Zombies and bounty hunters....what could be better?
|“Our father was a scientific genius. It was him that created the vaccine. It was meant to be given to soldiers oversea that were near death...almost like a medication that could strengthen the heart and keep you going just long enough for the proper medical attention.”
“Why did they kill our father?” asked Kail. “Why did he have to die at the hands of the military?”
Jackson bent down to tighten his boot buckle, wincing as he did so.
“The military wanted it for much more than what it was intended for,” he said. “They wanted to use it to revive a soldier who was already dead.”
“You can't be serious,” Kail handed her brother his bow, sitting down in the nearest chair so she wouldn't fall down first. “That's...inhumane.”
“That's what dad said.” Standing up, Jackson lifted his hands over his head, stretching his body. Kail heard his back pop, and she flinched, knowing it probably hadn't felt as good as it should have. “That night when we were kids...they came to the house, numerous soldiers, to try and get the vaccine for that purpose. He refused to give it to them, telling them that it was to dangerous and not what it was intended for. They tried to negotiate. When dad still refused, they killed him. It was the only way they could get their hands on it.”
Feeling sick, Kail bent over, resting her head in her hands. Images of that day flooded in front of her eyes; the red stained snow, the sound of the shotgun as it put a bullet in her mother's body. She could see Jackson's thirteen year old face; terrified, yet brave as could be for his little sister.
“That was seventeen years ago,” Kail whispered. “Why is this just happening now?”
“Because it wasn't working.” Jackson looked at Kail and smiled. “The vaccine had always only been tested on rats before death. It had never been tested on humans. When they killed dad and got a hold of the vaccine, it didn't work they way they wanted it to. It wouldn't bring a dead human back to life.”
“I'm lost,” said Kail. “These...things...these creatures...isn't that what they are? Dead?”
“Yes, they're dead. But they weren't dead already.” Jackson sighed and sat back down, resting his elbows on his knees. He looked at Kail. “Dad's vaccine was meant to keep a soldier's heart beating until he or she received medical care. It was not meant to bring the dead back to life.”
“I'm still lost.” Frustrated, Kail rubbed her temples, feeling a headache coming on. Jackson smiled again.
“I already said it. The vaccine was only ever tested on rodents. Rats and humans do not have the same DNA, Kail. The way the vaccine reacted with the rats was the exact opposite of how it reacted with humans. When dad tested the solution on dying rats, it kept them alive longer...much longer.”
Kail sucked in a sharp air of breath, her hands clammy. “But when the vaccine was tested on humans, it sped up the process of death.”
“Exactly.” Jackson stood up and raked a hand through his hair. “Not only did it speed up the process of death, but once the human's heart had stopped beating, only then did the vaccine revive it.”
“Oh, my God.”
“Thus, creating these things...these creatures.”
Kail swallowed once, unsure of what to say. She watched her brother gather his weapons. Such a handsome man, and one she hadn't seen since she'd been a child, merely five years old. The whole thing was still unreal to her.
“Jackson,” she murmured. “How...how do you know so much about this?”
He stopped and looked at her, suddenly looking much more sad than she had seen him yet.
“When we were children, I was able to hide you,” Jackson said. “They couldn't find you in those woods and they didn't care to. I think they just assumed that you would die out there.” He paused. “I knew if I gave myself to them there would be less chance of them trying to find you. So I left you there and went back to the cabin. They took me with them.”
“Why didn't they kill you?”
“Why?” Jackson laughed bitterly. “They needed an army, Kail. If anything went wrong with dad's vaccine, they needed an army to take these things out, right?”
“They turned you into a killer?”
“I don't like the word killer. I'm more of a...bounty hunter.” Jackson smiled again, but it wasn't sincere. “I'm not the only one out here, Kail. There's a whole bunch of us; boys and men who were trained to be hunters. All we really did was wait for this time to come.”
“So you're suppose to kill the creatures?”
“Not only the creatures. The possibly effected, as well.”
A sharp pain of terror shot down Kail's spine. The possibly effected? That would be...everybody.
“You were suppose to kill us...” murmured Kail. “You're still suppose to kill us.”
Jackson looked up, and Kail didn't like the look in his eyes. “If your friend hadn't have come when he did, you'd probably be dead.” He said it so bluntly that Kail felt tears press against the back of her eyelids. She looked away from him, wiping the start of her tears away with the back of her sleeve.
“I'm not infected. We're not infected, Jackson.”
“It doesn't matter.” Raising his bow to the light, Jackson studied it for damage. When he was satisfied that it was still in good working order, he slung it over his shoulder and across his back. “We're trained to kill anyone or anything that is not us,” he went on. “If there's a possibility that a human is or even could eventually be infected, then we have to take them out.”