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  1. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
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    Manchester, England

    Short Story Contest 100! Pre-written Character Special - Submission & Details Thread

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Aug 16, 2011.

    Short Story Contest 100
    Submissions & Details Thread
    Theme: "Pre-written Character - Danny"​

    Grand fanfare please, the 100th short story contest is upon us. Most of these contests have been run by yours truly and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your participation, interest and fantastic entries over the last two-to-three years.

    Anyway, bask to business. Like always, this contest is open to all members, newbies and the established alike. Please post your entries as replies to this post. At the deadline I will collate all entries and put them forward for voting in a separate thread. The winning entry will be stickied until the next competition winner. Sadly, there is no prize on offer except pride. The winner may PM/VM me to request the theme of a subsequent contest if he/she wishes.

    Theme: "Pre-written Character - Danny" (courtesy of a democratic vote). Any interpretation valid. Entries do not have to follow the theme explicitly, but off-topic entries may not be entered into the voting. Use the character details below to frame your story.
    Wordlimit: 500-3000 words
    Deadline for entries: Monday 29th August 2011 10.00 am (UK local)

    Name: Danny.
    Born: Five years before “it” happened.
    Age: Unknown.
    Sex: M.
    Current Occupation: N/A.
    Current Location: The outskirts of the abandoned city of Edinburgh, Scotland, year unknown.
    Characteristics: Tenacious. Intelligent. Paranoid.
    Other: Starving, Danny approaches the city. He does not conceal his weapon.

    There is a 10% word-limit leniency at both ends of the scale. Please try to stick within the limit. As below, any piece outside of the suggested limit may not be entered into the voting.

    There is a maximum of 20 entries to any contest. If there are more than 20 entries to any one contest I will decide which are entered into voting based on adherence to the suggested word limit and relevance to the theme, not on a first-come-first served basis.

    The next contest will be themed "Eavesdropping" (courtesy of member Pythonforger), and the one after that "Unknown Pre-written Scenario - You write a story using it". This scenario will be decided before the contest is launched. The contest after that will be themed "Amnesia" (courtesy of member Ubrechor). Be free to prepare an entry in advance for any or all of these contests, but do not submit an entry to these contests until instructed to do so.

    Try to make all your entries complete and have an ending rather than be an extract from a larger one and please try to stick to the topic. Any piece seemingly outside of the topic will be dealt with in a piece by piece manner to decide its legitamacy for the contest.

    Submissions may not have been previously posted on this site, nor may they be posted for review until voting has closed. Only one entry per contest per contestant is permissable.

    Please try to refrain from itallicising, bolding, colouring or indenting any text to help avoid disappointment. These stylistics do not reproduce when I copy-paste them into the voting thread. You may use visible noparse BB code to preserve style if you wish by placing [ noparse ] and [ /noparse ] (without the spaces) around the entire text.

    Please remember to give your piece a title and give its word count in brackets at the top of your story.

    If there are any questions, please leave me a visitor message or PM me. Please do not clog up this, or any other thread, with your questions.

    Please note that only current members are eligible to win.

    Thanks and good luck.
  2. KenPutnam

    KenPutnam New Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Edinburg is Burning

    [733 words]

    He wracked his mind for the city’s name. He was young when the world went to Hell, and so he didn’t quite remember what everything was called. The world didn’t literally go to Hell, of course. That would be odd. It was just a figure of speech. He was hungry, too. He hadn’t had anything to eat in a few days. There wasn’t much wildlife anymore, and any person you ran into was more likely to shoot you than feed you. Hell, they might even eat you themselves, if they were hungry enough.

    Danny heard a rustling noise behind him. He spun and blasted a hole in the nearly silent wind with his shotgun. It was one dead breeze, now. The man sighed and moved on. He didn’t even know what had happened to the world, he’d just had to grow up in the world of chaos created by the mistakes of his ancestors. He didn’t have a last name. In a different time, Danny might have grown up to become one of those great men who changed the world for the better. He knew that, but he also knew that, if anything, the world would change him. For the better or for the worse, he really couldn’t say. When the world went to Hell, morals went with it.

    The heavy leather jacket kept the cold to a minimum, but he still wore a fur cap and ski goggles. He didn’t wear ski goggles for the snow, though. There wasn’t any snow. The fluffy white stuff that was always falling from the sky was ash. He didn’t know whose ash, or why it was falling, but it was definitely ash. Once he’d even found a bone that had fallen from the sky. A human legbone. It had nearly fallen onto his head, but he’d managed to move out of the way. That was one of the benefits of thinking that every slight movement was out to get you. You’d either shoot the movement with your shotgun, or you’d dodge it. Nine out of ten times, whatever Danny blasted or dodged was just a breeze or a stray leaf.

    Edinburg. That was the name of the city, yes. Probably. He’d briefly looked at a road map before leaving Glasgow, and so he assumed that this city was Edinburg. If the road map was right. There was some rising from the city. Edinburg was burning. Danny took this to be a good sign. Fires meant people. People meant food. Food meant survival. Besides, wasn’t there supposed to be some kind of organization setting up in Edinburg? That’s what he’d heard. Some organization that was going to be hellbent on restoring order to the world. Maybe Danny could change the world after all. He just didn’t know, at this point.

    He got to Edinburg fairly quickly. The fires were certainly coming from Edinburg. But he didn’t see any people. There wasn’t a single human noise echoing through the empty streets. The air seemed thin, too. Probably because of the fires. He lifted a sewer grate and climbed down. If there were any people in the city, they’d be hiding in the sewers. He walked down filth-ridden corridors and turned on his flashlight. The empty eye sockets stared back at him with all the intensity of a police officer interrogating a suspect. He jumped into the green, slimy water and a 12 gauge shotgun blast riddled the corpse’s torso with lead. That’s when he heard the heavy, forced panting just behind him. He turned again, and fired. Nothing was there. He heard a footstep down the corridor. The buckshot ricocheted off the concrete wall. Then, and unmistakable sound. Gunfire rang down the dark corridor.

    Danny ran towards it. He stumbled on a fresh corpse and looked at it for a moment. It held a World War 2 era Thomson submachine gun. He checked his own ammo. None. Silently, he took the body’s weapon, pressed himself against the wall, and listened.

    Guttural, inhuman snarls forced their way into his unwilling ears. He looked at the corpse again. No gunshot wounds. Bite marks, and claw marks. He checked the magazine on the Tommy gun and, seeing as it was empty, reloaded. Then, he turned the corner and sprayed the two…things…that were in the corridor with gunfire. A few seconds later, there was a second fresh corpse in the hallway.
  3. ZombieHappyMeal

    ZombieHappyMeal Member

    Aug 3, 2011
    Likes Received:
    An Edinburgh Ballet (1131 words)

    For five years of his life, things were normal. For five years of his life he had a mother and a father. Fifty-Seven years later, Danny remembered nothing of those five years. He didn’t remember television or electricity or running water. He didn’t remember paper bag lunches or preschools or the picture books his mother used to read him before he fell asleep at night. He didn’t remember living without constant fear. All he remembered was death.

    Danny looked out over the city and thought to himself, ‘This could be the end of me.’

    All the major cities in the world had been evacuated when the plague first struck, but a huge portion of the population had refused to leave their homes. Most of these people starved to death, not wanting to risk the outside, but those that didn’t, were overrun. One by one the hordes became larger and larger and after several years, the almost all of the remaining survivors were consumed. The poor souls that had survived by avoiding the populated areas eventually had no choice but to venture into the cities in search of large stockpiles of canned goods. Very few made it out alive.

    Danny had been scavenging the houses and small towns on the outskirts of Edinburgh for quite some time, but there wasn’t anything left. A package of dry noodles here, a can dog food there, but pretty much everything edible had been consumed over the course of last 50 years. The problem was obvious, no new food was being produced and the cities were the only places left an individual could possibly find a meal. If Danny didn’t go into the city, he would surely parish.

    On the morning of his third day without food Danny decided that it was time. He hoisted his backpack on to his shoulders and unsheathed his most prized possession, a 28 inch bone machete. The machete and his cunning were the only two things that had kept him alive all this time.

    With each step he took into the city he became more and more afraid of what he would find. He was very careful to not make any noise and with many years of practice, he was able to creep along in virtual silence. Occasionally he would hear something or think he heard something and he would stop moving all together. It was a ballet of sorts. A ballet he had learned, that could dance him into old age.

    As he approached the first buildings, he heard the deep sorrowful moans of the dead. Their moans rose and fell like the tides of the ocean, forming a chorus of endless torture. It was a noise that Danny had learned to both love and hate. If the dead are silent, there is no warning when they approach, but with their constant wailing, an intelligent careful person can avoid them all together. Heading towards the moaning was something Danny was not accustomed to, but he understood that if he was to survive much longer, it was necessary.

    Then he heard something that couldn’t possibly be. In all of the godforsaken places on this earth, there was laughter in Edinburgh. For just a moment Danny was reminded of his own mother’s laughter and he himself smiled. He had come to believe that all laughter had long ago been forgotten as the world struggled to survive.

    He quickened his pace in the direction of these new sounds of glee, but still looked over his shoulder every three or four steps to make sure he wasn’t being followed or worse, trapped. Danny kept low to the ground and moved along the sides of the long neglected buildings whenever possible. Being out in the open was far too dangerous.

    When he came to the end of the block he looked down the tattered weed infested street that led directly into the heart of Edinburgh, what he saw was something beyond comprehension. The street before him looked much like what he would expect, all except one thing. The house was yellow and planted along the front porch were bright red roses that matched the front door perfectly. The green grass in the front yard was freshly mowed and a tire swing hung from an old oak tree.

    A beautiful woman, most likely in her late twenties, danced down the middle of the road, all the while laughing and smiling. In the distance, he could see the dead slowly approaching, drawn to this area of the city, by the sounds of pleasure, in hopes of tasting sweet life.

    ‘The dead will be on her in minutes.’ Danny thought.

    He had to do something. He had to get her to be quite. He had to get her to go back inside her perfect little house, but how? There was no way that he could run to her. There just wasn’t time. He couldn’t call out to her. The dead would come after him as well, and Danny was determined to die of old age. He was determined to stay dead and not become the meal for some rotten corpse.

    ‘Fuck it.’ He thought. ‘It’s not every day you come across a woman in this world. Hell, it’s not every day you come across another human being. I’ve got to do something.’ And with that, he stuck his forefinger and thumb in his mouth and whistled loudly. The woman stopped laughing and singing and looked in his direction. It took her a moment to see him crouched down in the tall grass but when she did she shrieked as if she had found a long lost friend and ran in his direction.

    ‘Thank God.’ Danny thought to himself. ‘At least if she is with me, I can protect her.’

    He sheathed his machete, not wanting to frighten her as she approached. The woman held out her arms ready to embrace him. He understood. It was a miracle that she had survived this long on her own. The dead in the distance were closing the gap, moving quickly in their direction.

    ‘Fuck it.’ He thought again and stood up. He held his arms out as well, ready to accept her embrace. It wasn’t every day that a man and a woman could be together in this world. Danny was 62 years old and it had been 20 years since he had last felt the warmth of another human pressed up against his rough exterior.

    She never slowed her run and never stopped her laughing as she slammed into Danny at full speed, knocking him to the ground. Her teeth sunk into his neck and as she pulled back, hungrily ripping at his flesh, Danny looked deep into the eyes of the most gorgeous woman he had ever seen.
  4. jg540506

    jg540506 New Member

    Aug 19, 2011
    Likes Received:

    Words: 1398

    Suddenly, Danny realized he was outside. The breeze smelled salty, gently pushing his hair into his face and blowing the tail of his terrycloth bathrobe away from him. In the distance, he could see what would most likely be a cemetery. There were statues of crosses and cherubs, cracked and crumbling from age, poised over chiseled marble headstones. Beyond the graves, the waves of the North Sea were crashing on the shores of West Lothian. It all looked so familiar.

    He remembered some pictures that Mother and Father had shown him when they returned from their trip, years ago. The glossy prints were wearing thin with age, but they were some of the only memories he had left of them. He reached into the front pocket of his robe, revealing one of the pictures.

    That’s it, he said to himself. Chairnpaple. It was an historic burial ground for Scottish Royalty during the Golden Age. When Mother and Father had visited for their 6th anniversary, it had become a tourist attraction. He grew sad looking at the picture. What had been lush green grass was replaced by dusty gravel and he could see that the buildings and statues were toppling onto one another from years of neglect.


    Danny looked around and raised the length of the Machete he was wielding to his chest. His brow furrowed, as if he was unaware that he was holding it, but he was glad he had it now. The handle was wrapped in white tape, dirty and torn, and the blade shined brilliantly as it caught the reflection of the setting sun. He did a complete circle, trying to see where the voice had come from.

    “Is that you again?” Danny asked, trying to hide the fear in his voice.

    “Yes. It’s me again.” The voice answered unequivocally.

    “Why don’t you show yourself this time?”

    The voice let out an audible sigh. “Danny, we go through this every time. Why don’t you just trust me a little?”

    “Fine.” Danny conceded, not interested in arguing with him today. “Why are we in Edinburgh? Do they have food? I’m starving!”

    “We can look,” The voice said. “But my guess would be that it’s been abandoned for quite some time.”

    Danny took in a deep breath, pocketed the pictures, and started forward. He was determined that he would find them here. They had to be here. He didn’t care if he had to kill or pillage in order to find them, but he was going to find his Mother and Father. Even if it was the last thing he ever did.

    “I bet they’re in Linlithgow Palace,” the voice said. “That’s where they said they were going.”

    “How do you know?” Danny asked tritely. “You say that every time!”

    The voice chuckled. “You’re right, Danny. But we’ve been doing this since you were five years old. How much longer are we going to travel this baron world trying to find them?”

    As long as it takes, Danny didn’t say out loud. The wind was getting stronger as he made his way off of the hill and closer to the cemetery. The pungent smell of the sea was giving way to all of the dust and dirt that was being kicked into the air. He could taste the sand in his mouth. For now, he would make his way to the shoreline for a drink of water. He couldn’t even remember the last time he had eaten, but for now, he had to quench his thirst.

    As he walked, he thought back to that fateful day. The day when “it” happened. The images that swirled his head made his stomach turn. Anger, fear, and sadness enveloped his body, just like the waves of the sea, twisting and tormenting the rest of his emotions. The last notion of happiness that ever passed through him was just before it happened, when Mom and Dad smiled down at him and kissed him gently on the forehead. If he knew that he would never see them again, he would have put up more of a fight. How was he supposed to know that they were going to be kidnapped?

    “Danny…” the voice said. “You’re ignoring me.”

    Danny turned and looked up at the sky, wielding the mighty blade and shaking it toward the clouds above.

    “Yes!” He shouted. “Yes, I’m ignoring you! Why won’t you leave me alone?”

    There was another maniacal laugh. “Because you’re too easy!”

    “Show yourself,” Danny demanded. “Show yourself now, you coward!”

    “Ok.” The voice said softly. “I’m over here.”

    Danny could see a shadow just beyond the trees on the shoreline. He shed the bathrobe and sprinted towards the shore, gripping the machete even tighter. As he got closer, he could see the shadow taking on the shape of a tall man.

    Finally, Danny thought. I’ll be rid of you once and for all!

    “What are you going to do, Danny?” The voice asked calmly. “Kill me?”

    “Yes,” Danny muttered between labored breaths. “I’m going to cut your head off!”
    Danny hefted the blade over his head, intending to use all of the momentum in his run to ensure a swift death. He reveled in the thought of the blade sliding through his tormentor’s body. Once this was done he could carry on his journey without being bothered.

    “Kill me again, Danny. I want you to.”

    As he got closer, Danny suddenly felt the wind taken from his lungs. When the shadow came into full view, he could not believe his eyes. The long wisps of chestnut colored hair, blazing green eyes, and narrow chin were unmistakable. The man in front of him wore the same terrycloth robe that Danny left behind in the dusty field. As Danny dropped the blade and fell to his knees, the man in front of him tightened his lips into a coy smile. Looking up, it was as if he were staring into a mirror; he was looking at himself.

    “I really thought you were going to do it this time,” The other man knelt down and put a hand on Danny’s shoulder.

    Danny buried his head in his hands and he began to weep. “Why is this happening to me?”

    “Danny?” A soft female voice. “Danny what are you doing out here?”

    Danny looked up, his eyes glassy with tears. She knelt down and brushed the hair from his face and wiped the tears away that were streaking his chin. He looked around, but Danny did not see his doppelganger anywhere. He could still hear the waves crashing on the shore, but everything around him seemed to have come to life all of a sudden. The grass was green and the cemetery was in pristine order.

    “I found your robe in the middle of the park,” the woman said as she held it out to him. “Aren’t you cold?”

    He looked at her, trying to figure out who she was and where she had come from. She looked vaguely familiar, but he couldn’t recall her name. He stood up and looked around some more, trying to understand what had just happened. It was if everything just…changed.

    “We were looking for Mom and Dad, but he kept taunting me.” Danny explained. “Did you see where he went?”

    The woman sighed and put her arm around his shoulder.

    “He’s back again?” She asked. They began walking towards the building to the west of the park.

    Danny stopped and looked at her. “Do you know him? Can you help me get rid of him? There’s no way I’ll ever find Mom and Dad if he keeps tormenting me like this!”

    “Danny,” The woman started. “You’re not going to be able to find your mother and father. They died when you were just a boy. We’ve talked about this. Don’t you remember?”

    His face contorted as if she were speaking another language. Dead? He asked himself. Mom and Dad were kidnapped when I was five years old. Why would she think they were dead?
    Danny looked at her and noticed a badge on her chest. It read:

    Woodbury Psychiatric Ward
    My Name is Alice

    She reached into the pocket of the robe and retrieved the postcard that they had sent to him just before the plane crash. It read “Greetings from Edinburgh, Inspiring Capital.”

    “C’mon, it’s lunchtime.” Alice offered.
  5. TobiasJames

    TobiasJames Contributing Member

    Aug 3, 2010
    Likes Received:
    United we stand

    "United we stand" [2,600 words]

    Danny lurched toward the barricaded gates of the city, his adrenalin still pumping from the chase. The discharged muzzle of his shotgun trailed on the ground behind him, warm from the blast of gunpowder and melting the snow in its wake.

    ‘Not far to go now,’ he told himself. He dropped the gun for a moment to blow on both his hands, trying to get some feeling back into his wasted fingers. At least the blizzard had stopped. This journey had been hell enough, what with two ambushes and three separate kills, without the weather rolling its dice as well.

    ‘This would have been so much easier with a vehicle.’ It had been forty years since the disaster, but nobody had yet managed to get their arse out to the North Sea oil refineries to renew the supply of petrol. Sometimes, Danny felt as if he was the only one bothering to try and move life forward again.

    With a shiver, he hauled the shotgun back onto his right shoulder and forced himself to walk upright. He would soon be within range of the checkpoint officer’s binoculars and he could not afford to show weakness. Determinedly, Danny continued the slow, painful trek toward the gates of Edinburgh – his home.

    By the time he arrived there, he knew he had already been sighted. Summoning the last ounces of his strength, he thumped three times on the gate. The wall of stone and steel which had been erected around this city, like every other in the country, stared down at him impassively whilst he waited for the duty soldier to appear. Presently a computer monitor flickered into life next to him, and the face of a young, well-fed man appeared on it.

    “Good morning,” came a tinny voice from somewhere behind the monitor, “This is the city of Edinburgh. Before we admit you to the city, there’s just a few questions I need to ask you, to ascertain whether there’s a risk of infection. Have you been injured at any time during your journey?”

    “Just open th’ gates, ye daft bastard!” Danny snapped. The young face on the monitor looked surprised for a moment, and disappeared. There was a short pause, then the gate ground open a fraction, carving a deep rut in the snow. Ensuring that his shotgun was on prominent show, Danny walked through the gate.

    He found himself in a steel cage, accessible through a locked door ahead of him. On the other side of the barred door was the man whose voice had spoken to him just moments earlier. He was dressed in a soldier’s uniform but Danny got the impression he hadn’t been in the job long. He was far too polite.
    “I need you to put down your weapons and rucksack,” the soldier told him, “I’m going to carry out a full body search to check for any cuts or abrasions to the skin. I’m afraid if there is any evidence of injury, we can’t allow you into the city.” He approached the locked door – but Danny did not lay down his gun.

    “I’m no’ submitting to a search!” he exploded, “Do ye no’ recognise me?”

    At that moment, a second uniformed man entered the room. Danny breathed a sigh of relief; this one was much older, and had the look of one who had been serving in the North for some time.

    “What’s the problem, private?” he directed the question at the young man. Danny answered for him.

    “This whelp’s tellin’ me Ah need te be searched,” he growled. The older man turned to face him – and took a sudden step back.

    “Danny!?” he gasped. Danny just nodded, a smug smile twisting the corners of his mouth. “Let him through,” the older man commanded, “This is Danny Gillespie, th’ man who discovered the Tonic! Edinburgh born an’ bred. He’s th’ only reason you an’ I are still Human.”

    “Yes, sir,” the youth mumbled, hastily unlocking the door. Taking a deep breath of freedom, Danny stepped through the border into the city.

    With a nod of thanks to the two men at the gate, he trudged up the hill, his destination filling his thoughts to the exclusion of all else. He’d been away for three years. He had to hope that his family were still living in the same house, though he saw no reason to doubt it. Yet uncertainty gnawed at him as he made his way through the abandoned, frosty streets. ‘Has she taken the kids and fled, so that I mightn’t find her again?’ he wondered, ‘I can see why she would. Is there somebody else she’s been seeing in my absence?’ Danny didn’t know where these dark thoughts came from – but they only served to strengthen his resolve. He gripped his precious shotgun ever tighter and pushed his weary legs onwards.

    He stopped outside a low, dirty concrete building. It had been a bunker during the aftermath of the disaster, whilst the virus filled the air and made it too hazardous for anybody to set foot outside. Danny had been just five at the time, a scared little boy taking refuge with his father and a dozen other families, tightly packed into an underground prison that was their only sanctuary. For twenty-five years they had cowered down there whilst those who had been infected roamed the streets above, besieging their stronghold.

    Danny’s father had been a scientist – a chemist – and he knew the danger of the virus better than anyone.

    “If a single cubic centimetre o’ th’ stuff enters yer body, it’ll turn ye into one o’ them creatures,” he had warned everybody in the bunker. And that was the fear they had lived with, day in, day out – until one night, when Danny and his father made a breakthrough. A substance, mildly poisonous but safe in small doses, that would eliminate the virus from the respiratory system. They had called it ‘the Tonic’, and it had meant that they were finally safe to go outside again, provided they took one hundred millilitres of Tonic every day. Any more and it could be fatal to the Human body.

    Danny was heralded as a hero after that. “The man who brought life back to the living,” they called him. However, the Tonic had one limitation. If the virus ever entered the bloodstream, it could not be cured. Consequently anybody who suffered a cut in the open air, no matter how small, was bound to be infected. And there was only one desperate means of dealing with it – eliminate the infection before the victim mutated. Exterminate the carrier.

    Danny’s shiver had nothing to do with the cold.

    He fumbled in his pocket for the key, cursing his clumsy numb fingers. Finally he found it. Slotting it carefully into the lock, he stumbled through his own front door and collapsed gratefully on the floor. He couldn’t find the energy to stand again, so he lay there for a while, the cold air from outside seeping through the open front door.

    He wasn’t sure how long he lay there, but he was brought back to awareness by the sound of rushing footsteps. They stopped short as they rounded the corner.

    “Dad!?” shouted a young girl’s voice. ‘My daughter Holly,’ Danny thought hazily, ‘She’d be nine now…’

    “Mum!” yelled Holly, “Come quick! Dad’s here and he’s not moving! He’s in the hallway! Mum!!”

    A few hours later, Danny was sat in a comfortable chair, finishing off his first meal for more than three days. His wife Susan bustled around him, chattering away and fussing at every turn.

    “Have you had your full dosage of Tonic today?” he heard her say.

    “Ah had half this morning,” he replied distantly. The next thing he know, a blueberry muffin had appeared in front of him, on a chipped white ceramic plate.

    “Eat that – it’s got Tonic in it. Isn’t that a fabulous idea? It was Mr Ames, the baker, who thought of it.”

    “Tonic muffins? Now Ah’ve seen everything,” Danny chuckled. He took a bite out of it, and sighed. It was no good – he couldn’t put it off any longer. Susan had a right to know.

    “Ah’ve got something t’ tell ye,” he said between mouthfuls of soft, crumbly cake, “But nobody’s te know. Shut th’ doors an’ come here.”
    Susan’s easy smile disappeared. She quickly shut the doors around the room and brought herself back to sit next to him. Danny put down the rest of the muffin and turned to face her.

    “It happened while I was on th’ way back from Leeds,” he began, “Ah was ambushed by three o’ them Infected when I let me guard down to take a whizz. The first one knocked me to th’ floor but Ah soon got t’ me gun an’ sent the buggers te hell where they belong… but not before one o’ them did this….” He pulled back his sleeve to reveal an ugly wound across his forearm.

    Susan’s eyes widened.

    “How long ago?” she said, her voice barely above a whisper.

    “Th’ day before yesterday, but listen,” Danny replied, trying to speak before panic gripped her, “Ah’ve bin working on a new Tonic, stronger than th’ one we use now. Ah’ve been able to stop th’ infection from spreading so fast, though it hasn’t stopped it completely.”
    “You’re infected!” she exclaimed, rising to her feet.

    “Sshh!” Danny hissed, gesticulating at her to sit down, “Do ye want th’ kids te hear? It’s under control, if ye’d just let me bloody finish.” Hesitantly, Susan sat back down. Her eyes were still wide and she watched him cautiously.

    “A new Tonic?” she repeated weakly.

    “Aye, one that’ll cure infection instead o’ just holding it back, even in the bloodstream. But it’s not finished yet. Ah need more time. Ah need my lab, here, and Ah need te test the new formula wi’out anyone knowing. Can Ah have all o’ that, Susan? Can Ah trust ye not to tell?”
    “But what if the children catch anything?” Susan said, unable to keep her voice down.

    “They won’t,” Danny said firmly.

    “Dad? What’s going on?”

    Danny jumped at the sound of his son’s voice. He spun round to face the door, where thirteen-year-old Alex now stood. How long had he been there!? He hadn’t heard the door open!

    “Alex…” Danny started, rising to his feet. Too late, he thought to hide the wound on his arm. He saw his son take a step back.

    “INFECTED!” Alex shouted, flinging an accusing finger at his father.

    “Alex,” barked Danny, “Quiet, ye fool! It’s safe, Ah’ve slowed th’ spread o’ the virus.”

    “You told me there’s only one way to stop infection from spreading,” Alex spat, and before Danny knew what was happening, his shotgun was in his son’s hands. “Eliminate it at the source.”

    Danny was dimly aware of his wife screaming something next to him, but his attention had been stolen by Alex and the shotgun which now pointed at his heart.

    “Alex…” he began tentatively, taking a step forward. He saw his son’s shoulders tense and the weapon in his hands quiver, and thought it best to stop. Rash action wouldn’t get him out of this one. He had to think.

    “Did ye hear what Ah said?” he demanded of his son, “With a bit o’ time, Ah can perfect a cure. Ye can help me if ye like, jus’ like Ah helped me old man create th’ first Tonic.”

    “And all the while, the infection would be spreading through your body,” Alex answered thickly. He did not lower the gun. “What happens when it starts to take over, Dad? What happens when you become one of them?”

    “Then ye shoot me,” Danny said, calmly advancing on his son, “But not now, not like this. When Ah’m a threat.” He stopped a few paces in front of Alex. Surreptitiously, he made a mental note of what was on the dinner table next to him. Two bread rolls, a knife and a lump of cheese.

    “You’re a threat now. When are you gonna change, Dad? Is it a week from now? Two weeks? Tomorrow? And when you do, none of us are safe. It’d be best to… to deal with it now.”

    “You’d turn on yer own father?”

    “That’s what you taught me.”

    Alex’s eyes were set. Danny sighed deeply. What sort of world had be built, where he couldn’t even trust his own family?
    “Then Ah guess there’s only one thing for it,” he said quietly.

    At lightning speed, he grabbed the bread knife from the table in his right hand. With his left, he swung forward and knocked the barrel of the shotgun sideways. Then following through with his right, he brought the knife slashing down across Alex’s hand. The boy gave a yell and dropped the weapon, pulling back in pain. He clutched his hand, where a thin line of red had appeared across the top of his three middle fingers, just above the knuckles.

    “You cut me!” he shrieked.

    “Aye – an open wound,” Danny confirmed. He saw the full implications of his words dawn on his son.

    “I’m… I’m infected,” Alex choked.

    “Just like yer old man.”

    A moment later, a hysterical Susan hurled herself towards her son, putting herself as a barrier between him and Danny.

    “I’ll call the authorities!” she screamed at him, “I’ll tell them about you, about your infection! When they hear what you’ve done…”

    “When they hear what Ah’ve done, they’ll know our son is infected too,” Danny finished in a steely voice. Susan stared at him, aghast.

    “Our son is infected,” she breathed, “Oh, Danny… what have you done?”

    “Only this,” and he grabbed her by the wrist, then pulled the sharp bread knife over her forearm. “Now look!” he crowed, “Three wounds, three infections. So it’s not jus’ my problem any more, is it? We’re all in this together now, aren’t we?” He flung the knife away and drew his wife and son into a constricting embrace, which they struggled to escape from. He held them tight.

    “Now you listen t’ me,” Danny growled at them both, “Ah’ve got a Tonic inside me which is keepin’ this infection at bay. You’re both gonna take some an’ stop the mutation in yerselves, d’ ye hear? Then we’re gonna work on a cure, because if we don’t, all three of us die.”

    Susan was sobbing; Alex’s breathing came in rapid gasps. Still Danny went on.

    “An’ ye can’t tell a soul about me, else they’ll check fer cuts on the two o’ you as well. We don’t leave the city, else we’ll be searched an’ found out. Not until Ah’ve had my time to work.”

    He let them go; they had calmed now and just looked at him with a dull horror behind their eyes.

    “The new Tonic’s in me bag,” he said remorselessly, “What we do, we do as a family. Together, eh? United we stand, an’ all that.” Mutely, Susan and Alex drifted toward his backpack.

    Just then, there was a tiny cough from the door. Danny turned. Nine-year-old Holly was standing there, clutching a teddy bear, her long blonde hair framing her face.

    “I heard a crash, Daddy,” she said simply, “Is everything alright?”

    Danny smiled at her.

    “Everything’s fine,” he said softly, glancing to the floor where he had discarded the bread knife. He bent down to one knee to bring himself closer to it. “Now come here an’ give yer Dad a hug…”
  6. MarmaladeQueen

    MarmaladeQueen Senior Member

    Aug 1, 2011
    Likes Received:
    The Scottish Incident (2677 words)

    The Scottish Incident (2677 words)

    He had to go in and find out for himself.

    It had been eating Danny up all these years of his growing up, listening to rumours and theories and Government propaganda. He tried reasoning with himself but couldn’t get it out of his system. Now, as a father himself, watching his children run and play and laugh, he felt the loss all the more. His wife, Karen, pleaded with him to drop it. But it gnawed away at him endlessly, the not knowing.

    “It’s OK for you,” he’d say to Karen. “None of your family was affected.”

    “I know Danny. But you have your own family now. There are the kids to think about. I wish to God you’d let it drop.”

    But he just couldn’t.

    It was a hell of a journey to contemplate. The whole area was a supposedly a no-go zone for 20 miles around Edinburgh. If he got caught anywhere inside it, he’d be shot on sight. It was patrolled, people said, by soldiers dressed head-to-toe in gas-tight suits. They lived in special camps and did three months on, three months off. After each stint of duty, they’d be quarantined for five days to make sure they weren’t testing positive. But that might all just be hearsay. And even if it was patrolled, it was a huge area. It would take a very large number of soldiers to be in any way effective. Danny reckoned if he kept well away from roads and villages, if he approached it by way of open country, he stood a chance of making it through.

    The Government repeatedly put out propaganda to say that everyone was safe provided that they kept out of the no-go zone. They referred to what had happened simply as “The Scottish Incident.”. Despite the Government reassurances, every so often there’d be a cluster of rumours about people dying of anthrax, or smallpox, or some new and nameless deadly virus, and the Government would always step in and swiftly deny it. But people weren’t convinced and the rumours kept coming. It didn’t help confidence that they’d stopped burials and open-coffin funerals. By law, you had to be cremated within 24 hours of dying, and you couldn’t even collect the ashes. It was just a precaution, the Government said. Everyone was safe.

    Some people said all the bodies had just been left there in Edinburgh where they died. Others said they’d been tipped into mass graves by the army, with quicklime to dissolve the bones. Yet others said that there had been survivors, and that the army had gone in and killed them all, rather than let them out. Some people said it was anthrax and it would stay active for hundreds of years. Others said it had been smallpox and that it would be safe to go back there now. There were innumerable conspiracy theories about why the Government was keeping people out. No-one Danny knew had ever met any soldiers who’d been there. The whole thing might be a story made up to scare people. But then why would the Government want to keep people out?

    “Whatever the truth is, the Government is keeping it from us,” Danny said to Karen. “I don’t know what, and I don’t know why, but there’s some sort of cover-up. And I want to know what they’re covering up”.

    The only thing Danny did know for sure that that on 14th August 2033 Edinburgh had stopped living. That is, no-one who lived there, or who’d been visiting there at the time, or who’d been there just for the day on business, had ever been heard from again. And from that date, the whole city had been sealed off. It was as if it had never been there. Maps and guidebooks had mysteriously disappeared. The sale of both new and second-hand maps had been stopped immediately, by law, but over the years even the black market in second-hand copies had dried up.

    Danny, alone of his immediate family, had survived. He had been away on holiday with his grandparents. His mother, his father and his baby sister Fionna had all been at home in Edinburgh. And his aunt and uncle and cousins. Gone. No funeral. No memorial service. No news about what had happened to them. Just gone. Danny was just five years old.

    Danny’s day job, when he grew up, had been as an accountant in a Government office. He wasn’t anywhere near to any seats of real power, and never was privy to any secrets, but he felt, in choosing his career, that if he were working for the Government then he was that little bit better able to understand its machinations. In his spare time, covertly, he collected any information he could get about Edinburgh and the Scottish Incident. Maps. Guide books. Photographs. First hand accounts of life there before The Incident from the few people were willing to talk. But most were too scared. People who’d known Edinburgh well before the Scottish Incident were prone to disappear, or to have fatal car crashes, or to slip and fall off tall buildings if they talked too much. Danny listened to all the rumours and tried to work out which ones might have a grain of truth about them.

    Then one day he turned up to work and his voice was no longer recognised by the security system. He assumed it was a malfunction and reported it, only to find that he no longer existed. It wasn’t just that he no longer had a job. Danny McCracken no longer existed. There was no record of him ever having been born, or lived, or married, or died. When Karen, prompted by Danny, applied for copies of the children’s birth certificates, they came back with only Karen’s name on them as parent. They were in her maiden name, as if Danny had never been there, never married her, never fathered these children.

    Things got tough for him and Karen after that.

    “We’ll manage,” said Karen, her voice gritty. She worked longer and longer hours to make up for the loss of Danny’s salary, and he took over more and more of the household chores. Even so, they struggled to make ends meet.

    At first, Danny used to take the children to school and back, but after a few incidents where he’d only just jumped out of the way in time to avoid being run over, they decided it would be better if Danny stayed indoors. He became, in effect, one of the disappeared. He was lucky, he realised, that Karen loved him enough to stick by him. Since he no longer existed, she could just turf him out without redress. He remembered, in the days when he still went out, shadowy figures in rags, scrabbling around dustbins in the dark. The dispossessed. No-one talked about the dispossessed, but they all knew they existed. There were rumours that from time to time the Government would round them up and gas them.

    “At least no-one will notice you’ve gone, if you insist on going there,” Karen pointed out. They had to try to see what positives there were, or they’d go crazy.

    There came a point when he’d planned as much as he could plan.

    “It’s time to go, Karen” he said.

    She tried reasoning with him. She pleaded with him not to go. She said he’d never make it there and back. She’d never see him alive again. The children would never see their father again.

    “I have to do this,” he’d said, holding her in his arms and stoking her hair. “Especially now that I don’t exist. I can’t keep living this twilight life. I have to know.”

    “I won’t tell the children until you’ve gone,” she said, tears streaking down her face.

    “Leave it as long as possible, and don’t tell them where I’ve gone,” he cautioned her. “The less they know, the safer for them and you.”

    He planned to travel light and sleep rough. He didn’t need his maps - he’d spent so many hours pouring over them that he’d committed them to memory long since – but he took a revolver that he’d managed to buy a few years earlier. He had very little ammunition for it, but he reckoned he’d probably only get one or two chances to use it, if that.

    Even getting to the start of the no-go zone was tricky. Large tracts of Scotland had become depopulated since The Incident. Glasgow was still a thriving city, but the east coast has suffered badly. He took the train as far up as they now went - Berwick, on the border. After that he made his way north on foot, across deserted farmland and avoiding, so far as possible, any villages. There might still be a few people living in them and his presence would provoke comment. Finding deserted barns to sleep in was easy enough, and being summer it was warm. He drank from streams but food was more of a problem. He soon used up the food he’d taken with him and after that he grazed off ripe brambles and elderberries and ears of corn that had self-seeded itself in the abandoned fields. One day he happened across an old orchard and feasted on the ripe pears and apples. There were plenty of rabbits everywhere and he wished he had the skill to trap and cook them.

    He got as far as the outskirts of Edinburgh before he realised that someone was following him.

    He must have crossed the 20 mile boundary without realising it. There was no fence, and no signs.

    Vegetation had taken over everywhere. Dandelions grew through the cracked and pitted tarmac of the roads. Houses were hidden behind swathes of ivy and front garden shrubs had grown almost into trees. Many of the roofs had holes where tiles had blown off, and in a couple of cases there seemed to be trees actually growing inside the abandoned buildings. What every dwelling had in common was that the front doors were missing, as if they had been wrenched off their hinges. In some cases, Danny could see where they had been tossed into the front garden or the road. Everywhere there were vehicles, abandoned and rusty, their tyres long since perished. Some had their windscreens smashed in. But so far he’d seen no sign of any people, dead or alive.

    Other than the person following him.

    Whoever was tracking him was doing so very skilfully. Danny got his revolver out and held it, very visibly, in his hand. Some of the time he managed to convince himself that there was no-one really there, but then there would be a slight sound, a footfall that just faintly echoed his own, and stopped just a split second after he stopped.

    He was scared. He’d been scared since the moment he’d left home, but not scared like this. He felt his heart pounding and he was breathing in short gasps. His heart was crashing in his ears – thump, thump – against the stillness all around him. His hand gripping the revolver was sweaty. His mouth was parched but he daren’t stop to take a sip from his water bottle.

    There was still no clue as to what had happened to Edinburgh, but the front doors ripped off their hinges suggested it had been violent. And he knew already it had been sudden.

    As he crept forward through the abandoned streets, passing through what would once have been densely populated suburbs, he started to get the uncanny feeling that not only was he being followed, but he was being watched. From within the carcasses of the houses and shops to either side of him, he would catch just a faint noise, a slight rustling perhaps, and turn sharply, gun raised, to try to catch its source. The day was completely still. There was not the slightest breeze to ruffle the overgrown vegetation.

    There was no shelter. Nowhere to hide, since he didn’t know who or what he was hiding from. The derelict buildings looked as dangerous as the open road, so he just kept walking, getting nearer and nearer to the part of Edinburgh where his family had lived. He now felt really crowded by the sense of people or things watching him. The sun was starting to dip down against the skyline and Danny thought of his children back at home playing in the garden, of Karen in the kitchen. It made his stomach gnaw with hunger to think about it the smell of Karen’s cooking. He imagined her calling the children in for their dinner, and their eager faces, running in.

    Then there was a click, and a brief sharp pain in his head.


    George waved at Alan as he came into the bar.

    “Shift finished?” he asked.

    Alan nodded. “Decontamination took longer than usual though. They said there was a problem with the filtration system, but I never know what to believe.”

    The bar tender pulled Alan a pint and set it down in front of him. Alan was one of the drinkers. Some people managed to occupy themselves fairly well between in between working and sleeping. There were plenty of books and films supplied, a fully equipped gym for those that liked to work out, and any number of electronic games. But others, like Alan, mostly drank.

    “Did you get anyone today?” George asked.

    “Just one. Guy on his own,” Alan replied.

    “Silly buggers. It doesn’t matter what the Government says to deter them, they still keep on coming.”

    Alan nodded his agreement and they sat there in silence for a while, enjoying the deep cool of their lagers. The bar was pretty much deserted, but they both knew it would liven up later.

    “Do you ever think of trying to get back?” asked Alan after a while.

    “Not these days. I used to be really angry when I first came here. When I first found how the way they’d conned us. Three years in the Special Army and then we’d be set up for life. What a joke,” replied George, with a sort of mock laugh.

    “But what’s going to happen when we get old?” Alan went on. “They surely can’t be meaning to keep us here until we die. Some of the guys are almost retirement age. Adam Wilson for example. He’s been here pretty much since the start.”

    “I don’t think it does any of us any good to be thinking of questions like that,” said George. “We are stuck here and I guess this is where we are going to die. There are worse lives. At least we know we’re something worthwhile. Keeping people safe and all that.”

    “I guess so. But don’t you think it’s strange how they’ve never actually told us what we’re protecting people from?” Alan asked.

    George could see Alan’s agitation. The way he was kicking one foot against the bar. The way he was drinking in short gulps. The white of his knuckles as he held his glass. The guys that joined up reacted in all sorts of different ways when they found out what they’d let themselves in for, but most settled down eventually. Alan had been up here for long enough, George thought, to have come to terms with his fate.

    “You know George – it just eats me up,” Alan went on. “Not knowing how my family are doing, not knowing what they were told about what happened to me. Knowing that they are alive out there and I’ll never see them again. My kids must be grown up by now. I know it’s crazy, but sometimes I wonder if I could make it back there alive.”

    “Run away?” George looked alarmed. “You’re one lunatic of a guy to even talk like that.” He looked around, worried that someone might have overheard.

    He’d have to keep his distance from Alan in future, George decided. One couldn’t be too careful. Not up here.
  7. Leah

    Leah Member

    Aug 2, 2011
    Likes Received:
    The great white north..
    2854 words

    Danny was a bit of a ladies man. He was also, he admitted readily, a bit of an asshole.

    Swinging his lean, long legs off the bed, he sighed. His curly red hair was still tousled from the wild night and his head felt like it had been kicked in by an entire group of footballers. What had he been thinking?

    As usual, he swore to himself, stumbling into the en-suite bathroom, that was just it. He hadn’t been thinking. Going to that bar had seemed like a good idea at the time. So had picking up that girl, he groaned. Oh god, the girl, what had he done?

    He stood, head against the wall, trying to keep his balance while emptying his bladder. The putrid smell of his urine made him gag, good lord, how much did I drink last night, he thought and fought to steady his weaving body.

    This was not a good. Not good at all.

    Since the sickness had taken the majority of the world’s population, Danny had been living under the radar in the outskirts of Edinburgh, keeping his nose clean and staying out of harm’s way. With one drunken night that got out of control, Danny knew that that had changed – forever.

    The sickness had its first reported case when he was 5 years old and his life up until this point had been watching those around him, both known and unknown perish. The sickness had gripped the earth and had slowly and methodically eliminated over eighty percent of the population. Starting slow with an increase in flu-like deaths, it had progressively gotten worse as scientists and doctors were baffled. There had been no warning, and no method to the madness. Why had it been slow to infect then picked up speed as the years went on? Why had some been spared while other families wiped out completely? His mother had been taken when he was fifteen, his father at twenty and both sisters by the time he reached twenty three. Now, at 30, Danny stood the sole survivor of his family.

    The dying slowed about four years ago, from what Danny could track. Time and dates had long since lost much meaning.

    Living had been primal once the shock of the mass devastation had passed. The afterthoughts, as he liked to call the remaining people of earth (because surely whatever killed millions, no billions of humans had an afterthought and decided to keep some alive, to see how they would handle living in this new hell), had survived by sleeping in empty houses, avoiding the corpses, raiding fridges, cupboards and stores of their non perishable food items. Hoarding medicine from the chemist, batteries and outdoor gear from the shops, had become part of daily “life”. The fear and the tension in the air had become unbearable.

    Along the way, he had met others like him, other afterthoughts who were struggling to stay alive and start some sort of life over. Many of them were decent folk, clinging desperately to hope. He had also met some very dark and dangerous people, had found himself in a few serious situations and had vowed to keep to himself, live off the land and stay out of trouble.

    His former life had been a decent one, until a few years ago. Fortunate to have been born into money, he wanted for very little. While the sickness had begun creeping into society, the majority of people, young people especially, continued on with day to day life, living with the thought they were untouchable. He had been the “it” boy around town. Girls wanted to be with him, guys wanted to be like him, his parents had adored him, his sisters had thought he was cool, even for a little brother, his employer thought him brilliant and promoted him leaps and bounds above more tenured employees – he truly had the world wrapped around his little finger. Tall, thin build, muscular and strong with shoulder length flaming curly red hair, blazing hazel eyes, Danny was a stunning creature. The Viking blood that ran through his ancestors blood was prominent in the rugged features and confident nature, bordering on cocky.

    Knowing you were wanted, by everyone around was a very powerful feeling indeed. He was invincible.

    By the time the sickness had picked up speed when he was 25, Danny had bedded more women than most men would in a lifetime. Most of their names and faces a blur to him. At the time, he was simply interested in scoring and being the king of his land. He made no excuses for the way he treated people. His ego took up the air of most rooms he entered.

    That life seemed a million years ago, Danny mused, lighting a cigarette, enjoying the silence of the porch that wrapped around the house he now lived in. His home. He had relocated to this farm 3 years ago, and had begun living off the land. He had a lot to learn and was proud of how far he had come. Everything he consumed came from the land. He didn’t have much, a few chickens, a large vegetable garden, an apple and pear tree, and one cow kept him well stocked. He was just learning how to bail and reduce hay into wheat. He could not wait to figure out how to make his own bread. His mouth, as hung-over as he was, still managed to salivate at the thought.

    He was tenacious and refused to give in to the panic that had swept over the land. He was a fighter.

    Looking out over his garden, the last drag of his cigarette in his hand, he did however begin to panic. The new world was full of people trying to rebuild, but more prevalent were those who sought to control, through violence and fear. These afterthoughts he named the Forgotten. Surely the evil sickness forgot to take these individuals, for they brought nothing but fear, intimidation and violence to the new world, making it increasingly difficult to survive without owing them. They controlled the majority of the warehouses that held bedding, non perishable food items, matches, camping equipment and bottled water. They controlled all the alcohol that had been left behind in bars and restaurants. They controlled the petrol stations. They were everywhere. You didn’t steal from the Forgotten. That was a death sentence. You begged and pleaded and bartered with the Forgotten. Whatever they asked for was what they got. There really was no choice.

    And like gangs in the old world, you didn’t mess with their women.

    Which was precisely what Danny had done last night.

    He sighed, head in hands, trying to quell the panic growing inside him. He had been so careful up until now. But on a trip into the small village he had spotted the pub that the Forgotten had opened and decided that a drink would be a good idea. He’d go in, have a drink quietly, pay whatever they asked and leave. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had any alcohol.

    Looking back, the alcohol had poured through his veins, warming his soul and he decided to have one more. And then another. Before long, he had used up all his bartering supplies and saw the world through hazy eyes. He had felt euphoric. There was no sickness, there was nothing wrong. His world was his oyster again. He was his old self. Egotistical, powerful, cocky. And then there was the girl.

    He could only imagine what the girl, Christ, what was her name again, was telling the Forgotten. Would she be honest and say that she had come on to him when he was drunk and he had been weak and given in to the carnal pleasures? Or would she cry fowl and infuriate them all so there would be a bounty on his head?

    Heading back into the house, he decided that regardless of what she told them, his dealings with the Forgotten in the past told him that they would come after him, in some fashion. He walked into the kitchen and began to pack as much as he could carry. He would beat them to the proverbial punch, he thought. That was his only hope. Taking a months worth of vegetables and fruit, some eggs and the first attempt at wheat he had bagged, he headed out. He hoped this offer of fresh food would be enough. His hands shook as he placed the knapsack on his back.

    A floorboard creaked in the old farm house and Danny jumped. Jesus man, he swore to himself, it’s only been four hours since the girl left his side. There’s no one waiting to jump him. He had time.

    In the barn, he pulled the tarp back to reveal a classic motorcycle, in pristine condition. He had been saving this beauty for a special occasion, hoping that there would again be one in his life. Today seemed like as good as any. And if the Forgotten wanted it, in exchange for his life, well, so be it. He ran his hand over the silvery chrome body and frowned. She sure was a beauty.

    Straddling the bike, peace offering on his back, Danny made his way to the Forgotten’s lair.


    As the dust settled out the laneway behind the bike, Mike and Larry stepped out from behind the bushes, watching Danny drive away. They knew exactly where he was going, what he was attempting to do. Idiot. You simply did not mess with a Forgotten’s girl. End of.

    Scouring the house, they loaded up everything of value that would fit in their pick up truck that was on the way to get them. Blankets, water, food, clothing, soap and the chickens – everything was up for grabs. Standing by the pile they had made on the laneway, Larry grabbed the flasks he had been carrying in his knapsack and headed to the front door. Pouring the contents around the door frame, then on the porch and on around the barn, he smirked.

    The pick up truck was now loaded and Larry walked back to join his brothers. Pulling away, he lit a cigarette and threw the match out the window, watching with delight as the house and the barn began to burn. They drove away laughing.


    Danny opened his eyes and promptly shut them again. The sight of front seat of the abandoned car reminded him all too quickly how far he had fallen. In the six months since his home had been torched and he had received a beating that left him clinging to life, waking up every day was a curse, not a blessing.

    Moving from house to house, trying to stay alive, and out of the sight of the Forgotten had not been easy. He had since found it easier to hide out in abandoned cars and lorries on the motorway. The one thing he had over the Forgotten was intelligence. He knew their moves, they were very predictable and they had long since given up torching and stealing cars. Homes were more vulnerable since they knew people would gravitate there to hide. He used the houses sparingly. Sometimes to clean up when he found a bar of soap or the odd box of crackers to munch on, but the remainder of his life was now reduced to survival and hiding.

    The Forgotten thought Danny was dead, and that was just how he liked it.

    Now that his injuries were all but healed and he could walk without much of a limp, he bided his time. One of the cars he had happened upon had once belonged to a scientist from CamCorp, the largest research and development company from the old world. They had been entrusted to find a cure for the sickness and had been the main contact between the medical and the political world. He found building passes, personal and classified documents and spare keys to offices belonging to CamCorp’s headquarters in the heart of Edinburgh.

    Waiting for something to happen was no longer an option, Danny needed to make a move. The city was a dangerous place, full of violent characters, corpses and possible disease, but Danny knew it was most likely also plentiful in supplies left behind when people began to flee, as well as potential answers and medicine at the facility.

    Crawling out from the car where he slept, Danny straightened his tattered clothes, grabbed his duffle bag containing the resources needed and began his long journey into the city. With a rifle over his shoulder, a little something he picked up from a very clever hiding space in one of the homes he ransacked, he loaded it, holding it outwards, prepared to shoot anyone who stood in his way.

    Six days later, Danny arrived, tired but not beaten. The city at first glance was deserted. He had encountered a few Forgotten along the way and had taken his revenge in taking their lives. Their deaths would surely be a message back to the leaders. Someone out there did not respect their claim of control over the rest of them. Once he got to the facility he knew they would come in search of who was doing this, Danny had made sure to leave enough clues as to his whereabouts. They would come looking.

    And when they did, he would be ready.

    A facility like CamCorp would have been heavily guarded, and Danny guessed that one of those keys were to the security offices, which would have more than enough artillery to finish the Forgotten once and for all.

    The facility was not hard to find, even with the passage of time, Danny remembered the layout of the great city and his weary body managed to find enough energy to smile, a small one, but it was still good to see the old girl again. She had been beaten but her greatness still stood, challenging those around to take another shot at her. It’s ok, old girl, I’m a friend and I’m here to restore your glory, one step at a time.

    Walking into the facility, Danny made quick work to locate the security office, obtain the firearms he required, knowing the Forgotten were not far behind him, then on to the private offices where he found personal stashes of food. Tearing through the boxes of crackers and cookies and juice boxes, he felt bloated and full, but it was a good feeling. The food caused energy to flow through his veins, he closed his eyes and relished the feeling.

    Opening his eyes, a document on the desk caught his attention. He looked up and from the mahogany and gold, he guessed this was the president’s office. He pulled the papers out of their folder and read through them. Test cases, test results, numbers, symbols, it appeared to be documentation of the spread of the sickness. This document showed the increase in speed of the sickness, and how it could be carried by some who would never become ill and how it attacked others who died slowly after contact.

    Most carriers would never know they had infected those around him, the letter from the head research scientist stated, they would expose others and walk away. Those infected would slowly begin to experience symptoms, anywhere from a day to months later, no connection to the carrier. They had discovered a carrier in the United States who had been tested then jailed in a maximum security facility, where they more than likely remained, having infected and killed all the staff and others around him. In Scotland, they had discovered a carrier early on but had decided against jailing them. CamCorp neglected to inform anyone of their discovery. They thought early on that they had a cure already in the works, and saw any dead or ill as potential revenue.

    Danny couldn’t believe what he was reading. They had purposefully let this person roam through the city, infecting family, friends and strangers, killing them slowly. They estimated that the sickness would never fully stop while the carriers were out there. The virus mutated and began the cycle over again.

    They had not banked on the fact that the illness would gain speed and they would perish before they could update the vaccine. The virus caught up and killed them all.
    The anger boiled up in him. Even now, if he met the carrier, he could still be infected and everything he worked for, gone in a flash.

    The crashing of the front entrance windows startled Danny and he dropped the papers. They were here. They had come for him. Prepping his weapons, he moved stealthily out the office and made his way. He would finish what he came here to do.

    He headed to the front and began to fight. The documents remained where they had fallen on the floor of the president’s office.

    The last line of the document read : Name of carrier, Danny.
  8. crossrobertj

    crossrobertj Member

    Aug 25, 2008
    Likes Received:
    San Diego, CA
    The Bridge to Eden (916 WORDS)

    The sun began setting through the clouds, like a torch touching smoke. Night was the place of fools in Edinburgh, dead fools. There were only a couple hours of sunlight left.

    There were pebbles rolling down the side of the trench. Danny lay on his back, looking up toward the top of the trench, covered in mud, concealed from sight. As he lifted the gun slowly, the sun hits the exposed metal, causing a glimmer. In a flurry of mud and dirt, Danny rises from the trench just as the crazed man jumps toward him. Lunging and Ty at Danny with a piece of broken road sign, the crazed man snarls and spits through his tattered mask. Danny and the crazed man embrace in a battle of strength. Danny points the barrel toward the crazed man's ribs.

    One shot...., he staggers to the edge of the trench. Danny watched him slowly lose blood. A cough produces blood all over Danny's mud-covered face. As the crazed man takes his last breath, another shot rings out from Danny's pistol. Danny looks down at his boots as the blood pools around the bottom.

    "One down.” he says as he lifts his head and looks toward the sunset.

    My mother used to tell me the story of how our society collapsed. It all started with war between religions, Gods that made men into fools and tyrants. This led to an attack on the United States blamed on a fictional organization that was used as a front to occupy the innocent countries, accumulate money and power, and to eradicate the other side. The United States was met with little resistance; however they would lead their own men to death to show the world that it wasn't one sided. There were protests on both sides that fell on deaf ears and they used media at the time to play the war out like a soap opera.

    Legend has it, that there was a revolt against the US government. Thousands died to try and end the war, but the ones in power had even worse ideas for the rest of the world. Chemical weapons were used against their own and abroad, a type of "memory eraser" to reset order and civility. Unfortunately, it did the opposite; the chemical erased most brain functions that control sanity. Billions began killing, eating, maiming, mutilating each other, including some of the men in power ironically.

    My father was affected, but my mother and I were immune. Watching my father transform into a mindless animal was heartbreaking, even at a young age. When he finally passed when I was 13, I promised my mother I would spend the rest of my life keeping the un-affected safe. "You're a brave boy Danny, sure to be an even braver man. You should know that bravery has it's rewards, but loneliness is it's biggest.", she said that to me as we buried my father and she ended up being right. My mother died in her sleep just after my 15th birthday, I believe she died of a broken heart and a ravaged will. The next day I buried her right next to my father, so they could be together again.

    I grieved alone for many months and taught myself how to survive without my parents. Over the course of almost 15 years now, I've traveled the world hunting the affected. I began training myself in basic camouflage and combat on our farm in Iowa. Once I tried it in the real world, I quickly realized that I had a lot to learn. I started with the edges of towns and worked slowly into major cities. I met a few who were normal like me, but their will to fight was non-existent, so I left them to hide. I never let a non-affected get in my way of my goal. The amount of affected I've laid to rest weighs heavy on my mind everyday, but most everything in this situation does.

    When I decided to cross the Atlantic, I noticed the bodies in the water caused the ocean to have a green and red hue near the shore. They would hit my boat on all sides as I left and the same once I arrived in the English Channel. London had a lot of good weaponry for me to use, and a lot of affected as well. Took me twice as long as New York City to mow down the bastards. Now I'm headed into Edinburgh, to pick up supplies, I haven't eaten in 4 days. It hurts, but I've gone longer without food.

    After Danny washed the blood and dirt out of his beard, he continued on the dirt path. As far as Danny could tell, that was the last affected for a few miles. With the sun almost down and the cold coming in, he decided to set up camp for the night. Danny gathered wood from nearby trees and started a fire inside a small home. As he walked through the house, he noticed small trinkets from times past. Walking through the halls, his stomach rumbled with anticipation for his next meal. Danny didn't pay attention to his hunger; he needed to find a nook in the house to sleep. Searching from room to room, he picked up ammo and knives for what was to come.

    As he looked out the window, he saw an army of affected and hell followed with them...
  9. Peregrin

    Peregrin Member

    May 14, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Hungry Dan (921 words)

    Danny hoped that the people within the ramshackle community to which he was making his deliberately slow approach knew the difference between a slugger and a plas rifle. This was important because the difference between the arms was that you could hunt with one, but not the other. Danny was armed with a weapon of the plasma variety, meaning that anything it fired upon successfully would be instantly vaporized into a small pile of dark crystalline ash. Hardly suitable for consumption. He needed to eat, and his life relied upon the recognition of the hopefully good folk within the city walls that his lack of a good hunting weapon rendered him helpless in the wilds from which he’d come.

    That is, of course, Danny reasoned to himself during a momentary bout of uncertainty, that they do not think he came to harm them and shoot him on sight. It was a gamble, he reasoned, and decided that weighed against the possibility of starving to death, a good one. Besides, they were probably already aware of his presence.

    He was walking along a stone path leading to the gate of one of the old walls left behind mostly for tourist reasons. In the current age, those walls were the perfect thing for survival. A large bronze-reinforced gate sealed the cobblestone wall. It was a pointless gesture in the face of an army equipped with modern war implements, but impassible by anyone without a bull-dozer, tank or explosives, all of which were just the sort of thing that had been exhausted long ago. The inhabitants enjoyed a large degree of relative safety which Danny wished to share along with them.

    As he reached the gate, Danny was aware of sounds ahead of him. He called out to the gatekeepers. “I’m hungry.” He lowered his weapon, let it swing low across his back, aimed directly down. Both of his free hands came up in the universal sign of peace.

    As if in response, a rope ladder swung down off the wall and a middle-aged man began climbing down it. He came out towards Danny, slowly, brandishing his own rifle, an old slugger that he aimed with confidence right at Danny’s mid-chest. “You alone?” the man asked. He had an American accent.
    Danny nodded. His eyes were bulging out of his head, partially out of fear, partially in hope that these people could feed him.

    “Where you come from?” He spat a wad of tobacco without turning his aim.
    “Helicopter. We crashed two days ago and I’m all that’s left. I need somewhere to stay” The man glanced at the insignia woven on Danny’s sleeve.

    “Military.” The man frowned and pushed the gun forward a bit. “There’s no one coming to pick you up,” he asked accusingly.

    “No. We’re deserters,” Danny replied, looking at the ground.

    “Smart military, then,” the man sighed, as he lowered his rifle. He spat again. “Look we don’t have much, but we share what we’ve got. Not normally with outsiders, though.” The man scratched his yellow beard as he said “I don’t know why, but I believe you. That’s why I’m going to let you come in. IF…” he stipulated, “If you get us some things off your helicopter.”

    Danny laughed. “It’s smashed to bits. There’s nothing at all that could be of any use anymore.”

    The man frowned. “Doesn’t matter. Bringing it is proof that you aren’t lying and there very well could be something in there that we could use. A lot of us are ex-military ourselves.” He gave a slanted, knowing look to Danny, who stared back at him, simply blinking.

    “Okay. But I’ll need to eat first. And rest.” The man nodded his approval.

    After entering the humble compound, Danny was astonished to see how orderly it was. Though he originally had no intentions of staying, he considered the possibility of asking for the privilege as soon as the comparative peaceful conditions sent in. He pushed the considerations aside, however, when the food arrived. It was just as inviting as the surroundings were, potatoes, onions, and bits of boiled liver from an animal Danny didn’t care to name if he could. The food was a king’s feast compared to anything he would have imagined.

    Danny sat in a dimly-lit room. The candle light shed a greyish hue onto the corners of the room. Thomas, the man who had climbed down from the wall to meet him and three others who were the de-facto leaders of their community of survivors, Symon, and Patrick. They discussed Danny’s helicopter crash and his journey to the place.

    “It’s a day’s travel now that I know my way. I had to memorize the map, you know.

    “How did you even know anyone was here,” Symon asked.

    “We’ve heard things. Quite a few have HAM radios. There’s even couple of blokes still on the Internet.” They each laughed a small chuckle. “The thing is,” Danny continued ”there’s a lot of people out there, but not many of them willing to come out.”

    “Yes, Danny that's just what we've noticed ourselves,” said Thomas as he reached out with a dingy fork. He grinned as he did so, displaying for the first time the sharp-peaked canines hidden just behind the corners of his upper lip. Danny realized, far too late, that Thomas was reaching out with the fork at him.
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