Ground Zero

Ground Zero

A Chapter by Elizabeth

When the attacks began, Libby and Jack were alone in their parents house. It was well past midnight and they had been watching Shark Week on the Discovery
channel. All of a sudden, the TV cut to an emergency broadcast. A traffic jam in Singapore that had lasted for weeks had become ground zero for the worst biological terrorist attack in history. The traffic jam had been the perfect breeding ground for the undead virus to spread. The thousands of trapped commuters had been infected first. They spread the virus to the millions of souls trapped in the city slums, the high-rises and the neighboring villages.  Images of corpses wandering the streets attacking pedestrians flooded the airwaves. The images played on loop. One after another, every channel showed what was clearly a dead man lifting an infant from her pram and swallowing her head in three savage bites. His skin ashy and sallow, flesh hanging from his face in sheets peeling like paint on an old barn. His eyes vacant, his gait uneven, the man with half a face ate the infant like one would eat an apple. Behind him, hundreds of others ran for the safety of locked cars.

Pundits bantered on about Islamic fundamentalists opening vials of the virus in midday traffic. No one could be certain who was responsible. The general consensus was that the virus was engineered in an American laboratory as a cure for everything from cancer to congenital defects. Instead, it had the unfortunate side effect of killing anything that came in contact with it. The virus caused rapid decay and rabid blood thirst. Unnamed sources leaked reports of dead monkeys awakening in trash cans and attacking scientists. The project was halted immediately pending further review. All reports were sealed and the virus was destroyed. But there were also leaked reports that the virus had been sold by rogue researchers to the highest bidder. It was believed that infected passengers had boarded international flights destined all over the world. No one knew the scope of the attacks, but it was clear that Singapore was not the final destination.

News anchors struggled to maintain their composure as they delivered the emergency instructions to the public. American viewers were instructed to board up their homes and await rescue. The National Guard had been deployed and the President had declared marshal law.

Jack watched in silence. He turned to look at Libby sitting on the couch. She looked like a child in her pink hoodie. Tears ran down her face and she whispered “Jack…” Her words hung in the air like smoke.  He got up from their Dad’s chair and put his small hand in hers. Pretty Libby. How was he going to tell her that their parents were never coming home? “Jack, we can’t board up the house ‘till Mom and Daddy get here.” Jack kissed his big sister on the forehead and headed out to the garage to collect plywood and a hammer. “It’s you and me now, Libby. You have to be a good girl, ok?”

Libby nodded and watched in silence as Jack began preparing the house. He had been preparing for this moment somehow, forever. He knew where the stores of canned food were. He knew the combination to their Dad’s gun safe and he knew how to melt led into bullets. And he knew how to soothe his sister. He knew many things a 12 year old shouldn’t know. “Come help me, Lib. Every window, every door.” Libby knew by his tone that their parents were gone. She was sick but she wasn’t a child. Jack was a child. And she would protect him come what may. She looked at her parent’s wedding photo on the wall and made a silent vow to take care of her brother. Jack and Libby stared at each other across the kitchen once the last board was in place. They stood like that for an hour, just waiting. And then the lights went out.


© 2010 Elizabeth

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I like this. Nice descriptions. I am hooked into following your story/book now:)

Posted 11 Years Ago

you have a real gift for prose. you're story telling is spot on. you write in a straightforward, captivating, very accessible style, peppered with descriptive lines such as : flesh hanging from his face in sheets peeling like paint on an old barn : brilliant !! and eating an infant like one would eat an apple: more brilliance...
ok, i'll stop quoting
then you right turn to politics: excellent.
dead monkeys awakening, attacking scientists: brilliant aside
everyline of your prose says so much, in such an easy to read way. you don't have to waste any lines on build up.
and then the human touch in the last two paragraphs... and a brilliant ending

Posted 11 Years Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on October 17, 2010
Last Updated on October 17, 2010



Wonderland, TN

I am Alice through the looking glass...I mix my metaphors with barbiturates. I take my mania with a glass of milk and I rarely look before crossing the street. Walk a mile in my mary janes, friend. .. more..

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