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The High Place

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Winter had passed, but it was never the cold that kept John Parker awake. The etched rock provided some respite, as he surveyed the Peruvian Andes. The hollow calm of the white mountain tips filled his mind. Nocturnal arousals kept him awake through intermittent periods of sleep. Only the five of them made it here.

By the time scientists discovered high altitude was the only protection against the plague, it was too late. It started in Mali. Was it really so unpredictable? The luster of the African kings that shone so bright, now dead and forgotten corpses among the impoverished masses. Did humanity not deserve this?

Could the sovereignty of the Elite foresee the cataclysmic repercussions of their unsustainable reign? It was over in a fortnight. It was as if the animal kingdom made a decision to end us. To send us all back to the ice age. It was only fatal to Homo sapiens, naturally.

The first symptoms resembled nothing more than the common cold. A monster only

only revealing itself when in contact with a healthy host. When the lips went grey and the eyes bulged from their sockets, it was too late.

Then it began. The insanity. The howling laughter that made grown men scream and run with terror. Laughing Cannibals, was the last news headline to reach the public.

It was only later determined on scans, that the tainted brain was inhuman. A demented deformity that could only be described as alien. The children were more prone to infection. The pathogen favored them above older cells. It tracked them down like a predator. It was first assumed that the tainted were targeting children because of easy prey, but how wrong were they. It took three days for the pathogen to take full control. Like a bacterium taking human form.

People were used to seeing zombies on the silver screen, but nothing could have prepared them for this. A smart virus that could take over every aspect of a person’s character and make it their own. No one would suspect anything, until the hunger came. And when it came, it showed no remorse. There was nothing but pleasure on their faces while chewing through human flesh.
Carrie Parker was twelve years old. Short velvet hair always hung tidy above her shoulders. She was a good girl. "Yes daddy," she would always reply amiably, when asked to

do the chores, olivaceous eyes glistening like morning dew. The car slewed into the drive-way. When he got to the front door it was ajar. Bloody fingers painted waves on the walls. When he got to the kitchen, Carrie was feeding. Tiles were stained in a pool of her mother's blood. With flesh and blood between her adolescent teeth. Her eyes were no different, in her eyes she was still the same.

She was a good girl, he would keep saying to himself. Maybe the thought kept him sane, or maybe it kept him from slipping off the rocky glacier. It would be so easy. A simple fall to end it all. Would it be unkind to leave them behind?

Beth cooper, the ugliest twenty year old he has ever laid his eyes on. Freckles populated her skin like a virus. In fact he would not be surprised if her nipples were freckled as well. Yet she was the kindest person he had ever set his eyes on.

Caitlyn Mcleod, a young vibrant teen. She was studying art at the university of Cambridge. How her pond blue eyes ended up with him was a vague recollection blurred by all the chaos that was eating away at his sanity.

Bill and Roger Bank were brothers working in the gold mine up here when it collapsed. How only they survived, and the other thirty thousand people that once populated this plane not, is a mystery beyond his comprehension. Yet he senses they know. But would he ask them? No.

Any person could see the scars of the memory on their face. The pain and anger emanated from them like a storm cloud.

Yes, they were five now. He could not know recall how many they had lost

since the escape. There was never going to be a cure. He had seen it in his daughter's eyes. She knew. Those that couldn't flee fast enough were either dead or dying now. He could bet his life on it. In the end the only refuge from the virus was as high up as possible. The Cessna 172 lay in ruins at the base of the glacierized mountainside. It took all the luck from the God's to get them here.

John Parker got to his feet. Trudging down the icy path, he saw them, huddled around the fire. The distant laughter reached him late. Was he finally going crazy? No. He was certain. They were laughing. When he finally touched down on the icy plane he could see it on their faces. The cheer he never thought he'd see again. Glowing faces and rotten teeth. Smiling teeth, but rotten. It was like watching the reincarnation of humanity. Then for the first time in three years John Parker smiled.

 

End

 

Aspiring author from South Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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