This fan fiction is based on the 2007 movie I Am Legend, starring Will Smith, which was based on the 1954 novel by Richard Matheson. All characters in this chapter are my own, with the exception of the mention of Dr. Alice Krippin from the movie.
Jeremy Carter had been one of the many, an unlucky citizen, trapped in Manhattan the night they bombed the bridges in New York City, effectively quarantining the area. Weeks after the pullout, the military was still posting guard to be sure no one else came across to the mainland. They had said on the news that the plan was to contain the plague on the island, at "ground zero." But it was too late. Even the best doctors and scientists working on a solution could not have foreseen that this deceptive virus was already silently spreading across the globe in and amongst their own numbers. It would be only months before ninety percent of the world's human population was dead.
Jeremy's own father had been treated for cancer with the new "cure" developed by Dr. Alice Krippin. Everyone said the cure was saving millions of victims the world over. They'd been saying it for several months. What no one could have predicted, however, was that the genetically altered measles-virus used to fight and destroy cancer would also eventually turn into the most deadly plague the world had ever seen. Sadly, the people who had not already died from the plague were surviving only to become bloodthirsty creatures of the night, their minds crazed from the devastating changes the disease inflicted in their bodily chemistry to the point that their behavior hardly even resembled the humanity they once were. Or, they were people like Jeremy—the other one percent of the world's population who were naturally immune to the deadly disease, but were surviving only to be hunted and killed by the vampires in the night.
It was no kind of life, but try as he might, Jeremy couldn't just roll over and die. Sometimes at night, when the tortured howls of the street vampires echoed through the halls of his secured townhouse, the twenty-three year old machinist would lie on his bed wishing he could do just that. Die. It would be easier than to go on living in terror like this, alone, without hope.
All of that changed one day while he was foraging in apartments for food and any other useful provisions he could carry off. He happened to open a bedroom door and heard movement from inside the closet. The M-16 hanging from his shoulder was a relic from bygone war years—back before he'd been thought of—but it jumped immediately to his shoulder just the same, the panic and impulse to riddle the room with lead nearly overtaking him.
He fought off the first wave of fear. It could be a vampire, he told himself, hiding in there from the daylight which all of them seemed to dread so much. Jeremy forced himself to stand his ground. Or, it could also be someone like himself, though he hadn't seen another soul for…he'd forgotten how long. Months? Years?
His voice sounded strange to him when he called out now, the stress and lack of use taking their tolls on his vocal chords. "If someone is in there and you are not infected, I mean you no harm. Come out in the light where I can see you."
Jeremy brought the gun up tighter. He didn't like this at all. The vampires usually fled from any source of ultraviolet light, like the kind streaming in through the windows of the apartment. Even this southwest-corner bedroom was well lit. But sometimes—he had seen it himself—they might venture into the light for brief moments, if they were hungry enough and thought they could jump a victim quickly.
And they could move quickly! He had seen it—the pale and ravished form of a naked man or woman springing out from a darkened haunt, suddenly upon an unsuspecting victim, bloody teeth gnashing and throat roaring with rage and venom. Their movements were always surprisingly energetic, considering how terrible their physical condition appeared: white, melanin-less skin, bruised and bloody from the constant self-mutilation the disease inflicted on them from within.
Twice he had lost companions to the monsters in the daylight, even though he had retaliated as quickly as possible, spraying bullets into the vampires. The first time he had managed to kill the beast, a female, though not before she had mortally wounded the young poet he had been patrolling with. The young man—"Rex" he had called himself—had died in Jeremy's arms. He closed his eyes at the recollection, but it was nothing compared to the other memory that still gave him nightmares.
The second time in daylight that he lost a "brother"—that's what the survivors called one another because it felt that way to lose one—a large male had madly attacked from the shadows, launching himself into the dimming light to reach the nearer of the two men. The vampire had struck and then turned blindly and received Jeremy's bullets in the chest, screamed defiantly at him and the pain of the sunlight boiling his flesh, and then dragged the still-living body of Jeremy's best friend after him into the darkness of a department store. It all happened so fast that Jeremy had been left emotionally and physically drained for weeks with no one to talk to about the pain and fear he was feeling. When he had finally begun to emerge from his isolation, his own hunger driving him, the rest of his acquaintances were gone. He had never learned what happened to them, though he suspected they were all either dead or had left the city in search of safer havens. But, from the stories he had heard of the outside, any ideas of a safer place than this were mythological at best. The entire world had gone crazy, almost overnight.
Jeremy swallowed hard and tried to calm his trembling hands. The muzzle end of his M-16 was shaking so badly it was difficult to keep it trained on the closet door.
He called out again. "I said, 'If anyone is in there…!'"
There was a small gasp-like whimper from the closet. Jeremy's ears involuntarily twitched forward, listening. That didn't sound like a vampire. Suddenly he started thinking more about his surroundings. The apartment was in fairly good condition, not trashed, which would have been the case if a vampire had taken up residence for any length of time. And this particular building did not seem to have any of the outward signs of the usual monster vandalism about it, at least that he had seen. He was far from dropping his guard, but the observation did lend some courage to his feet.
Stepping forward, Jeremy reached over and lifted a toy stick-horse from the corner. This was a child's bedroom, he thought. He held the toy by its head and tapped the stick once against the mahogany door. His left hand continued to train the gun. Inside, he could hear it now, the unmistakable sound of a child whimpering.
He dropped the stick and raked the door open with his free hand, jumping back and holding the M-16 ready. What he saw looking up at him from the closet floor took his breath away. There seated before him with fearful eyes was a dirty faced little girl, maybe four years old at best. She stared back at him through matted blonde locks, her blue eyes widening at the sight of the gun in his hands. The tiny girl looked up at him and began to weep aloud…