~Story start- prologue~

20 years previously- prior to the 'incident'

"Are you ready sweetie?" My mother's voice called out from the other side of my bedroom door. I took one last glance in the mirror and grinned at what I saw. Aw jeez, I was so excited about tonight. My usually wayward brown hair was combed to perfection, my hazel eyes lined with a deep black kohl pencil. I hardly wear make-up, but tonight was special. You see, today was my sixteenth birthday- quite the prestigious event in my household. And to celebrate, my parents had booked us a two week holiday in an uptown New York City hotel. It was pretty decent, quite classy- but not in a snobbish way y'know? Anyhow, it must have cost a bloody fortune- especially with the astounding view over the bustling city. Also, it still had the old fashioned fire escape attached to the outside. I just love its charm. So we packed our bags and made for Gatwick airport; twelve hours later here I am! My Dad went the day before so he could book the party venue- I mean, who wouldn't party on their sixteenth?

However, I really hate being fussed over, even on my birthday. My mum's the worst when it comes to that. I quietly approached the door, grimacing at even the slightest scuffle of my feet. I gently pry the door open and squeeze through. Alas, my efforts were in vain. I'll be damned. My mother had spotted me trying to flee. She rushed over and squealed in utter delight.

"Look at you, my beautiful baby girl all grown up!"

She smiled warmly and encased my slender frame in a warm hug. My cheeks flushed a deep crimson shade form embarrassment. Oh, I was mortified.

"Aww, Muuum…" I protested, whining like a little kid. Talk about major cringe moment.

"Hey, I'm your mother so humour me!" She scolded playfully whilst she flicked my forehead. Sniggering, she returned to her barstool and casually picked up the bottle of wine so conveniently placed on the table next to it. Trust my mum to get hammered before the party! I scoffed out loud, causing my mother to become irked. I sighed dramatically and drew my attention to the solitary clock on the chrome finish mantelpiece. I frowned. It was Nine O'clock in the evening and no sign of my Dad. No calls, no texts, nothing. This was so unlike him…

"Where's Dad? It's late… surely the reservations have been put in place by now!" I murmured out loud. I tried not to panic, because he was probably caught in traffic- I mean, this is New York! One of the busiest cities in the world…so yeah. I put it out of my mind and decided to listen to the radio instead.

"Breaking news… rioting in new…destroys local business…caused by ..Deadly fungal virus… takes over..Brain and… aggressive violence…stay in your homes…"

I fiddled with the dial. Darn! The signal was really poor. Before long it cut out all together. Never mind, I thought, it was probably a load of crap anyway.

My mum was obviously starting to worry. She started pacing back and forth across our suite.

"Where is dad?" I asked as she cast a nervous look in the direction of the window.

"I don't know honey I-"

BANG!

What the fuck was that? I ran toward the window and threw apart the once-drawn curtains. I gasped in shock. Down below, a van had exploded and was engulfed in a seething ball of fire; people running amok the streets- screaming unintelligibly.

BANG! BANG! BANG!

Three more cars had erupted into flames. Men, women and children alike were swarming the streets, as if they were trying to escape. This all looked freakishly like what the news reporter was describing. And I didn't like it. At all. That's when I saw them. A horde of what appeared to be blood- thirsty anarchists surged forward, screaming with hate and razing anything in their way. The way they ran frightened me terribly. Like a feral creature from the released from the deepest, darkest depths of your mind- teeth bared, eyes wild with hunger. Oh, my. I surveyed the scene with horror and disgust as the angered mob pounced on an unlucky straggler. A man, I think. Or well he was.

They tore him apart, limb by limb, like a pack of wolves. What was going on? I was so engrossed into what was happening outside that I had forgotten about my mother. She must have walked up to me while I watched that poor man mauled by savages. The thought made bile rise in the back of my throat. Mum had gently dragged me away from the slideshow from hell, rescuing me from the terror, from insanity. I was shaking uncontrollably- a leaf in a storm. She held my face in her hands, looked me in the eye and told me I would be fine. But it made no difference. It was like I was looking, but not seeing. Hearing, but not listening. Her face contorted with concern as she swept the tears off my face with the pads of her thumbs. Well, fuck me. I hadn't even realised I was crying.

I opened my mouth to speak when a member of staff barged into our suite, locking the door behind her. Her dark hair, all frizzy and chaotic, stuck to her face. Her blue eyes were red and swollen from crying.

"Y'all gotta quit this place and quick- it ain't safe here no more!"

Her rich southern drawl was laced with fear. Why is this happening? And were the hell was my Dad? I was so confused. Screams could be heard from inside the buildings complex. Oh jeez, they must be storming the blocks too! The maid rushed over to the window and shoved it open with brute force. She beckoned for us with a thin hand.

"Come on, folks, down yonder the fire 'scape- quickly now!" The instinct for survival took control of my frozen-from-shock muscles and propelled me toward the exit. My mother, however, had other ideas. She darted towards the kitchen.

"Mum! What on earth are you doing- we've got to go! Now!" I yelled. Is she stupid? She paused in the doorway and gazed at me with scared, panicked eyes.

I looked at my mother. I really looked. Damn, she wasn't doing very well. Her once perfectly glossy blonde hair had lost its glamorous gleam. Her lush green eyes now seemed dulled with worry.

"Go ahead without me Erin… I-I have to call your father…!" She uttered in a painful whisper. I reluctantly turned to leave. I knew that if I had argued, she'd have my hide for sure.

At precisely that moment, a figure abruptly charged through our hotel door, smashing it to pieces, rendering it useless. I wasn't worried though. I recognised him immediately. My Dad- he was home. Relief ran awash through me and I reached toward him. My motion was hindered by the maid's firm grip on my wrist. Perplexed, I tried to jerk my hand away.

"No! Don't! H-He's one 'a them!" The maid's voice quivered. Is she mad? He's not one of them- he's my Dad for goodness sake! Frowning, I studied my Father cautiously.

Oh, may heaven have mercy…She was right. His clothes were tattered and sopping with blood; along with his hands. He was hunched over and twitching, as if he was in great pain. He was foaming at the mouth, his spittle tinged red from the scarlet liquid on his lips. His eyes… they were filled with hate and a burning rage. And they were focused on me.

Suddenly my mother reappeared from the kitchen, looking flustered and sick with worry.

"Erin, baby are you okay? What was- Jonathan?"

His head snapped toward her when she spoke. He growled a deep snarl that made my blood run cold. I yelled a warning. I was too late. She didn't even have the time to process my words before my father violently tackled her delicate form to the floor. I couldn't do anything- I was again frozen with shock. My mother's head smacked against the marble kitchen floor with a sickening thud; blood began to ooze from the wound. This seemed to kick start my father into a frenzy. He roared with an animalistic fury as he buried his teeth into his wife's neck. Her screams morphed into gargles as she drowned in her own blood. With one swift jerk, he ripped out a chunk of her throat, causing droplets of her lifeblood to spray everywhere. On the walls, the ceiling. All over me!

This horrific act had snapped me out of my comatose state and threw me into a state of hysteria instead. A shriek of heart-wrenching agony burst from my lips and tears fell from my eyes like a never-ending flood. The maid grasped my waist in a vice-like grip. I kicked and struggled to break free. No. My mother wasn't dead. She wasn't dead. My father didn't kill her. It's all bullshit. It's just a nightmare. Of course it's just a nightmare. I'll wake up soon. I'll wake up. I want to wake up! Please wake up!

The housemaid yanked me through he window and released me. I collapsed on the fire escape grille and curled up into a foetal position. My chest heaved with sobs. I just wanted to die. The woman pulled the window shut with a resounding thunk. She leaned down and seized my hand, pulling me to my feet. Her eyes were brimming with sympathy. She seized my other hand and said to me "I'm sorry darlin'. Ain't nothin' you could'a done, girl. Come with me- I'll get ya somewhere safe. Don't look back now!" We surged down the stairs and snaked through the chaos. My mind wandered back to the hotel suite… Aw jeez, I'm so sorry mum. I could've saved you… I love you...