This is, I guess the result of my never ending stream of experimentation. What can I say, it's the biology lover in me. I decided to write a horror story for Big Time Rush because there don't seem to be many(or any) that exist. I really loved the idea of flesh eating snow and I was going to use it for Supernatural, but I thought Big Time Rush deserved a horror story more.
Warnings:Blood, gore, language, disturbing imagery
Let me know what you thought about this! I'm definitely considering writing more horror if this is well received.
When James wakes up, for a moment he thinks he's back in Minnesota. The sky outside the window is frosted winter-gray and smashing violently against the glass are thick, white flakes of snow. He's dreaming; he has to be.
Outside it's eight-five degrees and rising.
Carlos meets him in the lobby and caught in his eyelashes is a dusting of white. The snow sits there, clumped in the black, and it doesn't melt. The snow stays until Carlos brushes it away.
"Who has Hollywood fever?" He asks because what the fuck.
"No one." Carlos' cheeks are flushed bright and his face is glistening with sweat. James touches the bridge of his nose, just to check, and Carlos' skin is fever-hot and clammy. He doesn't feel like he's ever been near anything cold. "It's crazy. The news has no idea what's going on." Carlos doesn't seem concerned and James feels a slow shiver crawl up his spine despite the heat. "Logan says it's a weather anomaly, but, how can it snow when it's so hot out? It should melt before it hits the ground."
"Dude, don't ask me." The only thing he's ever been any good at is singing. "Maybe-" He's interrupted by a long, high pitched scream. It's the kind of noise James has only ever heard in horror movies. It's a shriek of terror, of the impossible and the tragic intertwined.
Kendall comes running in through the front doors and in his arms he holds a bloody, faceless thing. The girl, he can tell it's a girl from the pink sundress and matching shoes, looks like one of the pictures from Logan's anatomy textbooks. She looks like a partially dissected animal, the pictures of the human body once layers of skin and muscle have been stripped away. This girl, whatever happened to her, has caused her face and arms to be almost nothing but thin patches of flesh and gleaming white bone. He can see the way her tendons are connected to the bones in her forearms, the little pockets of fluid that keep her joints rolling smooth, the jutted knobs of her knuckles.
"Oh my God." Logan, even though he's wanted to be a doctor since they were four years old, pukes his gut out at the sight. It doesn't bode well for his future career in medicine; however, James himself is a little queasy just watching her try to talk. He sees every single one of her teeth where they are attached to her gums, the cartilage and smooth tubes of her trachea and esophagus in her throat.
"Jennifer." Two of the Jennifers, each of them crying their eyes out, take the girl's skinless hands. It's then he realizes, gut coiling hot in horror, that of course the girl is Jennifer. She has the same pretty blonde hair and delicate cheekbones. James would know the shape of her face even down to the bones. "Oh Jen, you're going to be alright. If we get you a good plastic surgeon you're going to be even better looking than before."
Jennifer gurgles up blood from deep in her throat. James thinks she knows every word coming from her friends' mouths is nothing but lies.
"Get," Logan's recovered from his bout of nausea. He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and this time when he looks at Jennifer his face is blank as something carved out of stone. "Someone get the first aid kit, we need to bandage up what we can."
It's the Jennifers who tend to her gaping, gory wounds. James is surprised by it, surprised by the gentleness they show as they swab the bare sections of her skeleton with alcohol-soaked cotton swabs. He always thought the Jennifers were the kind of girls who were friends out of convenience, who hung around out together out of shared interests only. He never pictured them as the kind who would ruin their French tips with human blood, who would risk ruining their designer clothes. He can suddenly see why Carlos was so eager to be friends with them way back when. The Jennifers may come off as bitches and divas, but they take care of their own until the end. Their bond goes deeper than perfect hair or walking in slow motion.
"James." Carlos says and his eyes are bright and liquid.
He's worried too.
As the day progresses, everyone congregates in the lobby.
Everyone except for those who can't. At a quick glance, James notices that Guitar Dude, Bitters, and half a dozen other faces he knows are gone. He doubts they're going to come back and if they're in the condition Jennifer is, he doesn't want them to.
"As you can see," They're watching Action News Seven. Maria Gonzales the anchor today and when the camera zooms in to get a close up of her face, James can see patches of missing flesh the station has tried to cover over with makeup. They're barely noticeable, only tiny indentations in her cheeks and nose. It looks like, well, like small mouths came along and each took a bite out of her, crazy as that may be. "The snow has corrosive properties."
The screen behind her changes to shots of people on the street. The first clip is of a man lying face up in the street. His skin is gone completely. He looks like one of the models used in a biology classes. He's nothing but a skeleton slowly being covered with snow. The next scene shows a hospital waiting room where every single person is clutching bandages to hide their injuries. The snow is everywhere, the news says, from Los Angeles to Buenos Aires to Beijing. "Scientists believe it to be a variant of acid rain. Everyone is advised to stay indoors until further notice."
The channel flickers to static and then fades out.
They've been in the Palmwoods for three days when they start running low on food. There are no vehicles equipped to deal with snow in the city and snowploughs around the country are overwhelmed. The snow doesn't stop, not ever, it keeps falling and falling until the sky itself seems to be made up of bits of white.
"Someone is going to have to go get food." Kendall says as they pick at canned green beans and crackers for breakfast. "Or we're all going to starve."
"You are not going outside." Mrs. Knight slams her hand down on the table. "We have enough food to last for another week if we're careful. A little salt can help anything keep."
"Not everyone is as lucky as we are."
Kendall's right. Most people are used to going to restaurants or ordering take out. Not many feel the need to stock up on frozen and canned food.
"I'll go." Carlos surprises them with his voice. He's been spending most of his time over with the Jennifers. Because they can't get her to a hospital, Jennifer's wounds have become infected, and she's caught a horrible fever that's burning her up from the inside. "I went outside the other day and nothing happened to me."
"Carlos is right, Mrs. Knight." Logan clears his throat and takes a sip of water to wash down the dry crackers. "Some people are immune. Before we lost power I read a news report online about it. Scientist's weren't sure why but they hypothesize it has to do with different skins' ability to tolerate pH."
"Look, mom." Kendall opens a window and before Mrs. Knight can stop him he plunges his bare hand into a pile of snow. Kendall removes his hand and it is whole and perfect. "The four of us will be fine. We grew up in Minnesota; a little snow isn't going to hurt."
The morning they set out to search for food, the temperature has settled to a relatively comfortable seventy degrees. The snow is still solid as ever. James doesn't have any hope that it's ever going to melt. It keeps stacking up and no amount of sunlight can make it go away.
"Everyone remember what they're looking for?" Kendall made a plan before they left. Kendall's good at this kind of thing, at setting them all to a task. They need the distraction. As each day passes, the people that are still around get more and more desperate while the others try to get away and find their friends and families.
"Canned goods," Carlos pats his duffel bag.
"Water." He gives a mock salute.
"First aid supplies and fresh produce." What Logan means is he's looking for something they can give to Jennifer, some kind of antibiotic that can keep her fever at bay.
"And I'm looking for the meat and dry goods. Let's head out." Kendall kicks the front door open and James is surprised to find the sidewalk clear. He suspects that Carlos had been anticipating an escape attempt all along and spent hours digging them a path.
James steps into the warm air and the skin on his arms starts to burn. It feels like there are knives crawling on him, like he's being stung by bees. It's the snow, of course, the snow that is trying to dissolve his meat from his bones.
"I can't." He tosses Carlos his duffel and retreats. There are a few red spots on his arms, but they're nothing to worry about. No big deal. They'll heal over in a day or two. "You guys are going to have to go without me."
"Take care of things while we're gone."
"I know, I know, I know." Jennifer babbles and James can feel the heat radiating off her in sickly waves. She's dying, they all know it. The putrid, decaying smell coming from beneath her bandages is proof enough of that. Logan says she has gangrene, not that it matters, blood poisoning is going to kill her before the rot can reach her vital organs.
"Shh, Jen." Jennifer lays a wet washcloth on Jennifer's forehead. It won't help, nothing will. Even with medical attention, James never thought she ever stood much of a chance. "You should rest."
"It was me." Jennifer sighs, her words deformed and slurred as they come through her lip-less mouth. "I was tainted."
"No, sweetie, you don't know what you're saying."
"I do, I do. He's here. It's here." The heat is making her crazy. It's in the mid eighties today and because of the snow they can't even open the window to try and catch a breeze. He misses electricity and air conditioning.
"What's here?" Jennifer holds Jennifer's palm close to her face. The whiteness of the bandages contrast sharply with her lovely, coffee and cream coloring.
"The end of the world. When it's finally over, the just and the pure will inherit the earth." Pus drips from Jennifer's infected gums, sluggish and white. Carlos gets another washcloth and wipes it away.
"That's your fever talking, Jen. You're burning up."
"Not yet." Jennifer laughs, dry and eerie. "I'm not burning yet."
"I used to like snow." Carlos rolls over on his bed so that instead of facing the wall, he's facing James' side of the room.
"Me too." He remembers snowball fights and outdoor forts and the chill of frosty wind across his cheeks. He remembers real snow, powdery and cold and soft, not this dry, lukewarm imitation.
"Do you think our families in Minnesota are okay?" For the first time since they were ten, Carlos is sleeping with his helmet on. The black plastic makes a scratching sound as it slides over the fabric of Carlos' pillow.
"I don't know." He doesn't want to know. He's worrying about his mom and his dad and he can't, not now. Ninety-eight percent of all adults are susceptible to the weather. It seems like every parent is.
"They're probably dead. But we're going to be dead soon too, so it's not a big deal."
"Don't say that." James has been thinking it for days. To hear it out loud seems like an admission of defeat.
"Why? It's probably true."
"What happened to happy thoughts about kittens?" Please Carlos. He just wants them to be themselves for a little while longer.
"That stopped when I had to dig Jennifer's grave."
Carlos turns to the wall again, and James puts his ear buds in so he doesn't have to listen to him cry.
James wakes up late one night to the crash of shattering glass. Across the apartment, Mrs. Knight lets out a scream.
In the bedroom, Mrs. Knight is buried beneath a lump of snow. Carlos and Logan are digging her out with their hands; Kendall is hiding Katie's face against his chest.
He smells blood before he sees it. The snow Carlos and Logan start pushing to the floor is tinged with pink that gets darker and darker until he's never seen anything so red. The comforter is drenched in blood and the sickly remains of organs. For whatever reason, the snow usually leaves the intestines intact. They sit steaming on the bed in pink coils, those gory intestines do. They have the nasty smell of blood and bile and shit to them. He has to pinch his nose closed with his fingers to keep from losing everything he's ever eaten.
Carlos spins on his heel and leaves the room without a word, quiet as a whisper. Logan gets an extra sheet out of the hall closet and he helps Logan wrap Mrs. Knight up in it. Her hair tickles his hands, because the snow doesn't eat that either, not the guts or hair or fingernails.
"We'll leave you guys alone."
It doesn't feel right leaving two kids (and that's what they are, they're all just kids), with the remnants of their mother's body.
They board up all the windows. The apartment is dark as night during the day but the potential for a repeat of what happened to Mrs. Knight is slim.
The snow drums on his bedroom window, only his bedroom window. He can hear it calling to him clear as a bell rings in complete silence. Come to me the whoosh and thump sounds say. Comecomecomecome. It wants him. It wants to chew him right down to the bone like he's some kind of KFC special.
"You doing okay, James?"
He wants to ask Kendall the same thing.
"I'm fine, considering the whole apocalypse thing. My hair is a little flat." By some miracle the water is still working. The one good thing about this snowstorm is that it's too warm to freeze the pipes. They haven't had to break into their enormous stash of bottled water yet. Some of the buildings in the city still have power, there are snowploughs making the rounds now, but there aren't many cars on the streets. There aren't many people on the streets either. "What about you?"
"I'm coping." Kendall is washing one of Katie's shirts by hand. He dunks the red fabric into a bucket of water and scrubs at it with a toothbrush. The detergent turns thick and foamy; the bubbles cling to the back of his hands up to his wrists.
"You aren't supposed to get that soap on your skin." Logan offers Kendall a pair of yellow rubber gloves; Mrs. Knight's yellow rubber gloves.
"I don't need them." Kendall won't touch the gloves and when Logan tosses them to him, Kendall moves away from them as though they're made of salt and radioactive spikes.
"You'll get a chemical burn."
Kendall gets a chemical burn.
Above them, the roof of the Palmwoods creaks loud as old floorboards under the weight of its increasing load. James doesn't know how long they have until it caves in and kills them all. It's a strange choice, to have to decide between being crushed to death by wood and plaster or literally eaten alive by snow.
"I don't think the roof is going to hold." Logan stares suspiciously above them. Personally, he doesn't trust the architecture either. "The Palmwoods is an older building; the roof is mostly wood and a cement-plaster mixture. It's pretty to look at and great in an earthquake, but it can't support the weight of this snow for shit. Most buildings out here just aren't made for that." Logan's right. This snow is denser, heavier, and it clumps together like paperclips cling to a magnet. Logan's estimated there is around an extra ton or two up on the roof by this point.
"So let's leave this stupid place. I can't stand it here." Katie has been begging to leave since they buried Mrs. Knight in the front lawn. The place is ruined for her, ruined like the white comforter stained with blood. No matter how many times they've tried to scrub at it, Mrs. Knight's blood just won't wash out. Carlos attacked it with a toothbrush, on his hands and knees, scouring it with small, circular motions until he gave up and they threw the damn thing out.
"Why not?" Katie screeches, nearly in tears. It's the first time he's heard her get worked up over anything. It scares him to see Katie acting her age. He's never seen her lose control before.
"James can't go outside." Carlos says and it sounds like a sad, horrible fact. It sounds like a burden, like a thousand pounds they have to bear. They have to bear ihim/i and his vulnerable skin.
"We could bundle him up."
"It's too hot," Katie's face falls when Logan shakes his head. "He could get heat stroke."
"I doubt that would work anyway. It, you're going to say I'm crazy, but it's alive or something. It wants me."
"But why? I don't understand it. Immunity isn't, it isn't working the way it's supposed to." Logan opens a plain, blue notebook. He's used it to write down the names and ages of everyone so far who has died. "None of this matches up. There are parents who die but children who don't, so that would indicate that the gene is recessive. And if that's true, then there should be fewer survivors. Statistically, only one in four offspring produced by heterozygous parents should be able to go outside, but in almost all families each of the children is immune. Not mention the chances of every parent being heterozygous is slim. It doesn't make sense. Biology isn't supposed to work this way." None of them really know what Logan's saying, but his meaning is clear: James is fucked. "Those of us who are immune must have something in common."
James feels like he's in seventh grade biology class again and he and Carlos are supposed to combine their traits on paper to see what their baby would look like if they could reproduce.
"Maybe it's not what we have in common," Kendall pauses, his tongue between his teeth. "Maybe it's what James and all the others do."
He tries to think of what he shares with Mrs. Knight and Jennifer and Guitar Dude and Bitters and his parents. He remembers what Jennifer said, suddenly, those haunting fever induced words.
"You guys are all virgins." The words slide off his tongue smooth as rocks roll over ice.
"You never had sex with Camille?" Kendall's eyebrows are raised in disbelief.
"We, uh, almost did. There were some premature complications." Logan's face is the deepest shade of beet red.
"It happens to everyone." He gives Logan a quick pat on the knee. The mystery is solved, strange as the answer may be, but he's still doomed all because of one late night and a girl back in Minnesota at the homecoming dance.
"So, heh," Carlos grins but the smile never reaches his eyes. "Turns out Bitters got some."
The snow starts to slow. The flakes are smaller and they only get about an inch or so a day. Logan is convinced it's a sign the storm is going to end soon. James is pretty sure it means almost everyone who isn't a virgin is dead.
"It isn't going to stop until I'm dead, you know." He explains to Carlos as they listen to the glass on the window break. The two layers of boards keep the snow out, though the wood groans and shudders.
"I know." Carlos walks right over and kisses him. The second their lips touch, the wind screams and howls. Carlos' mouth is soft and hungry, wet and open. James cups his hands around Carlos' face, thumbs along the underside of his jaw, and gives Carlos the leverage to straddle him, one thigh on either side of his chest. "I don't want you to die."
"I don't exactly want to die either." He threads his fingers through Carlos' hair, points his chin towards the ceiling so that Carlos can plant kisses along his neck. "I'm too young and handsome."
"I wish you and Juanita had never done it." He barely remembers that night at the dance. He remembers curling his fingers in Juanita's long, black hair and pushing up the hem of her violet dress that looked so nice against her caramel skin. Looking at it now, the whole thing feels so obvious.
"So do I." He'd give the world for this to be another time, another place. Here, in the now, with Carlos warm in his bed, his stomach flares cool with disappointment that dampens his arousal.
"Everyone always thought we'd fuck."
If he allows himself to reflect on it, yeah, he thought so too. It was something inevitable, like how a rainbow appears after a storm or sharks are attracted to blood in the water. Carlos is sliding off his shirt and he wants to touch, glide his hands along the flatness of Carlos' chest and belly. "Carlos, we can't." He pushes Carlos away even though Carlos' mouth is sweet and plush and eager. "We're not Romeo and Juliet, dying together is super cliché."
They lie in his bed together and he feels like a man on his way to a date with the electric chair.
"Goodbye, James." Everyone is in the lobby the next morning: the Jennifers, a few other teens his age, and over a dozen of the child actors. Camille, Jo, and the Jennifers have been taking care of the kids since most of the adults either fled or died. Someone left a pair of twins at the Palmwoods, two tiny, chubby things that did diaper commercials, and Jo and Camille each bounce one on their hips.
Camille gives the baby to Jennifer and stands on her tiptoes to give him a kiss.
Kendall and Logan hug him, but Logan looks ready to cry and Kendall turns his face away.
Carlos jumps on him, clings with his arms around his neck, and James never wants to let go.
"Promise me you'll get laid after this." Only a few people laugh. "But not you." He touches a finger to Katie's chest. "You wait until you're married and even then, play hard to get. Guys like a little mystery." James walks out the front door then, elastic tight around his chest.
He doesn't know what to do with himself, because no one really knows how let themselves die. He decides he's going to make a snow angel, for the very last time. He falls onto his back, arms spread wide, and the snow catches him, fluffy and pillow-soft. The pain is like nothing he's ever felt before, the agony licks across him like flames, and he bites into his tongue so hard he tastes blood to try and keep himself from screaming. He closes his eyes and it feels like fire is dancing across his flesh with barbed feet. He's trembling, but he pictures Jennifer and Mrs. Knight and everyone he's lost, and it'll all be over soon.
He feels wetness against his disintegrating cheek.
The snow is melting.