I never realized how much I appreciated being knocked out for getting stitches the first time. An involuntary hiss escapes me as his needle pierces my side once more.
“You’d better hurry Zippy, I think she’s going to pass out,” Bunny worriedly says beside me.
“I’m going as fast as I can.”
Apparently, his fastest speed can match a turtle on its good day. I grit my teeth as he slowly pushes the needle through my skin to exit my side. He shakenly pulls the string out that he uses to stitch up my torn wound before forcing it back through my skin. He’s shaking and gulping trying to do a good job. I guess stitching up an unconscious person is easier that a person who’s awake and trying not to scream out the pain she’s feeling.
“Tell me about The Branch,” I say lowly through my teeth trying to draw attention away from his nervousness.
“You really want me to tell you about this now when I have a needle in you?” he laughs sarcastically.
“Yes,” I grunt jolting a little at the bolt of pain, “just tell me.”
“Our dad was a security guard who worked for the CDC, he was in charge of protecting the scientist and making sure no one could see the experiments the CDC scientist were working on.” The girl says walking into my sight rubbing her neck. The part of her neck were the knife had been pressed against it. It’s red and angrily glaring at me from her tan skin.
“Who are you,” I ask rudely as the needle makes another trip through my skin.
“Casey Camilla Mendoza and the boy currently stabbing you with a needle over and over again is my brother Zippy Andrew Wheeler.”
“So you aren’t blood related then?” Scotty asks perking up with interest. This boy really has something coming for him if he has a crush on this girl.
“Family ain’t always blood,” she hotly replies in a snap.
“Finally something we agree on.”
They gaze at each other with a look of understanding. For an instant I’m almost certain they may get along till Casey spoke again.
“Surprised that empty shell you call a brain can agree with anything,” she snorts.
“You know just for a moment, just one moment I think you’re a normal human being and then boom you open your fat mouth and it’s all blown out the window,” Scotty glares at her.
“Me? How about you look at yourself first? Too hot tempered and ready to jump straight into a fight without a second thought. You really can be an idiot without having to try to.”
“Takes one to know one, huh Raven,” he scowls stepping towards her.
“I don’t know why you look at me when you refer to knowing and idiot, because I am not one,” she hisses her glare beginning to pick up heat.
“You said your dad was a scientist for them,” Bunny says interrupting the two hot heads argument, “what happened?”
“Dad realized The Branch for what they really were,” Zippy lowly says pulling out the needle and grabbing a pair of small scissors, “monsters, who only cared for their own well-being.”
“Dad was one of the unlucky ones,” Casey whispers her anger suddenly blown out and chilled to an ice cube, “he never made it out after realizing them for what they really were, he died after we escaped.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Scotty softly says. Bunny echoes Scotty’s words.
“Before the world went to hell, dad use to work as a head security guard at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He worked in this special unit called CTHL, Cures for the Hopeless and Lifeless. It was a sector given special permission by the government to try and create a solution for the dying people without hope. Dad’s job was to make sure no one found out about the secret sector and its experiments. When the break out happened Zippy and I were in school.”
“We were in English with Mrs. Greene when the History teacher Mr. Whitman busted into our classroom demanding to turn on the TV,” Zippy interrupts as he places a white bandage on my side before letting my shirt fall back down.
“Mrs. Greene turned on the TV and everyone was shocked. A few months before that day the flu had evolved into something horrible,” Casey shivers as the memory washes over her, “suddenly people who caught the flu had terrible symptoms.”
“I remember mom and dad being worried about that,” Scotty says to Bunny.
“Then you remember the riots and protests on TV to the CDC when they couldn’t provide an explanation?”
“I don’t,” Bunny says confused.
“Mom and dad decided to keep you from seeing them on TV, remember when mom and dad grounded you from the TV because you didn’t finish your food the one night? They only did that because they needed a reason to keep you from the TV,” Scotty explains.
“Oh, well that was crappy of them,” Bunny scowls.
“We were in lunch when we heard the sirens,” Casey says still in a faraway place.
“Dad had come to get us. He explained that the world was about to get more chaotic as he drove us away from the only place we called home. He took us to a bunker with other government agents and scientist. I don’t know how long we were in there, but it was long enough for our dad to grow a beard.”
“Dad always hated beards,” says the distant voice of Zippy.
“Then one day a voice cracked over an old radio we had in the bunker saying phase two was ready. After two more days in the bunker we got transferred to a facility that was buzzing with government employees. The world had officially ended, and we were stuck in a facility for days on end. Most of the government had been wiped out, it took weeks, months even to find some type of structure with in the building. They finally decided on two leaders, a man and a woman who split the people into three sections or jobs. People on scavenging and finding food, people in security, and people or otherwise scientists working to find a cure. They named the building The Branch and even made a symbol to represent the new found ‘government’,” she air quotes the word government. Zippy scoffs in disgust.
“Everything was fine for a while, till dad decided to take us to one of the scientists labs where they conducted experiments. What we saw was awful. We always thought that in the lab they were working with test tubes and rats or the stereotypical cliché. We knew they were going to experiment on humans at some point, but we never would have thought how badly human trails could be. It was horrifying,” Casey whispers her voice the softest I’ve ever heard it before. It looks like she may cry.
“It wasn’t just people. It was kids, around our age,” Zippy grits angrily.
“When we left they were working on a project called XY, it involved three brothers.”
Bunny softly gasps and Scotty steps closer toward me. Project XY, my journal called me Project XX.
“Scotty where is it?” I ask softly under my breath where he can only hear me.
“My jacket downstairs,” he replies in a whisper knowing I’m referring to my notebook.
“What about a Project XX?” I ask to the two siblings.
“When we escaped there were whispers of a Project XX,” she levels me with a questioning look, “why?”
“What happened with Projects XY?” I counter trying to divert her attention.
“They escaped one by one,” she smirks, “and gave The Branch absolute hell while doing it. They never stood a chance against the brothers.”
“The brother’s father had been in debt to The Branch so to repay his debt he offered up his children to be the first lab rats.”
Bunny gasps loudly in surprise. I’m a little too stunted to gasp with her.
“They took the youngest first and began the Project XY. They did this thing called an infusion. It was a process where they took a Rotter’s DNA genes and mended it with the human.”
“Rotter?” Bunny asks tilting her head slightly at the new term.
“You call them corpses,” Casey explains, “and that would be fine, but there’s two types of the dead.”
“Rotters and Infected,” Zippy says taking over the task of explaining, “Rotters are extremely slow and can’t think. Usually Rotter’s travel in big groups, its one of the only ways to catch prey a.k.a human.”
“And the Infected?”
“Infected are the newly turned. The Infected are the only ones who can change you into a walking corpse. The virus lingers in the Infected’s saliva, so when an Infected bites you and you somehow escape, you’ll die anyways. Infected still have human blood or live tissue within their body. Their body and brain haven’t totally degraded yet, so they are a lot more dangerous than a rotter. They can still think logical, they think like a predator hunting prey. They can’t exactly speak or express their thoughts, but they can hunt. The Infected are fast, they can run small distances. The best thing to do when seeing an Infected is hide and keep quiet, otherwise you can kiss your life goodbye.”
“Just wonderful!” Scotty sarcastically exclaims, “not only do we have to worry about walking corpses not we have to worry about a type of human out there that only thinks of eating brain and killing people.”
“So, what happened to the youngest brother?” Bunny quietly asks changing subject again.
“They injected other animal genes in the infusion to try and balance the inconsistency of the mended mutations. It wasn’t pretty, the youngest boy changed in ways that even we don’t know,” Zippy interjects sitting limply by his sister on the small couch facing me and the kids.
“What was the point of the infusions?”
“There was a scientist who believed that there was still a part in Rotters and Infected that could be communicated with.”
“No,” I whisper without meaning too.
“I’m confused,” Bunny says looking at me.
“They experimented on the brothers to see if they can communicate with the corpses.”
“That’s not even the worst part,” Casey scuffs, “they forced the poor kid into a room with no weapon for protection and shoved a Rotter in there with him. They told him to communicate with the Rotter or die.”
“What always happens,” Zippy sadly says, “he got bitten.”
“And he survived?”
“Yes, he survived with bite marks and slashes all over his legs and arms.”
“His surviving wasn’t even the scariest part,” Casey says looking directly at me.
“What was the scariest part?”
I flinch like a wounded animal.
“After all the trials the brother’s endured, their eyes turned. They turned to these neon glowing colors. It was horrifying. They looked like the villains you’d see in old super hero movies.”
Its always the eyes. The eyes will always make people scared. It’ll never end.
“They had eyes of the supernatural. I swear I saw one glare and I practically crapped my pants. One even had blood red eyes, he had eyes of a murderer,” Zippy shivers.
Scotty’s livid even Little Bunny is on her feet glaring fiercely at the siblings.
“Whoa,” Zippy stutters leaning farther into the couch away from my kids, “why the sudden death glares?”
“You don’t know anything of what you just said,” Bunny practically growls.
“Trust me,” Casey says confidently, “we know first hand how evil people with glowing eyes are.”
I flinch involuntarily at her words. The space between all of us slips to silence with two fuming siblings and another set of confused siblings.
“I think we over stayed our welcome,” I state breaking the silence and stand to my feet, “we’ll just leave now.”
“Wait hold up why are you leaving so soon?” Zippy asks genuinely confused.
How oblivious can he be? Instead of answering I slowly take off my shades and revel my eyes. Might as well show them what they’re afraid of.
“What the hell?” Zippy gasps leaning away from me.
“Now you know,” I slip my shades back on. Scotty scoffs and crosses his arms glaring at the two people across from us.
“You cleaned her wounds for weeks and you can’t tell me you didn’t take her shades off once,” he says his voice no where near friendly.
“No!” Zippy glares, “you told me not to take them off. I thought she was half blind or something. Its not that uncommon now in days.”
“Oh please, like we’ll believe that.”
“If he says he didn’t take them off then he didn’t take them off,” Casey affirms strongly standing to her feet.
Scotty steps to her toe to toe, his chest to her head. Its kind of laughable how he dwarfs her. Despite his size she glares at him icily.
“I don’t believe a word that is said by either of you two.”
“Well that’s your own dumb fault,” she spits at him.
“I’ve told you to stop calling me dumb,” he growls his hands shooting to her shoulders.
“Let go of me,” she hisses her voice suddenly low and loaded with a lethal threat.
“You sure you want that?” he quirks an eyebrow at her as he leans down toward her ear. He whispers something that makes her go red first before she throws a fist at his face. He laughs as he blocks her punch.
“Its people like you that make me sick,” she fumed.
“You sure about that Raven?” he questions a grin replacing his old snarl, “because I’m pretty sure its people like me that make you…well you know.”
If looks could kill Scotty would be nothing but a corpse six feet under. I’d better intervene before things get to out of hand with these two.
Scotty automatically comes to standing back to my side with a satisfied smirk on his face directed at the fuming girl in front of us.
“I think we’ve over stated our welcome. It’s obvious that we all can’t stay together,” I calmly remark.
“Maybe we can work something out?” Zippy tries to bargain.
Scotty huffs annoyed, “after everything you just said you expect us to stay here?”
“No, I suppose not,” he mutters under his breath responding to Scotty’s rhetorical question.
“Exactly,” Scotty concluded.
“We’ll be taking our leave now then,” I say standing to my feet. I turn and begin my way to the door to gather our weapons.
“Wait,” says the voice of Casey. I turn to face her. A conflicted look flashes across her face as clear as a summer day.
“Maybe we can work something out.”
“Yeah,” Zippy interjects, “there’s no point in us splitting up.”
“You don’t like people with glowing eyes,” I say with a monotone voice, “it’s not going to work out.”
“We can make it work,” Casey argues with me.
I would of never guessed what they would say next.