Read The Reaper Virus Online

Authors: Nathan Barnes

Tags: #richmond, #undead, #reanimated, #viral, #thriller, #zombie plague, #dispatch, #survival thriller, #apocalyptic fiction, #zombies, #pandemic, #postapocalyptic fiction, #virus, #survival, #zombie, #plague, #teotwawki, #police, #postapocalyptic thriller, #apocalypse, #virginia, #end of the world

The Reaper Virus (3 page)

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* * *

 

0640 hours:

 

I was a little freaked out. My buddy Lance
was the second or third unit to respond to the scene. I only saw
him briefly before they rushed him and the other officers into a
debriefing of the events. My initial intent was just to make sure
he was alright, but then I saw his expression. All he said was that
the homeless guy was infected, covered in black veins, and that the
officer that fired the shots had fired
a
lot
of shots. Lance said that he was rolling up on the scene
when he heard like eight to ten shots. There was only one guy – a
sick old guy – and our agency uses forty caliber bullets so fewer
shots
needed
to be fired in order to
convince a person to stand down. How was that right? Lance is a
trustworthy source; we go all the way back to the academy. I had
never seen him shaken like that. He did a tour in Iraq and didn’t
ever look like that. I was sure this would be all over the news; I
know the last officer involved shooting was the talk of the town
for days.

Rather than going home, that was motivation
enough to go to the Home Depot for some more supplies. There was an
undeniable pit in my stomach that things were about to change for
the worse.

 

* * *

 

1415 hours:

 

My trip to Home Depot was a short one. I
didn’t have time to think much about what I might need and didn’t
want to be overly impulsive. After the crazy night I was also very
ready to be home. It’s funny when something really bad happens on
our shift, we go home just wanting to hug our families. My demeanor
is normally that of a kid in a candy store while I’m at a hardware
store, but that morning I just wanted to go home and be with Sarah,
Maddox, and Calise.

I grabbed some basics for home repair. A
variety of lumber pieces made it into the cart too. My only impulse
buy was a mini crowbar. I’ve always kind of wanted one. It was a
heavy little bastard – looked like it could tear its way through
most doors. I joked with Sarah that if all else failed, the crowbar
would allow me to fall back on a career as a burglar. She didn’t
find my misplaced attempt at humor as enjoyable as I did.

Naturally, I didn’t sleep for long. It’s fair
to say that I’d been a little restless from the moment those shots
were fired earlier that morning. What I needed to do was go and
talk to my dad about all this. Dad had always been able to take a
step back from panic to analyze a bad situation. That, combined
with his tendency to remain notoriously level-headed while
interpreting world events, made him a great person to consult when
those world events were crashing down on our doorstep. If Maddox
and Calise were in my shoes I hope they would be able to approach
me the same way. My parents lived close by, only like ten minutes
away if you made all the traffic lights. I was planning to take the
kids over that day for a visit so I could seek the comforts of
fatherly wisdom.

 

* * *

 

2305 hours:

 

As soon as I arrived at work I scoured the
internet for what was said about that morning’s incident. Local
news barely mentioned it! All that was said was that a shooting
occurred earlier that morning. Shootings happened every day in
Richmond, so it didn’t come across as newsworthy. I know university
media relations was great at keeping the bad stuff away from the
press, but when an officer was involved in the shooting? Surely it
should have made a little more of an impact than
that
?

 

* * *

 

Day Four.

November 13th – 0003 hours:

 

That damned pit in my stomach had become
quite the nuisance. It only got worse after I talked with my dad.
He was worried too, more worried than I’d ever seen him actually.
Evidently he had read a lot of the same stuff I had and came to
pretty much the same conclusion. As far as the virus was concerned,
things were certainly going to get much worse before it got better.
This was merely the calm before the storm… or rather that’s what my
dad and I thought.

Two years before, he and my mom bought a
horse farm with about thirty acres a couple of miles from the Blue
Ridge Parkway in Carroll County, Virginia. Why they bought a damned
horse farm was anyone’s guess, especially seeing as there weren’t
any horses. Mom said it was so that the little guest house and
other buildings on the property would give us the flexibility to
vacation there. The truth was she wanted to move there when they
retired. All the seclusion and privacy that the property offered
made it an ideal place for them to enjoy some quiet in their elder
years.

That summer they planned on staying there for
a couple of months to kind of test the feasibility of living there.
They took a car filled with supplies every time they drove there,
and by that time it was fairly well stocked – made sense why my
parents were heading there. Dad’s hope was that the R32PR virus
would run its course and life would return to some semblance of
normalcy. If not... well, my dad had never had much patience for
traffic. I wasn’t at all surprised he would choose for them to head
over there early, before many other people tried to skip town.

Mom tried to convince us to pack up and join
them. I explained to her that I was “essential personnel” and
couldn’t really leave town on a whim. Only way I could get her to
settle down was to promise that if things really went to hell, we
would head to the farm.

I would have loved to go with them, but right
then I thought our best asset in all this was through gaining more
information, something I had more access to than the average
person. I had an internet’s worth of information to search and
pissed off idiots on the phone.

For whatever reason, I passed my dad one of
those two-way radios. I thought it would be good to have a
worst-case scenario fallback for communication if the need arose.
Call me paranoid if you wish, but I tended to listen to my gut
feeling and my gut was telling me to be prepared. Perhaps it was
the police training that gave me that instinctual characteristic,
who knows? I just knew I had to give my dad one of those two-way
radios.

 

* * *

 

0349 hours:

 

Who would have thought eight hours a night in
front of a computer would yield something useful? Reported by the
Deutsche Presse Agentur
(DPA), the
German Press Agency
and translated by some
poor bastard at the
Associated Press:

The Bonn Institute of
Virology at the University of Bonn Medical Centre, one of the
largest Medical Virology facilities in Germany, is currently
devoting a large percentage of its resources to solving the current
global pandemic. A confidential informant from within the Institute
revealed the latest development:

 


It is our suspicion that
the R32PR virus has gone through yet another mutation. The hope of
the global community had previously been that the virus had reached
a point of maturation, thus allowing laboratories to make progress
in battling the pandemic. Medical institutions around the world
have reported a similar evolution in symptoms from the afflicted.
Infected patients experience an increased severity of previous
symptoms. A violent behavioral shift in the infected is also
becoming a common trend. Whether this is a result of increased
adrenaline or a new symptom of some kind, I can only speculate. A
perplexing darkening of the blood has also become common in
approximately thirty to forty percent of cases. Patients in
advanced stages look quite… different. The virus appears to alter
the blood, causing much of their circulatory system to become
clearly visible from the outside. We are currently partnering with
other laboratories in the United Kingdom, Spain, and United States
in making the official announcement, but this new evidence
indicates that we are now dealing with the R33PR strain of this
virus.”

 

* * *

 

0444 hours:

 

I knew it was only a matter of time before an
official announcement from the CDC was released. They were pretty
quick on getting this out after Germany’s findings. I was curious
to see how the general public reacted.

 

Thomas R. Frieden, M.D.,
M.P.H., Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) and Administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and
Disease Registry (ATSDR), released the following official statement
in reference to the current global pandemic.


New evidence suggests that
the R32PR virus has undergone another substantial mutation. This
conclusion has been backed by an unprecedented partnership in
laboratories worldwide. More than half of those afflicted by the
R32PR virus have begun exhibiting new, often dramatic, symptoms. We
have labeled the new strain the R33PR virus. All symptoms of the
R33PR strain are still being investigated. Death tolls have
increased, but primarily in those possibly infected with this new
mutation. It should be noted that this does NOT change day to day
life. Doctors around the world are working to solve this situation
before it escalates. However frustrating as this all may be, the
good news is that new infections appear to be leveling off. There
are fewer new cases being reported to medical agencies, even with
an increased awareness of R32PR symptoms. Also, it may not be
encouraging, but it must be noted that the R33PR mutation is only
being documented in patients previously diagnosed with the R32PR
virus. We will continue to update the public as necessary with any
new developments.”

 

I’d read over his statement several times
trying to decide whether this was good news. I found it curious
that he didn’t go into any detail about the new symptoms. Crazy
looking sick people who were prone to violent behavior? I’d like to
think that was worth noting.

The homeless guy who attacked that kid was
infected. Sure, the public didn’t know that, but I did. I kept
trying to find out how the hippie kid was doing. My efforts had
been in vain.

 

* * *

 

0611 hours:

 

More calls were coming in for disorderly or
violent patients at the hospital. These were common issues for our
officers in the area of the hospital but not with this frequency.
It was starting to feel like every other time the phone rang there
was a nurse desperate to get help restraining a patient. The entire
area around the emergency room had been permeated with
hysteria.

Walking by the commanders’ office, I
overheard the Sergeant and Corporal saying something about nurses
having to restrain and isolate R33PR infected patients. Not sure
what that was about.

I thought I might make another trip to Home
Depot and pick up some more wood to maybe board up the windows if
we needed to. Sarah would never let me hear the end of it if we
came back home to find looters got into the house. I didn’t want to
give her ammunition in every argument we have for the rest of our
lives.

 

* * *

 

1300 hours:

 

Another day with little sleep; there was just
too much on my mind.

Maddox was asking questions about all the
sick people. Calise was a little too young to worry about it. All I
could tell them was not to worry, that some people were getting
sick, but I was sure everything would be okay. I wasn’t fond of
feeling like I was lying to my kids, but sensing the concern in
their busy little minds I followed it with, “Don’t worry, Daddy
would never let anything happen to you guys or to Mommy.”

I had never been more certain about something
I’ve said in my life.

I was going to try and take it easy for the
rest of the afternoon. It’d be great to play with the kids and try
to put them at ease.

 

* * *

 

1710 hours:

 

Mom called to let us know they made it to the
farm safely. She said traffic was heavier than usual but not as bad
as Dad expected it to be. A five and a half hour drive took them
seven and a half hours. Again, she pushed for us to join them.

Evidently Dad had indeed stocked the place
really well. There was a general store a couple of miles away from
there, but something told me it was less than extravagant and would
only hold the bare essentials. His goal was to make it so they
could get away without having to make trips to civilization for
supplies. Dad had never been a fan of the general public.

Originally I was going to take a nap before
work, but instead decided that I’d stay up to watch the national
news. I wondered when the president was going to make a speech
about all of this, like he did when the H1N1 blew up. I remembered
him labeling it a “national emergency.” Swine flu didn’t scare me.
This, however, scared the shit out of me.

I had to try and take my mind off things by
spending time with the family. Maddox had designed some Lego cities
that he needed my help to construct. Calise thought all the
furniture in her doll house needed new paint jobs. These were
little tasks that belonged in our normal lives. I was thrilled to
do something normal instead of focusing on the abnormalities that
had become so prevalent.

Chapter 3
Corrosive Revelation

 

Day Five.

November 14th – 0055 hours:

 

It was club night, typically one of our busiest
nights of the week. Our police station was centered between two
clubs, both of which provided unending business for our agency. On
a good night, hours after officers broke up the predictable fights
there was usually enough O.C. pepper spray in the air to clear out
your sinuses, even from inside our office. I didn’t see many people
lined up outside the club entrance, which was directly across from
the parking deck. I’d love to blame the lack of future arrestees on
the unusually cold night, but I had a feeling it was because I was
not the only one who saw the news.

BOOK: The Reaper Virus
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