Disclaimer: The Passage belongs to Justin Cronin. I can't write that well. ):
In the beginning, there were twelve death row inmates, all purposely infected with different variants of the same virus. They transformed into powerful, glowing creatures who fed on blood. They would later become known as virals, but for now they were known as subjects 1-12. An accident; they escaped. They spread their virus throughout the world, and practically destroyed the human race, despite international quarantine efforts. A little girl, Subject 13, named Amy was given the evolved form of the virus, which had finally accomplished its initial purpose- she would live forever. Inside her, she carried the souls of the virals. She could return them, set them free, when the original host of the virus was killed. She wandered alone for a hundred years while the human race neared extinction, but one day she found The Colony, and in it, Peter. Over the years, she and Peter had destroyed the Twelve, and their Many, and now only one remained.
A sudden movement in the darkness- a tentative shuffling, soft clicking. Amy stood sheltered behind Peter's wide back, his arm raised and the long blade grasped firmly in his hand. He was clenching it so tightly that the skin over his knuckles was stretched taut and bone white; His breathing was rapid with fear. The sound seemed out of place in the quiet dampness of the cave.
Amy was suddenly worried for Peter. She felt the presence lurking not far away, just around a bend in the rough, stony wall. She knew Peter had faced these creatures before, countless times before. She hadn't known him for long, but she was sure he had killed plenty of others before she had arrived. She had seen him kill the Twelve, the Many, the Babcock-Morrison-Chavez-Baffes-Turrell-Winston-Sosa-Echols-Lambright-Martinez-Reinhardt-Carter. She was there, always at his side, during his quest as he sought out each and every one, somehow knowing exactly where they would be. They always come home, he had said.
Now, as she stood safely behind him, she was worried. More than worried; she was terrified. She could hear the creature scuffling slowly closer, stealthy in the darkness. She could feel his even breathing, the steady clicking from deep in his neck. This was not one of the Twelve, not one of the Many. He kept on dying and couldn't stop, he was sad like the others, but he was different. This was the Other, the one above and behind, the Zero.
She could feel his mind, his soul, inside her. Everything about him screamed a single, desperate phrase:
I was called Fanning.
Fanning Fanning Fanning Fanning Fanning Fanning Fanning Fanning Fanning Fanning Fanning Fanning...
It was as if this single phrase, his name from Before, was sustaining him, his life force, his being. In that sentence lay who he was inside, his entire life's story, a different life entirely. His life from Before. Amy saw his house, a small, homey structure amidst a golden field of wheat. She felt his struggle in obtaining enough money for college, to pursue his wish to be a scientist. She watched his friendship grow with a man named Jonas Lear, their partnership on a project... She probed deeper into this half-forgotten dream of a memory, whispers of the past, trying to find out what the project was.
She saw Jonas Lear become consumed in his work, forgetting all else. She felt his sadness the day Lear unveiled his discovery to Colonel Sykes, without giving him any credit. She felt his fear the day Lear suddenly appeared at his house, smiling and grasping a taser in his outstretched hand.
She relived the sickness with him, the pain and the fever and the hunger, always the hunger. Hunger that stripped away every aspect of your being until you were a hollow shell of yourself, a being that was completely other, driven by instinct alone.
His entire life, hidden behind a single word.
In some ways, Zero was less dangerous than the Twelve. Fanning had not been a criminal, like the Twelve; he had been a scientist. He had never done anything in his life that was so wrong that he had to be sentenced to death, and that was why he was different. He had not accepted the fact the he was going to die, that it was an inevitability, because he had no reason to. He was innocent. Because he was innocent, there was no dream, like Babcock's fat woman breathing smoke in her kitchen, or Carter's glass of iced tea, Rachel Wood drowning herself and pulling him down with her.
There were no Many of Zero, because the Many were always dreaming; dreaming a wisp of a memory of someone else's life. Zero was not dreaming, and the Many could not go where they could not dream.
Zero was also more dangerous than the Twelve, because he was not dreaming. He was feeling. He was feeling rage, eternal rage, at a single, final memory- the virus, in its most primal form, injected into his flesh by his closest friend. The confident smile that played on the edges of Jonas Lear's mouth as Fanning's consciousness began to fade. Infinite, painful hunger that he lost himself in, kept alive by only his phrase and his fury.
Buried deep, deep inside him was also a hope- a dangerous, cruel hope– that one day he would find Jonas Lear and inflict on him the pain he had suffered through all these years. He would not die easily; he would not be truly free until he accomplished this one, final task.
The problem was, Jonas Lear was dead. He had been dead for fifty-four years, as they had learned from Sister Lacey Antoinette Kudoto who had fallen in love with him while she waited for Amy to return to where she came from, nearly a century later. Zero would never be free, and he would die without really accomplishing anything, as he saw it.
Amy tore her mind away from the memories, and brought it back to the black cavern where she stood. Peter's blade was still raised; His head scanned back and forth through the darkness, straining to see where the noise was coming from.
Amy felt it then- an abrupt stillness, the calm before a storm. For a few seconds, nothing moved. No one dared even to breathe.
Then the cave was filled with light as the viral shot out from behind his shelter, his form moving so fast it blurred. The bioluminescence of his body seemed to pulse with his rage, matching the syllables of his mantra. I. Was. Called. Fanning. One second he was sitting on his haunches across the room, clicking at Peter with that sick, wet sounding tone that only virals can produce, and the next he was soaring through the air. In the same second, he was also on top of Peter, crashing into him with such force that it knocked him into the air, sending him flying into Amy. She hit the wall before he did; She heard, rather than felt the air leave her lungs as Peter's weight came down on her, the force of his descent grinding her into the rough crevices in the rock. As they both tumbled to the ground, she registered a growing pain blossoming in her side- she had probably broken a rib. She stayed on the ground, her back pressed to the wall. She was in too much pain to move yet.
Peter got up, sputtering and coughing, with scarlet streams of blood running down his arm, where Amy realized he had accidentally pressed his own blade into his flesh. Zero had spun around and was running at him again, but Peter ducked just in time, sending Zero crashing into nothing but stone. Unphased, he charged a third time, but Peter had reached into his pack and pulled out a small object- a plastic, battery-powered fan.
Zero abruptly sat down again, his glowing embers of eyes trying to focus on the spinning blades. A low keening began to issue from deep in his neck. Peter lifted his blade with his free hand and advanced cautiously toward the viral. Amy closed her eyes, knowing what would come next. She heard the damp cave wind parting around the sharp edge of the knife as Peter brought it swiftly down. She heard the soft impact as the blade pierced the viral's weak spot with precision. She heard the creature's groans cut off abruptly, and then the hollow thud as its body fell to the ground. She felt Zero's last, panicked thought, a desperate attempt to hold onto life. I was called Fanning.
When Amy opened her eyes, Peter stood staring down at the viral, at Zero, at Fanning. His blade was still plunged deep in its chest; he had dropped the fan. His arms hung limply by his sides, one stained crimson by the steady trickle of his blood that was gradually slowing. After a while- it could have been a minute or an hour, Amy couldn't tell- Peter lifted his head with a great effort to meet Amy's eyes. She saw that his were filled with a deep grief and sorrow, but also a radiant triumph. After all they had been through, everything they had done, they had finally accomplished it. They had rid the world of all virals- the disease was no more. Their efforts had prevailed, and now humanity could blossom again, could form a new world without fear of these horrible creatures. Because of them, humanity could begin anew.
And so it did.