Short Story Contest (09) Voting

Poll closed Sep 25, 2007.
  1. Heather (The Great Plague of London.)

    1 vote(s)
  2. Banzai (The Galileo Incident.)

    4 vote(s)
  3. Wordwizard (The Marburg Virus.)

    1 vote(s)
  4. Domoviye (Infected.)

    1 vote(s)
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  1. Raven

    Raven Banned

    Oct 14, 2006
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    The NetherWorld

    Weekly Short Story Contest (09) Voting

    Discussion in 'Monthly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Raven, Sep 21, 2007.

    Short Story Contest Voting

    Voting will end 24 September

    Below are this weeks short story entries. Please read before casting your vote's it gives the readers a fair vote.

    You may vote for yourselves. But I would hope in the name of good sportsman ship you'd vote for anothers story.

    Thank You

  2. Raven

    Raven Banned

    Oct 14, 2006
    Likes Received:
    The NetherWorld

    17th August 1665. London.

    The kitchen was always the busiest room of the house as we spent most of our time sitting around in there. Mother was nearly always cooking something or another and Emily and I would quite often help her. Today was like no other, Emily and I sat playing pat-a-cake while mother swept the bare floor with a hard broom. Light shone through the freshly cleaned windows lighting up the small and damp room. Mother tried to keep it as clean as possible, forever dusting and sweeping but she could not mask the musty smell that came from the pantry.

    As she opened the pantry door to replace the broom several rats scurried past her feet, running off into the far corners of the room. Mother looked annoyed; she said that the amount of rats in London was appalling. I agreed full heartedly with her, quite often the boys down the road would come around and catch a few for the women and throw them in the river to drown. One of them that came was Daniel, a sixteen year old who worked at the local grocery store. He would run around after the rats, cornering them in the kitchen or bedrooms and catching them with his bare hands.

    As mother closed the pantry door Nancy, the elderly lady who lived next door, knocked on the window before peeping her head through the door.

    “There’s another one, Anna,” she told my mother in a hushed voice. Emily and I sat quiet and confused, watching mothers face to see her reaction. She hurried outside with Nancy and I could see them through the window talking quickly and about something serious. When she re-entered the house she was alone and she looked distraught. Emily went to ask something but mother hushed her straight away and sent us to our room.

    August 18th 1665. London.

    Mother seemed much happier this morning, returning to her usual happy state. She whistled and sang little songs with Emily as they made cakes and I sat and watched from the table. Emily was a few years younger than me and not very good at cooking; mother was teaching her so that when she one day gets married she will be able to cook and clean for her husband. I knew it was not going to be long before father tried to find me a husband.

    Emily and mother look the spit of each other, both with blonde hair and bright blue eyes. My hair is darker like father, although I have mother’s eyes also. I giggled as Emily dropped an egg on the floor, spilling bright yellow yolk everywhere.

    “Not to worry,” mother told her as she pulled another egg from a little basket. Her reaction surprised me; normally mother hated wasting food.

    Half way through baking the cakes Nancy knocked on the window just like the previous day. She looked pale and worried as she asked for mother and they rushed outside. Curiosity getting the better of me, I crept up to the door and pressed my ear against the wall in an attempt to hear them speaking. I couldn’t hear what they were saying as they were talking too quietly but when mother came back inside she had tears in her eyes. Again, when Emily went to speak mother hushed her up and continued baking the cakes in silence.

    August 19th 1665. London.

    Father came home drunk last night having spent the last of his money in the ale-house. He started shouting about a disease that was spreading across London and hit mother when she told him to stop shouting. Emily and I stayed upstairs as mother had instructed us to do when father came home drunk.

    This morning Emily asked if she could play out on the street for a little bit but mother refused to allow her.

    “You can stay inside today!” she had demanded in a strong and determined tone of voice. She didn’t look herself today; her hair was not pined up as normal and she never ate anything with Emily and me. The only time I left the house was to go to the grocers for a couple of potatoes. When I got there I couldn’t see Daniel anywhere and I asked Mr Thomas where he was. Apparently Daniel was home sick for the day having caught something.

    August 20th 1665. London.

    When I woke this morning mother was not in the house. As always father had already left for work, leaving Emily and I alone in the house. I wondered why mother was not there. Downstairs a fire was burning in the stove but there was nothing cooking, and a loaf of fresh bread sat on the table. A rat lay dead in the middle of the kitchen floor, startling me as I nearly stood upon it.

    It was nearly mid-day when mother returned. I had sorted out some bread and water for Emily’s breakfast but did not feel like eating anything myself. Mother looked distraught.

    “I have something to tell you,” she told us, looking more specifically towards my direction. I saw that her eyes were glazed with tears and her cheeks were flushed pink for she had already been weeping.

    “Daniel passed away last night. The doctor is unsure why it happened.” As she said this I heard Emily gasp. She had always admired Daniel from an early age, her cheeks burning crimson every time she saw him. I felt my eyes becoming soar and before I could prevent it tears were seeping down my face.

    August 22nd 1665. London

    Although it was only two days after Daniels death it felt as though it had been a year. The pas couple of days seemed to pass incredibly slowly. Only news of yet more inexplicable deaths broke up the long periods of boredom. The night before last I watched from the bedroom window as a man had came in the dead of the night to take away the dead in a rickety cart. Daniels body lay among them.

    At last count the death count had been in the thirties, and that was only in the near by area. Father said that at work people were “dropping like flies”. As each minute passed mother seemed to get more and more anxious, forever sitting biting her nails in an unsightly manner and shouting at Emily and I for the slightest thing. I worried about what was to become of our future as things looked bleak.

    August 23rd 1665. London.

    When I woke the morning Emily looked very pale. Her face was as white as new sheets and sweat doused her brow. She lay in her bed twitching uncontrollably and seemed as though she was in terrible pain. When mother saw the state of her she burst into tears and ran out of the room to fetch for the doctor.

    By the time the doctor came around Emily’s condition was worse. She was vomiting violently and screaming in pain. The doctor was a short and older man and upon arrival held a handkerchief to his mouth. As he examined Emily I stood out of his way, watching from the doorway. Mother sat on a stool and silently watched the doctor prodding and poking her daughter and she kept wrapping her fingers around one another as if wishing it would bring her good fortune. However, it did not.

    “I am afraid your daughter has the plague.” The doctor told mother. She collapsed on the floor in floors of tears, begging it not to be true. The doctor lifted mother up with strong arms and placed her upon the stool.

    “Take these and wrap them in a handkerchief. It is the air that is infected and smelling these will clear it for you. It should protect you from the plague,” he to instructed mother handing her a bag of crushed Posies.

    “But what about Emily, what can I do?!” she wailed. The doctor hung his head slightly and sighed.

    “I am afraid there is nothing more we can do for but wait.” He left mother and me to cry in one another’s arms in the bedroom.

    August 25th 1665. London.

    After two days Emily showed no sign of improvement. As a matter of fact she seemed to be getting worse. The day the doctor had come she lay crying and screaming on and off, complaining about the pain. Yesterday she seemed quieter although she still sobbed. Today she barely spoke and the bedroom had a hushed atmosphere to it. Lumps appeared on her neck and under her arms making lying on the scratchy bed sheets very uncomfortable for her. They were the size of the egg that she had dropped only a few days ago. It seemed like a lifetime ago.

    Whenever anyone sat in the room with Emily they spoke in a quiet voice and over the day we had several visitors to check upon her. The doctor however did not come again. Every ten minutes or so mother and I would remove our handkerchief and smell the crushed Pansies. They smelt sweet, a big difference to the smell of death that seemed to have taken over the house.

    Around mid-day the local vicar came around the house with the holy book. Him and mother went upstairs to see Emily whilst I sat at the kitchen table, watching the empty streets. They were up there for some time and when the vicar left he looked saddened. He smiled slightly to me, as if trying to make me feel better about the situation. It didn’t work.

    August 26th 1665. London.

    Emily passed away last night. I was sitting by her bedside when it happened. One minute she was staring at the ceiling, the next her eyes closed and she drew her last breath. I sat alone with Emily for several minutes before going to fetch mother.

    August 27th 1665. London.

    Mother spent most of her time crying today. She sat at Emily’s bed and whispered sad words to a God that wasn’t listening. Father had taken the day off work and for the first time I watched him cry. Seeing him look so upset made me too cry but I turned away so they could not see. The vicar and the doctor also visited earlier, both at the same time.

    The doctor announced that Emily was dead, and even though mother already knew so it made her cry even more. Father glared at the doctor. The priest blessed Emily with holy water and read from the Bible for a short time before leaving to visit Nancy who had also fallen ill. I feared it wouldn’t be long before I was lying with Emily. It made me smile to think that I would be able to see her again if that happened and I spent the rest of the day playing pat-a-cake with the wall.

    August 28th 1665. London.

    The dead collector came and took away Emily’s body last night. He threw her into the cart with little care and she landed with a thump upon the rest of the dead. The cart was nearly full to the brim, the numbers dead from the plague were meant to be in the thousands.

    This morning when I awoke mother was not up and father was no-where to be seen. I assumed he had gone to work. At mid-day there was still no sign of mother and so I decided to clean up the house a little. I took the broom around the kitchen and threw open the windows. When I went to open my parents bedroom windows I saw mother and father were both lying silently in bed still. They both looked pale and ill and as I saw them a lump in my throat blocked me from breathing for several seconds. Deciding not to cry I opened their curtains to allow the light in and went to fetch a damp cloth to cool their brows.

    Mother already had lumps upon her neck by the time the doctor arrived and father lay talking into the air. As the doctor examined them both I watched out of the window as a group of four girls held hands and skipped around in a circle.

    “Ring a ring of roses,
    A pocket full of posies,
    A tissue, a tissue,
    They all fall down,”

    A tear gently rolled down my cheek as the girls threw themselves to the floor and collapsed in a fit of giggles. My cold hand wiped it away before I turned to face the doctor. He said nothing, looking down at the floor so that I could see the bald patch that sad on top of his head.

    August 30th 1665. London.

    Both mother and father passes away today, mother in the early hours of the morning and father not long after. I sobbed silently as I pulled the blankets over their faces and went to find the priest to bless their bodies.

    As I showed the priest out of the house having sent them on their way to Heaven, I saw Thomas, one of the other boys who used to catch the rats. He noticed me watching him and walked over solemnly.

    “I am sorry for your loss,” he told me, taking my hand in his. I tried to smile but my face was numb. After several minutes he looked me in the eyes.

    “I have a way to get us out of London,” he told me, a glint n his eyes. For the first time in days I felt as though God had heard my prayers. “When the dead collector comes tonight for your parents and the others we sneak into the back of the cart along with them. My friend told me that the cart goes all of the way out of London, all we do id get off before it stops.” I considered the plan for a minute. It seemed unsure and poorly thought through but in the end I decided it was better than nothing. I nodded once to let him know I would help before going back inside to sit in the kitchen.

    September 7th 1665. Oxford.

    As Thomas has said, the dead collector came that night and took my parents away. Thomas and I were also in the cart, hidden beneath the other bodies. We held handkerchiefs filled with posies to our noses to clean the air and waiting patiently for the cart to leave London.

    In the early hours of the morning it had stopped besides a huge pile of logs. We jumped from the cart and hid behind a patch of trees a small way away. My face burnt with anger as I saw them lighting a bonfire to burn the bodies. Thomas and I stayed around just long enough to watch them throw my parents bodies into the raging flames, ready to meet up with Emily once more.

    It took several days to get to Oxford, which was where we were planning on getting to. We had to beg a ride from a rich man in a horse-drawn coach. He took pity upon us and allowed us to ride up front with the driver. We arrived yesterday night and spent the night in the room of an ale-house. For the first time I tasted beer and although I disliked the taste I had drank so much that everything became dizzy. Thomas said I was drunk, just like father used to be when he came home from work. I cried myself to sleep that night.

    Today we went and looked around the town. It was our first time outside of London and everything seemed less crowded. The plague had not spread to here and life filled the streets. It made a change from the smell of death that seemed to hang over London during the past weeks.

    On the afternoon I sat by a little stream with Thomas, allowing the water to tickle my bare feet. He held my hand tight in his and smiled at me when ever I looked sad. I thought of mother, father and Emily, smiling as I remembered the happy memories. As we stood up to return to our room at the ale-house I decided to leave all my sadness for my loss behind me and start a new life.
  3. Raven

    Raven Banned

    Oct 14, 2006
    Likes Received:
    The NetherWorld

    The Galileo Incident

    The following audio file is taken from the final datastream received from Station 33-B7a, Galileo Outpost. Partial corruption is present, some entries may have been lost.
    By order of the Commonwealth High Senate, this document is declared classified to authorised officials, senators and flag officers only. Violation of these terms constitutes a federal offence.​
    Corruption- Text missing​

    November 7th

    Today was my first day on my new assignment, my first day on active duty on the Galileo outpost. To tell the truth, I was more glad to be doing something than daunted. It’s a big place, but it’s definitely boring when you don’t know anyone and don’t have anything to do. Having been here a week, I was definitely glad to be able to get to my duties. Galileo is a huge station, with literally thousands of personal. Most of them are fleet, but since the entire of the lower levels are laboratories, there a good deal of scientists running around. Not to mention the families. I’m assuming most of the children belong to the scientists, but this place is so far flung that I wouldn’t be surprised to find a few officers having secretly brought their wives or girlfriends aboard. And off-duty time can definitely be boring…

    My shift was spent recalibrating sensors, and sifting through the extraordinary amounts of information picked up as a result. It only reaffirmed my belief that this part of the galaxy is a dead waste. Rock and dust and clouds of gas to spare, but not an inhabited world for light-years. By the time I knocked off, my eyes were gummy and strained from staring at the holo-screens, and I was beginning to get a sense of the overwhelming boredom which defines this place.

    I also met my roommate for the first time, despite the fact I’ve been on the station for a week already. He came in just as I was getting ready to begin my shift, and after apologising for raiding my Centauran Whiskey stash (I hadn’t even noticed was short any), introduced himself as Dirk Mandel. He’s a mid-level officer on the ops deck and he seems friendly enough. I assume he’s at the bar right now, and can only hope he doesn’t wake me when he returns. After my first day of real work in months, I have to say I’m exhausted.

    November 12th

    Dirk and I have been getting along handsomely. After I got off my second shift, I wandered down to the bar in time to find him being forcibly ejected by the rather burly bartender. Blind drunk, and spotting me as a familiar face, he imposed upon me to guide him back to our quarters, where we both proceeded to drink the remainder of my whiskey. I was in a terrible state when my next shift came around, but I don’t think anyone noticed. Everything seems dead around- as if everyone is constantly half asleep. I’m not sure I like it. It’s almost like they’re zombies, and I can’t help feeling they’ll infect me too…

    Dirk says he can get me a personal transmission soon, though. He’s officer in charge of station communications on the Ops deck. A Lieutenant. I didn’t realise ‘til I saw him putting on his uniform, and when I saluted he promptly slapped me around the head, and told me not to be so stupid. But he doesn’t seem to be above abusing his position, and letting me send a personal message to Kay. It would certainly better to be able to send her news without having to wait for the monthly data-stream, though she would still have to use it. I’m tempted to send her this diary, actually.

    Or maybe not. She might not think to kindly of my getting inexorably drunk. And with me stuck out here for at least a year, the last thing I need is for her to be mad at me. No, I’ll have to compose a different letter. But what in the heavens do I say?

    Corruption- Text missing​

    November 23rd

    Success! After almost a week of promises I hardly dared hope in, somehow Dirk managed to get me reassigned. And not just any reassignment. I’m now junior officer on the Ops deck. I didn’t believe him when he told me last night, but sure enough, the orders came through: ‘Officer Stephen Harte, Junior Grade, report to the Operations Deck for reassignment, 09:00hrs’. I was more nervous than at the Academy finals, waiting in that elevator capsule as it sped me to the nerve centre of the station.

    Dirk greeted me as I stepped off, and with a hand on my shoulder, said, ‘Welcome to your new home, Stevie!’ It was incredible. So much bigger than I’d expected. Better than that cramped work terminal I shared with three others in astrometrics. Dirk stuck me on my own private console, and had me monitor all transmissions within and around the station. After a while he reprimanded me for doing my job, and we started a game of chess across the room.

    There was something strange though. A sort of stuffiness in the atmosphere. There was something about the way the Commandant kept calling officers into his cabin, and the way they came out white as if they’d seen a ghost in there. I asked Dirk, but he was vague to the point where I suspect he doesn’t have a clue. But something definitely seemed amiss…

    Corruption- Text missing​

    December 1st

    Something is definitely happening. All of he senior staff were called into the briefing room today. I had to deal with the data stream myself (and that was no barrel of laughs- each individual stream to be directed to the proper quarters and terminal and each identification and encryption code to be registered, not to mention scanning the whole bloody thing for viruses!). Even the other junior officers seemed scared witless, and they know just as little as me.

    All of the major outpost actions had to be handled by us today, and although we did fairly well, there were a number of disasters. In particular, one young man kept forgetting the access codes his superior had given him, and every time he guessed them incorrectly, the whole station locked down. It happened about four times in my eight hour shift. Luckily one of the techies managed to hack the system to undo the damage, but by the fourth time of asking we were all a little tired of it, to say the least.

    December 2nd

    Dirk got in a few minutes ago. He looked haggard. I hadn’t seen him since he went into the meeting, and just having checked the logs, he and all of the senior staff have been in the briefing room since then! The whole of the station has been in the hands of the juniors all day! It’s a wonder we haven’t blown the outpost to hell.

    Dirk wouldn’t tell me anything about what was happening, but he was scared witless, that much was clear. He told me under no circumstances to visit any levels lower than our quarters, ordered me even (which is a bit of a blow, since the common area with all the bars and everything is below). He did give me his access codes though, so I can send as many transmissions as I like from the outpost’s array. When I asked him if he wouldn’t get into trouble, he gave a nervous laugh and told me, ‘I think they have more important things to worry about, Stevie.’ He left straight away, and I haven’t a clue where he is now.

    December 2nd

    Today was chaos. The senior staff were in meetings, or else just absent, for all of my shift, and from what I gather for most of the day. The most senior of the junior officers have formed their own level of command, and have taken the place of the senior staff. For some reason they seemed to have included me into their circle as well. I think it’s probably because I’m quartered with a Lieutenant, though they must have been frightfully disappointed with what I could tell them (I’m the only junior officer quartered with a senior officer, and Dirk is the only Lieutenant without his own quarters. I’ve checked on the manifest, using the access codes he gave me. I’m not sure what to make of that, really, but it’s certainly confusing.

    In all the activity keeping the place from falling apart, I didn’t get a chance to send the letter I wrote for Kay. It’s beautiful, if I do say so myself. I think I’ll do it now, off Dirk’s terminal. God only knows where he is (and presumably the Commandant, too), but the access codes for his console should be good. He might not be bothered about it being detected, but I think I’ll encode it in the reports anyway. Just in case. Kay should probably get it all the same. God but I miss her…

    Corruption- Text missing​

    December 8th

    Things seem to have returned somewhat to normality. The senior staff has retaken the Ops deck, and their posts, and the junior officers all received commendations for their actions. We still have no idea what was going on though, and to be honest it doesn’t feel like anything has changed. The officers are still jumpy, and there seems to be a tension in the air itself.

    I’ve only been down to the common area once since Dirk ordered me not to go there. It was after the junior officers were commended, we all went down to celebrate (meaning get unceremoniously drunk). It was strangely different to when I had been there with Dirk. For one thing, there were far fewer senior officers around. In fact, the senior bar was completely empty. There was an atmosphere of apprehension and trepidation there that seemed to me worse than on the Ops deck. It was like a thick soup in the air, a fog which I had to push my way through. There were very few smiles anywhere, though I doubt anyone had any clear ideas as to what was wrong. It was more a feeling than anything. That something bad had happened, was still happening, and would continue to happen…

    Needless to say, I didn’t stay long. I made my excuses and hurried back here, and I shall try and get some sleep. I’m on duty again at 13:00hrs. I doubt I’ll get much rest though. There is too much going around my head at the moment… And I think I’m coming down with something, as well.

    December 8th

    Something has definitely gone wrong. Dirk came in a few hours ago, and woke me up to tell me that I was no longer on duty at 13:00hrs. Instead I have to report to a briefing of the junior officers at 14:00hrs, by the Commandant himself. Dirk is worn almost to breaking point. He looks tired, starved, and scared out of his wits. I don’t know the last time he ate, and this is certainly the first time he’s slept in at least forty eight hours. He’s a mess.

    I’m going to head for the briefing room now. I’ll take the long way around, so that I don’t get there too early, but I want to leave Dirk to sleep in peace. God knows he needs it. And I’ve now decided, I’m not stepping foot below this deck again, unless I’m ordered too. Whatever the seniors are afraid of, it’s down there.

    December 8th

    Good God Almighty.

    The meeting has just finished. I’ve come straight back to my quarters, and Dirk isn’t here- which is annoying, because I need to talk to him about everything. The Commandant, looking just as haggard as Dirk had, told all of us (the junior officers commended) what’s been happening. It’s worse than I thought. And I’m surprised I haven’t come back to find Dirk having topped himself in the shower. That’s a point…

    …Nope, the shower is completely empty. But anyway, one of the laboratories on the lower levels has had a containment breach. It should have been nothing, as there was nothing that would be harmful to the outpost populace on the outpost. But it appears someone screwed up. Big time.

    Some sort of viral agent has begun spreading through the lower levels. All of the laboratories have been sealed off, as well as the lower quarters. No one is allowed in or out of the quarantined zones, with lancers guarding the doors. But somehow, the infection keeps getting past the barriers. It adapts to the scrubbers, and finds some sort of mystery way through doors that should be airtight. It is slowly but surely taking the station from us.

    The medical corps have had no luck with it, and the Commandant has ordered them to stop trying. They just end up infecting more and more. There is a pretty collection of doctors and nurses dying of the thing sealed away in the quarantine chambers apparently. I wish Dirk was here. I could do with knowing what this contagion is…

    December 10th

    It’s all going to hell. The Commandant has ordered complete isolation of the upper decks. There were riots yesterday, and shots were fired. I haven’t heard any reports of it I trust yet, but we all heard the shots being fired, the screams. There was nothing we could do though. We had to keep working, under the steely glares of the senior officers. They’re scarcely human any more, cold and empty from all the fear and stress lately.

    Dirk is a mess. I’ve seen him once today, hurtling across the Ops deck, to the Commandant’s office. He had blood across his face, and his wide-eyed scare was emptier and more hollow than before. I called, but I don’t think he even heard me. I guess he had been with the lancers. The entire thing is escalating. I think I’ll send Kay a message explaining what’s happening. It’ll worry her no end, but she deserves to know what’s happening.

    Corruption- Text missing​

    December 14th

    The end is upon us. The senior officers have barricaded themselves in the Ops Deck, and I’m just thankful I was on duty when they did. We’ve isolalated the Ops Deck from the rest of the station, and nothing can get in or out. Dirk is here with me, and together we’re working our way through the Commandant’s private brandy stock. I actually believe I won’t make it out of here. I might send a last transmission to Kay…

    December 15th

    I said nothing could get in or out, but seemingly the contagion can. There is mass pandemonium here, though it’s calmed down now. The Commandant and several Lieutenants have fallen sick, and it resulted in a mutiny. For the best, I think. The sick men are confined to the Commandant’s office, but it’s only a matter of time until the rest of us fall sick too. There are seven of us here (including Dirk and me) and we’re all in various stages of inebriation. Not that we’ll get any worse now, the rest of the alcohol is in the office with the sick men. At least they can drink their pain away.

    We’ve turned off the cameras. People are growing desperate across the outpost. Some of the things I’ve seen… I don’t know what to make of it all. Civilization is in tatters, and the best way out of this situation is if no one ever hears of Galileo outpost again. I’m not sure whether it’s worse to get the disease, or to be trapped in the cycle of fear of it.

    December 16th

    It’s over. Only me and Dirk are left. The rest have contracted the disease, and taken their own lives almost immediately. Seven corpses in only a day. It’s ridiculous. And I can’t even hear any noises from the Commandant’s office any more. I’m going to die out here, alone, scared, and so far away from Kay…

    December 16th

    Dirk is sick. He doesn’t realise it yet, but he will do soon enough. There are blisters across the back of his neck: red, pus-filled sores. It looks horrible, but the worst part is knowing what will come next. They’ll spread, until his face is completely disfigured, and then he’ll start writhing in the pain of it, breaking the blisters and spilling blood and pus everywhere. Then he’ll hack up his guts for the next three days, until his lungs give out and he dies on the floor, drowning in his own blood.

    I’ve taken his gun. I don’t think he’s noticed. He won’t until he realises he’s sick, and then he’ll want it to blow his head off. I guess I’m just a selfish bastard. I just don’t want to be left alone right now. There are sounds at the blast doors. People are trying to get in. They won’t, but in some ways the sounds of their suffering is worse than if they did.

    December 16th

    Dirk is dead. He realised almost an hour ago that he was sick. He was livid with me for taking his gun. He shouted, threatened me, he even stripped me of my rank and told me in a deadly serious voice that he would take me to court martial. Sorry, poor choice of words there… Then he just broke down and sobbed. It was the worst thing so far. To see him just crying there. He told me all about how he’d joined the corps in hope of one day commanding his own vessel, and if only he could have made it through assignment here he knew he would have had his own command.

    He didn’t so much tell me, as rather he said it and I heard. I didn’t interrupt. I wouldn’t have known what to say anyway, but my tongue wouldn’t say a word. At the end of his sad tirade, he looked me straight in the eyes and said, ‘Stevie, I don’t want it to end like this. Please Stevie… Not this way…’
    There was nothing else I could do. I nodded, I saluted…and then I shot him. One round, through the forehead. He didn’t feel a thing. And now I’m alone on the Ops deck, with just the corpse of my dead friend for company. Oh God, what do I do now?

    December 16th

    I am acting Commandant of Galileo outpost. Not bad, considering that this morning I was a junior officer on the Ops deck. I know what I have to do now. I’ve taken a look through the files, and this contagion can’t be stopped. The quarantine beacon has shut down (though why, I’m not sure), and I need to make sure that the virus never reaches earth. After my brief research I am sure that if I activate the station’s auto-destruct, the resulting explosion will destroy the virus. Unfortunately, it will destroy the station too. That’s the only drawback. Though in all honesty I can’t see any uninfected on the cameras…

    There. It’s done. In five minutes, the reactor core will go critical, and the entire station will be destroyed in an explosion of radioactive dust. I do my duty, even to the point of death, and I’ll die here on the Ops Deck. I’m sending a final transmission to Earth, with everything that happened here, including all data on the contagion. I’ll include this too. Kay, if you ever get this…I love you…and I’m sorry…

    Transmission ends​
  4. Raven

    Raven Banned

    Oct 14, 2006
    Likes Received:
    The NetherWorld

    The Marburg Virus
    (1913 words)

    Note to reader: This is not a true story but the virus is loosely based on the Marburg virus outbreak in the Eastern Congo. The zoonosis is of unknown origin but fruit bats are suspected. This virus is spread through bodily fluids.

    My senses are screaming that this dank forest is alive with movement and danger. But I don’t care. Birds and insects are creating a natural symphony in the dead of night, playing with my nerves like a broken banjo. I blindly run on faster through the dark, letting the baby palm fronds whip my legs as I rush pass. Something hard lands on my shoulder. I jump and brush it off all in one movement; not bothering to stop and to see what it is. I am in a hurry. My daughter, Beah, is in need of the doctor. Boiled groundnut water is no longer holding off the fever that infects my daughters head. My wife Livia has whispered prayers all night to no avail. I glimpse a light up ahead telling me I am nearing the medicine hut. The heady smell of something similar to eucalyptus is strong in the air. It is stagnant and heavy. This smell comforts me and I take a deep breath before knocking on the door.
    * * * *

    Mama keeps telling me that papa has left for the medicine lady. But these minutes feel so long. My head is so wobbly. Like a balloon fill half way with water. I cannot lift it without my brain flopping around. The room spins when I move…so I just lay here on my side. My sweat is dripping down my head and fills my nostril. I am afraid to tell mama that I might be pregnant because I kissed Ishmael down behind the church last week. I did not know having babies hurt so much in the head. I wonder if God is punishing us because I heard Ishmael is sick with a rash too. My tummy hurts so badly. I’m sorry God; I did not know I could have babies at 7 years old.
    * * * *
    “Talloi! What are you doing here so late” exclaimed Dr. Pashna.
    “It’s Beah! She is terribly ill, you must come immediately.”
    “Talloi….I have just returned home. There are many in the village sick tonight. Perhaps tomorrow would be a better ti…”
    “No! ….I mean…. Pashna…we have been friends since we were children, I would not ask you if it were not important.” Crickets filled the silence between us. I watch as Pashna grabs her medicine bag, sighing as she hobbled as quickly as she could out the door.
    * * * *

    Father rushed in with Dr. Pashna quick behind him. Mama whispers to them, but I can’t hear them because my ears feel funny. Papa keeps dancing and puts on a purple hat made of the most beautiful cloth I have ever seen. He smiles, and flies the hat over to me.
    “Oh papa you’re so silly. Thank you for this hat. I will wear it always! Will you teach me to fly too papa?”
    * * * *

    I look over at my daughter smiling, and mumbling about hats. I grab Pashna who is chewing on her lips
    “Tell me Pashna, what is wrong with our Beah” I cry shaking her shoulders, “she talks of nonsense and smiles when she should be crying”
    “It is worse that I thought” Pashna confirmed “We must act immediately. Quick hand me some palm oil from my bag, and find me some fresh cassava leaves. This is going to be a long night, so boil some water and get a few clean rags”

    I feel my daughter’s hot skin and pray to God she will be ok. The fever has made her head mad. Pashna says she is seeing things that are not there, and that the devil is trying to draw her away from us. Pashna looks unbearably tired, rubbing cold wet cloths on her neck, as she makes a salve for Beah. Her eyes are sunken and permanent pouches have made a new home under her eyes. I am startled out of my weary thoughts when Pashna jumps from her seat. Beah has begun to cough. Pashna is spray painted with Beah’s blood. Blood coughed from the inside. Black blood is now dripping out of Beah's mouth and it ripples with every ragged breath. My chest is in my throat. A loud noise crashes behind me as Livia faints to the ground taking picture frames and books with her. I rush over and steady her into a chair I fan her till she is fully awake. I do not realize I am crying until Livia thumbs away my tears and kisses my salty lips to comfort me

    “Can I talk to you in the other room Talloi!” Pashna commands quickly.
    We enter the cooking area and I kneel to absently stoke the fire. Pashna put her hand on my shoulder and I shake my head not wanting to hear her words. “Livia can’t handle the stress. We have to take up more of the responsibility. You are going to see things you have never seen before, happen to your child but you must remain strong. You must be the pillar so that your daughter will live. I have seen this to often lately Talloi…this unknown fever is running though our village. Four grown men this past week have departed for the spirit world. Just today we lost little Ishmael junior to it.” I turn sharply with wide unbelieving eyes to look at Pashna. “We must keep a close eye on Beah tonight” she continued with her head slumped “these are the crucial hours that will tell the tale of whether she will make it or not.”

    A loud bang on the front stoop broke our conversation. A large man I recognize, who teaches at Beah’s school, opens our door. Pashna and I jump as he yells wildly about help and holds out his infant baby girl, her bony legs and arms swinging lifelessly over his massive arms. What is happening to our village? Pashna takes hold of the baby and barely shakes her head. It is too late. “Your baby is still hot to touch, but her life’s breath has already breathed its last.” Pashna says quietly.
    “No” he shouts pointing at Pashna “Mia is ok!” The man is sweating and his eyes are yellow from fatigue. He lets out a groan and takes the baby, shaking her gently. Pashna moves to take the man into her arms, but the man brushes her away “you will pay for this woman!” he screeches accusingly. His eyes are wild and his breathing rapid. He grasps the baby into his chest and turns running into the darkness leaving Pashna with her arms still stretched out.

    Papa is screaming. Are bee’s stinging my skin? So cold. Why isn’t Dr. Pashna helping? “MAMA” I try scream, but she doesn’t listen. “My tummy mama!” I hear people running all over and I can taste dirt in my mouth… “Papa I’m scared” I am so tired.

    * * * *
    We lost Beah 4 days ago, and I feel like my lungs are in a vise. My mind won’t let me think. I feel like I am in a dream. Livia has had the fever for 3 days now, and from looking at her you would think she was dead already. My life feels surreal. I see this sickness taking my family away and I just sit here…I feel like it is happening to someone else. Pashna is feeding Livia inhumane amounts of water, and her stomach is soft and bloated from the effect. Mayhem is in the village. Pashna is called a witch, we are called the carriers. They all seem to blame us. Yet everyday there are those who stop by the house to have a word with Pashna. To get some answers. The cemetery is getting full and we have no idea how to stop this madness. Pashna muffles her moaning. She is trying to hide that she too is sick. I clear my throat and pretend not to notice, for if we lose her medicinal help, we may lose Livia… we may lose the town. Sweat drips off us all. We are so tired, and do not know whether it is day, or night, or next week. Pashna begins to shake. I let out a silent whimper, and lunge forward as she starts to violently throw up mucousy blood. Her thinning grey hair gets tangled in the mess and I grab Beah’s old cup of water to rinse her clean. She motions me to stop her voice shaking, “Talloi, you must leave and save yourself. This sickness will infect us all. You must leave now, you must leave the town, and bring word to the other villages that this place is in quarantine and is surely lost.”

    “Don’t say that Pashna….” I cry “we can make it through… we can…” Livia starts to cough blood which has not stopped trickling out of her mouth for days. She is following Beah’s death path. Her bones are beginning to show under her thin skin. I feel put in my place. I feel selfish. If I am the only healthy one left, then it is my duty to let others know. I nod my head in despair, for I do not want to know this fate. Livia has not woken in days her breathing comes in gasps and rumbles with mucus. I go to kiss her goodbye. I will miss the love of my life. “Do not touch us again Talloi, for I do not know how this sickness spreads” she wheezed out. I let my hand hover over the bed that my wife is in. A quiet goodbye. I walk over to my daughter’s bed. She stares into the unknown void and I close her eyes with my shaking hands. I step away. Tears are stream down my face as I walk backwards out of the front door. Knowing I will never see my family again. I trip backwards over the stoop and land in a small puddle of blood. I wipe the sticky mess on my shirt and whisper a silent goodbye.

    It is again night time, and I am walking though the forest. I am not sure how long I have been walking for. I no longer hear the pain of the town echoing off the trees. I heard babies crying for mothers that have long passed and I grieve for there is no one left to take care of them. The forest is again alive with danger, but his time the bird and crickets are playing a symphony of sorrow that soothes me. They do not play to mock me. They have seen my pain. I stumble my way through the darkness. Baby palm fronds lick my legs as I drag myself by. I am so tired. My head is pounding, and I am sticky with another’s blood. Something hard falls on my shoulder, but this time I am to tired to push it off. I feel it crawl down my back and somehow lose track of it. I see a light, which tells me the next village is ahead. I guiltily rejoice and jog towards the village for help. Thanking God that the fever won’t get me here.
  5. Raven

    Raven Banned

    Oct 14, 2006
    Likes Received:
    The NetherWorld

    Infected (1,659 words)​
    "Hey Charlie," Rodger shouted. "Where's Lassie?"
    Charlie looked up from his book. "She should be in the kennel. Why?"
    Rodger walked over to Charlie, rubbing his hand through his black hair worriedly. "She wasn't there when I went to feed the dogs this morning. I thought someone had mistakenly taken her out on patrol, but she's still not back."
    Charlie swore, "They know they can't take the dogs out whenever they want. I've told everyone that a hundred times. Who's going to sniff out the infected, if they're too damn tired from playing all day." He took a deep breath, ending his rant, before continuing. "You start looking for her. I'll ask everyone downstairs if they've seen her."
    Rodger nodded and headed off. He wondered where he should look first. There were only so many places to hide in the building. The former church was full of survivors and supplies. So only a few of the smallest closets and a few of the worst rooms in the basement were free of people.
    He decided to check the roof. If any kids were playing with the dog they'd be up there.
    As much as he wanted to find Lassie, he really hoped the few kids they had weren't playing with her. They'd have to be punished for breaking the the rules, and people were on edge enough already. Having over fifty people staying at the church hoping none of the infected attacked was enough to make anyone freak out if they were given the slightest push. It was too bad they couldn't spread out a little bit.
    Unfortunately the church was the only strong building in the area that didn't have large easily broken windows at ground level. So the people who hadn't succumbed to the virus, hadn't been killed at the hands of their insane friends and family, and hadn't fled the city, or committed suicide, had come here. If it wasn't for the fact that the sick didn't like bright lights, and the dogs being able to sniff them out during the later stages of infection, they'd all be dead right now.
    It was hard to imagine that only a little over a week since the infection had hit the US, the entire Eastern Seaboard had collapsed.
    It wasn't easy staying alive. Everyone was hungry, tired of the nightly attacks, sick of having no privacy, suffering from lack of medicine and a whole textbook of psychological trauma. The radio reports of quarantines in the remaining cities of North America didn't help either. The announcers had stopped reporting on what cities were still alive, a few days ago. According to a person on the short wave radio, people had started rioting in some of the cities as reports kept rolling in of how other cities were collapsing all around them. That had only made the situation in the church worse.
    They really didn't need a missing dog thrown into the whole mess.

    The small roof was packed with people enjoying the sunlight and fresh air. Lawn chairs, towels, pillows, and coats covered the rooftop allowing people sit in relative comfort. Two kids were throwing a ball to each other in the small section designated for games.
    There was no sign of Lassie.
    "Rodger," Sam called over from a spot on the edge of the roof, "got a minute?"
    Rodger waded through the seats and crouched down beside his friend. "What's up?" he asked.
    Sam looked up at Rodger. His eyes were invisible under the dark sunglasses, his stupid cowboy hat was tipped forward shading his face, but Rodger could see his cheeks redden as he began to speak. "I, I was wondering if I could get a few days off from the resupply group. I haven't been feeling that well," he whispered.
    Rodger jerked back instinctively. Any sign of sickness had become something to scream about.
    "I'm not sick," Sam said fiercely, still whispering. "I've just. My mind just needs a bit of a break. You know how I've gone out nearly every day to bring back supplies. It's just gotten to me. I need a break." He clutched Rodgers arm, "Please, just let me take a few days of working guard duty, or cleaning, or anything."
    "Okay," Rodger said quietly. "I'll put you on guard detail for a week. Thats the best I can do. Just take it easy."
    Sam's took his hands from Rodger, "Thanks, that's all I need."
    Rodger started to leave. "Sam," he said stopping, "have you seen Lassie."
    "No," he replied almost instantly. "I haven't seen her all day."
    "Thanks," Rodger said walking away.

    Rodger threw himself against the wall of the narrow staircase to avoid Charlie. "Are we being attacked?" Rodger asked, panicked.
    "I found Lassie," Charlie gasped. "She's dead. Torn apart. She was in the basement."
    Rodger slumped down onto the stairs. Someone was infected inside the building. "Do you know who?"
    "Kandace, one of the little kids told me she saw Sam with Lassie early this morning when she was suppose to be asleep. She says she recognized his hat. But I'm not sure how good of a witness she is."
    ****, thought Rodger. This couldn't be happening. Anyone who was still sane was suppose to be immune to the airborne virus. Only direct contact was suppose to be a danger to them. But who else but one of those sick bastards would tear an animal apart. They couldn't risk it, if someone was infected they had to get rid of them now.
    "Charlie, get Sam he's on the roof, bring him to my office," he said.
    "Should I bring some guards?" Charlie asked.
    Rodger shook his head. "No I want this kept between you, me and Sam, if that's possible. We can't have a panic."
    Charlie nodded and went up the stairs.
    Rodger walked to his office.

    Five minutes later as Rodger sat in his chair there was a knock on the door. "Come in," Rodger said.
    Sam stepped in, Charlie looked in briefly and then closed the door. He'd make sure no one came by and just happened to overhear what was occurring. Sam was kneading his cowboy hat nervously, his sunglasses still on.
    "Please have a seat, and take your sunglasses off," Rodger said.
    "Okay," Sam said doing as he was told. He kept his eyes down and looked around the room, obviously trying to avoid eye contact. "What can I do for you? Charlie was pretty close mouthed."
    "Did you kill Lassie?" Rodger asked bluntly.
    Sam's head flicked back and forth, trying to avoid Rodgers eyes. "What!" he said a few seconds later, sounding more scared then shocked.
    "Look at me," Rodger said. "I need to see your eyes."
    Sam looked at Rodger, his eyes were a sickly yellow, the first clear sign of infection. He started crying.
    Rodger took the gun from his lap and pointed it at Sam. "I need to know how this happened. Did the virus mutate again?"
    "I got a nail in my foot three days ago. It wasn't a bad cut or anything, I didn't notice until we got back," Sam said, his voice rising and falling strangely, he was on the edge of panic. "One of the infected must have cut themselves on the same thing a little while before. I cleaned it out as soon as I realized. It was just too late. Please, I don't want to die."
    "Why did you kill Lassie?" Rodger said trying to keep the remorse out of his voice. He had to be strong.
    "I just needed to attack something. I wanted to kill something. But I knew I couldn't hurt a person. So I grabbed the nearest dog. I tried to control myself. I held out for an entire day before I did it," he pleaded. "You don't know what its like. But I'm working on it. I can control myself. Please don't kill me. I'll leave the church. You'll never see me again. I swear, just let me leave."
    Rodger shook his head, "I'm sorry, but you're not leaving here. I won't let another infected out into the world." As Sam rose angrily, Rodger aimed the gun directly at his chest. "Please don't make me shoot you. You have two choices. I can shoot you, and I will. But I don't want to shoot a friend like a rabid dog. I also need to consider the other people here. If I shoot you they'll know soon enough and start to panic. I won't let you leave alive, but there is another means, where no one has to know you were infected and you won't feel a thing."
    "You want me to commit suicide," Sam said bitterly his tears forgotten. "Should I just throw myself off the roof, or shoot myself in the head?"
    Rodger tossed a pill bottle to Sam with his free hand. "It's heart medication. No one here uses it so you can. Just take five of the pills and in half an hour you're hear will effectively seize up. It's practically painless you won't even realize whats happening until a few seconds before you collapse. Charlie or I will stay with you until you die."
    "Making sure I don't hurt anyone," Sam sneered.
    "Making sure you don't die alone," Rodger answered him sadly. "We don't want to do this. But this is the only way to keep what few healthy people there still are working together, and not panicking. Now please take the pills, its the only mercy I can show you."
    Sam opened the pill bottle and slowly took one pill after the other. He stood up and walked to the door. "I'll go with Charlie, don't worry I won't make a scene. You can sit here and wonder about your Hippocratic Oath while you figure out what to say to everyone." The room shook as he slammed the door shut.
    Rodger bowed his head and cried.
  6. Heather Louise

    Heather Louise Contributor Contributor

    Dec 10, 2006
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    Good luck eberyone, these were all amazing story entries, congratulations. :)
  7. Torana

    Torana Contributor Contributor

    Mar 13, 2007
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    Thank you kindly for voting. The contest has now come to an end. The winner is Banzai.

    Thank you all for your participation.
  8. Domoviye

    Domoviye New Member

    Jan 8, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Proud Canadian. Currently teaching in Nanjing, Chi
    Congrats Banzai that was one of the best stories I've read in these contests.
  9. Banzai

    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

    Mar 31, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Reading, UK
    Wow, thanks Dom. That's very high praise, and means a lot to me :redface: I'm still a bit in shock that I won. All of the entries were very good stories.
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