Read Mass Extinction Event (Book 2): Days 9-16 Online

Authors: Amy Cross

Tags: #Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian

Mass Extinction Event (Book 2): Days 9-16

BOOK: Mass Extinction Event (Book 2): Days 9-16
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Mass Extinction Event:

The Complete Second Series (Days 9 to 16)

by Amy Cross

Kindle Edition

 

Copyright Amy Cross, All Rights Reserved

Published by Dark Season Books

First published: November 2013

 

http://amycrossbooks.wordpress.com

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment. If you enjoy it and wish to share it with others, please consider buying them their own copy. Feedback is always welcome. The author reserves all rights in respect of this work.

 

ALSO BY AMY CROSS

 

Horror

 

Asylum

American Coven

The Night Girl

Devil's Briar

The Vampire's Grave

Darper Danver series 1

 

Fantasy / Horror

 

Dark Season series 1, 2 & 3

The Hollow Church (Abby Hart)

Lupine Howl series 1, 2 & 3

Grave Girl

Ghosts

The Library

 

Thriller

 

The Girl Who Never Came Back

The Dead and the Dying: A Joanna Mason Novel

Other People's Bodies

 

Dystopia

 

The Shades

Mass Extinction Event series 1 & 2

 

Erotica

 

Broken Blue

Broken White

Mass Extinction Event:

The Complete Second Series (Days 9 to 16)

Day Nine

Prologue

 

"It's this cough," the guy says, his voice sounding strained. "It's just not going away. I swear, I've never had anything like it."

Sitting a few seats away on the bus, Joseph can't help but smile. The two men near the front have been discussing their health problems for a few minutes now, and one of them in particular seems to be struggling with a cough that he just can't keep under control. Ordinarily, Joseph would have moved to the back of the bus in order to avoid the chance he might catch something, but this time he has no such worries. He knows exactly what's happening, and he knows that he already has the same infection. Well, 'infection' is a strong word. To everyone else on the planet, it's an infection, but to Joseph, it's just... life.

"If you're coughing blood," the guy's friend says, "you should go see a doctor. That shit's serious."

"It was only a few specks," the first guy replies. "I've been coughing so much, I've probably just torn something in the back of my throat. You know how it is." He pauses to cough again. "You hear that?" he adds eventually. "It's fucking deep on my chest, man. It's not fun. I was starting to think it might be pneumonia, but it's not. It's just a fucking kick-ass cold."

"Better be," his friends says. "I don't want to catch anything."

"I'm not sneezing
on
you, am I?"

"It's in the air, man. It's like, when you cough and sneeze, all these little droplets are left hanging for hours, and they're all over everything. When you're sick, you should go to bed and stay there instead of coming out and infecting people. It's selfish!"

"Whatever."

"I'm serious! You come out here, coughing and spluttering and all that shit, and you're infecting everyone in your path! It's pretty bad, man. Can't you just ride it out at home? This kind of stuff spreads like wildfire. God knows how many people you've infected already. All the people on this bus are probably messed up, for one thing."

Joseph looks out the window. He knows exactly what's going to happen over the next few days, and he knows that these men are going to be utterly unable to do anything about it. His most recent calculations suggest that the spread will be at least 99.5%, if not more, and it's already clear that these two specimens are going to be among the first to die. There's a part of him that would like to warn them, but Joseph knows that the best thing is just to let everything proceed as planned. It's tempting to think that maybe he could turn back, but even if he was having true second thoughts, he couldn't undo anything. The wheels are in motion, and the plan is unstoppable. The spread must be massive by now, traveling not only through the streets of the city, but also extending its reach all around the world. He can't help but think of all the people moving through airports, unaware that they're spreading the seed of their own destruction.

"You okay?" asks a voice nearby.

Turning, Joseph finds that a woman is staring at him with a concerned expression. She looks like a typical busy-body, the kind of person Joseph hates. In fact, she reminds him of his grand-mother, the woman who raised him and ruined his life, turning him into a miserable, bullied child. He has to remind himself to stay calm, because there's a part of him that would dearly like to grab the old bitch and cause her some proper pain. For a moment, he allows himself to fantasize about bouncing her face off the back of the seat, smashing her skull and then watching as the blood flows all over the floor.

"I asked if you're okay," the woman continues. "Can you hear me?"

"I'm fine," he replies gruffly.

"You know you've got a nose-bleed, don't you?" she asks. "It's, like..." She pauses, staring at him.

Wiping his upper lip, Joseph finds that there is, indeed, a trickle of blood. Pulling a tissue from his pocket, he gives it a quick wipe. He hadn't expected to get so many symptoms himself, and he's a little surprised that he didn't manage to notice the blood moving down his face, but he figures he's just been distracted lately.

"You got a fever?" the woman continues, peering at him with a hint of suspicion. "You don't look well. Are you sweating? You got a high temperature?"

"No," Joseph snaps at her. "Of course I haven't got a fever. Have
you
got a fever?"

"I was just asking -"

"Why?" Joseph asks. "Why is my health any of your business? You should be more worried about yourself. Seriously, do you have any idea what's coming? Or are you so stupid, you can't even piece together all the signs? Are you just another typical human idiot?"

The woman stares at him.

"Of course you are," he sneers. "You're just like all of them. No-one's gonna give a damn about you. You're no more intelligent than a cow or a pig. You're the perfect example of why I..." He catches himself just in time, realizing that he was close to telling her the truth. She'd never have believed him, of course, but still, he figures he doesn't need to add any complications. "Forget it," he says eventually. "Just... leave me alone and go back to whatever you were doing, huh? Get on with your mundane fucking life, while you still can."

Raising an eyebrow, the woman sits back, clearly not impressed by Joseph's tone. He doesn't care, though. All that matters to him, right now, is getting back to his apartment so that he can await the end. After building up to this moment for so long, he's becoming impatient, and he figures he's probably allowed himself to come out into the world a little too much lately. He should have cocooned himself away much sooner and relied on twenty-four hour news channels to keep him updated. It's as mistake he won't make again. As he turns to look back out the window, he watches the world and tries to imagine how things will be in a couple of weeks. There'll be a few survivors, of course, but he's confident that they'll be mopped up soon enough. They'll be the unlucky ones, in a way, because their deaths will take longer, and because they'll have some understanding of what's happening. He looks forward to speaking to them, from the other side.

Elizabeth

 

New York

 

Turning, I look back at the city. With the sun starting to rise above the horizon, Manhattan has a kind of deathly thrall, and a low mist hangs between the buildings. It looks almost like a toy town, made to be populated by little plastic figures of men and women. It's hard to believe that this place was once my home.

I buried Henry in Central Park. Although I considered leaving him where he fell, another part of my mind took over, telling me to keep busy. I found a shovel and a wheelbarrow in Bob's tool room and I managed to get my brother's dead body through the dark streets, finally reaching Central Park just a few hours ago. Digging a grave was the hardest physical labor I've ever had to endure, but I was determined to get it right. I dug long and I dug deep, emptying my mind and just focusing on the pure sensation of the soil being ripped from the ground. To be honest, I probably dug further than six feet, and I think I kind of ended up on some kind of auto-pilot. Finally, snapping out of my daze, I realized the grave was ready, so I climbed out and rolled Henry's body into the pit. When he landed at the bottom, there was a snapping sound, which I guess means one of his bones broke. I said a little made-up prayer and then I shoveled all the soil back into the pit, and I broke off some branches and made a very basic makeshift cross. Hell, I'm not even religious, but I made a cross. I don't really know why.

And then I left.

Now I'm out here on one of the long roads that leads away from the city. I'm heading north-west, I think, following the signs for Chicago. I've got a vague plan to look for Mallory and the others, although they must be way ahead by now and I guess the odds of ever meeting them again are low. Still, I have to try something. Trudging along the road, with a couple of Bob's rifles slung over my shoulder, I keep well away from any cars that I happen to pass. It's strange, but I feel incredibly calm. I guess the full impact of the past twenty-four hours - hell, the past nine days - hasn't really hit me yet. I haven't properly thought about what happened to Henry, or about those final moments with Bob. I'm just focused on the empty horizon and the prospect of one day finding somewhere new. I guess I'll cry and get upset when I reach a new home. Until then, I have to stay strong. And blank.

The truth is, I haven't even cried. Not properly. My own brother died, and although I can feel the tears behind my eyes, I can't get them out. What does that make me? Am I in shock, or am I just some kind of monster?

In the distance, I can see the airport. To the best of my knowledge, that's where my parents were when this whole thing started. For the past week, I've been desperate to go out there and look for them, but now I feel the opposite: I don't even like seeing the place. I mean, the odds of finding them alive are miniscule, and the terminal buildings are probably just a bunch of tombs. Stopping for a moment and taking a swig from a bottle of water, I stare at the distant airport and realize that there's no movement at all. In fact, as I turn in a complete circle, I realize that there's no movement anywhere. It's as if, as far as the eye can see, I'm the only living thing.

And then I hear a noise.

Turning, I look at the road ahead. Maybe I'm going crazy, but I
heard
something. It was just a kind of scrabbling sound, like feet on rough ground, but there's no way I'm going to take any unnecessary risks. Slipping one of the rifles off my shoulder, I stay completely still, staring at the half dozen cars skewed on the tarmac. My heart's racing as I wait for some kind of sign, some indication of what caused that noise. Slowly, I take a couple of steps forward, hoping to get a better view, but there's still nothing. Taking a deep breath, I realize I can't handle the uncertainty. If there's something nearby, even if it's something bad, I want to know right now.

"Hey!" I call out, my voice cutting through the vast silence. "Over here!"

No reply.

I take a couple of steps forward.

"If you want me," I shout, "come and get me!"

Nothing.

"There's no -" I continue, before stopping as I hear the noise again. Somehow it seems further away, almost as if it's coming from beyond the edge of the road. I guess I could just hurry along and hope that, whatever it is, it doesn't cause me any bother. Still, I feel as if I want to know exactly what I'm up against. Despite the fact that I know I'm taking an unnecessary risk, I walk cautiously over to the other side of the road, keeping the rifle pointed forward as I approach the barrier that runs along the edge of the carriageway. Finally, I look down the side of the road, at the section of grassy scrub-land that runs between this road and the next.

There's a girl.

Stumbling through the grass, she looks to be about my age, maybe slightly older. Her clothes are ragged and torn, and from the way she's walking, it looks like she's injured, but at the same time her skin looks normal, so I don't think she's like that creature we saw back in the city. She's stumbling away from the city, but she doesn't seem to have noticed me. It's as if she's just making her way slowly through the grass, ignoring the world around her.

"Hey!" I call out.

She doesn't respond. She just keeps walking.

"Hey! I call out again.

She stops, and slowly she turns to look at me. She's pretty, with long blonde hair and large blue eyes, but she seems a little confused, as if she's not entirely sure about me. I guess that's understandable. As she shields her eyes from the rising sun behind me, she must be pretty confused by me as I stand here with a bag over one shoulder and a rifle over the other, with another rifle in my hands.

"Are you okay?" I ask, lowering the rifle but keeping my finger near the trigger, just in case. Even though she doesn't look like one of the creatures, I can't be too careful.

She just stares at me.

Looking over my shoulder, I make sure that there's no-one nearby before I turn back to the girl and climb over the metal barrier. I'm still not certain that this girl is safe, but I can't just ignore her. After all, if she's smart and unhurt, we might be able to help each other.

"My name's Elizabeth," I say, taking a couple of steps forward. "What's yours?"

She stares at me, still shielding her eyes from the light of the sun as it rises behind me.

"I came from the city," I continue. "I've been there since..." I pause, and then I look down and see that I've still got some of Henry's blood on my clothes. My first reaction is shock, but after a moment I realize that I'm just going to have to keep going like this. I can't go back to the city for different clothes, and I can't walk naked. Damn it, I should have changed before I left, but I was so shocked by everything that happened, somehow I didn't realize. "This isn't my blood," I say, looking over at the girl. "It's my brother's. He died. I tried to save him." I wait for an answer, but she just continues to stare at me. "I didn't kill him," I add. "Someone else did. I killed
that
guy, though. I left his body in the apartment."

No reply.

"My name's Elizabeth Marter," I continue, stepping closer to her. "Can you tell me your name?"

We stand in silence for a moment.

"Dawn," she says eventually, her voice trembling as she continues to stare wide-eyed at me.

"Dawn?"

"Dawn," she says again.

"Elizabeth," I reply. "Are you... Were you in the city?"

She stares at me.

"Where are you going?" I ask.

She turns and looks toward the horizon, as if she's going the same way that I'm going.

"Do you want to walk together?" I ask. "Have you got any stuff with you? Food? Water?"

She turns to look back at me, and from the blank look on her face, it's almost as if she doesn't understand the question. I'm not entirely sure what's wrong with her, but she seems to be struggling with even the most basic questions.

"Here," I say, lowering the rifle before grabbing a bottle of water from my bag. "I haven't got much to spare, but..." I hold the bottle out to her. "It's yours if you want it."

Slowly, cautiously, she takes the bottle and unscrews the lid, before taking a few sips. It's almost as if she suspects that I'm planning to hurt her, but I guess the past few days have probably taught her to be cautious. After all, it's kind of a miracle that anyone got out of that city, especially with people like Bob wandering around.

"You should probably save some," I continue, as Dawn finishes the last of the water. "Like I said, I don't really have any to spare."

She drops the plastic bottle.

"No!" I say, stepping forward and picking the bottle back up. I brush dirt from the neck before taking the lid back from Dawn and screwing it back on. "I'm saving these," I tell her. "I brought a funnel with me, and when it rains, I'm gonna try to refill it. I figure rain water's okay to drink. I mean, if rain water's poisoned, then we're all just completely screwed, right?"

After carefully putting the empty bottle back in my bag, I turn to Dawn and see that she's still just staring at me. I swear, it's as if she's doesn't really understand what I'm saying.

"You're in shock, huh?" I ask. "That's okay. I think I am too, but in a different kind of way. I'm heading toward Lake Ontario. It's, like, four hundred miles north or north-west. I don't have a map, but there are loads of street signs, and I think I have to just kind of follow the road to Chicago for a while." I wait for a reply, but she's still just staring at me. "I figure I can walk thirty miles a day," I continue, hoping to eventually prompt some kind of reaction, "so it's gonna take me the best part of a month, when you add in time to stop and get some supplies, and maybe the road isn't totally straight, and I might get lost. I'm hoping to catch up to some other people, but I'm not sure..." My voice trails off as I realize that Dawn doesn't seem to understand what I'm telling her.

I sigh, trying to work out what I should do next.

"You're welcome to come with me," I continue, "but I have to get going." The truth is, although I want to stay and help this girl, I know I don't have the luxury of time, and I can't put myself in extra danger just to help someone who doesn't seem to even really know that I'm here. "Okay, so I'm gonna start walking now," I tell her. "If you want to come, just follow me, okay?"

With that, I turn and start walking along the grass, before climbing over the metal barrier and resuming my journey along the road. There was definitely something pretty weird about that Dawn girl, even if I couldn't quite work out what was wrong with her, but while I'd like to have someone with me, I guess that maybe she'd just hold me back. I keep walking until finally I stop and turn, and to my surprise I see that Dawn is stumbling along, about twenty meters behind me, having apparently followed me up onto the road. She stops when she sees that I've stopped, and she clearly doesn't want to walk right next to me, but it seems that she's decided to come with me, at least for now. Turning, I keep going, and although it feels weird to know that there's someone walking behind me, I figure that maybe it'll work out. I mean, she has to start talking eventually.

BOOK: Mass Extinction Event (Book 2): Days 9-16
4.23Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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