Flash Fiction No. 41

#Flashfiction

Infected Life

[A continuation of Infected Vengeance]

The lift shuddered down to the lower levels. The light above flickered in fear as the alarm continued to scream overhead. Nevertheless, that sound was getting distant, which meant I was passing into the underground labs.

I glanced down at the body on the steel floor. A crimson wreath spread out from the smashed remains of the cadaver’s skull. Blood silently pooled around my shoes, clinging to the lip of the leather warning me not to follow Kelis into the vaults.

I snorted. A warning wouldn’t stop me.

I nudged the lifeless hand with the toe of my bloody shoe, scarlet splattering with artistry. A sense of disconnection left me in awe of Kelis. Judging by this and the trail of bodies I’d followed, she wasn’t leaving anyone alive. But that only gave me more questions…

Why would she give me the power to survive?

Beneath the spray of red, the lift display jumped floors. I held my breath, wondering if I was even breathing at all.

The doors clattered open. Nothing stirred in the darkness beyond only the dying twitch of electrical lights, reaching out to illuminate scattered bodies. I stepped over a dead lab tech to where a guard’s body jerked, spasms flexing its fingers, as its nerves slowly died. Without thinking, I knelt down and scooped up his pistol, those dead, twitching fingers brushing my hand.

Calm footsteps led me further into the gloom where the sound of breathing crept into my heightened ears. Somewhere close, a heartbeat was skittering inside a vulnerable human chest. I closed my eyes, smelling the intoxicating scent of fear on the air.

They thought they could hide.

My fingers sliding around the smooth handle of the gun, I followed that delicious beat to its source, drawing me to a workbench. A woman with black hair crouched in the shadows. I could only guess that in her rage Kelis had missed her mother’s hiding place.

My fingers tightened on the weapon, an onslaught of muddled memories unfolded into my jarring brain. They were Kelis’s memories and they were trying to point to…

“Angela?”

I blinked, renewing my focus on the dark haired woman. Her wide gaze struggled on me. The stench of fear poured off her, urging me to lick my lips.

“Angela, it’s Kelis. We have to get out of here. Have you seen her?”

I tried to twist my expression into something less vague, pausing for too long.

“Have you seen her, Angela?!”

My gaze caught on a fractured mirror as I moved to answer. I remembered the strange consistency of Kelis’s irises. Blue eyes stared out from my face, not bloodied nor marred. My eyes were normal. Everything about my appearance was normal, unsullied, the opposite of Kelis…

She’d infected me without a single trace.

“Yes…”

What was I saying? My brain ran on autopilot, subconsciously pushed by new memories that were too jumbled to make out. All I knew was that Jess had no idea I’d been infected too.

“I saw her. She came down here.”

“And you came down too?!”

My hands curled around Jess’s arm, raising her to her feet as I muttered my reply. “I wanted to help her.”

I wanted to help her end it all.

The sweet infection of vengeance coursed through my blood. Kelis wanted her mother, Jess, dead for what she had done and what she had allowed her daughter to become. So why was I stalling? Why hadn’t I released a bullet into her brain? Or, better yet, why hadn’t I torn out her diseased, lying throat?

“No!”

The response was fast and harsh. Motherly love was either buried or dead in Jess. She’d mutated her own daughter’s blood, searching for the cure to the zombie curse that plagued the citizens beyond those walls.

But they hadn’t cured it. They’d made it stronger. They’d made it intelligent–

“No. She’s beyond help. We need to get out and start the emergency protocol.”

“Emergency protocol?” I’d worked there ten years. My security clearance was high, but I didn’t know of any emergency protocol to deal with this kind of situation.

“We lock down and incinerate the building.” Jess started towards the door, her voice void of remorse.

“What about Kelis?”

“Yes… What about Kelis, mother…?” The dark shadow loomed off to the right. Kelis had been watching us for a few minutes now.

Jess turned, the stink of her fear and panic hitting the air once more. She beckoned to me, watching Kelis. “Give me the gun, Angela.”

I looked at her, eyes slow-blinking, seeing the throbbing pulse in her throat. She realised I hadn’t moved.

“Give me the gun. We need to end it–”

Her, mummy, not ‘it’.” Kelis smiled. “Tell Angie the truth…”

My brain buzzed. Blurred memories were fogging up again, trying to reorder themselves into something that made sense.

“Kel–”

“She’ll see sooner or later.” Kelis’s smile spread, showing off an array of sharp teeth. “I gave her a little… gift.

Jess looked at me. “You didn’t…”

“Tell Angie the truth.”

“It was never meant to… Angela was only supposed to be…”

“We were an experiment, Angie. Both of us, but you’re the one she had adopted,” Kelis lilted. “Didn’t you ever wonder why she headhunted you, you with your special blood?”

“I’m not sorry,” Jess murmured. “I’m not. I never wanted either of you.”

Kelis moved closer. Her frail human mother knew what was coming and so did I. “Thank you, mum, for giving me a reason to kill you.”

The crackle of bones tore through the room as Kelis severed the woman’s neck with barely a stroke. She turned to me and her expression changed from elated to stone.

“What are you doing?”

I held the gun in my hand, steady as a rock, aiming at her head. My tongue delved out to moisten my lips. “I can’t let you live…”

“But… you heard her… I’m your sister… We’re on the same side…”

I wanted to help her end it all.

The gun discharged.

*

The biological hazard team checked me over, missing the infection that had ripped through my DNA and changed me forever. They brought a body out of the building from the labs. She had long black hair and shuttered eyes.

I told them it was Kelis. I told them what she’d done, how all of those innocent people had died because she was angry with the scientists, and I heard the forensic expert’s comment as I huddled in my blanket in the back of the ambulance.

“Death by decapitation.”

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