(nome de plume)
I stared into the face I had once known so well, standing before my final challenge of this horrific journey. Adrenaline was still running thickly through my veins as the pistol’s recoil still rang through my hand and it seemed to reach into my head as I tried to respond to the husk of a man that used to be my father. A quick, stinging pain hit me and I lost consciousness as I felt myself falling to the ground.
I didn’t know how much time had passed when I awoke strapped to a chair with duct tape wrapped around my mouth.
“I wish I didn’t have to do this,” was the first thing I heard, still the unmistakable tenor of Thaddeus Rose, my father. “But I must. I want you with me; I wanted the entire family to be with me, but thanks to your and your brother’s lust for blood, I am only left with you.”
“How I’ve missed you,” he said and he bowed down and sank his teeth into my left wrist.
The bite burned with white-hot intensity and the crude gag around my mouth did little to muffle my screams. I looked down through teary eyes and saw the infection’s deep black arms easily weave up my veins.
“Why?!” I said, pushing what I figured were my last words as an uninfected human through the duct tape.
Father he was, he understood me.
“Sweet daughter,” he said in a chillingly gentle tone, “I am the one who created the virus. It was never a cure for Alzheimer’s; it was a cure of the human condition to raise the army I require.”
I struggled against impossibly tight bindings, futilely trying to save myself from what I sought to destroy.
“You see,” he continued, as if a professor in a lecture hall, “Leaderships is a real problem now. Too many people think they can handle the job, but there is only one with the required ruthlessness and intelligence to execute effectively. And now, that leader has claimed his throne—I have claimed my rightful place.
“Nobody would listen to me in the old days, and they dug their own graves as a result.”
He must have sensed my confusion.
“The world is crumbling and I can reform it for the betterment of all. There are many here, already dead and ready to attack in the name of purity,” he said, using words of authority and despair I had never imagined would leave his tongue. “But they won’t follow me. They won’t take commands.”
I motioned for him to remove the duct tape from my mouth. The infection making headway in my bloodstream, I barely felt a thing when he peeled off the adhesive.
“I…I saw you as infected on the show. You were like the other helpless ones. How are you still normal?” I asked, with the exception of his glowing red eyes and the razor sharp teeth now concealed.
“Baby girl, that was for you and Michael. I knew it would draw you to the competition and that you would come find me,” he said.
Then skin began to fall from his face like butter melting in the sun. What remained turned gray and ashy, and his hair instantly looked ragged and began to fall. The next instant, his appearance returned to relative normalcy.
“It is only us who can do this,” he said, answering my astonishment, “I created it as a biological weapon. The virus morphed with our DNA as an enhancement to us, and a necessary detriment to the rest.”
He told me that the experiment was not wholly successful with mother, forcing her to live as both a monster and an enhanced being with superhuman strength and agility, like sister had been.
“Now, we are better than the humans and more fit to rule. It is time we assume our place at the top of the food chain in the next step of evolution. Now, daughter, you and I will overtake everything and make things the way they were meant to be.”
Everything in me burned as the virus worked furiously to consume its host. I could feel my muscles strengthening and each second I noticed my hearing becoming more acute and my vision increasing its distance and precision. Still having the mind of my human self, I could hear the horrors of the infected father had locked in cages on the other end of the concrete tunnel; I could hear their voices, feel their pain and emotions. Every one of them was scared and confused.
And every one of them hungry.
Father came forward, holding a mirror in front of my face. My hair was changing from auburn to red and, though I recognized my face, I knew something was different.
Looking past the mirror, I saw an infected who had somehow escaped stumbling toward father, who didn’t notice the uninvited guest. The soldier stopped behind father, mouth agape, and looked into my eyes with a strange eagerness. Not moving my mouth, I ordered him to attack father and untie me.
Father fell, grabbing his throat, screaming in agony as the infected did as I had silently commanded. When he looked up, I willed him to open each of the cages. He did so, reluctantly, as though he was no longer in control of his body.
“You’re stronger than I am; stronger than us all. You…you can push your thoughts into our minds. Can you hear them, too?” he said in amazement and what I sensed as fright.
For all his genius, father’s only gift from the virus was the shapeshifting ability he had so proudly demonstrated before. The virus apparently manifested itself in different ways for each member of our family. Sister became ultra-athletic; mother turned toward emotional understanding.
“I can only imagine what Michael would have become,” he said with a voice of pride, excitement, and self-serving sadness.
“I love you, dad,” I said coldly, “but your crimes are beyond reproach. You tore our family apart; you ruined the world. This is something which cannot be forgiven.”
We stared into each other’s eyes, his showing terror and mine wielding justice. As the horde slowly closed in around him on my unspoken command, I knew he wanted to plea to continue this life of his which had cost so many so much. I heard his last screams as I walked out the door.
THREE WEEKS LATER
I was running on Chicago streets toward Willis Tower, where the old world’s wealthy had been relocated. My army of superhumans, stretching back for blocks, kept pace. My eyes glowed red as we swarmed into the building and exacted the purge the world had for so long desired.
I could sense the feelings of my dedicated troops. They were feasting. They were happy. And their thoughts of elated joy rang like church bells in my head. It reminded me of my family when we’d open Christmas presents, swam at the beach, enjoyed summer afternoons with puzzles and a radio. I smiled at the thought as I looked upon my new family, reveling in their happiness and proud of their achievement.
Finally, after all these years, the hollowness was filled. Life was complete.