Prologue[edit | edit source]

Name's Julius, but you can call me Jules. Twenty-three, new to college. Sometimes it's fun, most of the time it's lame. Most of the people here don't have time for an introverted half-college student half-pet supply guy. When they do, it's just for studying.

I'd make friends. They're good people. But they're too busy studying, or working. So most of the time I'm alone. I hang by the library, hoping to strike a convo with a loner chick similar as me. Turns out they're waiting for their boyfriends.

Yeah, I've had girlfriends. They don't last long. Longest was probably six months... we just didn't click. Love is awesome and all, but when you've got too much hours at work, and even more at school, you just don't have time to cuddle anymore. Yep, guess my exes aren't too fond of that. Then again, I've only had two.

Aside from taking classes, I also work at a pet store. My uncle runs it, but... he's not really my uncle. More like a godfather, but... he's not even that. I think uncle works. Uncle Henry's been real kind, giving me this job when I just moved out on my own. I know his son, Brian, since I was a kid. He was close to being my best friend, until he moved away to be some... lawyer of some sort. Still a good friend. His pops is proud of him, since he talks about him a lot.

Uncle Henry's been real nice. I'm pretty much the only guy he needs, since I do nearly everything. Part-timers here and there, but I've stayed the longest. Modest pay, and no favoritism. Uncle Henry's a smart man.

I've heard of the "plague" not too long ago. Just some obscure stories.... "Guy bites guy, guy is crazy," or "guy is bit, feels sick". They tried to see if it's just like the common cold, if it was he season or something.... then it came down to super bugs, avian flu, some kind of salt... the news tried to explain something they had no idea about. And so, we had no idea. We just let it go, as it swept the whole continent. Some towns north of us were hit, then more on the surrounding areas. We had some too, but... it was way fewer than what the other towns had. They kept telling us to wash our hands, or to take medicine, cover noses when sneezing too much... but they didn't sneeze.

I'd be there to catch the key words, but not sit for the whole news. There was a party I went to one time that just completely ended when one of the cities declared a state of emergency in the news, 'cause of this flu outbreak. This thing's really turning people off.

Then it started popping up even closer to us. There were people here and there in our school. Every class of mine from then on had at least one person absent every day. Most of them said they were bit, but some of them weren't. Bit? Is this some sort of human rabies?

I just couldn't believe it. I thought I had the immune system for it. I thought it was just a common cold disease where a cure will be found. It'll blow over, I thought. Then the news got worse.

All of the people sick from the disease died, 100% of the time. A fatal disease, not hitting my town yet. I refused to believe it. I thought it could go away if I ignored it, just like most news... but no, it just kept catching up. It kept grabbing my shoulders, but I always shrugged it off.

I even volunteered to deliver medicine to anyone and everyone in town. I knew it could be cured.

Then my sister called. She was older than me, living miles away from us. She'd call to check up on us almost every week. An older sister who keeps her promise.... a successful older sister, if I could say so myself.

It wasn't the normal phone call. She said she'd been in one of the states where the majority were "infected". I still have a hard time saying that, since people don't get "infected" for this long of a term...

Her words became harder to absorb, as our calls lengthened. People dead, then... coming back to life? These, "dead" people, walking and grabbing people like animals... I swear I'd hear these on one of those tabloids. And so, I'd ignore her phone calls.

It got serious when my parents started to call me. They said my sister wanted to talk. I told her she wasn't an optimist. It took about 136 missed calls for her to convince me.

She told me our town's already halfway through being infected. She told me we're all at risk. She told me not to get bit, and to stay indoors. Told me to watch the news. For the first time in a long time, I'd turn on the news again, and listen this time. Emergency broadcasts first, then actual reporters.

They'd advice to indeed stay indoors, and to exit the city right away to the nearest refugee centers, or National Guard posts. Nothing about the "infected" violent people, just safety. Not even my sister can tell me that.

How bad will this get? Will people just stay like this, violent and senseless, until there's a cure? I'll give it a few weeks, and everybody'll get cured. I know it's just some rabies outbreak waiting to get cleared. I'm sure those outposts and refuge centers are just other words for infected prisons. They'll arrest them, then cure them. That's the routine.

Something about how my sister sounded in those phone calls was different... she couldn't say everything. Says nothing else but to just stay safe. How she described it, it's like the infected people have transformed into something undesirable... I don't know if she's out of her mind, or if I'm hearing things.

Chaos this scale; it's probably one of those global riots. It'll get restrained, but with bad results, and things are back to normal.''

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