Infinity

Infinity

By Miss Scarlet

Infinity. Such a terrifying thought. The human mind simply cannot contemplate it. It is eternal, endless, everywhere. Death must be infinite then, the end of everything. An omnipresent stalker, invisible to the eye, silent, invulnerable. But it is always there. And when death catches you, you are lost in infinity, cradled for eternity in its skeletal grip.

Swathed in blackness. Alone, without a notion. Something is not right. In the distance, a trickle of a thought appeared.

I'm alive?

He started to breathe, in short, ragged gasps, the sound manifesting itself so far away. Each breath was laboured, and the boy sucked in the air, hungry for oxygen, hungry for the life he had left behind. When had that been?

I'm alive

As if on cue, his eyes snapped open, his pupils roving uncontrollably. He wanted to smile, and laugh, celebrate his rebirth.

I can't believe it! I'm alive!

His vision cleared, with such mind numbing slowness that he wanted to scream in rage. All his emotions felt so suppressed. He opened his mouth, his lips forming meaningless words, longing to talk like he used to be able to do. Longing to see people he had not seen.

How good it feels to breathe again. To speak, to think. How I had missed this! But I can't have done. How can you think when you are dead? What is happening to me?

He stared at the ceiling, his mouth twisted into an insane smile. Large white tiles lined so neatly on the ceiling, stretching on their eternal march out of his vision.

Where are you Claire? I need you. I miss you. Are you here with me?

He slowly turned his head, wincing as his neck clicked. These unfamiliar movements. How long had he been lying here? His gaze focussed on a figure lying close by. A sudden horrified shock – is that her? But no. Another person, a man, lying with his head turned away. A uniform. It looked so familiar

Why does it hurt so much when I move?

He shut his eyes tightly, his head spinning.

I've come back from the dead. Was I even dead? How can I be sure? How do I know I had died? How do I know I was ever alive?

The answer to that question was obvious to him. He had been alive, very much so. He had met a girl Claire Redfield, and he had loved her. Love is not a figment of the imagination. Such feelings can never be created artificially. Can they?

---

Steve stepped gingerly towards the figure lying on the bench opposite him. The floor was cold and smooth, and his feet slipped every other step as he moved. His eyes widened in shock. It was Alfred. Alfred Ashford. That maniacal gun-wielding lunatic. He took a step closer, intrigued, and reached out to the prone figure. Was he dead?

Alfred's arm shot out of nowhere and his hand clamped over Steve's wrist. His eyes shot open, and fixed on Steve with a malevolent glare. "Not so fast," he croaked, tightening his grip.

"Alfred! You're alive!" Steve gasped, backing away as far as he could, tugging his hand out of Alfred's grip.

"No thanks to you," he snarled in reply.

Steve moved back to the desk he had been lying on, and leaned heavily against it, steadying himself against the cold metal. That's right, he realised. I killed him

Alfred sat up slowly, clutching the bench for support; his eyes still on Steve. "Yes. You killed me." He got to his feet unsteadily, wincing at some pinpoint of pain. "You shot me."

"If I hadn't, you would have shot me," Steve protested, looking around. There has to be some way out of here, he thought anxiously. I'm beginning to think that I'm in hell, because this sure isn't heaven.

Alfred looked at him angrily. "Of course you aren't in hell. You're in my crypt, for want of a better word. Can't the dead rest in peace?"

Steve gasped. "What the hell? I didn't say that!"

"Say what?" Alfred sneered, easing himself forwards slowly.

"I didn't say that about heaven out loud! I thought it!" he snapped, pointing at Alfred. "What are you doing?" Is he reading my thoughts?

"I'm not reading your thoughts!" Alfred screeched, suddenly outraged. "Don't you understand? You killed me!"

"And your sister killed me!" Steve roared, moving towards Alfred purposely.

Alfred faltered. "A- Alexia? She killed you?"

"Yes! Not directly, but yes! So we both should be dead, all right? Now tell me how you are reading my thoughts!"

"I'm not!"

Steve sighed. Freak, he thought, with a bitter look at Alfred. If you can read my thoughts, you'll know what I'm thinking now. You'll hear this I died. You did too. We're both alive. There has to be a reason. I suggest that before you attempt to tear my throat out, we look around to some clue as to why we are here. And where we are, as well.

"We're back on Rockfort Island. I've been here a few times. A hidden door. Close to the prison cells. She she's the only one who knows the code to get in here."

"So you can read my thoughts!" Steve said. "Well stop it!"

Alfred sneered. "I can't help it. I don't even know I'm doing it. Now are you going to look around or what?"

"What about you?"

"I'm tired," he replied, and turned away.

Steve looked around. Strange metallic walls lined the room, with a table in one corner and a door in another. Everything seemed so sterile. He leafed through some files on the table. A piece of parchment fell into his fingers, with Alfred' written at the top. It looks like a letter. For Alfred

Alfred looked up. "Give me that! And stop thinking!" He snatched the letter away from Steve, sat down on one of the two benches and began to read.

---

To my dearest Alfred,

How are you feeling? Drowsy, nauseous? It is just a side effect of the treatment I used on you. Don't worry. There is something I need you to do. Don't kill the boy.

You have to find out how he was able to overthrow the T-Veronica virus. Do what you have to do, but don't hurt him. I'll find you when I can.

I've sent you both to Rockfort Island for a reason. What is happening there? I want you to organise a team to dispose of any incriminating evidence about the Ashford family's involvement in recent events concerning Umbrella.

On the desk should be a small container of the treatment I used on you. Enough to treat one person. If you attempt to lessen the dose and thus save more people, it will fail. It has the power to revive all bodily functions, even from death. Don't waste it, Alfred.

I have great faith in you. Don't let me down,

Your loving sister, Alexia Ashford

---

Alfred folded the letter and tucked it into the pocket of his jacket, still stained with his own blood. That was a disappointment. He had been looking forward to exacting his revenge on the treacherous Steve Burnside. Still, his petty needs and wants paled in comparison to Alexia's ideas for the future, and it was not up to him to decide what was right and what was wrong.

His eye rested on a small test-tube of pale blue liquid, with a thick rubber bung fastened in the end. This must be the miraculous stuff Alexia had mentioned in her letter.

He glanced back at Steve nervously. The boy was fiddling with the door, trying to find some way to open it. He looked back at the test-tube, and wrinkled his nose thoughtfully.

He shouldn't share his discovery with Steve. Not just yet. He should make peace in some way, but some things were best kept to himself. It wasn't lying especially because Steve had killed him. No, it was temporary revenge; to postpone any ill feeling he had for the boy, and prevent him from doing anything rash. When he put that way, it sounded almost necessary.

He smiled, his pale blue eyes glittering. This wasn't going to be too bad after all, he decided suddenly, and he tucked the test-tube into his pocket as well.

Yes! "Hey, Alfred! I got the door open! That was a lock I don't want to have to pick again!" he crowed, delighted with his achievement.

Alfred turned and raised his eyebrows. "Congratulations," he snapped dryly. His eyes widened when he noticed that Steve was clutching an impressive Magnum that Alfred had never seen before. "Where did you get that?" he demanded, anger seething inside him.

"It was lying over there," he said, with a shrug. "Come on then, if you're coming. We are outta here!"

---

Alfred frowned, gunshots ringing in his ears. "It sounds like there's a battle going on. I thought I had destroyed everything before"

"Obviously you didn't," Steve replied quietly. "Let's just go outside and see what's happening." He began to climb the granite stairs, his magnum raised protectively in front of him, and still the sound of a gunfight rang on. Perhaps it's the people who attacked the island. Maybe zombies are attacking them.

"How perceptive of you," Alfred snapped from somewhere behind him.

Stop doing that! Can't I have a little privacy?

"I don't enjoy listening to your thoughts, you know. The amount of time you spend thinking about Claire Redfield is disturbing."

"Shut up," Steve growled. "You're a fine one to talk about being disturbed. And deranged." He emerged from the stairwell into a small dingy graveyard. Pale, skinny zombies littered the soil path, their blood pooling out from under them, mingling with the puddles and being washed away by the heavy rain. Steve bit his lip. It's disgusting

"Boo hoo," Alfred muttered.

"I know where we are. We're in the prison. Through this door is the courtyard," he said, indicating with his thumb. "And that's the wrecked truck that was carrying the special alloy."

"Amazing."

"So what do we do?"

"Try going through the door. It's not that difficult," Alfred sighed. Steve stood still, listening. "Well," Alfred said angrily, "I'll do it, seeing as you can't be bothered to move." He strode past the chain-link fence and reached out to the door. "Hurry up," he ordered.

"No, wait, I can hear someone on the other side of the door," Steve said quickly, backing into the wreckage of the truck. "Just wait."

"I can't hear anything," he protested.

"Shut up!" Steve hissed, and strained to hear the muffled conversation above the gunshots.

"Well?"

"No sign of him. The little runt must have fled. Can't trust the nobility, that's what I always say."

"Is it?"

"Well yeah. Any idea what happened here?"

"Some other company must have attacked. Maybe they got to Alfred first."

"These zombies are all over the place. It's crazy."

"I know."

"So what now?"

"We keep looking. Alfred Ashford has the T-Veronica virus, and we're not stopping until we find it."

"You know best, sir."

"That I do. Have you tried the mansion?"

"Not yet."

"Then what are you waiting for?"

Steve looked at Alfred, open-mouthed. "Did you hear that?"

Alfred sighed. "No. I don't think there was anything to hear. This is all a ruse to get me worried."

"Alfred, you should be worried already. These people are from some sort of company, and they're looking for you!"

"Is that right?" he said, yawning.

Will you listen? They want the T-Veronica virus.

"Good luck to them," he snapped. He rolled his eyes at Steve's shocked expression. "I don't have it. Do you? No. Alexia has it. She can handle these guys easily. I'm not afraid of any company."

Steve bit his lip. "Alfred, I don't think you understand! You aren't surrounded by your troops now! There's nobody left to protect you! You could be in real danger!"

Alfred looked down, and ran a hand through his hair in a futile attempt to dislodge some of the rain. "You'll protect me."

"I won't," Steve growled.

"Why not? Without me, I'd like to see you get off this island alive. You don't know the layout well enough."

"What? You're trying to blackmail me into trusting you?"

"Is that a bad thing? Look, you and I are linked. I don't know why, I don't know how. But we are. And I'm stuck with you, you murdering bastard. So we'll stick together, for now, until we figure out what's going on, and if Alexia's all right, and how your Claire is getting on. I don't want any more arguments, or desertions, or anything like that. Understand?"

"All right." I hate you.

"The feeling is more than mutual."

You're despicable.

"Tell me something I don't know."

You're insane.

"Get used to it. Now get me past these guards."

---

Steve pushed the gate open cautiously. "There's nobody else here. Come on." He pointed the magnum down the dingy mud corridor to his left; nothing. He strained his ears for the telltale moans of a zombie. Strange, he thought. Those guys must have cleaned this place out.

Alfred snorted derisively. "Well whoopee do. They probably got a flame-thrower and torched the place."

"And you're happy with that?"

"Does it look like I am?" he snapped, jogging a few steps to keep up with Steve. "Do you even know where we're going?"

"Yes," he replied shortly. He stopped outside a door. "Okay, we can go through here. I can't hear anything inside."

"Hmmph. The treatment Alexia used on you must have done this. There's no way you can hear all this stuff."

Steve moved towards the door but Alfred cut him off and went through first. He surveyed the scene around him with distaste. "I never knew my prison was so disgusting. Well, where next?"

Through the next door. There's a computer. I thought we could use it to send for help.

"Will you stop?!" Alfred howled angrily.

"You're asking me not to think? A fine bodyguard I'll be then."

"Yes! No! I don't know!" Alfred pushed the next door roughly, sending it flying back into the wall with a bang. He smiled momentarily at this amusing diversion.

"Well done Alfred. That way nobody will know you're here," Steve snapped. "Really make them stop looking for you and fly on home, won't it."

Alfred grumbled something under his breath.

"I heard that," Steve replied, grinning.

"Ugh!" Alfred whirled round and waved a finger in Steve's face. "Stop hearing things! And stop thinking so loud! Oh man," he said, breaking off. "This is all screwed up. I shouldn't be here, and certainly not with you. I should be sitting in my study, reading, or feeding the ants"

"You keep ants?"

"So?"

"Nothing. An unusual pet, that's all."

"Are you laughing at me?" Alfred snapped. "Forget it, I don't want to know. Just send someone a message for help and let's get out of here." He surveyed the computer with distrust. He glanced at Steve. "Go on then."

"Why can't you?"

"I don't even know how to turn one of these things on. Now get to it," he ordered, pointing authoritatively at the screen.

"You know," Steve said, pressing a couple of keys and bringing up an email window, "you really are a jerk."

Alfred ignored him. "Let's see I know! Send a message to Hunk. He'll get me out of here in no time. Tell him well, make it up as you go along. Make it sound good mind, nothing I wouldn't say." He watched with a troubled expression as Steve began to type, slowly at first, but then with more rapidity as he progressed.

"How's this?" Steve asked, standing back. Alfred made no reply. "It says To: well, I don't know his email address. Subject: Urgent. Message: Hunk, this is Alfred Ashford. An unknown company has started attacking the base, and I need you and a group of men to come and regain control of Rockfort Island. I will need to be transported to the nearest Umbrella base immediately, along with my bodyguard, as the company appears to be searching for me. Please come as soon as you can. Alfred.' What do you think?"

Alfred shrugged. "It's all right."

"What's Hunk's email address?"

"I don't know. Send it directly to Umbrella, they'll pass it on to him."

"Well, what's Umbrella's email address?" asked Steve, his patience rapidly wearing thin. "Hq@umbrella.com? Veryevilcompany@wekillpeople.com? Give me a clue here!"

"Oh, I don't know. Umbrella@Umbrella .com, yeah, that's it."

"You sure?" Steve sighed.

"Yeah! Well, kinda"

Steve sagged suddenly. His knees buckled and his vision began to grow cloudy. "What's going on?" he gasped, clutching his chest. He gazed in horror at Alfred, who glared at him as if he were putting on an act. Alfred! What did you do to me?

---

She stood in the doorway, smiling at some private joke, waiting for someone to acknowledge her arrival. She stared around at the lavish furnishings, the carved oak and plush velvet furniture. It was exactly like she had imagined it would be.

"I love it," she breathed.

Footsteps rang on the wooden floor to her right, and she turned to see an aged man approaching her, whom she assumed was the butler, with a mop of grey hair resting jauntily against his head, and a becoming smile.

"Ah, Miss Ashford. Jonathan Hatton, at your service. So pleased you could make it."

"My pleasure," she replied smoothly, shaking his hand. "What a beautiful house," she remarked. "How long have you been in residence here?"

"Oh, ten, twenty years. Something like that," he said, his smile growing broader at the girl's politeness. "Should I take these cases up to your room?"

"Oh, no, that's quite all right. I wouldn't want to inconvenience you. I'll take them myself." She picked her two cases up, barely contained a wince at their weight, and hesitated. "If it's not too much trouble, would you mind telling me which room I will be using?"

The old butler frowned at his lack of courtesy. "I apologise, Miss Ashford. I'll take you there. It's no trouble, none at all."

"Thank you very much. And please, call me Veronica."

---

Alfred trotted through the shadows, his face a picture of determination. Gunshots rang relentlessly in his ears, and cries of wounded men. From somewhere nearby came the unmistakable roar of a Gulp Worm, and the howl of a Bandersnatch.

"Home sweet home," he murmured softly.

A noise from beyond a door startled him, and he shrunk into the shadows immediately, breathing louder than a herd of elephants, he thought. But somehow his presence was left unnoticed, and a troupe of soldiers all filed past him, obeying some unknown order.

What had happened to his island? One moment a simple island prison, so illegal and unauthorised a law-abiding citizen would wince to hear of it. A minute later it became a madhouse, full of terrible zombies, and weird things that Alfred had never even heard of. Then there was the Tyrant, a true work of genius. But it had died, presumably, unless it had taken a holiday somewhere in the Caribbean. He really did owe a lot to that company whose raid had started the whole thing off, like some dreadful line of toppling dominoes, each one creating a bigger earthquake as it fell. Oh yes. He owed them a hell of a lot.

He sighed, as loudly as he thought he could get away with. If only he had a weapon! He should have taken that Magnum Steve had found somewhere. That boy seemed to have a knack for finding things. It was uncanny. As was his supernatural hearing ability. That was another thing Alfred was unhappy about. If he had the choice between being able to hear quiet things a mile away, or listening to Steve Burnside's thoughts No contest.

Really, it ought to deafen him. Being able to hear anything, anywhere was that any different from hearing everything, everywhere? But somehow Steve managed to hear only what he wanted to hear. The jerk.

He looked about thoughtfully. He knew where he was, of course, but he didn't know if he could make it without being caught. Still, you have to take risks. Trusting that Steve had been a big one, and this was another. He slipped through the door, taking care not to let it slam shut behind him, and entered the courtyard.

His face fell as he beheld what remained of his beloved Military Training Facility. Flames flickered in most of the windows, casting an eerie shadow across the dirt courtyard, illuminating strange shapes that could be anything, and creating flickering silhouettes of dead creatures that definitely hadn't been human.

On the ground in front of him a creature lay still, curled into a ball, its limbs wrapped up so it looked like an overly large appetiser at a party. Scales lined its back, shimmering in the blaze of the fire, in a million shades of purple and red. Alfred pursed his lips, and prodded the prone creature with his boot. It immediately sprawled forwards, limbs outstretched, falling into the mud, sending a spray of ruby red blood in every conceivable direction.

"Oh dear," Alfred whispered, wiping his face to remove the splattered dregs of blood. "I haven't seen you around here before," he said dryly. He turned, anxious to forget the sight, and pressed the elevator call button. "Where could everybody be? Probably at the palace. Prying. Or," he added thoughtfully, "using my casino."

With a whoosh of intricate machinery, the lift doors sprang open, and Alfred hurried inside, arranging himself between the crates. What was inside them anyway? He had no idea.

Alfred?

"What the- Steve?" Alfred gasped, taking a precautionary step backwards.

Where are you? How could you abandon me like that? I thought we had a deal!

Alfred winced. Typical. Blame first, ask questions later. "Steve," he said carefully. "Can you hear me? I'm in the lift. I'm going to the airport. Just look at your stupid computer, that'll tell you what's going on. You can't blame me if you go around fainting everywhere."

I see. But I didn't faint Alfred, honestly I didn't. I had a dream, but I wasn't asleep. I could hear everything around me, but I could still hear what was happening here. I wasn't asleep, I swear! It was real! There was this girl, called

Alfred started, but said nothing about it. "Look Steve, I'm in a sticky situation here. I can't go around talking to myself, that's a sure-fire way to get myself caught. So keep on thinking, by all means, just don't expect a reply."

The lift stopped, and the doors swung open, with incredible slowness. "Oh, come on," he moaned, desperate. He glanced at his watch, and stepped out of the lift, a slow smile on his face. Ha Veronica was Steve messing about? He must know about Veronica Ashford, and the way he looked up to her. It was one hell of a coincidence, that was for sure.

---

Steve stumbled over to the desk with the computer, clutching onto the metal surface for support. His breathing was heavy and ragged, his hair dishevelled. He glanced at the computer screen with distrust. I can't believe Alfred just abandoned me. I know he's going to the airport but why?

A new email had been received, and Alfred had managed to read it, despite his claim that he knew nothing about computers. Steve didn't recognise the email address, but he read it anyway.

"Alfred," he read aloud. "I'll be at Rockfort Island airport at one o clock. Wait for me there, Hunk." Steve raised his eyebrows. "Rather brief," he murmured. He glanced at the clock in the corner of the screen. It was almost one. He must have been knocked out for over two hours He breathed out deeply. "Man"

Suddenly, the breath caught in his throat and his legs swayed beneath him. Not againhe thought, as the world span and pulsated before his eyes.

Veronica stared into nothingness. A tear rolled down her cheek. "Steve" she whispered. "Tell Alfred and Alexia to come home I want to sing again. And the eagle must fly once more"

Steve's mouth fell open. He realised he was still standing up, and his legs immediately gave way beneath him and he sat down quickly. That was a new sensation. It was nothing like the dream he had had before. This time Veronica had been speaking to him directly to him

He scrambled back to his feet and shook his head wildly to dislodge the mental fog that seemed to be blocking all his impulses. He looked back at the clock. It was only a minute since he had last checked.

Alfred! He almost screamed in his head. Alfred are you there? Something weird just happened! It was like she was talking to me! She was! She said my name!

"You fainted again. Congratulations. Will you stop thinking?! I don't want to get caught! Hunk hasn't shown up yet but he will."

Everything went black and Veronica was there, Veronica Ashford! She told me to tell you and Alexia to go home, because she wanted to sing again, or something! I mean it Alfred, it was real.

Silence.

"Shut up Steve. Just shut up."

Steve pounded his forehead with his fists. Why wouldn't Alfred believe him? Something terrible was happening to him, and Alfred wouldn't do a damn thing about it. Typical. So bloody typical.

---

He bounded down from the plane, bursting with youthful energy. A huge sub machine gun was clenched in his fist, and he waved it about as if it were a child's toy. He breathed in thoughtfully as he surveyed the airport, his eyebrows raised quizzically.

His eyes focused on a solitary figure pacing around in frenzy. The man was decked out in some sort of military uniform, his blonde hair slicked back naturally, and his pale blue eyes flashing madly.

"Alfred!" he called, waving an arm in the air. "Hey, Alfred!" A large smile spread across his face, and he hurried towards his old friend with long, loping strides.

Alfred looked up, and couldn't contain a smile as he beheld the man. "Hunk!" he breathed, sagging slightly with relief. "You finally showed! I'm so glad you're here! Heh, you look a lot different. See you finally decided to shave, then."

Hunk folded his arms and rocked back on his heels. He was a well-built man in his late twenties, with short wiry black hair that was impossible to control, and deep green eyes. "I was on the move when I got your email," he said, grinning. "It's a good job I was so close, or it would have taken me a hell of a lot longer to reach you."

Alfred peered through the gloom behind Hunk. "Is that your plane?"

"Yup," Hunk replied cheerfully, detaching his machine gun and eyeing it thoughtfully. "My personal one. It's not Umbrella's. Like it?"

Alfred nodded vaguely, a frown creasing his forehead. "It's great, but when's everyone else getting here?"

Hunk paused. "Everyone else?"

Alfred shifted uncomfortably. "Well, yeah I said in the email to send a troop of men. There are hundreds of people here, Hunk, I don't know if one man alone can take them on"

Hunk laughed, his deep boom echoing off the walls. "Don't worry, Alfred. I can handle it. You see," he added, with a grin, "when you get a reputation for being the sole survivor of every mission you are sent on, people don't exactly jump at the chance to go with you."

Alfred nodded slowly. "I see."

Hunk grinned nervously. "And that's about it. So let's go kick us some ass. What do you say, boss?" He began to walk away, limping slightly.

Alfred frowned after him. He didn't seem like he was telling the truth But what did it matter? Hunk was here now, with weapons, and he was going to get his island back. To hell with the details. And to hell with Steve Burnside, for that matter.

---

Well, that's it for the first chapter. Coming in the next 'thrilling' instalment... Steve has an unwelcome encounter with the company determined to find the T-Veronica virus, Hunk goes to the rescue, Veronica is evil, and Alfred makes many saracastic comments. Sounds like fun. So please review me, and let me know if I am getting it all wrong. Or right, should the circumstance arise. Go on... tell me what you really think. I dare ya! ^_^