Mutation: Parables From The Apocalypse - Dystopian Fiction (7 page)

BOOK: Mutation: Parables From The Apocalypse - Dystopian Fiction
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The General And The Colonel

Finally making his way back to Alex’s room, Chaz looked through the windows, but nothing much had change.  Alex was still under, and the machines were beeping along. Chaz plunked himself down in a chair.  He always found it difficult to relax prior to a battle, and with the current state of his friends, it became doubly so.  Eventually, sleep overcame him, and the hours passed by. 


Chaz awoke to the sound of voices in the corridor.  At first he dreamt he was sleeping in a hospital bed himself.  Doctors were conferring about his condition in a hallway, just out of earshot.  Gradually though he began to wake and realize where he actually was.  There were actual voices, and not from his dream.  He made out the general talking with one of the science staff that Chaz didn't recognize.  They saw Chaz waking up, and finished their conversation.  The man dressed in the lab coat took off down the hall, and left the general alone with Chaz. 


Chaz straightened himself in the chair and tried to stand.  He felt a bit dizzy, and had a horrible kink in his neck as he got to his feet. 

"That's not a great place for you to spend the night.  We have much better accommodations up on the next level.  You should try spending your next night up there."

Chaz placed both hands on his hips, and tried turning and stretching his neck to work the kinks out.  "I didn't actually sleep there much.  I was up all night, rather unsuccessfully trying to purge yesterday's events from my brain."

The general smiled.  "That's understandable.  You had a pretty full day yesterday, and I suspect the days leading up to that.  You’re long overdue for some down time."

"Right.  You're probably right.  Who was that you were talking to just now?"

"Oh." He looked back down the hall. "That was the doctor in charge of Alex.  He was down here a few times through the night, but I suspect you were pretty out of it."

"Ah, yeah, I didn't even notice him.  I guess I slept more than I thought."

"His name is Dr. Phillips. He says that Alex, believe it or not, is on his way to recovery.  His vital stats have been steadily improving since he's had some time to rest. Dr. Phillips believes it's just a question of time before he comes to.  He may still need a few days of bed rest before he's totally fit for duty, but things are looking good."

"That's good news.  I was getting pretty concerned, what with him being in that coma for so long."

"Phillips said the coma is just his body’s way of recovering.  Shutting down all non-essential systems to heal.  I'd say your body is trying to tell you the same thing.  You should try and get some proper rest in a real bed next time."

Chaz let out a big yawn.  "I will.  It'll be easier relaxing, knowing that Alex is out of the woods."

"I'm sure it will.  And here's something else to think about." Chaz stared blankly at the general. "I'd like for you to join my unit here.  I think you'd be a great addition.  We're nowhere near the numbers I'd like to have, and you bring some valuable experience.  Most of my guys have been guarding this fort for so long, I think they've forgotten what real field combat is like.  Having a war hero like yourself around here would be good for morale as well."

"That's great of you to ask, General, but I'm long overdue for a career change ... retirement, even.  From what your good Doctor Montgomery says, they've got the final cure now.  Not really much need for an old soldier like me anymore, is there?"

The general dropped his eyes.  "I prefer not to put much stock in what the good doctor says until I see proof.  Even though they're supposed to be empirical scientists and all, they walk around with their heads in the clouds too much."

"You're quite the skeptic there, General."

"I like to think myself more of a realist.  And, umm, regarding your planned retirement there.  I heard rumors before everything went dead that you may have left your platoon ... let’s say, somewhat prematurely."


Silence hung between them.  The military laws pertaining to desertion hadn't change much over the years.  It was clear to Chaz what the general was hinting at, but it wasn't clear to Chaz why he didn't just come out and say it.


"The world is changing fast, General.  During my last mission down south, things in this country had pretty much gone to shit."

"Yes, Colonel, they have.  It's changed even more with what we've learned in the last twenty-four hours.  Perhaps for the better."

"Maybe so, General.  There does seem to be a hint of hope on the horizon.  Maybe I'll reconsider your offer.  I'm sure I could add something of value to your mission here."

The general smiled. "Now that's what I like to hear, Soldier.  I like it when I see everyone pulling their own weight."

The general offered Chaz his hand and they shook on it.

"We have accommodations for you upstairs when you're ready.  Just ask one of these science geeks to bring you up." The general looked through Alex's window.  "Ahh, look, your friend seems to be stirring."


Chaz turned around to see Alex lifting his arm to his forehead.  His eyes were half open as he tried to get his bearings.  He seemed more dazed than alarmed.  Chaz caught his attention by tapping on the glass.  Alex tried to lift his head, but could barely get it off the pillow.  Chaz looked to the general.


"You stay there with him, Colonel.  I'll ask Phillips to let you into his room.  Now that he's coming round, I'm sure they'll let you.  Come see me later."


The general headed off down the hall, and Chaz looked to Alex, motioning to him that things were OK.





Up And At Em

In the fifteen minutes that it took Dr. Phillips to show up, Alex was able to lift his head, and make eye contact with Chaz.  From the view outside the window, Alex seem pretty alert, but anxious.


Phillips finally showed up, and swiped his card through the reader.  The door clicked, and Chaz immediately pulled it open.  Phillips picked up the clipboard at the end of the bed, and began checking the monitors and making notes.  "Welcome back to the land of the living, Alex.  You had us a bit worried there for a while, but you seem to have turned things around."

Alex looked to Chaz, then to the doctor.  Chaz nodded in agreement.  "Yes, son, it's good to see you coming around again.  You did a hell of a job out there keeping her safe.  Christa, I mean."

Alex's voice was a bit hoarse, but he asked, "Christa's OK?"

Chaz nodded.  "Yes, she's fine.  It was you we were really worried about.  You've been out of it for over twenty-four hours now.  You've sustained some wounds, but don't seem to be infected.  If you were, I suspect you'd be trying to kill all of us.  I don't know how you managed.  Those freaks had you surrounded when the team went out to rescue you."

Dr. Phillips interrupted. "Your stats look pretty good.  I'll have some food sent up, but I should get back to work.  I'll leave you two to catch up."

Phillips hung the clipboard back on the end of Alex's bed, and made a beeline for the door.


"He seems to be in a bit of a hurry there," Alex said, watching the door swing closed.

"Yeah, they're a pretty single-minded bunch around here.  We seem to be a disruption to their regular daily routine.  I'm not sure if he was happy that you're better, or just that he won't have to deal with you as much."

"I do feel pretty good.  They must have been pumping me up with some pretty good stuff." Alex motioned to the IV bags hooked up to him. "I feel like I've slept for a week.  The legs do feel stiff.  I wouldn't mind getting out of bed and walking around."

"Easy there, killer.  Let's wait till they get some food into you first.  I don't want to have to pick you up off the floor after you pass out, weak from hunger.  Besides, there are a few things we should talk about."  Chaz furled his brow, but did his best to hide his concern.

"You sound serious there, Colonel.  I don't like that.  You said Christa was OK.  It's not Christa, is it?  Chaz?  I mean, we did it right.  We got the medicine and all the stuff from the CDC here.  We did what we had to do.  They can finish their research, or whatever it is they need to do so we can finally beat those freaks.  We won . . . right?  Didn't we?"

"Yes, we did get the package here, and yes, it's going to be a great help. And yes, Christa's fine.  Everybody here is looking out for Christa.  She's great, and everyone here is keen to keep her that way.  I haven't actually seen her yet, but I believe them when they tell me she's more than fine.  She's more than they ever dreamed."

Alex looked thoroughly confused.  "Alright, Chaz, spill!  What are you talking about?"


Chaz told Alex everything that Dr. Montgomery and General Chambers had told him.  About how Christa was their salvation.  About how she was something new, and that meant everything to the scientists working here.  About how long they had been trying to find a solution, and that now it was within their grasp.  All thanks to Christa.  Alex listened, tense, but intent on every word Chaz said.


Finally Chaz finished, but leaving out everything he had learned during his time on the lower levels.  "It wasn't so much the package that they needed, it was Christa.  The package was important, but Christa was the final piece.  And they're doing everything they can to keep her safe.  Both the science geeks, and the military."

Alex was silent, looking around the room and just shaking his head.  "And you believe them.  You believe that she's the next mutation.  That she can bring an end to the wars."

Chaz hung his head.  "Yes, I believe that they believe that.  And there's probably a good amount of truth in most of it.  But I don't think they’re telling me everything.  I think there's more to it, and their overconfidence makes me nervous.  I think maybe they've been fighting this for so long that they really want her to be the solution.  They want Christa to give them all the answers."

Chaz lifted his head, and Alex looked him in the eyes.  "That's not an overwhelming vote of confidence there, Colonel.  I'm not convinced that you're convinced this is the way to go."

Chaz held eye contact.  "No, son, I don't think it is either.  And I'd really like to do something about it. As a matter of fact, I have a plan.  I've been doing a little research while you’ve been recovering.  You interested in hearing it?"

Alex smiled.  "Not really, I'd rather just get to it."


Alex and Chaz gave each other a half-smile.  Chaz took a seat in the chair next to the bed and Alex crossed his arms, preparing to listen.  The two of them conversed back and forth for the next half hour or so, till they were interrupted by a younger girl in a lab coat with trays of food.

"Sorry to interrupt, gentlemen, but Dr. Phillips thought you should get something to eat.  He sent something for you as well, Colonel Sheperd.  It doesn't look like you've had much to eat lately.  We're not usually this negligent of our guests.  Not that we get many guests.  It's just that we've been so busy with all the new developments we're not being very good hosts."

Alex replied, "You mean Christa, right?   When you say developments, you mean Christa, don't you?"

"Yes," the girl replied.  "I was referring to Christa.  She's really remarkable.  I'm not sure what we would have done next without her.  It's been so long since we've had a real breakthrough around here.  It felt like we were running the same old experiments on the same old subjects day in and day out.  It's was frustrating."

"Subjects?  You have subjects here?  You're talking about those freaks on the grounds?" Chaz asked.

"No, not the ones outside.  I mean, yes, for a while we were, but they're too similar.  Their DNA, that is.  We've been sending out teams on missions to find new subjects.  Dr. Montgomery finally convinced the general to start sending teams out.  The first group hasn't come back yet, but now that Christa is here our focus has changed."

"Yeah, that's great," Alex added.

"I know, it really is.  Look, I've probably talked too much.  I should just let you guys eat.  The food's not great tasting, but it's nutritious and filling.  I can bring you more later if you're still hungry."

"That's great, thanks, this will be good for now." Chaz nodded and the room became awkwardly quiet.

The young doctor left the room, and Chaz and Alex quietly ate their meals.






State Of Affairs

It had been two days since Alex had regained consciousness, and he was patrolling on the roof of the fort.  He could see the zombie herd below, still attempting to break through the breach.  Repair efforts on the wall were futile with the onslaught of freaks trying to get in.  The number of freaks on the property had doubled since the tank attack, but snipers had been ordered to stop shooting.  Conserving ammunition was more of a concern.  Most of the effort at this point was directed to preventing those entering at the breach from getting any further.  The freaks inside had been contained to a small storage vault.  The ventilation shafts now had welded steel plates in place to prevent any freaks from getting any further.  At first they couldn't reach the vents, but with the bodies piling high inside, the ducts were accessible.  It wouldn't take more than a few days for the entire vault to be packed with zombie bodies.  They weren't dead, they just kept climbing on top of each other.  The ones at the bottom weren't strong enough to get up from under the weight of those that kept cramming themselves in.  It was one big, squirming mass of arms and legs.  The door to the vault had also been reinforced.  The door had been welded to the frame all around, and steel bars were welded across. In addition, gold bars were carried from other vaults and stacked floor to ceiling in the narrow hall leading to the vault door.  Unfortunately for the guards outside the door, all the security did nothing to block the smell coming through.  All that rotting flesh stacked waist high and growing permeated through everything.  Guarding the vault door quickly became the least desirable duty shift to pull. 


Chaz and General Chambers watched the vault door from the main security room.  "Things have been working out pretty well, Chaz, considering what we've been through.  When that tank first came rolling in here, I was pretty sure we'd seen our last sunrise in this place.  Who knew that it was heralding the turning of the tide?"

"Certainly not me, General.  We were just trying to get the CDC package to someone that could do some good with it.  There were times when I didn't think we'd make it.  It's good to see things finally working out."


They both watched the monitors for a while.  While there wasn't much going on at the vault door, the same couldn't be said for the outside activity.  Cameras pointed in all directions showed a never ending parade of freaks moving towards the fort.  It would be a matter of days before the entire yard would be standing room only. 


"How goes the research down below, General?"

"Good, from what they tell me, Colonel.  They still seem convinced that the girl is the answer to everything."

"And you still believe them?"

"I believe based on what I see and what I hear.  That bunch down below would make lousy poker players."

"Poker players?"

"I don't just believe what they tell me, Colonel, I believe what they show me.  Some people are great poker players.  They have fantastic poker faces, and you never know what's going on underneath.  Those geeks down below have no poker faces whatsoever.  They have so many tells it's hard not to be distracted by them.  You play poker, Colonel?"

"No, sir, never found the time for it.  Don't like the idea of losing money in a game."

"Life's just one big game, Colonel.  I'm surprised you haven't learned that by now.  Maybe you should have played poker.  Might have taught you a few things.  Right now, I can tell you that the science teams down below are buzzing like bees.  I've never seen them so excited.  They're working nonstop.  When I was down there this morning, I caught a few sleeping at their desks.  By the time I finished talking with Dr. Montgomery, they were back on their feet and working again.  They've got to be close to a breakthrough."

"And Christa, did you see her?  When will we be able to see her? It's been days."

"Be patient, Colonel.  I haven't actually seen her, but from what Dr. Montgomery tells me, she's been very helpful.  The key to everything ... of course, you already knew that.  Dr. Montgomery believes that her mutation has matured.  She was just waiting for blood-test results.  From there, synthesis of the cure is relatively simple."

"So, then we'll get to see her again, once they have the cure?"


The general paused and walked around the room, closer to Chaz. He took a few moments to collect his thoughts.


"You realize, Colonel, that she's the enemy, don't you?"

Chaz remained silent, and looked across the room.

"Colonel, I know you've spent a lot of time with her.  And I know you wouldn't be alive without her help.  But it's her kind that are the reason we're in this big mess to start with.  We can't let these wars continue.  Our entire race is on the verge of extinction.  You, and I, and everyone we've ever known or loved are at risk here.  That's what we're fighting for.  She's just a freak.  Remember that."

The colonel remained silent, staring at the general.  The general looked away before continuing. 

"Colonel, you need to know, she's changed.  She's not the same as when you brought her here.  I'm not so sure you really want to see her now.  It might be better if you just forgot about her and moved on.  We have a lot of work for you here.  Why don't we just focus on that?"



BOOK: Mutation: Parables From The Apocalypse - Dystopian Fiction
9.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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