Third Chapter of my upcoming zombie book The Abiding Dead. Comments welcome!
December 16th 10:00 am
Genetics Lab 2B, Area Z
“Professor Cray we have a medical technician on line 5.” said a female’s voice through the room speaker.
“Patch her through please.” Dr. Cray requested. He slicked back his silvery gray hair and scratched his brow.
“Professor? This is Doctor Bella Reeves in the Genetic testing block. I wanted to update you on the new subject.
“Ah yes the boy. How is he coming along?”
“The vaccine has taken full effect but with the C-24 we injected him with it is highly unlikely that his arm will ever recover. The subject awoke this morning at 0840 and requested to speak with his parents. He then went back into unconsciousness.”
“So in other words he is in good health?”
“Um yes sir.”
“Good, I want you to inject him with the Z-Virus, and then with its vaccine.”
“But sir, mixing the chromosome could kill the—“
“Then,” Professor Cray interrupted. “Inject him with the T-1X Virus and report back in 2 hours. Understand?”
“And what of the older man, the lung cancer patient?”
“The Z virus took full effect; we see no traces of the cancer, all though he has been slipping in and out of consciousness for a few days now.”
“Good, please contact security and bring the other medical technicians to the young patients door.”
The COM link cracked and shut off. Cray whirled his chair towards the computer screen. Hundreds of words and impossible numeric letters flooded each screen. One screen had The Z-Chromosome, or for better words, the Zombie Virus. Another had the vaccine or cure. Normally it would cause any person or thing infected with the virus to go into shock and die unless treated with another virus. These other viruses were chromosomes taken from animals that provided complete immunity to the zombie virus.
Only those with a high spirit, which the doctors believe to be the missing 10% in the human genome, can survive such operations. In anyway, the T-1X activates a human’s feral side which, if properly injected, makes them superhuman.
A new window opened on one of Dr. Cray’s computer monitors, displaying the surgeries and side effects of the viruses.
John re-awoke in a bed. He heard a long high pitched beep and then a shorter one after that. Soon it was clear and he could hear his heart rate on the monitor beside him. John could tell by his loose comfort that he was wearing one of the hospital gowns the doctors made you wear when you go into surgery.
What the hell was I in surgery for?
The steady beeping of his heart monitor was clear as a bell. It was odd, first he was in everlasting pain, and now he felt like he just woke up from a full day’s worth of sleep. He looked around the room, everything was white, he couldn’t tell how far the walls where apart from each other, at the end of the wall there was a silver handle attached to a glass door.
John tried to sit up and felt a pinch in his left arm. He looked at it and noticed there was a thick needle protruding out of it. John motioned his right arm over his lap to try and take it out—but then stopped. There was no right arm.
John felt like screaming but it never came out. He just sat there and seemed to just take it all in. There were bandages wrapped around his stubbed off forearm—white as the room. John felt the end of it with his free hand but couldn’t feel it at all. John pressed his left hand on his face and tried remembering what happened. All he could recall was fire, pain, and a faint scream.
Just then there was a tap at the small rectangular window across the room. There were people in lab coats looking through the glass. A man was talking to them and they seemed to be taking notes on a clipboard.
--the hell is this? Where am I? How did I get here? Who are those people?
Those four questions stuck to his head like magnets.
The ‘scientists’ at the door had all left, all but one remained. He tapped on a keypad that was next to the base of the door, it soon slid open. The man that entered the room wore a long lab coat, a white shirt with a red tie and black pants.
He was an elderly man, about 60; his head was balding with the exception of its sides and back, covered with gray silk-like strands of hair. He walked to the side of the bed and placed his hand on the safety-rail.
John stared at him with puzzlement, and gazed at the nametag attached to his coats pocket; Doctor Winston Cray Jr., ID 441427, Genetics: Sector 5 Area Z. Age: 72
“Hello son, I am Dr. Cray, ill be your doctor for a while until we can assure you are in perfect health.” He said. “I’m sure you have a lot of questions and they will be answered in due time. Let us cut to the chase.” Dr. Cray walked to the end of the room and came back with a stool.
“You are in a high-level secured military hospital; you’ve been in surgery for 6 days and in recovery for 2.” He explained.
Eight days? Why am I in surgery in a military hospital?
“You had suffered critical internal bleeding and we had to amputate your right appendage.” He said.
John laid his head back and closed his eyes.
He felt cold rough hands softly lift his right arm up. The doctor began to peel off the white bandages slowly to ensure than John wouldn’t be easily frightened.
Beneath the neatly wrapped bandages was not exactly what Johns had expected. He thought it would look rounded off and skin tightened around the wound. Instead—there was chrome-steel plate encasing the end of his severed arm. It seemed to be hallowed and had a bunch of bolts and screws inside and out. John didn’t want to look at it for much longer.
As much as Cray wanted to think John would be relieved with his new device he put on a grin of dissatisfaction.
“The device on your upper forearm is used to transmit your brainwaves to this mechanism here.”
John sighed like he truly didn’t care. He tried to think for a while, hell he even felt like crying. But nothing came and nothing hurt.
Cray pulled out a long case from the table next to the bed. He inserted a card into a slot latched onto the front, making a satisfying beep as the light turned from red to green. He opened up the case and removed two folds of fabric covering a long object. It revealed a long chrome-gun metal arm. Its detail kept Cray from blinking; he looked at the arm with such appreciation that he began to forget the thought of his patient being disappointed.
Dr. Cray smirked, and said “The waves are picked up by this is a state of the art auto-mechanical prosthetic arm; we built it just for you.”
John ignored him again. As catchy as it sounded he wasn’t really in the mood to even look.
Cray didn’t hesitate a moment longer. Already he was getting upset with his patient’s negative cooperation. Cray carefully pulled out the mechanical arm and lunged it into the slot in John’s arm.
There was a huge stretch of pain that jolted John out of his ignorant state. Instead of yelling in pain like he used to, he cursed out loudly in anger.
Cray latched the connectors to his arm and locked them in place. The metal arm’s frame moved wildly and its fingers clenched and unclenched in a spasm of pain. John stopped for a moment as the pain instantly went away. He sat up in his bead and jumped off the side. He stumbled as the other patches and needles slipped out of his skin. John felt for the small sting of pain in his torso and felt the cold steel that pressed against his skin. He withdrew his new arm and stared at it.
He began to move his finger’s hesitantly. Then clenching and unclenching his fist again.
John cleared his throat, and then spoke “Why am I here?”
Dr. Cray smirked, and replied “There was no other place to take you. The nearest hospital was in a quarantined area. You’re lucky to even be here, after you’re arm was bitten.”
John remembered the burning truck; it was on fire before the soldiers even shot at it. It must have been trying to escape from something—but what? Then he remembered the creature’s on the side of the road, the road kill, and the other that broke through an already cracked window and took a chunk out of his arm.
“Why did you cut off my arm?”
“Ah yes, well—during the ‘accident’ an animal must have bitten you. It became infected and we had to cut it off before it spread. You’re lucky to even have the upper end of your arm.” Cry replied.
Lucky huh? What was so damn hard about curing the infection itself without cutting off my damn arm against my will?
John felt upset about having have lost his arm and been in bed for an entire week. Just then he thought about his parent’s and his eagerness to finally be able to ask where they were.
“What about my parents?”
Cray scratched his balding head. “Parents?”
“Yes my mother and father, where are they?”
“I apologize but we found no other bodies at the crash site.” Cray lied.
John’s gut sunk, and his eyes burned. Whatever rage was building up in the back of his mind was enough to drive him crazy.
He’s lying, I saw her. The flaring temper calmed down as he reassured himself. But--
John began to remember when he had woken up the time he was being rushed here. The doctors in scrubs had put a white sheet over her head—the sheet of the deceased.
Something was wrong, John couldn’t cry. As adult as he was he still felt nothing building up behind his eyes. No tears, no cry, no sorrow.
“We will have time to grieve for your parents later, but right now we have more pressing issues.” Dr Cray said. “Please son. Try moving your new arm, slowly though. We don’t want to break it now!” Dr. Cray told him.
John really didn’t know whether or not to trust this guy. He saved his life, but now he wants him to return the favor. John moved the mechanical arm up to his chest level as he sat up; he could feel the mechanical devices on his shoulder twist and whir.
He touched his chest; the metal was like a cold icepack. He couldn’t feel the skin from the metal though. He was fascinated he moved each finger one by one, clenched the hand into a fist, stretched it around and even scratched his head. John tried his best to keep the memory of his mother and father away. He couldn’t live with himself knowing he was left alone in the world. But if Dr. Cray wanted to help he couldn’t refuse.
“Why are you doing this for me? What’s the catch.” he asked.
“Don’t worry about it.” Dr. Cray replied. “You see, you are the first to ever wear one of these. My colleagues and I want to test its potential.” He walked back towards the door. “From now on you will be going under the name of X-117. Your instructors will be taking you through a—crash course. So the only thing I need you to do is follow their instructions.”
As if I didn’t have enough nicknames.
“Hold on. I still have questions.” John snapped.
“All your questions will be answered in due time.”
“Who was driving that truck?” John exclaimed. There was a pause and the Doctor sighed. He turned and faced John, whose adrenaline on the life monitor had spiked angrily.
“We don’t know” Dr. Cray lied with a frown. In his mind he did know who the passengers of the vehicle were: Escaped convicts from the testing facility—after infection but before death—save for the one passenger.
Either the doctor was being paranoid about the driver’s identity or he was telling the truth. He sat down on the bed and let his head hang down, his hair along with it. He remembered what happened, the flaming truck, the road block, and the scream of his mother. He tightened his eyes shut to hold back the returning rage.
Besides the fact that my parents might be dead; why am I so damn angry?
The life monitor began beeping faster the numbers on the bottom went higher and higher. Out of anger John got up and grabbed the bed, with a simple jerk he picked it up and threw it at the far wall, all the while yelling ‘damn it’. The health monitor still attached to the bed went along with it and sparks flew as the cable disconnected. John fell to the floor and felt the weight of the arm lighten.
Still angry he said “What the hell did you do to me?” he asked out of furious curiosity. Never had he been able to lift an entire bed and throw it at a wall with something heavy attached to it. Dr. Cray wasn’t surprised at his strength instead he was in a way happy. He slid his hand into his pocket
“We made adjustments to your skeletal and muscle structure, and devised a neural mutation on your frontal lobe. That’s why you become strong in time of stress and depression.” He replied.
“You experimented on me? And I’m supposed to think the man driving was a monster?” John cursed.
“Please, you must understand. I did it with the highest intentions, you were going to die.” Cray replied quickly
“I’d rather be dead than in this hell-hole! I could be with my parents if it wasn’t for you!” John yelled. He didn’t know why he was so angry.
The door opened and men in camouflage uniforms came in guns and stun batons at the ready.
“Maybe you’re right, maybe you do deserve to die. But I am giving you a chance boy, you can either work with me, or you can die in vain right here.” He replied with no fear or guilt in his eyes.
“Power-abuser.” John thought. He couldn’t think of what to do, he didn’t want to die now that he was alive. If he had died on that accident he wouldn’t have to worry about anything, he’d already be with his parents. His parents would have wanted him to live a good life, or at least not die alone. But was this even a good life? Being a puppet of a secret military organization?
“Alright, ill do whatever you say.” He replied he exhaled and his adrenaline slowed.
“Good choice.” the doctor said, he then made a two-fingered hand signal. “Escort this boy to his room.” Two of the men in camouflage got to his side and they escorted him out of the room.
The place was huge, hundreds of workers, scientists and military personnel were moving around in the lower and upper levels. There was a loud thump as a giant elevator came down in the middle of the structure. On it was helicopter John had never seen before, it was more concept and less bulky that the ones he had seen on television. The lift went downward for what looked like miles. He looked down through the safety-glass window and watched as it disappeared into darkness. One of the guards nudged him on the shoulder and waved his gun in a “get moving” motion.
After going down a couple of flights of stairs the guards had finally stopped in front of a large steel door with the letters X-117 on its front. It had three locks bolted onto its side. The guards unlocked all three, one with a keycard, one with a punch-key pad, and one with two keys on both sides of the door hat had to be turned simultaneously. The door was layered with three alloys that spread apart after every second. The first was the main door, the second was a stainless steel elevator-like door, and the last was a large safety glass window.
“So, security is tight around here huh?” John remarked. The guard only winced and shoved John inside the room. The guard tapped on the keypad and the three doors closed behind him. John looked back through the final crack of light that slid through before it was bolted shut. The room was dark save for its green-like highlight. John didn’t know why but he could see everything in the room.
“Must have been yet another thing the doc didn’t tell me.” He thought. John looked around the room; he saw a small twin sized bed with white sheets and a sponge-like pillow. There was also some chairs, a desk and at a corner of the wall there was a door that had a toilet sign on it.
Is this a fucking prison?
John pushed that thought away and he walked over to the bed. He didn’t feel like sleeping, he just wanted time to sit down and think about things. John lied on his back and put his left arm behind his head. He lifted up his mechanical arm into the air in a straight ninety degree angle. He started to remember what had happened those nights before. The roadblock, the screaming and shooting, the faint crunching sound as a human like creature bit a chunk out of his arm. He wanted to forget it all, but couldn’t. That night had turned his life around, his parents had been taken from him. The thought of his parents made him weak. Dreams may have also been something taken from him. Because that night all those visions played back through his head—yet he remained unhindered.
Dr. Cray walked into his office; the lights flickered to life as he took the first step on the tiled floor. An electric rolling chair rolled up next to his side, he sat down and guided it to his computer area. He lay back in the chair, adjusted his lab coat and turned on the power to the computer monitor. Five screens positioned in a semicircle blinked on, and several images filed the outer screens. The middle monitor turned green and began to illuminate into several different colors of purple and gold. A window popped up and read: A-51 Access Required: Name, ID, and Password. Dr. Cray pulled up his keyboard and typed in Cray, Winston under name. He typed 441427 under ID, and trust-no-one under password. The screen went blank then another window popped up with a green exclamation mark that read: Access Granted, Welcome to the Genetics Mainframe Dr. Cray.
“Computer: Open File 01015.” Dr. Cray said to the small microphone attached to the computer monitor. The screen then turned a flat green and a window came up. The file was crammed with hundreds of documents, files, and classified data.
“Open TS Box 012817” He ordered again. The window on the screen started to scroll down and stopped at a file at the very bottom. The file was highlighted and yet another window popped up.
“Authorized Personnel Only: State Clearance Code” the female voice in the computer said through speakers attached to the other monitors. Dr. Cray typed in the clearance code and the computer spoke again. “Welcome to Genetics Sector 5, test Subject X-117: John.”
“Access Genetics: Chromosome File.” DR. Cray ordered. The screen went blue and a loading window came up. It then went back to a flat green and a new window popped up and extended to the ends of the screen. On the screen showed the list and pairs of chromosomes on John. At the far end Dr. Cray paused and ordered yet again. “View: C-24 of test subject.” The screen then zoomed on the far end of the monitor and numbers and symbols glittered down the left end of the screen.
“Subject 00117 blood type identified as Class A-6; Match confirmed. Chromosome structure altered at 0500 hours, completed 1912 hours.” The computer replied.
“View: List/Chromosome 24 alterations.” he said. The screen then changed black and was transferred to the monitor on the left, the main screen then fluttered and lists of chromosomal mutations and changes were shown:
1. Carbide Ceramic Ossification: Advanced material grafting onto skeletal structures to make bones virtually unbreakable.
2. Muscular Enhancement Injections: Protein complex is injected intramuscularly to increase tissue density and decrease lactase recovery time.
3. Catalytic Thyroid Implant: Platinum pellet containing human growth hormone catalyst is implanted in the thyroid to boost growth of skeletal and muscle tissues.
4. Occipital Capillary Reversal: Submergence and boosted blood vessel flow beneath the rods and cones of subject's retina. Produces a marked visual perception increase.
5. Superconducting Fibrification of Neural Dendrites: Alteration of bioelectrical nerve transduction to shielded electronic transduction. Three hundred percent increase in subject reflexes. Anecdotal evidence of marked increase in intelligence, memory, and creativity.
Dr. Cray smiled. “Perfect, Close: All windows, Shutdown: Console.” He guided the chair towards the main door and picked up a speaker phone. He dialed the number to the Naval Offices. A woman’s voice was heard from the end of the line.
“Naval Offices, state your call.” She said.
“Yes, this is Doctor Winston Cray at Area Z; I need to speak with Colonel Ackerson please.” He replied. Ackerson was a good friend of Dr. Cray and a great admirer of his research. Winston had always supplied his friend with his research on advancing the human genome and finding a way to create super-soldiers. Each one had failed but the Colonel knew he was getting onto something.
A small hologram was projected against a crystal, creating a third dimensional figure of a man in a navy uniform.
“This is Colonel Ackerson, Naval Intelligence. How can help you?” a man with a raucous voice said at the end of the other end of the line.
“Yes, hello Colonel; Its Dr. Cray I have a new proposition for you.” He said anxiously.
“Cray, you know you’re only supposed to call me on a private line. You never know if we’re being tapped.” He replied
“Yes, yes I understand but rests assure that I made all the proper precautions. Anyway, this is my propo—“
“Cray, the last proposition you handed me got 3 of some of my best men killed. Those blood crazy ‘things’ you’re making there need to be stabilized before you send them to me! Do you understand?” Ackerson roared out of frustration.
“I’m sorry sir, but this time I am positive I’ve done it, this one matches the exact blood and chromosomal type we need!” Cray reassured.
“Alright, what do you got?” The Colonel replied. He reached into his desk and pulled out a stainless-steel case holding three Cuban cigars.
“During that quarantine we held last week, my associates picked up a young man. At first when they brought him in I had thought he was one of the infected civilians in the city. While holding him in a secured hospital here in A-51 we came across an exact match that was required for the perfection of our CrossX-Genetics. We already injected him with the C-24.” Cray explained.
“I thought you were using C-24 for the cancer cure. Are you saying its limitations were invalid?” Ackerson replied with curiosity. He chewed on the end of a cigar and lit it.
“Ah yes, you see the C-24 limitations were only set for those containing cancer. But when we found how it changes chromosomal structure, we had to test it on a person with no cancer.” Cray alleged.
“So you tested it on this boy? What were the side effects?” This got the Colonel even more curious.
“Strength and ego were mostly changed. Due to a neural mutation on his frontal lobe he becomes stronger and aggressive in times of stress. It seems however controllable for him.” Winston replied.
“What about the enhancements? Would you think he’d be ready for one of my assignments?”
“His speed, vision, strength, muscle and skeletal structures have been advanced; there were no outer physical mutations of any kind during the process. It seems the only way that one could obtain these symptoms is directly from the C-24. After the proper training, I’d say he would be ready for anything.”
Ackerson puffed on his cigar and raised his brow as live video feed on S-217’s room was projected via internet.
“What is his name?”
“Guerrero, John Guerrero. He won the State Firearms competition at age 16. He almost got taken to a military academy, .Special Forces probably. He declined then got accepted to UTSA at 18 and works at a Bass Pro Shop in Texas.”
Ackerson’s surprised expression jolted to a frown. He recognized the name, he hadn’t forgotten it. Although years younger, Ackerson went to Vietnam with a Sergeant Carlos Jose Guerrero—John’s grandfather.