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"Bumpy Road Ahead"
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Information
Writer(s) Creator

Milly

Illustrator(s) Creator
Release Date June 2015
Parts Unknown
Country of origin United States
Medium(s) Desktop

Mobile Devices

Part 1

Andrew North stared at the screen of his iPhone, mesmerized by what it was displaying. His cousin had sent him a link to a YouTube video and he was now watching it, completely dumbfounded. It was a news report from his cousin's hometown in Indiana, and it was just from that morning, but he knew that a whole lot had happened since then. Drew watched as the female anchor sat alone at her desk, the chair next to her empty. She explained that her co-anchor was out sick with whatever it was that was going around throughout the entire nation, and as far as Drew knew, the world.

The anchorwoman was tense, her face pale and sweat visible on her forehead. Beads ran down the woman's cheeks as she tried to explain what was going on to her viewers.

"This is Lydia Stanson reporting for WNDU 16. Dave Ramos cannot be here today, I'm afriad. He's caught a bug of some sort, as have many of our staff. This is breaking news right out of La Porte: a local teenage boy captured a video from his mother's apartment window of several seemingly homeless or mentally ill people attacking two women in the street below."

Footage began to roll of the boy's cell phone video. Drew could see the camera shake as he approached a window. The sunlight outside made it hard to make out what was happening for a brief moment, but the camera on the phone adjusted and he could see. There were shouts coming from two women standing on the sidewalk next to the street below the window. One was a short, plump woman with a braid, the other was much taller and much more slender. Then, Drew could see what they were shouting obscenities at.

The kid cursed, his cursing masked by a beeping sound as the figures approached the women.

"You can just stay away," the tall woman said to the dirty-looking people, "You are not wanted here!"

"Stay away!" The plump woman shouted as she took a step backward toward a parked vehicle.

There were at least five people, four men and what looked like a woman, walking toward them as if they were drunk, making almost animal-like sounds. Drew saw what he thought was blood on them.

"Stay back!" The tall woman said as she reached into her purple-colored purse. She retrieved a small bottle. Drew assumed it was pepper spray, and his assumption was proven to be correct as the woman approached the closest man and sprayed the substance directly into his eyes. The man didn't seem to even acknowledge the fact that chemicals were being sprayed into his eyes. He grabbed the slender woman's arm and she let out a shriek. The second closest person grabbed hold of her as well as the first one bit down on her arm.

The plump woman ran to her friend, shouting, "Let go of her! Let go of her right now!"

As the slender woman screamed, she dropped her purple purse and its contents rolled out and under the car closest to them.

Drew could see the blood coming from the slender woman as the people bit into her arm, tearing away strips of flesh with their teeth. Parts of the video were blurred out to prevent the squeemish viewers from losing their lunch, but even then it was sickening to watch.

The seemingly female one of the pack grabbed the plump woman's shoulder and she screamed, trying to run away as the slender woman was forced to the ground, a third person ganging-up on her. The plump woman screamed in short bursts at the homeless female forced her against a lamp post, using her teeth to bite into her neck.

The boy filming the ordeal cussed several times, loudly, before addressing his mother, "Mom! Mom! Call 911! Call 911"

He ran away from the window, showing the inside of the apartment before the footage cut out.

Lydia Stanson, the anchorwoman, looked even paler than she did before it cut to the video, but she trucked-through her broadcast, "This is only one of many incidents reported throughout the area of people viciously attacking each other. Most of these reports include witnesses claiming that the attackers used their teeth and hands as their primary weapons in these attacks. IU Health La Porte Hospital and hospitals throughout the state are now being flooded with individuals claiming to have been attacked by people on the streets. Some have even stated that their homes and businesses were broken into and these attackers bit them. Only when they fought back were they able to escape their attackers and seek medical attention."

"Dr. Candace Jenner of the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, issued a statement about this unprecedented outbreak of violence that seems to be all across the nation and not just isolated to northern Indiana."

The video then showed a brunette woman standing at a podium, a microphone before her. A man stood next to her, identified as her husband, Edwin, as well as several other associates.

She spoke, "This wave of violent attacks is most likely the cause of some unknown and unidentified pathogen. Such pathogens exist that can cause those afflicted with them to lash out; such as rabies. As of yet, we have been unable to determine just what this is, but my associates and I are trying desperately to figure this thing out. As of now, all we can say to the public is to remain indoors, keep all your doors and windows locked. If one of these 'infected' individuals attempts to break into your current location, try to defend yourself. Do not let these individuals scratch or bite you. We believe that this is how the supposed pathogen spreads."

"You don't know what this thing is?" A male's voice asked from the crowd of people that sat in the audience before her.

The doctor replied after inhaling deeply, "Sir, all we know is that we need to remain calm and allow the authorities to attempt to contain this threat while we try to begin to understand these infected individuals and what it is that is causing them to behave like they are."

A female voice asked as camera flashes spread over those behind the podium, "Dr. Jenner, do you have any idea just how so many people have become affected by this in such a short amount of time?"

"Um," Dr. Jenner said, "As of yet, no."

The same female voice, "So, what do you know exactly?"

The doctor paused before responding to the woman's question, "Ma'am, all we know is that the public needs to stay where they are and wait this thing out or at least until we have enough understanding of this thing to ship out vaccines or anything necessary to quarantine and cure infected individuals. The public needs to remain calm and collected and let everyone do their job."

Once again Drew could see Lydia Stanson's face, "WNDU 16 will continue to bring you updates on this story as it develops. I hope all of you, all of you viewers, Dave, if you're watching, are safe and sound with your friends and loved ones. Before we began filming this story, I was informed that by 7 a.m. tomorrow morning, the station will be switching over to the emergency broadcast system to allow those stranded, lost or in need of help to obtain whatever it is that they need. Until then, I will be remaining here until I want to be with my family. I...I can't reach them on their phones...so I think I'll stay here. For WNDU 16, I'm Lydia Stanson."

...

Drew now sat on a bus headed to school. He had received countless messages from his aunt, uncle and cousin in La Porte the previous night and had been worried about them. He had gotten one message that morning before he brushed his teeth, but then they had stopped coming. His father said that areas where the so-called 'infection' was the worst was where the authorities were shutting off phone service, or at least preventing any calls or texts that weren't calls for help.

His friend Travis sat next to him, chatting with his girlfriend on the phone. She rode a different bus and they talked every morning. Drew found it kind of funny that Travis preferred to call Alicia instead of text her, but he didn't really bother him about it. He could do whatever he want.

"No, you're the best," Travis said to Alicia, being slightly too loud but not enough to cause a fuss.

Drew stared out the window. His father had said that Chicago was pretty safe. Facebook had been blowing up about the whole disaster. There were reported incidents within the city, but he paid no mind to it. As long as he was safe, he didn't care. Of course, that video had made him feel pretty sick. That doctor said that it could be rabies or something similar to that, and that did not sound pleasant to him at all. Were people getting sick from animal bites? That sounded reasonable. Drew knew that many diseases could be transferred from animals to humans with relative ease.

He felt his phone vibrate from within his right pocket. He removed it, pressed the power button once and stared at the screen.ONE NEW MESSAGE was displayed, with the name MOM written just beneath that.

Call me if anything happens at school today, the message read.

Okay, he replied, not really wanting to engage in much conversation with his mother at the time.

Promise me, Andrew, she replied back almost immediately.

I promise, he texted back to her.

His mother still called him by his full name. Most people liked to use 'Drew', but his mother seemed to be one of the few exceptions. From where he was sitting (toward the rear of Orson Heights High School's bus number 19), he could hear his sister all the way at the front chatting away with her girl friends.

"So Jake totally asked me out last night," Lisa said to her toadies, "And I was like, 'no way, loser, you're too fat for me anyway'."

The three shared a laugh, Drew annoyed by the sound of their voices. They were somewhat nasally, as if their noses produced a honk-like sound when they talked.

"Jake's such a loser," Lizzy agreed.

"Totally," Anna replied, just wanting to feel genuinely involved in the conversation.

Drew rolled his eyes. They were so loud; louder than Travis, even. The driver had given up long ago on trying to quiet the three girls down. He was a grumpy old man that had been outdone by three young high school girls that had mean barks. He felt sorry for the man.

Travis hung up and tapped Drew on the shoulder, "Hey, man, you wanna come over Saturday? I got this awesome new paintball gun; we can shoot at the mannequin targets in my dad's garage!"

"Sure, dude," Drew answered his friend, "Will Alicia be there?"

"Only if she wants to come," Travis replied, "Jenny and Ayumi can come too and they can bring their stuff. We can have one big shootout!"

"Yeah, it'll be fun," Drew said.

The bus stopped and three more kids got on. The bus was large, but there had to be at least fifty OHHS students aboard, plus the driver, and that meant that it was very cramped and hot from all the bodyheat that was being emitted. Sweaty bodies did not make the usual smell of dirty floors and dusty windows any better.

Eventually, the bus reached the school parking lot, and the kids were let off right in front of the school's main entrance. Large groups of friends stood or sat on the concrete as they waited for school to begin. Some of the jocks tossed around a football on the front lawn and bookworms sat beneath shade trees, their noses wedged between a novel. Travis and Drew walked off together and searched for their friends. Drew watched as his sister and her idiot followers walked off to find the other bimbos they were affiliated with.

Dumb bitches, Drew thought.

He loved his sister, but that was just what she was. When they were kids, Drew and Lisa had gotten along so well. However, as time progressed, they had grown apart and she had developed a bitter side. He didn't like her much as it worsened and especially after her friend choices became slightly, well, stupid and wrong.

He was just glad Lisa hadn't ended up pregnant yet. He knew she was sneaking around with all those boys she had dated. Alcohol at parties and drugs that God only knew what were were not good when combined with teenage hormones.

...

Jenny was waiting for Drew and Travis on the bench that their little circle of friends had claimed as their own, right by the entrance. They had chosen that specific bench so that they could enter through the steel doors and never be late. Of course, that did not always mean that they wouldn't be late. The halls of Orson Heights High were narrow, and the flow of student traffic could become congested.

Travis had always said when the flow stopped, it was like the school was 'constepated'. This joke had always made her laugh. Her friends were immature, but they were funny and she liked that. If they didn't amuse her, she probably would have abandoned them years prior. Ayumi Hirohito sat on the concrete, next to the red bench. She had her earbuds in and was listening to some punk, head bobbing from side to side, eyes closed.

The Asian girl was the school's student body president. In fact, Ayumi was the only one in their group involved in any extracurricular activities besides 'Loner Club', a club where its members could just chill in the commons area. She was fluent in English, Japanese and Spanish and had a collection of vinyl records that Jenny envied.

The boys arrived about ten minutes before the first bell was to ring and they both hi-fived Jenny as they did.

"'Sup, friends?" Travis asked them.

"What?" Ayumi asked, removing one earbud.

"Nothin' much," Jenny replied, using her left hand to move the hair out of her eyes. She loved having long hair, but it was a pain sometimes, "What's up with you guys?"

"You heard about eveything that's goin' on?" Drew aked her.

She nodded, "Something about people attacking each other, that's all I've heard, but I know it's got some people really scared. Alyssa Frasier told me that she's not coming to school today because her dad wants her and her family out of the city. Other than that, I don't know much."

Ayumi made a frown with her lips, "My mom's worried about my grandparents. They live in Springfield and she heard that they've been hit pretty hard."

Travis sighed, "At least Chicago seems fine. For now, at least. I guess we'll find out if anything goes bad here within the next few days."

"If something like what's going on in Springfield happenes here, I think we'll definitely find out. There'll be people eating each other's faces off!" Ayumi said.

Travis and Jenny laughed. Drew chuckled a bit, but he really didn't want to be laughing about people potentially dying from whatever that thing was.

...

First period was Drew's favorite class. Their teacher, Mr. Carter, was the coolest teacher he had ever had. He kept a pet lizard in the room named Slinky and had a smoke as the students worked by taking advantage of the door that lead right out of the classroom and onto an exterior walkway. He was young and could relate to the students in ways that none of the other staff could. He taught science, but he made it fun.

Drew took his seat in between Travis and Malcolm Hicks, another one of his friends.

"Hey, Drew," Malcolm said as he looked up from his book.

"Hey, dude," Drew said, bumping his fist against his friend's.

"So, what's up with you?"

"Not much. It's just another boring day at school."

Malcolm laughed, "You got that right, friend. But, hey, it's almost Friday."

"Yeah, there is that," Drew agreed, "Did Travis ask you about coming over to his place this weekend?"

"Oh, yeah. I'll be there," Malcolm replied, closing his book.

Miles Carter walked into the room and surveyed the scene. He didn't usually have to yell at his classes. They were, for the most part, pretty well-behaved. There were always troublemakers in any class, but even they weren't too bad. Almost everyone had taken their seats this morning, with a few exceptions staring out the windows or checking their phones before sitting down.

"Good morning, class," Carter said.

A few of them said 'good morning' back, but most of them just said, "Carter!" in a happy manner.

"I don't really feel like doing much today," Carter explained, "So for now just talk quietly with each other."

...

Jane Wilson was the Orson Heights phys. ed. teacher, and on this particular morning, she was having her classes run a few miles on the school's track. She was a burly woman who wore a yellow visor hat and wore a whistle around her neck. Her glory days were over, once being a track star, but now she was dedicated to training her girls.

"Keep it up, girls!" Wilson bellowed to them, "The sooner you finish the sooner you can go inside and cool down!"

Jane's star pupil of the year was Emily White, a girl whom she had noticed had quite the runner's legs and put on the school's track team running long-distance. Emily passed her coach several times, much faster than the other girls in her class.

"Great job, Emily," Jane said to her, "Just keep it up now, okay?"

"Okay," Emily huffed back, only now beginning to feel her knees aching. She fought through the pain and could feel another burst of energy coming on to her, and she took full advantage of it. She zoomed past Stacey Hilman. Emily had to complete four miles. Every four laps she ran was the equivalent of one mile, and she determined that she had one lap left. She powered through, one foot in front of the other, loving the feeling of racing by her classmates, leaving them in her dust.

Emily crossed the marker and she was done. She bent over and grabbed her kneecaps, rubbing them and feeling the burn only intensify.

"Good work," Wilson said to her, patting her on the back and handing her a bottle of water.

Emily gladly accepted the bottle and drank from it until she was satisfyed. Sweat poured from her, but she was glad that she had gotten in a good workout.

"That's why you're on the team," Coach Wilson said to the girl, "You're almost as good as I was when I was in your shoes. What I wouldn't give to be back in 'em. Go on inside, Emily, you've earned a good rest.


Credits

Deaths

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