Classified Details as Follows:
Document A32: The following accounts the origin of suspected common cold mutation, Virus B-203.
Report A44: Reports of suspected missing teenagers; awaiting verification. T-32 send to base in T -100.
Coughing and wheezing, the air felt almost constricting to the old scientist. For the past week, he had seriously reconsidered his stance on euthanasia; if given the chance, he'd start rallying for the support of it. Living was fun back when he was in good condition but the pain he felt now was almost unbearable. He had a history of respiratory illness so the fact that his death would come from something relating to his lungs was almost expected, but he never thought it would hurt so bad. Even the drugs the doctors kept pumping into his veins stopped helping him.
The sound of his long time colleague's voice snapped him out of his thoughts. He had spent a great thirty years working with him after graduating university together and the thought of leaving his best friend hurt him. Steven was always a good guy; he never raised his voice against Robert, no matter how irritated he got, and he was the first to find a solution when problems arose. They were brothers. Two brothers separate in only blood.
Robert struggled to talk, ignoring the tubes that ran down his nose and restricted too much movement and speech. He could see the pain in his best friend's face while watching him shuffle in place, trying to adjust to the most comfortable position.
"Do you need help?"
"No, no, I'm fine."
A heavy silence fell between the two friends. Robert was a bit more used to losing people close to him; of course losing someone would never be an easy thing. His mother died when he was fifteen due to a bad case of fever and his father died ten years ago due to age. Frankie, his Labrador retriever that he received from his father the day after his mother passed away was put to sleep only a few years ago because of his deteriorating health due to age. But he knew his best friend was the opposite. Robert still had his mother and father, although they both separated. He never owned a pet and he never had anyone he was close to pass away.
He hoped that Steven could handle this.
"Stevie, at least I lived a good life. I'm fifty-six and I've done so much for the scientific world, didn't I?"
"Well, of course you did. You found the cure to the common cold, buddy!"
"We did, you mean"
"Yeah, we did."
The two men smiled at each other, a moment of peace settling between them. Memories of the shared goal and memories of the shared success flooded their minds.
"I only wish I had a wife. Kids, maybe. A nice house on the beach. Maybe another dog. Maybe then everything would stay."
The laboratory the two scientists shared was set to be knocked down to the ground, the cost of paying for Robert's medical bills being too high to pay any other way.
"I'd like to think we won't need that place anymore. I couldn't work in it without you anyways, Rob. And the extra money from the land will let me retire now anyways. I just wish the money could have saved y-"
Steven paused, looking down at his hands and fighting back his tears. Here he was, broken in front of the best friend he ever had. Always teased for his intellect and preference towards the sciences rather than sports back in primary school, he never had someone know him like Robert did.
"I'm going to miss you, Robert." Steven whispered, placing one hand on his best friend's hand.
A worried look passed on Robert's face.
He knew the land the laboratory once rested on was bound to be broken down today for the sake of construction, but he remembered something important. Something serious.
"Steven… Steve. Remember when we found the cure? Before it. That one strain we kept adding antibiotics and chemicals to. That one strain that evolved strangely."
"Yeah. Virus B-203. I remember that. What about it?"
"Didn't we contain it in a glass encasement? Where did we… where did we put it?"
"I think we placed the encasement in the storage well. The hidden one that-"
A frightened look passed on Steven's face.
"Oh no. Oh no. Shit. Shit! I completely forgot to clear the hidden storage well out!"
"Oh my God, Steven! It's been over fifteen years since we placed that there. Don't you remember what happened when we tried to… The rate of mutation of that virus is insane! You have to… you have to go there! You have to-"
Robert fell back in a fit of coughs, the tubes in his body threatening to slip out and the condition of his lungs worsening. Steven immediately ran to his side, holding his friend up and screaming for the nurse, forgetting about the conversation and focused only on his friend. His friend, whose eyes feared not his own death, but everyone else's.
"Hey, stop the wheels, yeah?"
The construction worker in yellow yelled on the top of his lungs to the man in red. Pulling the plow away, the man in red gave the other man a curious look before jumping out of the machine and walking to his side.
"Look 'ere. There's a weird little metal plate underneath this piece of dirt."
Using brute force, the two men managed to pick up the weighted metal and toss it to the side, only to see a small tunnel going down with a ladder pressed against the side. Both shrugging, the man in yellow climbed down, the man in red staring down into the dark hole.
"What's in there?"
"Just a door. Says "Storage Well." Should we tear this place down too or just fill it with dirt?"
"Uh, check what's inside it first. Then we'll just fill it with dirt."
"Seems reasonable, I guess. Throw me down a flashlight? It's dark down here."
The man in yellow jiggled the knob of the door, and the rusty handle gave away quickly. The room it led to was small, about the size of a portable bathroom stall, and the flashlight bounced off the rusty walls and slightly blinded the man. It was almost freezing inside the little room, and his fingers felt numb from being in there for less than ten seconds.
"It's freaking cold in here, man. I think I'm in some Antarctica training room or something."
"Funny. You see anything?"
"There's nothing here except this weird cylinder thing and a really small metal box. The metal box won't budge though. I think it's attached to the table it's on, and there's a small keyhole but I can't open it. Should I bring at least the cylinder up?"
"Yeah. Go ahead. We'll give it to the guy whose land this was. Might be something important. He was a scientist or chemist or something… maybe it's some weird chemical."
Closing the door behind him and climbing back up, the man tossed the cylinder to the man in red before ascending the chilly, underground room and assisting the other man in placing the metal plate back over the entrance.
"Well, it's noon and we're not due for another shift, so want to head back for lunch? We'll give this weird cylinder thing to the man after our next shift."
"Sounds good. This thing is heavy, man. I kind of want to look into it but it's completely metal."
"Don't play around with it! It might be dangerous." The man in yellow scolded, snatching it from the other man's hand.
"Did you do something to it? Why is it so warm? When I picked it up, it was freezing."
"Nope. It was hot when you handed it to me." The man in red replied, shrugging.
"Ah, shit. This might be bad. Maybe it's a chemical that needs to stay in a cold room or something. That stuff exists, you know. Let's put it back in that cold room place again. I don't want to risk anything."
The men began picking up the metal plate again when the cylinder container that they placed on the floor besides them began making a strange, sizzling noise.
"That can't be good. What if it explodes?"
Scared, the two men dropped the plate back in its place and tossed the containment into the rubble they created. The sound of the sizzling continued before finishing with a loud crack, and after silence followed, the two men exchanged looks before slowly making their way towards the rubble. The metal cylinder was broken in half, cracks along the container.
"Oh, well that was stupid."
Picking up one side of the container, the man in red laughed at their fear. The metal container was completely hollow, save for the small pieces of rubble that ended up falling inside it. The man in yellow let out a sigh as well before giving a grin to the other man who tossed the metal back into the container.
"Well, sorry to the scientist guy for breaking his little metal thing. Let's go home, man."
The two picked up their lunchboxes and headed towards the clearing to eat, ignoring the itchy feeling in their throats and the small migraines that poked at the side of their heads. Couldn't be anything too serious.
"Guys, make sure everything's clean before we leave. Dad's going to freak out if he sees a mess."
Jake smiled at his friends as they filed out of the cabin, backpacks slung on their backs and tired grins on their faces. The three day weekend break was a blast; a whole three days without technology helped him appreciate his friends a whole lot more than he usually would.
The day had been a success; Katie and Bianca didn't fight as much, the awkward tension he felt between Clare and he since the breakup was seceding, Adam and Fiona weren't being too awkward with each other, Eli and Imogen were being as civilized towards each other as can be, and Drew was actually joking around with Alli and Dave. K.C. wasn't being too bad and Marisol was being a lot nicer than at school. He only wished Jenna wasn't busy with projects that weekend; spending time with her would have been fun.
"Can't wait for my cell phone to finally get service. Actually, it'd be nice to at least get my cell phone back." Alli sighed as she quickly took the front passenger's seat in Dave's car as Clare and Eli joined in the back. Bianca allowed the Torres brothers and Katie into her car while Fiona allowed Jake and Imogen ride with her. Marisol decided to ride with K.C., who immediately took the lead as the four cars drove back towards civilization. The weekend at Jake's cabin was fun, to say the least, but just thinking about home sweet home made all the tired students excited.
"K.C., you jerk, slow the hell down." Dave muttered under his breath, trying to catch up with the boy without scaring his passengers by going too fast.
Eventually, all three cars excluding K.C.'s slowed down to a moderate pace while K.C. continued his Need For Speed pace towards Degrassi. Luckily for him, there didn't seem to be any cars on the road, except for the few cars they'd see on the side of the road, abandoned.
"I can't even see K.C.'s car anymore." Fiona complained, rolling down a window and waiting for Adam to roll down his window from Bianca's car.
"Hey, Adam. Do you know how much farther we have to go? I'm not that familiar with this road."
"Uh, yeah, like a little under an hour." Adam replied, quickly glancing away, "Eyes on the road, Ms. Coyne. It's dangerous to talk to other cars while driving."
"But I'm not talking to other cars." Fiona laughed, "But if you wish, Prince Adam. Your wish is my command."
Adam flashed Fiona a small smile before rolling up his windows as well. Although the two hit a rough spot after the end of their tumultuous relationship, they knew they were compatible with each other, although not romantically. They could have been the best of friends if the situation had been different. It had been Fiona who asked to start over again with Adam during the weekend cabin trip, and although a little hesitant, Adam agreed. He did like spending time with her back when they were together, and although the girl who was once that girl of his dreams to him, sometimes it was best to let go of his pride and realize that she was confused at the time as well.
And he knew a lot about confusion.
"You okay, Torres?" Bianca was looking at him with an eyebrow raised, and although her tone was nonchalant, he knew she was genuinely worried for him.
"Yeah, I'm fine. What makes you think I'm not?" He said with a smile, "I'm good. I'm great."
"Well, you were completely in love with that chick once upon a time, bro." Drew called out from the back, pulling away from his girlfriend for a few seconds.
"Ha. Funny, Drew. Obviously, it wasn't love. It was a crush or something."
The older Torres ruffled his little brother's hair and grinned, "It's okay, bro. Sometimes us guys run into stuff like this. Standard guy trouble. Girl ends up being crazy, girl ends up being a cheater, girl ends up being a lesbian…"
"Not helping." Adam replied with a smile, pushing his brother's hand out of his hair, "Katie, please shut your boyfriend up."
"With pleasure." Katie laughed, pulling her boyfriend in for another kiss.
"There. We're almost there, see?" Bianca pointed at the town stretching before them, coming closer into view before she slammed on the breaks, turning the wheel violently to the left to avoid a girl running straight towards the car.
"What the f-" Bianca started to say when the girl in question ran towards the still car.
A muffled voice screamed outside Adam's window, and a panicked Marisol continued slamming the glass until Katie quickly opened the door to the back seats of the car and Marisol almost dived in, tears streaming down her face as she rested her head on Katie's shoulder.
"Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God."
She trembled, and a worried Katie rubbed the scared girl's back.
"Was K.C. going way too fast for you?" Drew laughed, "Because that dude was going speed demon on us."
Marisol burst into more tears, with Katie glaring at the tall senior before comforting her best friend. Bianca and Adam exchanged a confused look with each other and the two other cars quickly came to a stop next to Bianca's parked car.
"You can't go… you can't go in there. It's so bad, it's... it's terrible. I ran like mad. You can't…" Marisol was repeating the same things, still wrapped in Katie's arms.
Stepping out of the car, Bianca, Adam and Drew waited for the other teenagers to park. The confused students slowly walked towards the three and waited for Katie and Marisol to leave the car as well.
"Any reason we're not getting off the highway? I mean, Degrassi's literally a mile away." Dave grumbled, crossing his arms across his chest while Alli tried to calm the fuming boy down.
"Can't you see the poor girl is crying?" Alli asked, lightly hitting the boy on his arm.
"Okay, okay, but just because K.C. is a really fast driver doesn't mean we have to stop to comfort Marisol. She tends to overreact." Claire stated, running her hand through her hair. She was tired and she just wanted to go home.
"Those… those things! They got K.C." Marisol whispered, burying her head into Katie's shoulder once again, tears staining her best friend's shirt.
"What?" Fiona asked, confused, "What things?"
"I don't know!" Cried Marisol, looking up at the group of teenagers, "I… K.C. was going really fast and we got to the edge of town about fifteen minutes ago, but w-we couldn't get in because these abandoned cars were blocking the way. And when we tried to see what was wrong, we saw bodies… t-torn apart bodies e-everywhere. And we thought w-we saw a few guys wandering around b-but they looked so d-disfigured and then t-they grabbed K.C. and I just ran and…"
Marisol burst into tears again, the other teenagers looking on in shock.
"You're kidding me." Adam whispered.
"What the hell." Eli added, sharing a glance with his best friend.
"That sounds like freaking zombies, dude." Adam continued, "But zombies aren't real or anything. Right?"
"Don't be stupid. There's no such thing as zombies. Marisol is probably high again." Jake said, a bit frightened.
"Yo, Jake, you got that box of our cell phones? You forgot to hand it out to us before we got on the road. Maybe, uh, we can call and see what's going on then." Dave asked, his anger forgotten.
"Oh, yeah! Completely slipped my mind." Jake ran to open the back of Fiona's car, pulling out a shoebox and opening it, distributing the phones amongst the anxious teenagers.
As soon as the they turned on their phones, they were alerted to a countless number of missed messages and phone calls.
"What the hell." Drew said in shock. Certainly there would be no reason for all these missed calls.
"What the hell." His brother repeated.
"Adam, p-play one of your missed calls." Jake stuttered, the teenagers afraid to listen to what they missed.
"Yeah. Yeah, okay." He replied, finger trembling as he pressed play.
"Oh my God, Adam. Adam, Adam. You've got to listen to me. I know you're in the woods with those other kids, and thank God. This must have been a holy intervention. Listen to me, listen to me. Son, you cannot come back to Degrassi. You cannot come back here. There's a… there's a... an infection. A virus going around. They're calling it Virus B-203. Listen to me. You cannot come back. Your mother and I left town the moment we heard of the virus. We're heading towards the states to your aunt's house. You remember where it is, right? Please, please for the love of God, don't let them touch you. Don't let them bite you. Don't let them do anything to you. Please, please. I don't know what's going on but all I know is that Degrassi's under quarantine, and so is a whole lot of Canada. We love you, we love you, please don't be h-"
"Adam, your father and I love you and Drew too. Please make it safely. Your father is low on battery and the electricity is scarce, so I'm not sure if you can call back, but just know we love you. We love you and we can't-"
"Honey! Get out of the w-"
A few thuds and inhumane screaming filled the speakers of the phone, tears and goose bumps trailing down the teenager's faces and backs.
"Baby, we'll take care of ourselves alright. Drew, Adam, take care of each other. Bianca… Bianca too. She's as much of a daughter to m-"
"We've got to go!"
"Mommy loves you, alright?"
The message ended there, the students standing in shock at the message and Bianca's hand tightly grabbing onto the sleeve of Adam's hoodie. The kids were freely crying, shocked at how sudden the news was, and all too scared to listen to their voicemail and hear something a whole lot worse.
"This is not happening. This is not happening." Eli muttered, his head in his hands.
The next few minutes were filled with the sounds of voicemail being played back, the screaming and the shouting and the "I love you" messages from parents and loved ones filling the quiet atmosphere with a sense of foreboding. Jake couldn't believe how horrible this week was. Just hours ago, they were all having a great time at the cabin.
"I have to go back to the cabin." Jake whispered, slamming his hand against the side of the car, "Dad said he couldn't drive because of the massive traffic jams in town so he and mom are trying to get to the cabin. I know they… they might not have made it. Dad was whispering in the message. He said they were surrounded but… I have to go. You know? They're my parents. I need to… hope."
"I'm going with you." Clare cleared her throat and wiped her tears on her sleeves, "This is so sudden and I don't know what to make of this but I need to go. I need to. They're my parents too."
"I'll go with you." Eli said, "No point in going elsewhere. My parents are… I mean. They're not... I... My neighbors left me a message. They're not..."
Eli covered his eyes with his arm, trying not to cry as Clare opened her mouth in surprise. She held him in a comforting embrace, trying to calm him as his body violently shivered. Adam was quick to join in the hug, and the teenagers couldn't help but cry for Eli and his loss, and the sight of the three close friends sharing the intimate hug felt almost intrusive to watch, almost unbearable to feel.
"Alli and I are going to three towns over. Sav moved there last week so we're hoping…" Dave began, holding Alli's hand with his own, "We're hoping…"
He wasn't able to say what exactly he was hoping for.
"Adam and I are heading to the states. My aunt's house." Drew quickly said, "And Bianca's coming with us. Are you heading our way, Katie?"
"I can't." She said with an upset frown, "I need to find my sister. I… I'm going to head back into Degrassi. She left a message. She's stuck at home. I have to get her out. My parents were forced to leave to a safety center in Ontario but my sister told me they won't let anyone in or out anymore."
"Then I'll hel-"
"No, go to your parents, Drew. Marisol's coming with me," Katie quickly said, "You can't-"
"Adam, I'm going to help Katie. I promise I'll go to aunt's place right after. With Katie and Maya. And don't you dare volunteer coming along too. Smaller groups are harder to detect."
Adam was about to object, but the set look in his brother's eyes told him that there was no point. He was worried for his brother, but he knew that this was something he had to do. Something his brother couldn't live without doing. Letting go of his best friend, Adam turned to his brother and surprised him with a bear hug.
"You better get there safely then, idiot." Adam whispered.
"Same applies to you, dummy." Drew replied, picking up his brother.
The two brothers could not stop the tears that spilled from their eyes; for all they knew, this would be the last time they'd hold each other, and all the memories from childhood ran past their heads, like the time they were in elementary school and built a slightly hazardous tree house together and deemed it Torresvillia, where Drew was the brave knight Sir Drew and Adam was the wise King Adam.
"Permission to assist the princess to her sister, King Adam the Wise?"
"Permission granted, Sir Drew the Lion-hearted."
"I love you, bro."
All the students couldn't help but burst out in another round of tears at the thought of their lives being turned around in a matter of minutes. A family torn apart, a pair of brothers broken, friendships bound to lose links – it was all too much.
"Imogen and I will travel with you, Adam." Fiona said, glancing down at the ground, "My family lives in New York anyways. Imogen doesn't know where her parents are so…"
"I'm alright." Imogen quickly stated, a weak smile gracing her lips, "I'm sure they're… fine."
"Well, I guess this is it then." Fiona said with a wry grimace once everyone settled down, "I guess this is really it."
"We'll all make it. And we'll have another weekend party. It'll be fun." Jake said with a small smile.
"Definitely. We're all going to make it through this. We've been through worse… technically." Alli tried to add in, "I mean… zombies are a stretch but…"
"It's a virus, not zombies." Drew tried to reason, "And we'll get through this. There's no way we won't. We…"
"We're from Degrassi. Just another day, huh?" Adam tried to joke, eliciting a bit of laughter,
"Yeah. We can do this. I love you all. We can do this. I believe in us." Drew finished, pulling everyone in for a final group hug.
As the tears and final smiles and laughter subsided, there was nothing but silence as the teenagers quickly entered their respective cars. The final words of Drew repeated in each of the students' heads.
"I believe in us."
End of Part I
Awaiting Reviewsand verification.