Disclaimer: I do not own Knight Rider.


The world ended.

It was not in a way that many people believed would happen. Perhaps, they thought, a meteor would strike, or nuclear bombs would be set off, or the weather would simply become too deadly. Either way, most thought that it would be instant, and painless, and catastrophic.

They got the 'catastrophic' part right, at least.

The monster that consumed the world started, innocuously enough, in a lab. It began as harmless bacteria on a sterile microscope slide, until the scientists started adding and experimenting. A vaccine, they maintained. A vaccine for a disease that was already quite rare and infected more animals than people. But they poked and prodded, twisted and turned until finally, it mutated.

The virus became airborne.

It took all of four hours for the entire lab to be infected. Four hours after that, the single worker that had managed to get to a hospital had contaminated the entire building.

Within four days, the entire East Coast of the United States had been struck.

It took only a single week for it to spread across the entire planet.

The world ended.


But this story takes place not after or before that final sleep. It starts and ends in the space between; that ever-dwindling window between life and death- as all stories do. On the other side of the United States, six days after the virus- the Contagion, as the news media and therefore everyone else called it- had been loosed upon the world, it has already begun.

It starts simple.

A man and a car.

Well. The man isn't just a man and the car isn't just a car. They are separate sides of the same coin, really. A team. Together, they have brought hundreds of crimes and violent problems to cessation.

Together, they believe that they will be able to fix this one, too.

They will fail utterly.

In California, the heat and humidity of a late July afternoon was enough to make even the temperature-controlled interior of the sleek black Trans-Am uncomfortable. At this point, the virus is slowly trekking its way to their feet. They have heard of it, yes, but they have no idea of its speed, its destruction. Already there are scattered reports of it appearing in California.

As it burned across the country like a hellish wildfire, they were speeding down a quaint, empty seaside road, on the way to some well-deserved time out.

The ocean snarled as it broke upon the sand. This beach was empty, isolated. It was their place. A place they often went together, a place devoid of the hectic problems that had become everyday. No phone calls, no listening in on police frequencies. Just peace.

"And here we are," the man said, coasting onto the cracked, aged pavement. He parked just at the lip of the parking lot, where the sand took over and rolled steeply down to the water. "Finally."

"Michael, I can't help but feel... guilty. Or some equivalent thereof."

"What for, pal?" The man slipped on a set of aviators.

"Well, Devon is still working on the paperwork from this last case, and Bonnie, I'm sure, is still working on the replacement to that CPU part you broke today."

"And?" Michael grinned, rolling down the windows. "We did all the work, right? Stop being so uptight, Kitt."

The car- not just a car- turned off the engine. "I suppose."

Artificial intelligence, they say. Knight Industries Two Thousand- Kitt. But there isn't much 'artificial' about his personality. He has his own thoughts, his own opinions, his own likes and dislikes. He is as much as a person as the man named Michael Knight, his partner. The only difference, really, was that his thoughts looped mechanically through silicon and bubble chips, not gray matter and organic nerves.

Michael smiles again as a salty breeze sweeps through the open windows, cooling the sweat that had begun to collect on his brow.

The ocean broke apart on the sand below.

It was the only noise, save the rhythmic sweeping of the scanner at the prow of the Trans-Am.

Michael leaned his head back on the seat and breathed in the calming tang of the sea.

"I've been thinking, Michael."

A soft, yet patient, sigh. "About what?"

"The Contagion."

"Don't talk about that. I don't want to hear about it right now."

The voice box on the dashboard flickers as if the AI is about to say something, but has stopped at the last second. Eventually, it murmurs, "If you say so, Michael."

After all, one of his primary functions is to respond to what the man wanted.


It has been six days since Armageddon has been triggered.

Just before the sun begins to rise and break open into dawn, Michael Knight receives a phone call at his flat. It is Devon.

"It's Bonnie," he says.

She is ill.

It is the Contagion.

Michael knows just as Devon knows, just as Bonnie herself knows, if she is still aware. There is no cure. There is no point in going to see her at the already overcrowded hospital.

Just like that, the world has come crashing down around Michael Knight's head.

Stubborn as always, he climbs into the Trans-Am and orders the AI to plot a route to the hospital.

Three minutes into the drive, and he sees his first of those who have been infected with the Contagion. It is an older woman, perhaps in her forties. She is wearing a light-colored blouse and high jeans.

Her clothes are covered in blood. The driver moves to get out and offer aid.

"Michael," Kitt speaks. The voice box trembles. "I have scanned that woman's vitals. She is infected."

"Well, we gotta help her, don't we?"

"Michael, please. Remain in the car."

The woman looks at them. Her head rolls loose on her neck, as if it is about to fall off at any second. She looks at them with milky eyes and takes a staggering step toward Kitt.

Michael's hand freezes on the car door.

With a gurgling howl, the woman rushes them.

"Michael-"

Her arms flail awkwardly as she begins to beat upon the door window, trying to get to him.

Michael shrinks away from the glass.

"Don't worry, Michael. She can't get through."

"That's not what I'm worried about, pal."

A pause. "I know."

They accelerate past the woman. She follows for a while, but Kitt is fast, and soon they turn a corner and she is gone.

At that time, the woman is replaced by dozens more. All of them are infected, and immediately go for the car.

Michael realizes that Kitt is the only thing moving down here that is not a person. Cars have been abandoned where they stand. Shop doors swing open on their hinges. Somewhere, there is a fire, but it goes unchecked, and the smoke trails up and up into the sky to mingle with the city's haze.

Putting the Trans-Am into drive, he pulls away.

He heads back to the Foundation.

"...Kitt?"

"Yes, Michael?"

"What the hell is going on?"

The voice box is dark for a long time. "I can only assume that those individuals have been infected with the Contagion." Kitt stops again as if for thought.

But computers don't pause for thought, do they?

"Kitt?" Michael presses.

"I am plotting a course for the Foundation."

"Kitt, don't change the subject. Why are those people like that? Why did they attack us?"

"I will need time to analyze-"

"Don't give me that. You know what's going on, don't you?"

The most advanced computer in the world. It can calculate the square-root of twenty-digit numbers in nanoseconds. It can speak the answer in countless languages.

But it cannot speak to its partner about what is happening in the bodies of the infected.

Michael tapped the dash. "Kitt."

Suddenly, Kitt takes over the wheel and heaves to one side. There had been a man stumbling about in the road. They had come inches from hitting him. His form shrinks in the rear-view mirror.

"Kitt, stop! Why are we still moving? We could-"

"I have scanned him already. He is infected."

Everyone is infected.

When they return to the Foundation, the workers there are swaying in the light, tearing amongst themselves. Kitt stops at the foot of the drive and goes no further.

The computer says what the man already knows.

Infected.


They leave.

They leave because there is nowhere else to go, no place to stay. Kitt drives smoothly, southbound, out of the city. He avoids the infected people that stand in the road, their heads tilted up to the sky, as if the sunlight had paralyzed them.

Michael has little with him. On the way out, he managed to spot an empty convenience store. He takes all of the food and water he can scoop up with one trip in his arms, throwing it all into the trunk before scrambling back into the car. Over his mouth, he had tied his handkerchief, and for a while after, he sits on the edge of the seat, nervous and restless, wondering if he has been infected.

Kitt scans him again and again and again.

Nothing.

Neither of them speak. There isn't anything to say.

Already, the city behind them is smoldering.

Michael stares out at the roads and wipes futilely at his eyes.


On the dawn of the seventh day, they are in southeast California, almost to the Nevada border. The roads are empty. Michael takes over the wheel. His mind is desperate for something to concentrate on.

"Kitt, have you been able to reach anybody?"

The computer has been trying for hours now. He has bounced pleas for help through satellites, through phone lines, through radio waves and the frail newborn bones of the Internet, but there has been no reply. There is nobody to answer them.

"Negative, Michael."

He chews on a breakfast bar, lays the wrapper neatly on the passenger seat.

For the first time, Kitt does not complain about the trash.


It takes them two days to run out of food and water. Kitt, although his systems are mostly solar powered, runs out of gas.

"We have to stop, Michael," he says. "We cannot go any further."

There is a solitary gas station- the last for forty-five miles.

Kitt edges up to it and parks next to the pump.

"Be careful, Michael. Wear your mask."

The man ties the handkerchief over his face and moves out into the sunlight. He goes quickly for the pump, yanking the nozzle out and sticking it into Kitt's tank. His eyes never stop moving, scanning the area.

Michael leaves the pump to pour automatically and moves to the tiny store.

It is so silent, he thinks he might blow out his eardrums with the sound of his own breathing.

There is a crash-bang, and the owner of the store comes limping out at him.

Michael does not need Kitt to tell him to know that he, too, is infected.

He turns and sprints back to the car, but the infected is already on top of him, clawing at the back of his jacket.

"Kitt! Kitt, help!"

The car lurches into action before the third word leaves his mouth. The gasoline nozzle is ripped clear from the pump as he speeds forward, whipping around, kicking up a froth of sand and dust.

Michael is still running, one hand on the handkerchief at his face.

Kitt comes up from the side and strikes the infected man at what is easily forty miles per hour. The man goes down with a crunching noise, is dragged under the chassis, and then rolls back out underneath the bumper of the Trans-Am.

"Oh God." Michael turns to look.

The infected man is trying to get back to his feet, but his legs have both been broken. They flop uselessly in the sand. He is howling, furious.

Kitt reverses and snaps his neck with the back wheels.


Later, the AI is inconsolable.

"I killed a man, Michael."

"He wasn't a man, Kitt. He was infected."

"I killed him."

"You saved me."

Kitt can't argue with the logic, but still he falls silent.

His dominant program is the preservation of Michael's life.

There will be many more lives that the AI will take in order to continue that function.


It has been another week.

Fourteen days since the beginning of the end.

They are in Montana. The fields are green and the temperatures are cool. Kitt and Michael wander from place to place, the emptiest of the country roads. Michael salvages what he can from stores and gas stations. He has lost a lot of weight. Kitt frets about it often.

It is the car that has kept him uninfected all this time. Kitt is able to filter out the Contagion, keep the air inside the cab clean and fresh. When he goes out, he wears a mask- it is an actual mask now, not just a handkerchief. He stole it from a military surplus store.

Michael spends most of his time in the driver's seat.

They talk a lot, the same conversations over and over. Kitt doesn't seem to mind. Michael needs something to focus on.

"I miss Bonnie," the man says one day, quiet and low.

"I miss her, too," Kitt replies.

A bump in the road. The car has hit another infected. Neither of them take notice.

"Do you think Devon...?"

"The odds of him staying uninfected..."

Kitt never finishes. He can't.

Michael fiddles with the steering wheel.

The road offers nothing.


All in all, they put up quite a fight.

Michael lasts three weeks before, at an unlucky scavenging run, one of the infected knocks his mask off. He sucks in a huge breath of contaminated air, panics, and retreats to the car.

"Michael. Where is your mask?"

"Knocked it off. One of them knocked it off."

The infected beat at the windshield.

Kitt falls quiet.

"I breathed. I breathed it in, Kitt."

"Michael-"

"Scan me. Right now."

He does.

The answer doesn't come.

"Kitt, you need to tell me."

"I can't."

"Then I already know."

The world has ended.


Kitt returns to their place in California, where the sea met the earth and they would often sit and sit for hours with only the company of each other, and they were happy.

It only took twenty minutes for Michael to turn.

Kitt keeps him inside, locked away, although the man fights and kicks. He has taken apart almost every button, scratched out half of his voice box, left blood smears on every window and seat.

Michael grunts incomprehensibly.

It must have been an order, Kitt processed. Yes. He has learned another language. Michael was always so much smarter than he put off.

Kitt spoke to him, talked and talked and talked even though Michael has destroyed most of the voice box. Instead of the usual tenor, it is a broken soprano.

It is no matter.

He will speak to Michael until the bitter end, whenever it came.

On the cliffside, at their favorite spot, it ended.

Through starvation or dehydration or the Contagion itself, Michael finally slumped down over the wheel and lay still.

"Michael."

Kitt does a scan.

"Michael."

Repeats it.

"Wake up, Michael."

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

He must be malfunctioning.

The readings were coming in wrong, that was all.

The scan returns the same information every time.

"Michael."


The world ended.

No people stirred, not even animals. The Contagion has destroyed everything, from the tiniest of field mice to the center of Kitt's very own universe.

He speeds down the roads.

Michael has been left in their spot, to rest.

Kitt will return when he is called.

For now, he takes the turns and dips with his usual grace, up through mountain passes and down curving hills.

The fires have all burned away.

He will chase the smoke until it fades on the wind. He will chase it forever.

Because there is nothing else.

Because he is alone.


A black Trans-Am stops on an empty road, in an empty world.

"Michael."

It is a broken voice on a skipping breeze.

The breeze carries it up and up until it is gone.


End


(So this little story came about while I was working on another fic (Left 4 Dead 2), which contains a zombie apocalypse. I have been re-watching the old seasons of Knight Rider and got the urge to write a zombie apocalypse fic for it. So here it is.

Thanks to my beta-reader, Kit. You're such a doll. [Also I found this dead squirrel, do you want it or what?]

And thanks for reading.)