Dylan is living in a dystopian world where we're in a war. We have created a deadly virus.
A single tear dripped down my cheek, as I listened intently to my sister's last words. It was a painful tear, salty on my skin. It only took 1 tear to have me wishing to be able to shed a million more. But, I stood strong. Barely.
"Are you listening?" Katie asked, as loud as she could, yet her voice still faint and hoarse.
"Of course," I reply without hesitation but slowly trying to save every last second I have with Katie.
"There's a letter in that dresser," She says and points, her hand trembling. "It explains everything," she whispers.
"Okay Katie," I murmur. This is the moment my single salty tear dribbled down my cheek.
""Hey, Dylan?" She asks somehow managing to sound playful, on her deathbed.
"What?"I ask with curiosity, knowing it would make Katie happy. She tried to smile, but at this point, it was no longer much of a smile. You'd think it would be sad to see your sister wanting to smile, but not being physically able to. That wasn't really the case for me. I took genuine peace in the fact that she was happy enough show me her failed smile.
"I love you," Katie whispers into my ear. Each word sounded as clear as it did meaningfully. It would be a lie to say that she died two seconds later like they do in books and movies. Spoiler: She didn't. She screamed a lot and moaned. She became something, that was no longer my sister. I can't say I didn't feel great relief that night when she died at 2 am, after all her suffering. But, it was okay. Katie was clearly relieved too. The look I got when she died, the final sigh of relief, well..that was everything.
This is not to say I did not feel sadness. How could I not feel sad? Katie was all I had from the time I was just 12. Our parents had joined the U.S Army. Not on their own terms though, randomly selected. Anyone over the age of 17 could win in this lucky raffle. Yay! Mom and Dad, you've won death in world war 4! Go you! When my parents died, (only 3 months after they left) Katie took care of me when she was only sixteen. The war is still going on, now more harsh than ever before. Ten homeless people on every street curb you see. Food is scarce. Beans and rice, twice a day. A piece of bread with jam if we get lucky. Most people living out of rusty old trailers only about 10 miles from the war zone. Life was like that for me and Katie for as long as I can remember. But not anymore. When Katie was old enough she joined the CDC. (It paid well, so we moved to a complex nearby in Georgia) Why did she join? The Russians (our enemy in war) had created a near-fatal disease. It caused pussy green bumps, high fevers, and cold like symptoms. We call it Russian Pox. I should have known Katie didn't have that. I didn't. Not until I read the letter she left for me.
Dear Dylan Fisher,
Hello. By the time you are reading this I am, dead. Sorry about that. I don't think you noticed, but I did not have Russian Pox. Truth. I DID have the same symptoms. EXCEPT I had two more. Choking. That's why I was screaming (I assume I screamed, correct?) And, white guck in my bumps. You know how you're supposed to pop the bumps, right? Not with this disease. I'm gonna name it K024. Well, the bumps that develop when you have K024, the white stuff is deadly. And it creates bombs. So the CDC is trying to get everyone to pop their bumps into vials for a chance to win "A cure to Russian Pox". Really they're just using the sick people to get bomb fuel. Plus, most people don't know, but Russian Pox is CURABLE. It's the fever that kills you. People think that the bumps kill you, and to stop them you pop them. But, if you get some antibiotics from any clinic and you'll survive. The CDC hasn't told anyone this yet, so let everyone know. The K024 is a virus though. There is currently no cure if you have it you die. But if the people know they have K024 give them the cream. You can find it in my desk drawer at work. It's not done yet. Take all my samples from when I was alive (I'm not sure where you put them) and give them to Yemen Bloomberg (His desk is across from mine). He'll know how to finish the cream. Make sure the public knows not to pop bumps. It is very difficult to tell whether someone has K024 0r Russian Pox. The white guck does kill. (ANYONE WHO TOUCHES IT) This won't be easy Dylan. The CDC is against you. Remember that. You can do this. I love you, Dylan.
If you asked me to describe my emotion to you right now, I could not. You would think I was cruel and wrong and terrible.
I was mad. MAD! At a dead girl. My dead sister. For not letting me help her. For keeping so many secrets. And the CDC for killing my sister at the young age of 26. But none of that mattered much anymore. I have others to save. So that's what I'm going to do.
A ray of light protrudes into my Georgia apartment, forcing me awake. I'm not entirely aware of where I am, or what day it is, or really anything. I'm still only half awake. I reluctantly stumble out of my cozy bed. I check my phone. I am now aware that it is 8 am on a Tuesday. Not just any Tuesday though, the Tuesday exactly one week after Katie's death. But that isn't why it's special. I hear a loud bang on the door. Someone knocking.
I open the door. A sigh of relief escapes me. A tall girl, probably about 5'11 leans on the door frame. Her short brown hair, is ruffled in a controlled way. It's cute. She's wearing a purple floral dress, paired with a leather jacket. It matches her green eyes just right.
"Gail!" I scream excitedly. Gail is my best friend. We've been friends since we were five, maybe even younger. The war zone is tight with each other.
"Good to see ya, Dylan," She says with the smirk I love.
"You're looking edgier than ever," I compliment her, my smirk reaching both ends of cheek, so it's more of a smile.
"Well that's good, you know I like to be edgy," She thanks me, in her own way.
"Indeed. We have business today though," I remind Gail.
"Remind me what that business is again? Please?" Gail asks with a full goofy smile.
"Were going to the CDC to meet Yemen Bloomberg," I explain without pausing.
"Cool. But, you mean sneaking to the CDC right? Wouldn't want to get bored," Gail wonders allowed, with her devilish smirk, that makes me kinda love her. I've had this crush on her since we were kids.
"That is correct. C'mon we gotta go now," I confirm, and walk out the door. Gail follows, kicking the door shut as she leaves.
We arrived, and we're now standing in the CDC parking lot, waiting for no one, just kinda scared to actually go in. Gail stares at the building for about ten seconds, then turn to me.
"Whatchya waiting for?" Gail giggles, then starts running inside.
"We might want to a little more.. Sneaky," I mention.
"Eh.. Okay," Gail agrees. Then she starts crawling. On the parking lot.
"Gail.. Really?" I chuckle. She gets up, and brushes her dress off.
"How sneaky should I be?" She laughs, elbowing me playfully.
"I was thinking we would just go in through the back door," I say.
"Ha ha. Yeah won't work. We need a key card of an employee to unlock the door," Gail tells me like I don't already know. Then she skips over to a guy in a white jacket. Probably to flirt with him.
"Gail wait, I have Katie's," I "tell" her, although I have already told her a thousand times in my head.
"Oh. right. Sorry. Let's go," She agrees, looking sad for a moment, then skipping.
"You could tone it done a little," I laugh, at her.
"Hey! Don't laugh at me!" She says as she laughs. Probably at herself.
We finally get inside. It's time to get that cream. It's time to stop this nonsense. Right. This. Second.
There is long hallway. It is very dark. I feel like I'm in a horror movie. A face approaches us. I stare at Gail, terrified. I hear a flick. Lights blind me. She blinds me.
A powerful woman, stands perfectly straight in front of me. Her blond hair is wrapped in an elaborate bun, braided and twisted into perfection. She wears bright red stiletto heels, and her body is hugged tightly in a black dress, accompanied by a white blazer. Her eyes were a fierce ocean blue. Our eyes locked. I was lost. And now I was found.
"Who are you people?" The woman interrogates, with snarkiness in her voice.
"Uhhhh...the real question is who are you!" Gail says, mocking her in a way, but giggling at the same time.
"I am Sadie Gruntice, Assistant to the CEO here," She explains, in a know-it-all kind of way.
"Oh well we just came to collect my sister's stuff," I lie. Although, it wouldn't be a bad a idea to do so.
"Ha. Ha. Nice try Dylan. Your sister was fired, before she died," Sadie reminds me.
"She forgot her.. What'd she forget Dylan?" Gail pretends to ask. I think fast.
"Her mail. She gets the mail here, remember? We came to get it," I explain. Which is a lie, that we came to get it. But the mail does come here.
"Oh right sorry. It's on her desk, get it and get out. I'll be in my office," Sadie agrees, sounding a little embarrassed.
"Alright," I pretend to agree. We walk over to Katie's desk, I see the cream right away. I grab it.
"Put your hands up!" A man wearing a suit yells, pointing a gun at my head. I'm glad Gail is still in the hall.
"Hey Dylan, found the cream yet?" Gail shouts so I can hear her from the hallway.
"RUN GAIL! GET OUT OF HERE! CATCH!" I through her Katie's key card. I hear her catch it. I hear running. Good. She's safe. Then, I hear a gunshot. Then I feel a burning sensation in my leg. I look down. Blood is lathered on my leg.
"Don't pull that shit again," The man orders me. He reaches out his hand, for me to grab. We're going somewhere. I'm not sure where. I can barely walk.
"Deal. Could you treat my leg please?" I beg the shooter.
"Where the hell do you think we're going? I have know idea what you're trying to do, so killing you must be postponed," The shooter explains, talking with his hands. He's wearing the traditional business attire, a classic black suit. He has red shoes, the exact same shade as Sadie's. I notice his finger wears a shiny wedding-type ring. Are they married? I was too caught up in Sadie's eyes to notice if she was wearing a ring or not.
"Okay, uh right, sounds good," I agree, nerves making my palms sweaty and tingly.
"Well it's not that good Dylan, after all after we get that treated you're going straight into a prison cell," The man says, in a sing-song voice, filled with chuckles. He flashes me a devilish smirk. It's not a comforting smirk, like Gail's is. It makes me feel scared, but isn't that what it is supposed to do?
"How do you know who I am? Who are you?" I question him.
"Easy questions Dylan, too easy. Your sister talked about you all the time. And who am I? I am Nathaniel Brunken, CEO of the CDC. Yeah, I'm that bad bad BAD guy you're fighting against!" Nathaniel explains, overly dramatic, and dead serious at the same time.
"Okay then.." I murmur.
"Did you already forget who I am? Ask again Dylan, ask again."
"Who are you?" I ask, playing along.
"I am the enemy."
My legs are pressed against a cold, splintery bench. I'm waiting for Gail to rescue me. But I told her to run? What if she doesn't come back for me? What if I'm stuck here forever?
I hear the barred door creek open. A man with slicked back, brown hair, and red shoes. Nathaniel. He's wearing a different suit today. It looks exactly the same as yesterday's, except the stitching is different. He's still wearing the ring.
"We have work to do, come on Dylan," He orders me, but in a casual way, almost like we were coworkers, or maybe even friends.
"Sure," I say, more confidently than I normally would with Nathaniel. But, still I had a hint of the uncertainty in my voice.
"Follow me." I try getting up on my own for once. To my surprise, I manage without help. Whatever they treated my leg with worked extremely well, and extremely fast. What medicine's are they hiding from the public? This stuff could save lives, especially during war.
We arrived in a different prison-like-room. There were bars, like my cell. But in the middle there was a table. With what appeared to be a "truth detector". I knew those things didn't work. But that wasn't comforting, what if I tell the truth, and it says I'm lying?
"Hop in a chair, Dylan, any chair," Nathaniel instructs me, in his "normal" sing-song voice. I sit in the chair with the "equipment". Was this even legal? I don't think so.
"Let's get started, Shall we Dylan?" He asks, looking wayyyyy to eager to start.
"Just put this on your chest kay?" I do what he says. I feel a shock.
"Um ow!" I yelp.
"Sorry, gotta make sure it works, ya know?"
"So let's begin. Why did you come here?" Nathaniel asks, his eyes filled with what appears to be genuine curiosity.
"First, I want to ask you some questions," I plead.
"Eh, not possible, sorry," He says, in sorry-not- sorry-at all-way. Then he shocks me. Guess I don't get to ask questions. Figures.
"Sorry, we came for a cream," I tell him, trying to remain calm, so the machine recognizes the truth.
"Interesting. What do you want this cream for?"
"Uh.To save humanity," I say, giving the short answer. I feel a shock.
"More details please," Nathaniel requires, ruining my secrecy.
"Alright. It cures KO24," I explain, withholding anything truly valuable.
"What is KO24?"
"What you guys made, as a weapon, and gave to Katie," I reveal with my fists clenched.
" Oh, that right, nice name," Nathaniel says, kind of making small talk.
"Why would you need the cream now?"
"KO24 has been released," I remind him, sure he already knows.
"Well, aren't you a smart little boy?"
"Yeah.. I guess?"
"You'll have to die," Nathaniel says, and pulls out his gun. I see it aiming for my heart. Just before he pulls the trigger, Sadie walks in.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" She asks Nathaniel, infuriated.
"What? He's a loose end"
"Babe, we can't," Sadie tells him, in a whiny voice. I see that there is a ring on her finger. Are they married?
"Why the hell not?"
"His blood is all we need to make a vaccine to Russian Pox," She informs him.
"He stayed by his sister's bedside until she died. Russian Pox is highly contagious, he must be immune," Sadie explains.
"Katie didn't have Russian Pox," I tell her.
"I know that, I'm not fucking stupid! What Katie had originated from Russian Pox, you are immune to both," Sadie explains.
"Apparently we are calling it KO24," Nathaniel informs her.
"Great, put him back in his cell, I'll be coming by for blood samples," She tells him, like he's her assistant. I try so hard to hate her, but I can't manage. I love everything about her. Minus the hole enemy thing, of course.
I sleep very lightly that night, the quietest sound disturbing my slumber. I don't think I really actually fell asleep, I just layed there on the splintery bench, thinking. When the morning came, I did the same thing.
But, then I heard the familiar screech of the bars. The way there footprints sounded, made them sound, suspicious..? It wasn't Nathaniel, or Sadie, so who was it? Did Gail finally come for me? I had convinced myself that she is coming up with some grand plan to come rescue me. When, I heard the voice behind the suspicious footprints.. I wasn't completely surprised that it was not Gail.
"Come with me boy," A deep voice calls from the door. I look at him, from my bench. He is has a lighter dark shade of skin, he's wearing a white lab coat, and there are goggles balancing like a floppy headband, on the top of his head.
"Who are you?" I ask, hopeful he's the scientist I'm looking for.
"Name's Yemen, Yemen Bloomberg," He tells me. I flood of relief washes over me. This is who can finish the cream.
"Thank me later kid, we have work to do," Yemen informs me, and we rush out the door.
"Not so fast," An angry voice calls, but it sounds familiar, in a good way. "You didn't think I left you there did you?" It's Gail. She came for me.
"I could kiss you," I say aloud, on accident.
"If only I'd let you," Gail chuckles, although I know she desperately wants to kiss me too.
"We have to go," Yemen reminds us.
"Right, sorry," I say, with intent. We speed down the hallway. I'm not sure where were going. For the moment, I just enjoy her presence. Gail next to me, smiling her "edgy" little smile. That was all I needed. That was all I ever wanted. Then I heard a gunshot.
"Somebody forgot his breakfast," Sadie reminds me, smiling with a fired gun in one hand, and a plate of eggs and bacon in the other. The gunfire was a warning, thank god.
"Sorry," I say, in a pleading tone. I sludge over to her, sad to be leaving my best friend, but happy it's her holding me hostage.
"Why don't you all join me for breakfast?" Sadie invites them, although it's not really a choice, due to the fact she's pointing a gun at them.
"Sounds lovely," Gail says, completely calm, smiling. I love that girl. And I love the girl next to me. But they don't love me.
"We'll meet you there," Yemen tells her, shocking to both her, and I. Somehow, Gail doesn't seem surprised at all.
"Very well, see you in the breakfast hall?" She asks, lowering the pistol.
"Walk with me," Sadie orders me. For some reason I don't have a choice. But I want to walk with her, so I do.
"Why do you want the cure, if you're the ones who created KO24?" I ask her, hoping it won't aggravate her enough to pull out her gun.
"My brother. He is sick, I want to help him. Also, with your blood we can figure out a way to make the virus even more fatal, to everyone that even breathes air near it," Sadie explains, somehow trusting me with the information.
"Sorry. About your brother," I say.
"Sorry about your sister," She says.
We discuss lots at breakfast. Gail tries to bargain for the cream. It actually works! But, there is still one dilemma.
"Dylan, we need all your blood for the cure to work," Sadie tells me, looking quite sad.
"I'll do it. Humanity is much more important than me," I say, confident and proud.
"Alright then Dylan, tomorrow morning. Can you pass the eggs please?" Sadie dilutes my death by asking for eggs. I like it for some reason. I knew what I had to do.
The screeching of the cell door woke me up like usual, this time much earlier than it normally does.
"You ready, kid?" Yemen asks me, although he is aware I don't really have a choice in the matter.
"Yes," I say, as I see a syringe. I close my eyes to prepare for the pain. But pain never comes, as I don't remember the rest. I see a blinding light. I go towards it. And that is the happily ever after to my story.