Located somewhere inside the City of Frank, the slum area filled with germs, there was a small orange virus hiding in the alley. She was leaning against the wall, her face mostly covered behind white hair. Someone walked up to her, a bacteria, keeping his head low as well. Both of them stood quiet for a moment until the virus spoke up.
"If you're planning to team up with me, forget it..." she sounded melancholic. The bacteria shook his head.
"No, I just wanted to ask what a virus like you is doing here, chillin'."
"I got nothing else to do..."
The virus told him how she got there. Frank hadn't washed his hands when he had eaten his lunch on the break a few days ago. The idea had been to gather a team to infect the body and kill the man but the virus had failed to do so. Germs hadn't taken her seriously: it was clear she wasn't experienced at all. She had no solid plan and her leadership was trivial. Frank was her first human body to take down. Before that, she had only infected animals like rats. Germs living in rats had been much simple-minded.
"Then why come here, eh? If you're not ready then go back," the bacteria said.
"I was programmed to kill humans. This is my purpose but seems like I was a failure...It's like I'm missing something."
"What do you mean? Viruses are free to choose their targets."
"I'm a bioweapon...," the virus whispered low. Other viruses, bioweapon or not, had the knowledge of human anatomy and capacity to form a strategy but not her. It was shameful, really. The bacteria turned his ugly green face in her direction.
"What's your name?"
"I call myself Eyeleen...," she answered and brushed her front hair off. One eyeball with yellow iris stared back at him and the bacteria only nodded. They didn't say anything else. The bacteria stayed there with her, thinking, while Eyeleen sunk into depression. Her self-esteem was cracking and she was losing hope. Maybe she would live rest of her life working for other germs, causing mild symptoms, messing around with cops, or she would go back to infect more rats. At least it was easier.
"Yo, I might be able to give you some advice. You might not be the only virus wandering here. You came here a couple of days ago, right? Well, not even a day ago, another virus arrived. The guys told me he's one crazy-ass dude with a killing record. Trying to make history or something... Goes by name Thrax. Any familiar?" the bacteria told her. Eyeleen raised her head.
"Thrax...? The Thrax? Yeah, heard his name before... Is he really here?"
"I think so. If you wanna meet him, there's this club The Zit. Apparently, there's a meeting." Eyeleen pushed herself off the wall immediately and turned herself towards the street. This might be her chance. Thrax, as she had heard from older viruses that had met him, was rumoured to be a bioweapon as well but these were just rumours. It would explain why he wasn't in the medical books yet even though it seemed like he had years of experience: it was planted into him from the beginning. And Eyeleen was thrilled to work with him.
Finding The Zit had been tough. The cops were much more active than they were inside rats. Eyeleen had to hide her claws inside her black sweater so no one wouldn't notice. As she got inside the club, Eyeleen didn't know where to go. The whole place was packed with cells and germs. She walked around, keeping her head down, looking for a clue. Her outfit didn't really match with others'. There were baggy and dusty from smoke and other dirt. She should have stolen something pretty to wear, she was a virus, after all, going to meet another virus.
Eyeleen saw a blue germ walking towards a room, gazing around suspiciously. Yes, that must be the correct place. She followed the blue guy behind and stepped in. The door shut close right after her. There was a table full of germs. A few heads turned to look at her. Eyeleen eyed the blue guy who took the last free seat and frowned. Oh well, she could just stand in the corner and watch.
Her attention was caught by a smooth voice which came from the other side of the table. There he was, Thrax, the Red Death himself. Unlike Eyeleen, this virus knew how to talk. He was built with charisma and confidence, something she wished to possess. When Eyeleen had tried to gain allies, she had thought the urge to kill was a good reason enough. How wrong she had been.
Thrax was now moving around the table, showing off his chain. Eyeleen had already forgotten half of the plan due to her bad short-term memory and was completely lost. Something about getting inside the brain tonight. Everyone else seemed excited except for the blue guy who was horrified. Thrax kept bragging about his killings and his goal to get own chapter in the medical books. That bacteria from earlier had spoken the truth: Thrax sure was aiming big. A thought popped in Eyeleen's mind: a whole chapter about yourself would mean better chances of finding the cure. You had to be more clever with symptoms to trick doctors. Did he know about this? She raised her hand slowly in the air. Thrax turned around, surprised to see her. He hadn't noticed her until then.
"Hey, baby. What's on your mind?"
"Uhm...," she cleared her voice, "Your goal is everything any germ would wish for but... What about doctors finding the cure?"
A few heads nodded to each other around the table. The blue guy whispered something to a germ next to him. Thrax didn't say a word right away. His face darkened as his cocky smirk vanished for a moment. He took slow steps towards Eyeleen while he talked.
"Cure? Doctors can't do shit against me, baby. That's why the strategy is to keep the symptoms mild until we reach the hypothalamus. Haven't you been paying attention?" Thrax was now towering over her. Eyeleen lowered her head.
"I'm sorry, sir... It was just a thought. I heard it from-" she was cut off by the blue guy.
"She is correct, man. Makin' a record is only gonna make doctors panic and target ya non-stop." Thrax turned his back at Eyeleen. She could see his breathing was growing heavier as he was losing his patience. The blue guy ignored these warning signs and pointed his speech to other germs.
"What 'bout you guys? I recommend that we play it low for, uhh, a few days. Y'know, more time to prepare," he finished with a wide hopeful grin. This guy couldn't be a germ, Eyeleen was sure of it. Thrax laid his hand on the blue guy's shoulder and yanked him on his feet by his jacket.
"How about ya shut up and exit this room this instant or I'll pop your eyeball, ya smartass," it was a real threat. The blue guy protested but he was kicked out before he was able to finish his sentence. Thrax behaved as nothing had happened and continued explaining his plan. Eyeleen felt like she was going to be next if she opened her mouth again so she focused on listening. Tonight, find the brain, take down guards, get pass the gate, find the hypothalamus, exit through the mouth...Eyeleen repeated the main points on her head. She had never been in any of her victim's brains before. It was said to be the most guarded places.
The meeting ended and all the germs left the room, expect for Thrax and Eyeleen. He wanted to "have a talk" with her. When everyone else was gone, Thrax pointed her to take a seat.
"Alright, baby," he started softly, "I wanna know what are you, another virus, doing here, lookin' like that and why." Eyeleen's shoulders tensed.
"You know I'm a virus?"
"Babe, it's obvious," Thrax smiled and walked behind her, watching her, "Ya look like we could be related... What's your name?"
"Eyeleen... Like with an eye. It's... a pun. 'Cause of one eye," she rambled. She didn't dare to turn around nor allow herself to squirm under his gaze. She had to look tough even though it wasn't working so well.
"Never heard of ya. Tell me more."
"Well... I'm a man-made virus. This is my first time inside a human body. Uh, I can melt things with heat but I'm not on the same level as you... Actually, it is my only ability to offer..."
Thrax leaned against the table to take a look at her. His expression was thoughtful. Then there was a burst of short laughter, mocking kind.
"You? A bioweapon? Aren't ya supposed to be much more aggressive than this? Or is this some kind of act to fool others?"
"I don't know what you're meaning..."
More laughter. Thrax shook his head in disbelief and leaned away from her to calm himself. Eyeleen had nothing to defend herself: she was a living joke. Thrax wiped his eye with his claw and was facing her again.
"Okay, okay, correct me if I'm wrong: you came here before me and managed to screw your only purpose 'cause ya got no experience. Baby, bioweapons don't fail like that. They are made to kill for a reason... Unless you're lyin' or scientists fucked your programming big time and made a passive virus that lacks the main traits of a deadly one."
Eyeleen turned the chair and opened her mouth but words got stuck to her throat. Thrax read her like an open book which was both impressing yet humiliating. Hearing the ugly truth from someone else was like a stab on her back. Eyeleen was so revealed that her hair covered her eye because now Thrax couldn't see how close she was crying.
"Aww, baby, don't tear up. Life's not fair and you're the unfortunate one. What did you do before comin' here?" Thrax asked and leaned against the glass. Eyeleen didn't want to admit it but it wasn't like she had any reputation to save.
"Infecting rats..." Thrax snickered at her.
"This ain't the right place for you, Eyeleen. Go back and leave humans for professionals."
Professionals. Eyeleen shut her eye. If a virus like Thrax thought so, she had to believe it. But Eyeleen couldn't let go of her dream, not yet. This was her only chance. With a shaking sigh, she managed to mutter out her wish.
"Please... Let me work for you. I need this... I need to learn. I'm ambitious like everybody else..., "Eyeleen raised her voice as she spoke, "I won't leave you if things get rough. I-I can do nothing and just stand there if that's all you want. I'm not afraid to kill any cells or any other germs either, I have done so before. Let me see how things are done properly... "
Thrax was toying with his chain as he listened. He was observing her as if she was an item on sale that either was or wasn't worthy of his money.
"Ya know what, babe... You're in. If only ya promise me one thing."
"Anything," Eyeleen begged. Thrax soon was standing uncomfortably close. He began humming the song "Fever" that even Eyeleen had heard before. The chain in Thrax's hand went around her slim neck. When it was perfectly placed, the humming ended and he pulled on the chain. Eyeleen let out a helpless shriek.
"You won't question me or my strategy at all. I will reach my record my way and that's it. Got this or do I need to repeat myself? Ya seem to have trouble with focusin'...," Thrax's words dripped of venom.
Eyeleen understood. Thrax clearly hated it if somebody questioned his methods. She gave a weak nod and the chain slipped off her neck. Eyeleen coughed and rubbed the sore throat. Thrax put the chain back in his trench coat and smiled satisfied. He stepped away from her while Eyeleen stood from the chair and was making her leave. Just as she was by the door, Thrax mentioned the last thing.
"By the way, get somethin' pretty to wear. Ya gotta have some style when you gang up with me." There was a flash of a smirk on the glass. Eyeleen said nothing and exited the club to go find new clothes.
Like they had planned, everyone gathered around the outside of the brain. Eyeleen eyed herself from the reflection. The brown leather jacket was open, showing off her white tank top underneath. Her old baggy jeans were replaced with new black skinny jeans. She had to admit that she looked cool but it didn't make her feel any confidence. The team of germs wasn't as big then it had been hours ago. A big guy whispered that he had seen a cop chasing a couple of others down the street. It was probably the same blue guy.
A figure stepped out of shadows. It was Thrax, wearing his shades. He went straight giving out orders and explaining the plan in a nutshell. He put germs into tiny groups to handle different tasks. The one who ended up going with Thrax was Eyeleen.
"Nice outfit, baby," he commented as they were waiting to get inside. Eyeleen glanced at him quickly and muttered out her thanks. The guards were distracted by three henchmen which let Thrax and Eyeleen sneak inside. The brain reminded her of a maze: so many doors and places to go. Eyeleen looked up at the signs above and was already going to a next area but Thrax grabbed on her shoulder and pushed her behind a corner. A blood cell suddenly passed them, not caring to turn his head. Oh, she had been so close to getting caught.
"Do you really think ya can just waltz your way in?" Thrax hissed under his breath. He let go of her and checked the corridor. "Follow me."
Eyeleen hunched her back as she followed behind. Since Thrax had done this many times before, he knew exactly where to find the hypothalamus. Eyeleen fastened her steps to catch up with him. Hesitantly, she whispered loud enough to hear.
"Why you chose me on this?"
"You wanna learn, right? Now you get to learn."
Eyeleen didn't need to ask any more. The gate to the hypothalamus came to view, and before Thrax pressed the button, he had to give the last warning to his so-called student.
"Do not slow me down when we get out of here..."
Thrax smirked and stroked her under the chin as an owner would do to their pet. To Eyeleen's surprise, they didn't need any buttons to get in. Thrax burned a hole in the gate with his claw and two scared cells were the only enemies inside. It didn't take even ten seconds to get them out of way. Eyeleen watched him work admired, a spark of envy mixed within. Would she ever be capable to do the same as him? She remembered the rumours about Thrax. She didn't get to ask about his origins at the club but somehow he had some knowledge about bioweapons. He even had said they looked related.
Meanwhile, Thrax was having his moment, Eyeleen didn't notice the alarm button on the side and ended up leaning against it. Thrax spun around in a flash to see what happened while Eyeleen was mentally panicking. They could hear the cells shouting and running around over the alarm noise. Thrax hurried to get a DNA bead and then he was running for it.
"You little airhead! Look what you did!" he shouted in rage as they were searching for the exit. Cops appeared just around the corner but Thrax managed to pull himself and Eyeleen behind a door. The room was dark and empty, convenient hiding spot. Eyeleen pressed herself against the door to catch her breath but Thrax wasn't allowing it. He shoved his glowing claw on her neck, threatening to make a cut. Thrax was burning in fury.
"Explain yourself if ya wanna live."
"I-I accidentally pressed the alarm! I didn't see it!" Eyeleen whimpered. A single tear ran down her face.
"Takin' you with me was the biggest mistake... No wonder ya need all the help you need." The claw pressed harder. This was the end, Eyeleen thought. She was going to die here. Shockingly, Thrax withdrew his hand and took a walkie-talkie out of his pocket. He kept glaring at Eyeleen even when he was ordering others to get their places and aid them. Eyeleen stared at her feet.
"It's your lucky day, baby. We still have a chance to make this work. I honestly hate fuckups but I let it slide this once and that's all thanks to your looks. Now, when this door opens, we smash out the window and get in the car. Are these instructions enough or do I need to slow down?" Thrax asked mockingly.
"Understood, boss...I'm so deeply sorry-"
"Leave it. There's no time for that." The door opened. Thrax peaked his head out and checked if it was safe. He grabbed on Eyeleen's arm without a warning and dragged her along down the corridors until they found the windows out. Eyeleen's legs were barely touching the floor. Thrax lifted her against his chest and jumped out before the cells could do anything. They glided all the way back to the ground where Thrax's henchmen were keeping cops busy. One particular white blood cell caught both Thrax's and Eyeleen's attention who was stopping them to get the vehicle.
"Give it up, Thrax!" The blue cell shouted, holding his gun. He looked and sounded familiar. Thrax let go of Eyeleen's arm and raised his claw. Eyeleen saw a glance of somebody far away on the side. It was some kind of a red pill and he was aiming at Thrax, or especially his claw. The shot was fired but Thrax didn't see the incoming bullet. Eyeleen forced herself in front of him just in time and the bullet hit her hand instead. Cold ice appeared around it, blocking her to use heat. That had been the blue cell's plan but Eyeleen had saved Thrax. The cell let out a frustrated sound when the ice hit the wrong virus.
This gave Thrax a short advantage to attack the cell first. He dodged the bullet and knocked the gun out of the blue cell's hands with impossible speed.
"Ya knew where to find me, didn't ya?" Thrax questioned as he punched the blue cell on the ground. The cell fell down, holding his head and told his pill partner to load his gun faster, but he seemed to have some trouble with it. Thrax pressed the cell down by his foot and leaned lower to snatch his badge. He eyed it through and threw it aside.
"Osmosis Jones... You must be the same guy from the meeting. I had a feeling you were a cop."
"Yet you let me go! Which means ya gave me a chance to bring you down! Pretty careless, don't you think?" Jones taunted. Thrax only chuckled at him.
"Bring me down? Look where you're at, Jones." Thrax was ready to put the cell in flames but Eyeleen noticed the cops were nearly finished with the henchmen and coming to catch them. She ran to the car and gestured at Thrax.
"Thrax! Get in!"
Thrax noticed the same danger as well and growled that his fun had to be ruined. He kicked Jones one last time and fleed to her. Once he got in, he pushed Eyeleen to sit on the passenger's side. Letting her drive with one frozen hand was a bad idea. The vehicle transformed under Thrax's touch and the speed powered up. The final step was to find the uvula and get outside.
Eyeleen's focus was now on her frozen hand. She had done something useful but now she was worried if the ice wouldn't come off, or worse, spread and kill her slowly. She hit it with her other fist and tried to heat it but it was hard as a rock. Thrax gave her an amused glance. Both of them were silent halfway through until Thrax wanted to ask something.
"Do you have any plans for the future?"
Eyeleen shot him a puzzled look. The casualty in Thrax's voice was strange to hear when he was nearly crashing on other cars.
"I...I think I do but I don't know how to make those plans to work. I have dreams to pursue."
"What are those dreams, baby?"
Eyeleen stared ahead. If Thrax laughed, let him do so, she told herself.
"I want to become a deadly virus... To live up my origin," she paused,"... It is the reason why I wanted to join you."
"Sounds like me when I was younger..."
Thrax smiled but it wasn't out of amusement. The City of Frank was burning red outside. Buildings on fire and cells seeking for shelter. It was beautiful to think what one virus could do to a grown man's body under two days. They drove to the uvula and hopped off the car. They saw through Frank's mouth that he was being taken to the hospital. He was going to die within this hour. There was one obstacle left: you couldn't get past the mouth while the human was breathing in. To trigger a sneeze you needed either have that symptom or the outside world would handle it. She looked up at Thrax.
"So... how do we get out?"
Thrax pulled three ball-shaped things: pollen pods. Did he carry those all the time? Eyeleen thought she couldn't get more amazed with him but she had been wrong.
Thrax suddenly laid out his hand and took Eyeleen's frozen one in it. The ice had melted a bit at the car and now it was breakable. Thrax's heat melted the ice on the ground and Eyeleen moved her white claws.
"Thank you," she said and her lips curled into a small smile.
"You might not be the sharpest tool in the box but ya got potential. You only need more time to blossom but ya definitely need a teacher." Eyeleen wasn't sure if she was hearing right. It sounded like Thrax was offering to teach her. And she had thought he would leave her when this was over.
"You...you wanna teach me willingly?"
"Thank you...This means a lot to me," Eyeleen bowed her head and was even going for a hug but Thrax stopped her.
"We can hug later, baby. Now let's get rollin'," he said and tossed the pollen pods up. They smashed against the walls and triggered Frank to sneeze short after. It was perfect timing since Jones and his pill partner were driving closer. The air picked both Thrax and Eyeleen away before the cell could fire his gun and they flew off. When the fresh air hit their faces, it was a sign of victory. They had escaped and Thrax had reached his goal. He laughed loudly as he watched Jones desperately jumping to get the wind pick him up but Frank was quick to close his mouth.
"Enjoy the funeral, Jones!" Thrax cackled.
They landed on Frank's daughter's eye who was foolishly standing way too close to her dying father. Thrax's wide smirk implied that this body was going to be the next target. Eyeleen curled her lip in discomfort when her feet got soaked. The eye was cold and wet.
"You took out Frank under 48 hours... What is the deadline for the next record now?" Eyeleen asked and wiped the salt water off her jeans.
"How about...24 hours?" Thrax chuckled. Eyeleen gave a half-smirk back.
"And how is that possible with me slowing you down?"
"Baby, I will kick you off this eyeball if that attitude won't change right now," Thrax joked and put his shades back on. Eyeleen snorted and clapped her hands together.
"Fine, let's go bring up the heat," and her claws lighted up. Thrax gave thumbs up and gestured her to follow behind. She listened to Thrax's humming the whole trip and it put her mind in ease. It was like she had reborn.