In December 2009, the world was blessed with the cure for cancer. My papa would live, and Mama wouldn't cry anymore. Gramma would be happy again, and we didn't have to tell Papa that he would die soon. Instead, we could tell him that he would live. That he didn't need his IV anymore, or that he could walk without a nurse following him. We sat in his room, as Mama helped Gramma clean out his Trachea pump, and talked about how we planned on going on picnics. I was five years old.
That was our last Christmas as a… as a family. No, Papa didn't die. The doctors said they needed to run some tests, to see if he had any side effects. I knew something was wrong, though. He was coughing up blood, which was greenish-tinted with mucus, and he was losing his appetite, as well as most of his hair. Mama and Gramma just prayed, while I actually went as far as to ask to talk to the nurse and beg her not to let my papa die. I asked her not to tell Mama or Gramma I asked that, too. She just said "I'll try my best, Sweetheart." That made me worried.
It was about a week after that, when I was watching TV, I flicked it to the news channel. They weren't making any new cartoons; I didn't like re-runs, anyway. I'd much rather see what was going on in the world.
They were sealing off the bridge in Manhattan. With Missiles. I called for Mama to come and look, but she was busy, so I recorded it. When I was older, and I had kids, I wanted them to look back at this tape and think, "My momma was there with her mom," and then they could show their kids…
I noticed they were lifting helicopters away from the bridge, and that there were people on them. That was odd. Were they going to the other part of the island? It's not like we could follow, being stuck here in Oklahoma. So what were they doing?
I felt my heart skip a beat as I saw a large chain of people hanging off of the helicopter. What were they thinking? It was too heavy, they were going to fall. And just their luck, another helicopter was starting up nearby. If they both took off at the same time…
I turned away at the sight of the explosion. There was a man standing on the platform, holding a puppy. He looked like he was about to fall over. I felt bad for him. That was probably his family on that helicopter. The puppy licked his face, and I stopped recording. I didn't want my kids watching that.
That poor man…
When the KV virus was publically broadcasted, and we still hadn't gotten the results from Papa's test, I knew it was over. He had the virus, and he was either dead or just not… him. It was broadcasting the change in behavior… starving themselves, sitting there and staring at nothing, acting like wild animals… The vaccine was not a blessing. It was a curse.
Then they announced it was airborne. People started locking themselves in their houses, stealing food from stores, enough to last months at a time, and they were bringing all the animals in. It wasn't long before the animals were breaking out of the zoos. Farmers were bringing in their livestock for themselves. Eventually, the world just… gave up.
One day, Mama's eye was bleeding. I think she was crying, she just had blood in her tears. Daddy told me to go in my room, and after a while, he came in my room and we just lay there. He was crying too, but it wasn't bloody. I didn't see Mama again after that.
And then… Sophie, my cat, got really mean. She was yowling and growling, and her fur was standing on end. Shadow, our Jack Russell, wouldn't let her near me. Finally, when she fell asleep, I stroked her back to see if she was sick, and her fur came out in my hand. I dropped the fur and shut the door, leaving the sleeping cat alone. That wasn't Sophie anymore.
Even if the disease was airborne, it didn't seem to affect Shadow or I. Daddy got really sick, to the point where he couldn't stand. I don't think he got the virus, but rather, I think his heart just couldn't live in a world with no more light. He died in late June, when I was eight.
So I had to live on my own. I raided stores and came back before night. I didn't think there were any of… them… out there. Not in Verdigris, anyway. It was a fairly small town, and most people evacuated. One day, when I was brushing Shadow and listening to the radio, I heard a man speaking.
"My name is Robert Neville. I am a survivor living in New York City. I am broadcasting on all AM frequencies. I will be at the South Street Seaport every day at mid-day, when the sun is highest in the sky. If you are out there... if anyone is out there... I can provide food, I can provide shelter, I can provide security. If there's anybody out there... anybody... please. You are not alone" So I wasn't alone. But I couldn't go to New York. I was in Oklahoma, I couldn't drive, and there aren't exactly planes going up every day, now. I decided to stick with this station to see what Robert Neville would do.
"Day one thousand and one. We came in close contact with a hive today. Blood tests confirm that I remain immune to both the airborne and contact strains. Canines remain immune to airborne strain only. The vaccine trials continue. I'm still unable to transfer my immunity to infected hosts. The Krippen Virus is... elegant," He was still immune. I sat down, stroking Shadow. Canines were immune to airborne. Only airborne, though. So I was glad I had used Daddy's shotgun on Sophie when I had. He continued after a brief pause.
"Just fishin' in the dark, son…" he trailed off. Shadow licked my face, and I threw the ball. He took off, and Robert suddenly began speaking, as if he had remembered something.
"Ah… Behavioral note - an infected male exposed himself to sunlight today. Now it's possible decreased brain function or growing scarcity of food is causing them to... ignore their basic survival instincts. Social de-evolution appears complete. Typical human behavior is now entirely absent." He stopped. "Can't go runnin' into the dark," he said, and I heard a dog whine. The broadcast ended. I had my suspicions of the man in the radio. Who else was in New York, had lost their child in a helicopter accident, and had a German Shepard? I was glad I at least got his face on the tape when I was recording; I wanted to at least know what he looked like.
He said he had come in contact with a hive. Did that mean he was in a place with a lot of places to hide? If not, how was he alive? How could he be sure that he wasn't affected until it actually starts affecting his body?
It was a puzzling thing, life was. You couldn't be too sure what life holds for you. I listened to his broadcasts, and I heard how he was rescued by a woman named Anna and her son Ethan. I heard how they were living with him, and how Ethan was in his daughter's room. I also heard a conversation they had when he forgot to turn his webcam off.
"The world is quieter now. We just have to listen. If we listen, we can hear God's plan."
"All right, let me tell you about your 'God's plan'," he said. "Six billion people on Earth when the infection hit. KV had a ninety-percent kill rate, that's five point four billion people dead. Crashed and bled out. Dead," I flinched. He was yelling so loud… he was so angry… "Less than one-percent immunity. That left twelve million healthy people, like you, me, and Ethan. The other five hundred and eighty-eight million turned into your dark seekers, and then they got hungry and they killed and fed on everybody. Everybody!" I felt myself seize up. "Every single person that you or I has ever known is dead! Dead! There is no god!" I silently turned the radio off.
I sat there, crying, holding his limp little body in my arms. Shadow was dead. He was an old dog, maybe seventeen years. But it wasn't natural for a twelve year old to bury a small creature like that. It didn't matter, anyway. It was over. The game was lost.
So I lay the shovel on the ground and patted the dirt, walking through the Oklahoma fields. I heard a thud-thud, thud-thud mixed in with the feral growling, and realized it was my own heart as I stepped into the shadow and closed my eyes.
In 2009, a deadly virus burned through our civilization, pushing humankind to the edge of extinction. Dr. Robert Neville dedicated his life to the discovery of a cure, and the restoration of humanity. On September 9th 2012, at approximately 8:49 PM he discovered that cure; and at 8:52 he gave his life to defend it. We are his legacy. This is his legend. Light up the darkness.