We, the public; the every-man slavish workers; the stupid, mindless sheep who make up a large percentage of the population: all know and hate the creators of the Bug in different ways. I know and hate them, as GenTech. This company and their brilliant gene-splicing researchers first appeared as headlines in the daily newspaper I read when their ultra-secret inoculation program was uncovered in Sweden. The recent popularity of visitations to this country for the world’s elite is explained. They were purchasing injections of a life expanding substance.
Details of the actual Bug that supplied this substance are sketchy other than it has a vampires' appetite for human blood which enables it to secrete a regenerative fluid. A cancer curing, age slowing, neuron reviving, priceless, fluid.
Of course we clamour for it. And are then angered by the multi-million dollar fee.
GenTech aren't interested in delivering death’s coup d etat philanthropically. They carefully control the output of their multi-billion dollar bug’s output to gain political and financial power. We, the disenfranchised public, read between the lines. The rich, famous and influential will be first to experience nirvana. The upper and middle classes may be next; if they can scrape up the exorbitant fee. The poor? Never!
We; the poor; protest strongly at the inequity. Huge riots in capital cities destabilise entire countries. Millions march, demanding equal rights to live forever. Markets crash and the world descends into chaos. GenTech dooms us with their greed even before the Bug mutated.
Ironic isn’t it? The cure to the common cold also ends the world. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.
But I get ahead of myself. The Mutatation!
There were reports claiming the Bug’s stitched together genes were never stabilised. Supposedly it is their state of flux that makes the secretion so powerful. But these rogue genes have a reptilian heritage and hermaphrodite tendancies. Whatever the complicated genetic material that froths unintentionally, those genes find a way to reproduce despite their gender neutral directives.
The Mutation does not show itself until the lesser ministers, movie stars and pop singers have reached the head of the queue. Unbeknownst to them, their injections are contaminated with microscopic eggs. In blissful ignorance they willingly become disposable incubators, housing monstrous masters the rest of us will soon be facing.
Several weeks of world unrest is calmed through military power. The New World Order is intolerant of rallies; riots, lawlessness and our suburban streets are unsafe to step into. People define themselves into three camps. The inoculated and those likely to be; and the rest of us. Murders increase tenfold against the former two groups.
I hide in my small flat as the plague descends. Some unknown signal or synchronisation of the gestation period causes a mass birthing of Parasites to take place all over the world. The carriers, no matter who they are or what they are doing, begin tearing at their own flesh, ripping open their stomach’s without showing the slightest hint of emotion.
The mind boggling births are caught by many media sources. The tiny, wriggling creatures that flow from the collapsing corpses of our talk show hosts, politicians and movie star favourites alike abound on our screens. We are agape as the Bugs swarm over everyone in their path, injecting a toxin that lays them out cold. The panic and disorder is total.
We are doomed from that point on. Some rallied and fought back; killing anyone who’d been infected, and many who are not. The rest of us are overcome with disbelief.
We are decimated.
This is where my knowledge and my guesses mesh. Parasites are very smart. Destroying their first Host bodies is an efficient delivery system but unsustainable reproductive method in the long run. They are able to decide if we are to serve them as vessels, transport, or food. Now that they have learned to embed themselves inside us, we find they have set about learning to control our bodies for purposes we are yet to discover.
My dialogue falters as the footage running in my head runs out. I’ve left out all the really depressing bits yet Kristine’s rapt face leans more towards horror than enlightenment.
She struggles to recover; out of her depth.
“I know all that, sort of anyway. But what happened to you?”
So, she wants to connect with me, is that it? That’s like grabbing a high voltage wire. In this state I do not take pity on her. Instead I look inward and dig deeper into experiences I’ve suppressed...
...I survive the initial Parasite invasion by discreetly turning my face from adversity. Fortifying the three windows and two doors of my one bedroom flat is accomplished by rearranging the available furniture into barricades.
Typically, it’s the very least I can do.
I sit in a corner quietly, without moving. Childhood skills of hide and seek are resurrected and polished to a high shine. My ground floor unit isn't an ideal fortress, but we humans tend to cling to the familiar in stressful situations.
The electricity supply cuts out the day after the first Parasite ‘Poppers’ go off.
That’s my name for the human incubator bodies that burst amongst us, releasing crawling monstrosities that seek warm bodies to invade.
I have quickly eaten all the food in the fridge to ward off the encroaching rot. My final banquet of condiments and vegetables is not a hearty one. Since having a BBQ is out of the question I have no way to cook the defrosted meat. It goes out the bathroom window when I can’t stand the smell of it any longer.
I begin to starve.
Every receptacle in my home is full of water, in case the mains are cut off. This precaution turns out to be unnecessary as the taps don't stop running for weeks. Still, at the time, I’m a water saving freak. I’m even reluctant to flush the toilet because the noise might draw attention.
I spend all day looking through a curtain slit, watching neighbours sneaking out to seek food for their families. Sometimes they came back. Sometimes they didn’t. I hear screams in the night; gunshots, shouts, and spine chilling shuffling noises outside my windows.
A few terrifying, boring days later, a new enemy arises.
They move in packs, kicking in doors and ransacking homes for anything of value. I slide a note to them which cover my traitorous mat’s welcome message when they approach my door. It tells them to ‘go away; I am armed’. They aren’t to know my best weapon is a dull butcher’s knife.
The band of drunken teenagers, with knives sharper than my fear and baseball bats blunter than their intellects, won’t take “no” for an answer. My barricade holds them back so all my windows are smashed. They are intent on laying hands on me.
Too late for tactful negotiation I crawl into a cupboard.
Unpredictably, I have hungry Hosts to thank for saving me. The unruly mob attracts their attention and are dispersed.
I leave my draughty home several days later, encouraged by two imperatives. Host sightings have declined, and I am weak with hunger. Scavenging through my messed up town reaps meagre rewards. Stinking fly-blown bodies lie about the place. The ‘Poppers’ are visually the worst of these corpses, though I see many others that have died by gunshot and knifings.
In the next few weeks I drift about town, sleeping in unoccupied beds, and stealing canned food from wide open houses. At least the Hosts have taken a hike, not that their absence makes it is any easier to find food and shelter that others would rather have for themselves.
I begin to see numerous template embossed signs spray-painted on walls and windows as I widen my range in a search for food. The initials ‘HDC’ are unfamiliar, but the words advertising ‘Free Food” at a recruitment post on ‘Burrows/Adams road; Noon – Daily’ are enticing.
It takes another week of expending more energy than I am able to refill before I’m starved enough to approach that rendezvous point. Mistrustingly I skulk in the undergrowth until the sun has scaled the sky. According to my watch, they are a punctual organisation. A four wheel drive vehicle and large truck, painted with that ‘HDC’ acronym, arrive at midday. They drive up and down the street slowly, calling for survivors to come forward and receive the promised free feed. A large green Army tent is erected and the smell of cooking meat is torturous.
My stomach is drawn to them, and I hold it back with difficulty.
I continue to watch the well-armed men from a safe distance, and listen to the bullhorn holder’s rhetoric on how they will protect us, feed us, and give us a safe place to sleep. Shut-in’s; similarly affected by the shouted, honeyed words, slink from various bolt holes. Some gather together and I join them. Emboldened group we approach to snatch food from soldiers’ hands; retreating like whipped dogs to stuff our faces.
Once our hunger abates we have questions. Questions that are answered by a well-spoken man surrounded by well-muscled young thugs who pose sneeringly around us. We’re told the HDC is a division of the Army, and they claims ultimate authority over ‘civilians’. We don’t like that part as much.
The megaphone wielder also claims the credit for driving off the Parasite Hosts that indeed seem to be gone.
We’re instantly won over, and applaud their success.
They repeat their promise of relocation to a central camp, with food, showers and bedding for all. Many rush forward. Others, like me, want time to think it over. The weapons are tilted down at the reticent. They say only a looter would refuse such a generous offer, and looting is punishable by death. Immediately. Without trial.
A frightened, elderly man legs it.
He is leisurely shot; several times.
We find ourselves surrounded by guns and decide to go with them; peaceably.