“It’s bad, very bad.”
The man’s voice came, cracked and reedy, out of the tape recorder. The little grubby grey box playing haltingly, as if it begrudged the listeners every word that it released from the scarred depths of its inner workings.
“The virus is spreading quickly, any contact with an infected and you fall ill, from what we can tell its one hundred percent communicable and ninety nine point nine nine percent fatal. Even if you don’t die you’re crippled, the damage done to your body is just too extreme to heal.
We know how its spread now, droplet infection, airborne. Just seventeen viruses are enough to begin the cycle and what a cycle it is. First your pituitary gland gives out, telling your body its freezing to death, in response your core temperature shoots up while blood is cut of from your extremities. It’s in your brain at this point, making you close off capillaries to your skin, bleeding you white. This stage lasts for up to a week if the infected is strong enough, but by the time of death your flesh is rotting on your bones.
Not a nice way to go. Hank McCoy reckons it’s a mutation of the Legacy Virus and I have to say I agree with him, the two look remarkably similar. Pity McCoy’s dead, he probably would have found a cure if he’d not caught it. Our group is all infected, were holing up here to die, we all know it but none of us will admit it. They virus dies in a week once its host expires. If you’re hearing this before the fourteenth of August, don’t go anywhere, you’re infected.”
The tape cut out abruptly, leaving the air inside the shack full of white noise and the stink of rotting flesh. The five men looked at Maelstrom as she carefully put the recorder down next to the body they had found it by. Cryo was the first to break the silence.
“Like he said, this is bad. What’s the date?”
Gambler sighed and leant back against the wooden wall of the building and then hurriedly stood up again as it creaked ominously.
“Relax, it’s the twenty first were in the clear.”
No one relaxed, the fear hadn’t gone away. There was no point leaving now in a panic, if the virus was here they were all infected anyway. Outside the wind howled, clawing at the thin walls like some beast of legend seeking entry, blowing sand into the room through the cracks in the planking. Small dust devils swirled around their feet as they stood.
“Lets keep moving, Mael bring that tape along it may prove useful.”
Once again Gambler took command and they all obeyed, trooping out of the sad little house and away from the bodies it contained. The sun was hot in the open, beating down upon the unprotected heads of the travellers. One by one they crammed into the blue station wagon, with Gambler and DarkChild in the front and everyone else in the back seat and trunk. Maelstrom, as the only flier of the group took to the air and raced off down the road, he hair streaming in the wind.
“So who were those guys?” Cryo asked inquisitively.
It was sometimes hard to remember but he was really still a kid. Close in age to Venger than to the rest of the group. Unlike Venger however he had a cheerful disposition and was not prone to surliness.
“No idea” Spectrum mumbled.
Out of the group he was probably the best versed in what was going on and was acting in the role of a medic. Checking for signs of infection and administering first aid. In any other circumstances it would have been funny to see the great scientist working as a common doctor, but these were strange times.
Venger looked out the window as Gamber keyed the ignition and pulled the car back onto the desolate motorway. He sighed and brushed his long hair out of his eyes.
“The one with the recorder was my father.”
No one spoke. They had all known Switch, either by reputation or in person and it was hard to imagine him dying of a virus. He was the sort who went out with a bang, with a dead enemy at their feet and a smile on their face. Something was in the road up ahead and Gamber slowed, trying to make it out. With a sudden cry he slammed on the brakes and twisted the wheel slewing the car around in front of the object. Venger as Gambler leapt out and ran towards his wife shouting at the top of his voice.
“No! no! no! no! baby, be alright, baby, please be alright.!”
But she didn’t move. Gambler knelt and cradled her head in his arms, tears rolling down his face. Cryo stood, half out of the door, shocked by what he was seeing while spectrum hurriedly took Maelstroms pulse. It was there but weak.
“We need to get her to a hospital! Now!” he shouted and scooped her up in his arms, laying her limp form in the trunk of the car. Gambler scrambled back into the car and put his foot down, with a squeal or burning tires they were off.