One day before the Apocalypse
Dimitri woke up in a cold sweat. He rolled over and looked at the clock. The blinking red LED readout said 6:00am. He thought back, trying to remember when he fell asleep. It couldn't have been more than an hour ago. He had stayed up tossing and turning all night. He got out of bed and made his way across the hall to the bathroom. He pushed himself through his morning routing. He had to stay awake today. They needed more blood samples from the specimen and he wanted to be alert when he was in the room with it. Dimitri suddenly looked at himself in the mirror. Ã¢â‚¬Å“'Specimen?' Ã¢â‚¬ËœIt?' I have got to remember that thisÃ¢â‚¬Â¦creatureÃ¢â‚¬Â¦was once a human being. If I do not do that, I will lose all hope of finding a cure.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Dimitri nearly jumped out of his skin at the sound of the voice. Withers stood in the hall, just outside the buildings small communal bathroom. Dimitri let out a sigh. Ã¢â‚¬Å“What is it, Withers?Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Doctor Lance wanted me to check up on you. You seemed a little shaken after yesterday.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I will be alright. As long as nobody else sneaks up and scares the hell out of me, I will be fine.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Sorry. Not my intention. And the doctor also wanted me to let you know that they're gonna go in and draw the blood sometime around noon after they finish some preliminary testwork. He says you don't need to attend if you don't want to.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬Â¦probably will not. I have some bacteria cultures I need to look at before they advance too far. I will probably be in Lab 33, if you need me.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“No problemo, Doc. Have fun with that.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Dimitri rolled his eyes and closed the door. Withers was being soÃ¢â‚¬Â¦nonchalant about the whole situation. Did he even see the gravity of it? Dimitri shuddered and started getting dressed. The clock now read 7:30am.
Three and a half hours later
Dimitri sat if front to his microscope, leaning over the desk, and head in his hands. HeÃ¢â‚¬Â¦couldn't find it. The one thing that could stop this virus was not presenting itself. He had tried so many thingsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦none of which worked. Currently he was waiting fro a bacteria culture to mature so he could introduce it into a vial of infected blood. The bacteria had been coded to the virus' genetic pattern, so it should only attack the virus, not the blood cells. They would act as artificial killer T cells, going after the virus only.
Dimitri was lost deep in thought. Ã¢â‚¬ÂWhat if this virus gets out? Will it mutate? If we do find a cure, will it not work for another strain of the virus? If this thing gets to the general population, the world could end in a matter of days. I've got to find it. This has got to work.Ã¢â‚¬Â He leaned over and checked the petri dish under his microscope. The culture had multiplied enough to use.
He picked up the dish, and set it aside. He took the vial of infected blood out of the cooler with a gloved hand. He tipped a few drops of the blackened, viscous fluid onto a slide. Using an eyedropper, he added his bacteria to the slide, quickly covering it and placing it under the microscope. He flicked a switch on the side of the microscope, starting a small camcorder in the scope.
The genetic version of World War III had broken loose beneath the lens. The bacteria were furiously consuming the Solanum at a surprising rate, dissolving them entirely. Dimitri began to become more hopeful. He stood up and started scribbling notes down on a random sheet of paper as fast a he could. He did some math in his head. It could take up to eight hours to culture enough bacterial solution to fully cure a human. It would have to be ingested by intravenous drip, potentially an issue with the thrashing symptoms of a victim. The victim could be in severe pain during administrationÃ¢â‚¬Â¦maybe they could also come up with another solution to thatÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
Dimitri checked the slide again. He didn't believe what his eyes told him at first. The Ã¢â‚¬Ëœfighting' had completely stopped. What had happened? He opened the laptop that the microscope was plugged into and opened the video file. The bacteria had progressed as expected, untilÃ¢â‚¬Â¦what was that? Dimitri slowly lifted up his voice recorder and spoke into it.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The solution was working at first. But thenÃ¢â‚¬Â¦a virus penetrated the membrane of a bacterium. It burrowed into the nucleus. The bacterium turned against the others, until there were no healthy bacteria left.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Dimitri sat down heavily, sending the swivel chair backwards a little bit with the force of his momentum. He sighed dejectedly, and dabbed at a small tear leaving the corner of his eye. He was out of ideas. He put his arms on the armrests of the chair, leaned forward, and hung his head over his lap.
He had been sitting like this, thinking, for roughly ten minutes when a frantic voice came over the intercom system. Withers' rough voice penetrated the cloud surrounding his thoughts.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Dimitri! Dimitri! Get your ass over here! Dr. Lance got bitten!Ã¢â‚¬Â
Dimitri jumped out of the chair with a look of horror on his face. He grabbed his safety glasses and a pair of gloves on his way out, throwing the door open hard enough to dent the wall with the handle. He charged through the hall, stopping at the double doors of Lab 34 only long enough to pull them open.
The scene that unfolded before him took a minute to process.
The normally pure white, clean laboratory was a complete shambles. Loose papers were all over the place, shelves had crashed to the floor, and there were blood spots on the floor. Dr. Lance was lying on the floor off to the right, curled into the fetal position, with blood pouring out of a wound on his right calf. A hole had been ripped through his hazmat suit. Withers was on the floor, squirming, wrestling with what looked like a torso and a pair of legs. Donaldson was chasing the upper half of Barney's body around with a fire axe, jumping periodically to avoid the flailing hands of the eviscerated abomination. His severe lack of a hazmat suit made him stick out like a sore thumb. The sound of Barney's jaws snapping was loud enough to penetrate through the scuffling sounds of the fight that was taking place. Two attendants lay on the floor on either side of the restraining table. One lay in a pool of his own blood, a chunk of twisted metal sticking out of her chest. The other lay flat on his back, stiff as a board, with a wide-eyed expression frozen onto his face. The face shield on his suit had a jagged hole smashed through it, and Barney's left hand lay inside it next to his head. Blackened blood dripped from it, pooling next to the attendant's ear; speckles of it surrounded his mouth. Loose veins and chunks of flesh scattered the floor around the table.
Dimitri froze. He had no idea what to do. He stood there for a minute, watching the two agents fight with their respective halves of Barney. Withers spotted him and yelled for him to grab Donaldson's sidearm. Dimitri was in a reverie. He looked down slowly, spotting the government-issue 9mm pistol lying near his feet. He picked it up off the white tile slowly. He didn't feel like he was reacting, rather it seemed like he was watching someone else use his arm to pick up the gun. He watched through another person's eyes as his arm lifted, aiming across the room for Barney's head. He barely registered Withers' struggle abruptly end as the legs ran out of adrenaline and fell to the ground, permanently lifeless. He watched as his fingers tightened around the trigger of their own will, and fired.
The bullet leapt out of the barrel, kicking back enough to throw Dimitri slightly off-balance, a bright flash signifying its departure. The bullet sliced through the air. Dimitri's focus traveled with the bullet, watching as the bullet pierced the skull of the infected human. It threw up a spray of vile fluid around it as it entered just behind Barney's ear. It traveled in a straight path, piercing through the lower cerebrum and exiting through the lower cerebellum. Barney was thrown back against the wall with the force of the impact. He landed vertically, balanced on a tangle of organs protruding out of this torso. He ceased his thrashing, pausing for a second as is registering the fact that he had been shot. He tilted forward, jaw crashing against the floor, teeth clacking shut one last ominous time. His eyes rolled forward from back in his head, pupils focusing directly on Dimitri. The evil energy seemed to fade from behind his eyes as he died.
Dimitri's knees buckled, and he collapsed, catching himself with his hands. He vomited forcefully on the floor beneath him. Light seemed to fade from the edges of his vision as he looked back up. Withers was rushing toward him, shouting. Dimitri's vision continued to fade, even as he looked back down and registered the blackened heart sitting in the puddle of blood and vomit he was about to fall face-first into. His strength vanished and his arms crumbled. He felt strong arms wrap around his shoulders, catching him, as he disappeared into a sea of unconscious black.