Authors: J.K. Hawk
The Nameless Survivor
For my wife and kids; let’s see where this takes us.
Copyright © 2014 by J.K. Hawk Publishing
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J.K. Hawk Publishing
Per the Old Calendar, on December 12th 1899, the first confirmed case of the Bubonic Plague was acknowledged within the borders of the former United States of America. It had been over five hundred years since this same infliction devastated most of Europe and wiped out more than fifty percent of the human population there. And even with all the advancements in medicine following those dark ages, this threat was just as lethal as before.
The outbreak in Hawaii, however, was quickly contained when President William McKinley issued an executive order to The Board of Health. On New Year’s Eve, 1899, Honolulu's China-Town was systematically and without regret burnt to the ground. Tragically this inevitable strike included anyone who had contracted the disease as well as those who had not. The event was mostly unheard of and eventually forgotten, becoming a trivial moment in our history.
Towards the end of the Old Calendar the world was stricken with a different and more sinister contagion, one that would never become lost to history. SPV-3, or what is now referred to as the Valkyrie Virus, quickly became a deadlier enemy than the Black Death or any other disease in history. It was a viral outbreak of biblical proportions which descended upon our world, forging a desolate rift into mankind's existence. Inconceivably, less than thirty percent of the human population survived after the first year.
When SPV-1 was first discovered at a research facility in Antarctica’s Valkyrie Dome, it was a simple one-celled organism, not a virus nor any form of bacteria. A harmless microscopic life-form similar to that of an Amoeba, never before seen by man. It awaited silently for a million years, deep within a cavern beneath two miles of ancient ice. Cradled within the warmth of the earth’s crust it thrived exclusively on other carnivorous microbes, but none of them as unique as Valkyrie itself.
What intrigued scientists most about this new life-form was its unabated metabolism, sinister prowess, and more importantly its genetic flexibilities. To a small degree, Valkyrie was capable of evolving as well as de-evolving at an astonishing rate. It had the means to adjust as needed to the environment around it, to ensure its own survival. This genetic evolution is what scientist recklessly tampered with, giving way to SPV-2 and ultimately SPV-3. By the time they knew what they had, it was too late, and the world suffered because of it.
Most people assume that the infection kills the host, and in some ways it does, but only person you once were. The organism makes a direct assault into the brain, infecting every blood-cell in its path before latching on to your brain-stem. Swiftly it shuts down any nonessential neural pathways. Motor skills, vision, hearing, smell, and unfortunately hunger and rage are all tapped and enhanced. Meanwhile the infected blood-cells push toxins further into the system as complete assimilation takes hold.
The body, however, remains alive and the heart continues to beat within the chest. Valkyrie uses your everyday body functions to feed and endure. It utilizes living tissue as sustenance to maintain and repair its hijacked vessel, but only fresh uninfected flesh. The infection generally neglects nourishing the skin, causing hair loss and gradually necrosis. In its place a black scar-tissue slowly forms, cracked and scaly, seeping a thick and rancid protective fluid. Other infections which invade the host, either viral or bacterial, are isolated and immediately assimilated.
There is still much that is not understood about this contagion, especially the “How’s” and “Whys” it affects each person or life-form differently. Carnivorous mammals are the most susceptible prey, while other animals are either unaffected or become carriers. Assimilated animals generally are all the same, fast and ferocious, lacking any sign of self-preservation. Humans on the other hand, are affected differently from one person to the next, and it is currently believed that this is because of the evolutionary progression in our brain.
While few are fast and agile, the majority are slow yet congregate into hordes. Most are mindless and soulless fiends, yet others still retain something of their former intelligence, making them highly unpredictable. Worst of all, they are more durable than the living, within the vicinity of invincibility. But the dead do possess chinks in their infectious armor, however it does not make them any easier to subdue.
The gestation period for this plague, the period of first contamination to complete assimilation, varies wildly. In the beginning days it would take hours of agonizing fever before coma eventually set in, and then hours later before the body would reawakened. The current record of this transformation takes a mere thirty seconds from initial exposure. Thus, providing loved ones limited time to forget their emotional connections, and respond with complete and utter lethality.
The Great Outbreak began during a time when the media and pop-culture fed on biblical tales of the dead rising from their graves. There was a world-wide hype of Zombie Movies and Television Shows. Some took these fictitious tales to heart and became survivalists. However the similarities to Hollywood's undead are mere coincidence, the tangible undead, are a whole other beast. This is no campfire horror story, it is a true pandemic fed by corrupt science, not by the greed of the entertainment industry nor that of the religions.
Unlike the Black Death, this disease took only sixty days to conquer the world, and neither fire nor nuke could contain it. The Governments were the first to fall, collapsing in on themselves as the chains of command rapidly broke down. Most of the world’s Military forces went AWOL, others became extermination squads, corrupt militias, or greedy and unjust mercenaries. Money soon had little meaning, however food, medicine and woman had quickly become extremely valuable commodities.
Religion as well became lost to this contagion as the Vatican itself crumbled beneath the Demon Plague and within an instant the world cried out in utter anguish. Images on the evening news of that event will forever be burned into our minds. Unholy death and agony at the center of a once divine heart, a moment when we all came to full realization – when we watched the truth unfold on our overpriced television-sets.
One could not imagine what was going through that camera man’s head as he hovered from his helicopter directly above Saint Peter's Square with a perfect birds-eye view. A mob of true believers and desperate recreants, thousands of them flocked to the only place that they felt would be their sanctuary from this curse. The one place that God's light could still protect them, where Jesus would forgive their sins and redeem their souls. However, they repented upon deaf ears, and even the innocent and faithful burned within the Devil's crematorium.
A sea of black and white, fathers and sisters... saviors. A horde one hundred strong, funneled into the square, cornering their faithful followers within the outer walls of the courtyard. All of them fallen from grace's perch and into the arms of hell. The infected were outnumbered ten to one, and yet the living had no chance, no way out. The plague swept through the square like wildfire as God's vengeful teeth sunk in. But the worst had yet to present itself, and the world continued to watch, in both horror and curiosity.
The camera zoomed in on the balcony of Saint Peter's Basilica which overlooked the attack of God's disciples, and there, the Bishop of Rome somberly stepped out. His arms outstretched much like many of his appearances before, except this time he held a vintage pistol firmly in one hand, and his holy vestments were stained with a splattering of blood.
His final declaration was inaudible over all the commotion below along with the blustering whirr of the chopper, yet some do claim to have been able to read the words from his divine lips. Of course the translations change slightly from person to person, however the message itself is inherently the same. So it is with their skills that we presume these are in fact his last mournful words.
“Come foglie di autunno, ci e cadranno, ei nostri peccati ci spazzano via come il vento.” Translation; 'Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.' Isaiah 64.6.
His final sermon; man-kinds last blessing, soon followed by a pope in doubt positioning the barrel up underneath his chin. Gracefully he raised his other hand further into the air, as if reaching out to touch God himself before he pulled the trigger. The cameraman attempted to turn away his lens, yet it was his own dismay that halted his natural reflexes, and it was too late.
A shower of consecrated blood exploded above the City of God and rained down upon the courtyard below, a mass crimson-baptism. The Pope's body fell to the balcony floor before the cameraman lost his grip, and his birds-eye fell to a destructive end on the concrete below. In that calamitous moment the whole of humanity was fractured and laid to waste. Moments later the airwaves went silent and the voice of man was transiently quelled.
The Media is mostly at fault for fueling man's panic, urging the need to seek out others for protection. Mass congregations only spread the infliction faster, and in most cases pitted the living against one another. It became what some referred to as The Rapture or The Wrath of God. Judgment day, a long foretold prophecy. Personally, I saw it as the defining and self-serving testament of our own extinction.
And yet over all the countless and needless deaths and atrocities, the human race has prevailed. Those who chose to flee or hunker down, those who waited out the storm would clear a path for humanities rebirth. Their instinctual ability to adapt and overcome, and their unyielding self-preservation was enough to outlast this dreadful Ten Year Plague. It was the brave and the strong-willed who inherited the earth. Those who panicked, as well as the meek, were the unfortunate to burn.
The survivors in the wake of this madness are now united in a selfless global effort to bring humanity back from the brink. Reunited through the International Emergency Communications Satellite, we have formed the Global Federation of Survivors, or GFS. A world-wide communal organization whose main purpose is humanitarian reconditioning. Hard work, as well as letting go of the old world did not come easily, and still we have our setbacks.
But, communities are slowly being rebuilt, schools have reopened across the world, as well as hospitals and farms. Even electricity is on the rise, abandoned solar farms and windmills, including hydro-dams have all been put to good use. Still, less than one percent of the world has power, but we are hopeful that number will increase to ten percent by the fifteenth year.
The threat itself is all but a dreadful memory that our children will soon look upon as long-lost history, just another page in a boring text-book. Most of them have never woken in the dead of night, drenched in a sopping sweat from another heart-stopping dream of death an agony. The youngest of our children, the babies, will thankfully have no memory of this period. It is the children – who are the lucky ones.
However, the afflicted do still walk this earth, although their numbers are dwindling rapidly. But every now and again a small herd will re-enter our communities, like drifters solemnly climbing out of our past. Our security forces are effective and lethal, swiftly eliminating the damned before they become a major threat to the general public. Regular hunting parties search abandoned towns and neighboring forests in a preemptive strike to rid them of this world once and for all.
This new world of ours will be constructed from the ashes of all that was good in the old, and desperately we sweep away the corruption. Prejudice and racism is now all but a sad memory. Marriage in its old sense is non-existent, it is currently common for men to take multiple wives. Both, to ensure re-population, and to counterbalance the sexes. For every one man there are now three woman. And homosexuality, which has finally become an accepted lifestyle, is rarely practiced. Survival of the species can be a funny thing.
Religion, for the most part, has evolved drastically. The horrors witnessed was the proof in the pudding that the words of our ancestors may be nothing more than a well contrived, archaic poem. So Instead we teach our children the most basic and most important verses of the old testaments, the morals. Which we all use to preach, yet rarely did we ever live by them.
“Thou shalt not kill the living,” “Thou shalt not steal, yet shall bequeath that which can be spared.” “Honor thy father and thy mother for they have suffered more than I.” are just some of the old yet redefined teachings that we hold dear. No longer are these the misguided words of corruption, but now the words and laws of an enlightened species. This is a world where we live day-to-day with a new sense of humanity, and will always remember the farces of our past.
Although God has not been forgotten, nor cast out. We have justly let-go of mankind's past construction of him. To those still faithful, God is the bringer of life, but he pulls no strings and reigns no kingdoms. God is the energy within our souls, the drive to become a better person. No longer do we preach man’s assumptions of our creator, but instead we enlightened each other to what is best for the human race. Most feel that if God has set a specific path for man-kind, then it would be he who educates us, not the ancient ramblings of impressionable and fearful men.