The Beginning of the End
Rolling over, I blearily paw at the nightstand for the remote to the television blaring some news report, thumbing down the volume until it was finally silenced and my hangover could throb in peace. Smacking parched lips together as my sandpaper-rough tongue scraped against my teeth, I rolled out of bed, sliding partially on the empty bottle of vodka left on the carpet. I chuckle to myself as I pad from the huge bed around the corner, into the cut off bathroom the hotel supplied.
Only to stop cold when I found the woman I’d picked up in the bar the night before dead in the tub, the water foamy and brown from her own blood and excrement. Her eyes are wide, her skin pale and veiny; she took a broken bottle to her throat, gouging out her neck, spraying most of the bathroom with her vital fluids in a wide arc it would seem. The television in the corner is on a news channel, a special report showing men in bulky full-body suits walking around what looked like a school campus.
Running my hands through my hair, I stare at the body for a moment. “Fuck,” I grumble, looking around the room as I try and think about what I should do. Turning around, I move back into the main room and head towards the hotel phone, scooping up a half empty bottle of whiskey on the way there.
Unscrewing the top, I tilt back the bitter liquid into a burning track down my throat, coughing as my mind jump starts.
Slamming the bottle down on the small table next to the wide open window overlooking the Las Vegas strip, I stare out into the early morning with squinted eyes. “Damn…” I grumble once more before turning and scooping up the phone.
All I get is a dead line.
“That’s weird… never had that happen before…” I mutter, slipping the receiver back into the phone’s holster. I take another pull off of the whiskey bottle as I stare out at the strip at the fast moving crowds some twenty floors below me.
A crash echoes through the small hotel room, emanating from the bathroom, causing me to drop my bottle of precious whiskey onto my unprotected foot. Cussing as I hop naked (grabbing the bottle), I stumble away from the window.
“Amber?” I call out, doing my best to remember her name as I take a wild guess at it. “You okay?”
There is no way she is alright in there… what the hell is going on? I think as I hear a splashing noise coming from the bathtub, along with a hollow grunting noise.
I pass by the television, looking at it for a moment to view the silenced screen full of soldiers forming a blockade near the Luxor, rifles opening fire into a crowd of oncoming tourists. Looking back, I see Amber lunging forward, her throat a gaping wound from which a low whistle echoes as she claws at me, her teeth sinking into my right shoulder. I club her with the bottle, hard in the side of the head, and only succeed in having her rip away a large chunk of my flesh as she drops to the ground, dead once more.
Breathing heavily, I look at my shoulder, touching the bleeding hole gingerly. It is surprisingly painless, as if Amber’s bite had some form of painkiller in it.
“Better get this checked out, lord knows what that crazy bitch had,” I mutter as I step over her body, looking for my pants.
My foot succeeds in finding the remote, turning the volume up just high enough for me to hear the announcer.
“-bite is enough to start the infection, which rapidly spreads throughout the body,” the announcer said, reading from a stack of papers in front of him. “Those infected with this virus eventually enter a hostile stage, where they try to spread the contagion as best they can, ignoring all forms of bodily harm in the process.”
Looking down at Amber, I stare at her as the message sinks in; reaching down to grab the remote, I turn up the volume and sit down on the bed, ignoring the bloody body at my feet for the moment.
“Sources say the virus is airborne at first and enters the body like the common cold, only to release a high amount of endorphins when the mind is under the effect of stimulants or depressants, such as coffee or alcohol.”
“Shit,” I mutter, looking at the bottle of whiskey. I chuck it across the room, wincing as it shatters against the small desk where the phone is placed.
“Once in a body under chemical influence, the virus floods the body with endorphins, putting it into a relaxed and almost intoxicated state. This is when the virus forces certain sections of the brain to shut down.”
All I can do is stare, open mouthed at the screen as a smaller image shows a restrained person with two very visible gunshot wounds to the chest, wrestling against the handcuffs holding it to a park bench.
“The second… intermediate… sounds and vision… alter their perception…” The announcer is now stuttering, jumping from phrase to phrase as I stare at him. The whole screen appears blurry as I try and make sense of the words highlighted in front of me, which only swirl and cause my head to spin. Standing up, I stumble forward to the long set of drawers beneath the wall mounted television, breathing heavily as I seem to feel the need to empty my stomach as violently as I can.
“Bathroom… I … bathroom…” I stutter, walking slowly, tripping partially over… what’s-her-names body as I run my hand along the wall leading to the bathroom. I stop at the door, staring at the doorknob for a few minutes trying to remember how to work it.
I fumble with the lever, pulling open the door and walking… not into the bathroom? Why am I in a… room with doors? A lot of doors. Looking back and forth, I can’t see the end of the room, just the endless doors.
“Bathroom…” I mumble, shuffling up to the first door I can reach, pounding on it with all my strength. I can hear screams from behind the door, shouts in a language I don’t understand.
“I just… bathroom!” I begin before just choosing to shout, hammering the door harder.
The door splinters beneath my fists, allowing me to push through the flimsy wood and into the brightly lit room. A young woman and two children are staring at me, screaming in some alien language… it hurts my ears just listening to it.
Ignoring their bathroom, I choose to silence them. I charge at the woman, letting loose a guttural roar as I tackle her over the railing and onto the couch in the small living area of the hotel room. My teeth move of their own accord, biting deep into her throat, chewing on the meaty tendons and stringy muscles. Warmth sprays down the front of my body, but I don’t care; those damn kids are still screaming!
Turning, I lash out through the railing, grabbing one of the young boys by his ankle and pulling him close enough to wedge between the rails. The other boy runs away, shouting in his mystery language. I bite into the boy’s leg, tearing into his calf to make his screams become shrieks of agony.
Now those I can handle.
Swallowing the mouthful of meat I have, I stand from the couch as the woman rolls over, bonelessly rising to stand behind me. Mere moments later the boy whose leg I’ve mangled struggles free from my grasp, standing on one good leg as he looks around the room. I still need the bathroom… I gotta clean this bite out before I become some kind of monster.