Such is the unnatural body of this god, which has no kinship with the dust of our world; indeed, it is not flesh as we know flesh, but as crystal or glass, and soft so that during his dreaming death it often breaks apart, but when it breaks it at once reforms itself, held in its pattern by the will of the great one. Such is the unnatural nature of this sleep, which has no kinship with those who were left standing…
The contagion had nearly converted all of the human population into mindless, soulless killers—the small pockets of humanity leftover were now barely recovering from the last surge before the cure came. The process had been a slow one though—doctors and scientists were scarce enough, not to mention the medical supplies needed to create a serum. The last of the uninfected had all but given up, at least, that’s what I’ve been told. I missed most of it, stuck in a dark cloud of calamitous hunger, the melodious satisfaction of copper on my tongue—it felt like a lifetime ago, but they told me my treatment had started a month ago. I only remember the last week of scientists observing me in their dirty spacesuits, the look of fear in their eyes, and perspiration looming on their temples as they gave me my daily injections.
A hatch opened in the door of my small cell, a smell wafted in, an odor that fell rancid upon my tongue. My stomach felt like it was twisting in a vice, I wasn’t used to this kind of hunger anymore, but being met with the smell of what I used to know as food was enough to make me nauseous. The tray was sparse, just powdered eggs, tomato soup, and no appetite for any of this; I could only assume they were still working with the supplies they could scavenge, but I wasn’t privy to the way things worked just yet.
“When am I going to be let out of here?” I asked the person on the other side of the door, but I got no response. “Please,” my voice was hoarse, my throat still raw from the guttural language of ravenous growls and screams that had abused my vocal cords over the last year. Standing up was still a chore, but I blamed that largely on the black and purple swollen mass that used to look like my right foot. I hobbled over to the tray of what my brain recognized as food, my body’s reaction to it argued that it was anything but. “Please, when am I going to be allowed to see my family?”
“I’m not supposed to talk to you,” the mousy whisper of the male voice on the other side of the door infuriated me “but I heard them say your trial group will be out next week.” I found myself wondering how a meek young man had made it through an apocalypse unscathed when I hadn’t. I took the tray and he snapped the hatch back up so quickly that it startled me; I ended up splashing red down my white jumpsuit. I watched it trail down my front, the lurid clash as it stained the fresh white fabric brought me back to the present; then, a pang of hunger electrified my body.
It reminded me of blood, one of the only pleasurable things I could remember in that vast nothingness and aggression that I had been lost in, but then I knew that my hunger being aroused by the thought of blood wasn’t exactly a normal thing. Their cure had restored my logical brain, the one that reminded me I was human, that gave me control over my body, and allowed me to make more than just knee-jerk choices. It had begun the process of healing that the last year of rot and walking death had brought upon my body—surely if I had been found any later, I would have been amongst those who could not be brought back. In the last week, I had heard at least two separate incidents of screaming, gunshots, sobbing, followed immediately by a glimpse of a body bag being carried past my door. I only knew as much as I could pull from my brief interactions with the people bringing my meals and the medical staff that came with my daily injection; some of them had hardened severe expressions, but most seemed nervous or frightened that at any moment I might be a failed experiment.
The constant feeling of being observed was unsettling, like being stalked on a dark street with predatory anticipation. We were experiments, now—lab rats that could communicate—living only to satisfy their need to control an uncontrollable pandemic that had reduced the world population to just an eighth of what it had been. Where the diseased walked freely in more than doubled the numbers of the uninfected. It was easy to see why they approached with such trepidation, but feeling as if I were a rabid dog that would no doubt bite their hand was at best dehumanizing. Falling asleep was getting progressively more difficult as I got closer to having my condition “contained.” That night was no exception, the only difference was the nightmares started sooner, but I was starting to believe they were memories.
Another week of cold treatment and it was finally the day where I was going to be released into a controlled population where I would be observed for my interactions with the uninfected. The discharge process was essentially a five-hour lecture on how necessary my daily outpatient treatments were going to be for the next month. Considering I didn’t have a job to speak of and I still wasn’t being told if my family was even alive, it didn’t seem like it would be too much of a chore to walk down the street to where they had set up the clinic for those of us who had been cured. A week where we were finally allowed to go outside in a fenced yard and get to know the others who had been in my trial. While it wasn’t possible to get reinfected according to their limited research, it was rumored that there were rare occurrences when the treatment just didn’t stick after the first month. The other subjects in the yard called this the reversion.
I was given clean street clothes and a piece of paper that told me how to get to the place I would be staying. The sunlight was warm on my cold skin and it burned my eyes, but the fresh air was a nice reprieve from the stale, sterile air they had managed to maintain within the labs. I shielded my eyes from the sun with my hand and glanced either way down the street, there were only a few people outside tending to a community garden, but their eyes were instantly on me, my eyes found the ground before I started walking in the direction of my temporary housing. I was just a block away when I heard a scream that gripped my throat and I turned the corner just in time to be knocked violently to the ground by the people who had been tending the garden. Their guns were raised as they rushed toward the sound of the scream, a formerly cured man crashed through a window just ahead and was tightly gripping what I could only assume was the House Lady who would have been keeping an eye on me and the others. One—Two—Three—and a head-shot for good measure. There were no second chances.