming the worst and making my stomach drop.
I didn't like it – in fact, it was terrifying, but I knew better than to argue at a time like that. "I'll call you later, okay?" I said to Jake before wrapping my arms around him. If Carlisle's predictions were correct, I could possibly be hugging him for the last time, and it was excruciating.
"If anything happens to you at all, I'll be right back here on my dirt bike. Okay?" Jake assured me quietly.
I nodded, and then kissed him goodbye. Then I turned to embrace my dad. "Stay safe out there."
"Don't worry, kiddo. This will all blow over soon enough," Dad tried reassuring me before kissing my forehead. Then he turned to Edward. "Please stay here with her. No matter what happens. I'm trusting you with my baby. Please take care of her."
"I will," Edward promised.
Carlisle said goodbye as well, and the three of them left Edward and me alone. We sat in an awkward and tense silence for the next hour or so, and watched the local news for any updates. But the silence was only making my nerves spike even higher, so I forced a conversation.
"I'm sure Tanya will be fine," I told him, hoping to relieve even a fraction of the tension.
"Yeah, I know," he agreed quietly. "Her dad is hunter; he can protect them. This is all just madness,"
"For what it's worth, I appreciate you staying with me. Not that I'm scared or anything," I said, but my nerves contradicted my words and left my voice slightly trembling.
"People just need to calm the fuck down. I get some people are dying, but if everyone would just do as they're told, and not be jackasses to each other, we would all be better off. My dad was saying they will call for Martial Law soon. This is the shit you learn about in history classes. In a hundred years, kids will be learning about this as a time of fear and panic. It's utterly insane, and seems to be getting worse by the minute."
"Do you really think your dad's idea about the quarantines will work? I think people will be upset."
"I know where Charlie's guns are. You have nothing to worry about," he said unconcerned. "Here he is now."
We both quieted to watch my dad's announcement on the TV. However, just as he began to speak, he was interrupted by a commotion behind him at the hospital.
"What the hell?" I heard him mumble, and that was the moment all hell broke loose.
The camera zeroed in on the hospital's main entrance as a rush of people came pouring out of the building. I watched my father instinctively grab his gun, and then there was nothing but chaos.
"We aren't exactly sure what's going on here," the newscaster said looking and sounding frazzled. The image on the screen was jerking around, and we could hear screaming in the background. From what little we could see, it almost looked like the people coming out of the hospital were attacking everyone else.
"What the fuck is going on?" Edward asked quietly.
"Violence is erupting from Fork's General," the newscaster said over the chaotic rumbling. "If you are inside, lock your doors. If you are outside, find coverage…"
"My dad didn't even make the announcement yet," I said with a shaky voice, concerned for his safety. "Why is everyone fighting?"
"This isn't about the announcement," Edward mumbled absently as he got closer to the TV to try to get a better vantage. "People are coming out of the hospital, and… What the fuck?"
"Edward, what is happening?" I questioned becoming increasingly terrified.
"It looks like… Holy shit!" he shouted suddenly.
"What?" I cried, but that was when I saw it. The people from the hospital were not only attacking everyone, but they looked to be biting them.
The camera appeared to abruptly fall to the ground, but it kept filming.
"Is that guy dead?" I screamed when we saw what looked like a body lying there. "Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god."
"Stop crying!" Edward shouted at me. "Just be quiet for a minute."
We continued to watch as that body appeared to jolt.
"Thank god he's not dead," I said relieved, but my relief was short-lived as that very same man that looked dead a minute ago, immediately jumped up and ran off to attack someone else.
That was when the station finally cut the live feed and the reporters began to ramble about what they thought they just witnessed. Gang violence, to a terrorist attack, to just regular citizens lashing out over their frustrations. They didn't have a proper explanation, and they looked just as scared as I was feeling.
"Those weren't regular people," I said with a tear rolling down my cheek. "Edward, what was that? My dad is there. What is happening?"
"I don't know, just…" He jumped up to check the locks, and then he went for my dad's guns. "We should barricade the door and board up the windows," he said in a rush.
"What? No! My dad is there. Your dad and Esme are there. They will be coming back here for us soon," I said in a rush.
"I don't think they're coming right now," Edward disagreed. He didn't wait for me to agree with him either, he just automatically began moving furniture around and pushing it against the doors. He ran to the garage and found my dad's nail gun and some wood to fasten over the windows, and then we waited. We quietly waited as if some horrifying monster was coming for us. What I didn't understand then, was that was exactly what was going to happen…