Chapter 3: Infection

Chapter 3: Infection

A Chapter by Janeece

There is now another horrid addition to Scarlet's life; infection.


We ride in silence. Fredrick is focused on operating the hover craft, trying not to plunge us all to our death. His face is set hard. He looks up at the reflective dashboard several times, to view his brother's state. It's clear Griffin is writhing in pain, he tries to silence himself without much success. Whimpers and grunts escape his lips inevitably and he resorts to chewing down on the collar of his shirt so he doesn't disturb us. Fredrick tries to hide his disturbance caused by Griffin's pain, but to no avail. I see it there, feasting his patience. The worry swimming in his cold, blue eyes. Cold now from the solid ice growing over his heart as he thinks of a way to save his brother's life.

   My ride is spent not so deeply, simply looking out at the rocks below. We are going far too fast for anyone to follow us, and it'd be a waste of their time, as Fredrick had kindly pointed out just after we took off.      

    "There's a tracker in the hardware of course," he said confidently, yet still a tinge of stress to his tone "we'll ditch it somewhere random and then hike off in an unexpected direction." I almost asked him what exactly an unexpected direction is, but my brain told me otherwise. So I just nodded and kept my mouth shut.

   "I have some questions for you too, Scarlet." I look up quickly from my comforting view of the ridged weapons underneath us. Anyone who is anyone knows that when someone says they have to ask you a question, you suddenly think up the worst-case scenarios. They've figured out your deepest, darkest secret. For me, I'm not even sure what my deepest, darkest secret is. Griffin stirs behind us, his eyes opening from a light nap he'd slipped into.

    "What is it?" His eyes don't leave their current position, straight ahead and on course.

    "Where did that ridiculously good fighting come from back in Port 1?" I assume he is thinking back to when I kicked his butt in the first building before putting him under. I bite my lip self-consciously. "I know you're family, know your back round. It isn't part of your future career paths to get training like that."

    "I'm not supposed to tell..." My voice fades, remembering the unofficial vow I'd made with myself.

    "I highly doubt that whatever secrecy you're sworn to applies anymore." Griffin speaks up, his voice barely a rasp. I weigh the thought in my mind, he is right. The Head isn't going to come after me for this; they're after me for a much less personal reason.

     "I really don't know. I have all these blurred images from ages 6-12. Faces I can't identify, people who were no longer in my life after the age of 12. It must be that way, because after that, I can remember everything. Maybe they did something to me. I don't know, it just comes as a reflex when I need it to."

     "Well, that's convenient." Griffin expresses. Fredrick laughs, shaking his head.

     "I've seen a lot of films like that. The person gets abducted by aliens, comes back a superhuman." My eyes widen, I almost shake Fredrick by the shoulders.

     "Films?" He nods, as though we're speaking about the weather, his head held a little too high. "But those were destroyed years ago. We only have those stupid sitcoms about the three laws now."

    "My dad worked for The Head too, we got privileges."

    "Was your brother getting locked up one of them?" I guess I should regret the words as soon as they leave my lips, but I do need to get an explanation. My insensitive words seem to strike Fredrick across the face, he quickly rebuilds his strong shield before I can apologize. Griffin stays quiet too, staring at the floor of the hover craft. I decide to leave it alone, for now.

    "I think this is far enough, we'll do the rest on foot." Griffin and I find no suitable reason to protest as we begin to fall back to the earth. The rocks had magically disappeared while I was engrossed in my tall tale. Our surroundings are all green now. I realize we are in-

    "The wilderness?!" I exclaim, throwing terrified looks in every direction. My eyes shoot around, the green heightening my sense of fear. "But there's animals out here. What if we get eaten?" Griffin laughs at me. I don't find it very funny, scowling in response.

    "We'll just have to eat them first." He says. I cringe at the thought of all the calories, cholesterol, trans fat.

    "Hurry up now." I realize the door has been pushed aside; I slip out and watch as Fredrick unloads himself and the bags before attending to his injured brother. He takes out a hover board much like the one I had been on earlier. I look around uncomfortably, the scenery is very unsettling. Trees and leaves and vines acting as hiding places for vicious little creatures ready to poke my flesh. I wrap my arms around my torso, clinging to the only piece of civilization left; the hover craft. "Hold this." Fredrick hands me a box titled 'Emergency Medical Crate.' It is small for all the contents it must be holding but I know there is an enlarger inside.  Fredrick helps his brother onto the board and looks at me expectantly. "I'm going to need you to guide this. Here," he hands me a small circular remote with a screen that covers the face of the device. "Just move your finger in the direction he needs to go and it'll happen." I look down at the thing in my palm, then back up at Fredrick. "All right?" He asks, slamming the door shut. He puts their bags on his body, creating an X pattern over his chest. He has two guns holstered in the loop of a belt and I know Griffin's are stored away in his sack.

       "I'm fine," I spit. Fredrick watches me for a moment, raises an eyebrow and then looks away, waving me forward. I start walking after him.

       "Ahem." I turn to see Griffin sitting up, impatiently thrumming his fingers on the side of his transporter. I sigh and follow Fredrick's instructions, he hovers to my side and continues to stay there as I control it, strolling deeper into the green.   

      "So, where are we going exactly? And will there be food there? I'm starving, the crap they were feeding me should never enter a human's mouth..." He continues to carry on, complaining about the lack of service from his previous 'home'. A persistent curmudgeon. Fredrick rolls his eyes and saunters ahead. Griffin's incessant, scornful words seem to be perpetual so I take this action as one to mimic and follow Fredrick, striking up a conversation to drown his brother out.

      "What was your brother doing there? How could you work in a place like that?" He doesn't answer, eyes set straight ahead, fixed on something nonexistent. His face seems indifferent as he ambles on nonchalantly. "You must've known what was going on. Why would you wait for me, to get him out of there?" Fredrick nearly stops walking, his left foot makes a shuffling sound in the dirt, but he shakes his head and half smiles to himself, head hanging down.

    "You don't understand." He mutters. I almost don't hear him, his voice so low it's a whisper. "It wasn't my choice to work there." I say nothing, letting him get his self together before he continues. Griffin has stopped whining now, he stays speechless, looking around aimlessly. Trying to block out the tragic impending story. "Since I was the first born, I wasn't chosen in the experiment, I have the pure bloodline. Not to mention the guilt of being the big brother..." His voice gets quiet at the end, lips tightening into a straight line. I can see the emotions creeping onto his face, the pain he endures when he talks about it. No, simply thinking about it upsets him. "The experiment was conducted first in 2115. It was quite simple; inject the chosen disease into the host and see how they respond to each sickness. But things got out of hand..." His head quivers slightly, I can see the water welling up in the corners of his eyes. So much it makes me uncomfortable to watch him any more. "So they started trying again a few years ago. You think they'd learn from their mistakes. They thought everything was sterile, but obviously not sterile enough. They assume that some of the diseases left the room, crept into the bodies of some of the people handling the lethal critters, passed it along. Your grandfather was one of those people, Scarlet. He brought the cancer out and passed it on to your father." He watches me; I see the reflection of shame and anger on his face, soon to mirror the look of my own. "My dad worked alongside him, once they found out my mother was going to have another child The Head went insane, acted as if they were going to rip him out of her womb. But my dad was so crucial to the development of their research; he had a chance to fight back. They came to make a deal, Griffin would be used in the experiments until he turned 18, as long as we kept our mouths shut, and I'd be required to work as a guide, so they could monitor me, make sure I wasn't telling anyone of my little sibling secret." His eyes meet mine, looking for some kind of consensus, a reaction to his life story. I don't have one. My face is blank, my heart is blank, my brain is blank. He drops his gaze from mine, focusing on the ground, only then do I notice that I'm still walking, still effectively guiding Griffin's hover board as well.

     Darkness swarms above my head, trying to enter through the crown of it, trying to invade my thoughts, happy memories, happy anything.

     "So why are they experimenting with something they're so hell bent on destroying?" I start, anger seeping through my voice, spilling out my mouth and flowing through Fredrick's ears.


    "Why bring back all those sicknesses and impose them on innocent people? What are they gaining?" Fredrick glances back at Griffin who is snoozing soundly, noisy snoring proves he's in a deep sleep.

     "They wouldn't do it if there wasn't anything to gain. My dad never told us because, well, he wasn't allowed, but I think they're trying to bring some of the diseases back. But casually, not all at once, make it seem like it's someone else's fault entirely, someone with no connection to The Head." He snaps his head towards me, I flinch in response. "They already messed up and contaminated the world, so they want to start again... I mean, I guess it'd be again, again." My brain seems to be melting as I take in all the information. Dissolving and oozing through the cracks in my skull, pouring out my ears and sliding down my neck. I get goosebumps and chills in reaction. Comprehension bubbles over me, creating a cave of fear, pushing and shoving with the upheaval of reality, my fantasy realm retreating.

      "Start again?" I choke, my words coming out in a croak. Fredrick seems inflicted negatively by the sound, sympathizing but not quite sure how to go about soothing me. His hard shell has grown so thick with time that the thought of dying barely even occurs to him, never mind seeing it as a bad thing. "Like the dark times? When everyone killed each other off?" I think back to The Teachings, where we learned all about Earth's past. When there were things called countries, and continents owned by different leaders and ran by important groups of people who frequently had disagreements and attempted to solve the problems with mass murders and violence and guns. I shudder at the thought, at the old images we’d seen once before.

     It was a weird thought, no wonder the world before our own was so unstable, with more than one person ruling, of course there's going to be conflict of interest, clash of personalities. But our world is peaceful now, and the thought of ever having to witness our pass, in the flesh, is the thought of having a glimpse behind the gates of hell. Staring Satan in the eyes, having him stare back into your soul, snatch it from your very hands, and end your life. The end of something that had started not even 2 decades ago for me, a time in which would be a very short life span to the people living now. With sickness and violence eliminated, people are able to live much longer, age much slower. The thought of being forced to die, end life so early...




    "All right?" He sends the familiar words in my direction. I look up, my hands feeling their way to my cheeks. They feel sticky and wet. I'd started to cry. Fredrick looks uncomfortable, not sure how to react, how to comfort me. I simply nod and look away, trying to change the subject.

    "So what are we looking for?" I sniffle, clearing my throat loudly. Fredrick searches with me, not looking for anything in particular but thankful for my clever diversion.

    "My dad told me if I got out to head to the West, not many people live there, and he told me that's where we'd be safe, Griffin and I."

     "But that was almost 2 years ago. What if nothing's there now? What if everything's there now? We'd be caught." Fredrick shrugs.

     "There's no where else to go." My head drops in exhaustion, slightly in defeat as well. No where else to go, homeless, abandoned.

      My mind drifts back to poor old Madeline, though surely my situation is heaps more tragic. Three individuals, running for their lives. I guess that's when it hits me. This is not a book, there isn't an author sitting on the other side determining my fate and it's most likely not going to finish with a happy ending. There's no glitter or fairy wings or secret gardens to escape to. This is it. I'm here, blindly wandering the very thing I fear and have very minimal knowledge of.  "So we're just going to walk in hope's that we're traveling in the right direction?"

     "We're probably not." My feet stop moving. The action"or lack of"is automatic, the signal gets sent to my feet before weaving through my discretion. Fredrick sends me a glance over his shoulder, then dips his head calmly and continues to walk. "We have to find a place to settle away from the hovercraft, set up camp and find out a way to get the tracker out of that hover board. Then we'll figure out what the right direction is." I look back to his brother, sleeping soundly. He has also come to a halt. I make us both proceed forward, stumbling towards the unknown.


* * *


I have never been so tired, never been so sweaty, so hungry, so sore. I'm sure if I had been living under the same circumstances with food, water and a proper place to lay my head, it wouldn't be so bad. Couldn't be.    

     We walk for days, (which apparently I am incorrect about but I insist that it has been that long). My legs are aching, muscles crying out for help. Throat scratchy and dry as the sand under my dragging limbs. My long red hair is plastered to my face with sweat and the grainy substance swirling around me. At some point I had lazily put it back into a messy braid, the end of it brushing my behind with every painful step forward.

     We have long passed the green, and all I have left to prove we had ever walked through it is the lovely masterpiece of bug bites that cover my dehydrated skin from head to toe. Another scary thing had consumed me over the period of time, the trudging and the hiking and the walking and the moving, I had no energy to talk, so I ended up getting lost in my thoughts, and maybe it was just the lack of fluid speaking, but I had started to converse with myself.

     Fredrick and Griffin hadn't said much either. Besides the few words we exchanged with one another a few nights ago when we set up camp, everything was pretty silent. And maybe that wasn't such a bad thing. I used the time to soak up Fredrick's stories, which have quickly become my reality. Alien abductions, corrupted authority, the past coming back to haunt us. And then he told me the most bone chilling, earth shattering, blood curdling tale of all; infection.

      He first noticed when Griffin refused to eat any of the rations we had rounded up. Fredrick shot a few birds whose names I cannot recall while I collected roots and berries and other healthier things to balance out the grease of the medium rare, game. We put the hardly edible meal in front of him and he wasn't as enthusiastic as Fredrick was. Obviously, I was not surprised he found the 'food' unappealing, but a highly concerned Fredrick instantly got to his feet and placed his hand on  Griffin's forehead. The look on his face is forever imprinted into my brain, something I wish to rid, but know I never will. It was a look of agonizing, heart wrenching pain, worse than I had ever seen. Worse than my mother's face when we found out about the news that'd change our lives forever, and worse than my father's face when he found out of my mother's suicide. It was a look of torment followed by pure envy, he had wished the pain to be bestowed upon himself, instead of his innocent brother.

     "The bullet wound is infected. I figured when I stopped the bleeding and bandaged it up that'd be enough. But our immune systems have grown so weak since we never use them, and his so weak because it's overused due to the experiments. I should've taken better care of it, I should've known." He flicks the blade on a piece of wood, carving a new weapon. Fredrick has been demanding we use arrow heads instead of bullets when hunting. Apparently it's too keep quiet but I always think of going against his dumb rules, who's going to hear us out here anyway?

     I have nothing to say to him and I know that even if I did, my words wouldn't make him feel any better. Couldn't. Nothing can help him at this point. I can see in his eyes, the intense demolition his emotions are undergoing, no one there to help pick up the pieces. He's never needed help, and he isn't about to ask for it.

     The sound of Griffin's hover board catches our attention. We wince at the first soprano beep, neither of us looking back, though both knowing what has just happened. We hear it subtly touch the ground, awaking Griffin. I watch Fredrick's head drop in misery, the wooden spear and thin blade slipping from his hands.     

     "Wha?" Griffin starts, sitting up and looking around disoriented. A thick film of sweat covers his wrongly coloured face. It's too pale, too sick. His cheekbones are too potent, his cheeks so hollow, collarbones jutting out, hair thinning around his frail skull, eyes weary and suffering. It's a scary sight; he looks too young, too fragile. I hold myself back from hugging him like a small child, much like the way I felt when I first saw him, except now death is threatening to take over.

     "The battery died," Fredrick sighs, getting to his feet from the overturned log and lifting his hand to shield his eyes from more than just the sun. Fighting to be tough for his little brother, he looks around the setting. Sand, sand and more sand. Sighing again, he walks over to where Griffin has settled down. "grab the other side." He directs his chin to me and I clumsily get to my feet. Hands folding around the other side we lift it to a small coven of plants and cacti that create minimal amount of shelter over Griffin. I'm not sure where I get the energy from, but wherever I've been stashing it, I'm sure that place is completely drained as of now. "He can't go any further." I know it as well as he does, looking down at Griffin's shivering figure in the 100-degree weather. I wipe my forehead with the sleeve of my sweater before tying it back around my waist. Fredrick leads me by the shoulder a few feet away from the circle of plants. Neither of us speaks for a minute or so until we realize there's no time to waste. "We've got to get him help. Now. I'll continue West, you stay here an-." He stops when I begin to shake my head. The action I put forth is instinct, there's no thinking about doing it, it just happens. "What is it?"

      "He's your brother. You can take better care of him than I can. You stay, I'll go." A look of humor crosses his face and the half smile is back, churning my gut. I direct my eyes down at my feet, not in the mood for his modest perfection.

      "I know the direction better than you." He places his hand under my chin, my head pulls back along with my feet, retreating from the closeness of his presence. I know it's nothing more than a friendly gesture but either way I know it will lead to nothing other than hurt for me.

      "Just point which way is West and I'll continue that way." He sighs, I feel something heavy drop around my shoulders and I look up to see that he has draped one of his bags over me.

     "Extra food, water, weapons, though you probably won't need them, not many animals out here but just in case." He takes something out of his pocket, switching it in between his fingers thoughtfully, and finally sighing again. He holds up the infamous chain, identification tag at the end. "I know this seems cheesy, but take this. It'll make me feel easy." He attaches it to the side of one of the packs with quick fingers.

    "A token of your gratitude. Now I can't let you down." I smirk, giving him a sarcastic solute. This earns me a short laugh, and a nudge on the shoulder. I nod, turning on my heel. I half expected him to grab me by the shoulders, rather than a nudge and place a passionate kiss on my lips. Too much? Oh, well. Reading romantic novels had set my expectations too high but a hug at the very least would do! Would hold me over until the time I get to see him again. I could feel the heavy presence of physical attraction; I didn't know enough about Fredrick or boys in general to develop feelings any deeper than that. Maybe one day I would, something tells me it's something that will make my life a lot more difficult than it already is.

    "You sure you want to do this?" He calls after me. I spin, still walking backwards, thumbs pointing up. "Well first off, you're walking in the wrong direction." I skid to a stop and follow where his fingers are pointing. Compelled to jog, show off my determination but cannot find the energy to do so. Instead I stalk off the right way, not in the mood to be corrected. I fight the reflex to turn back around and flip the sarcastic man off. "Good luck!"

      Christ, how I hope I won't need it.

© 2013 Janeece

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Added on March 5, 2013
Last Updated on March 5, 2013
Tags: dystopian, love, romance, sickness, cancer, anxiety, adventure, action, murder, suspense




my name is janeece, i'm 17. i live in canada and i hate how cold it is. i can't wait to get out of here. my passions include writing, musical theatre and fashion. message me, i'm super nice! more..

Prologue: Secrecy Prologue: Secrecy

A Chapter by Janeece