Hell Hath No Fury

Posted by on May 26, 2017 in Short Stories | 0 comments

The vampire virus was running rampant. Several hundred people had fallen ill in Greenbrier alone, and while the afflicted weren’t technically vampires, they did have an unhealthy appetite for human blood. Thus the name.

Unfortunately, there was no cure, and the gestation period for the virus was extremely short—just a brief exposure was sufficient to cause someone to fall ill, and in short order, that person would have a single-minded desire to kill. I was one of several scientists working on a cure, assisting my soon-to-be ex-husband, who led the team.

My husband and my divorce was not yet final, but I had a new boyfriend. Technically, I had the boyfriend even before our separation, but I hoped Bill didn’t know that. Michael was a pharmacist, and he had been very helpful in compounding for our team, so Bill grudgingly accepted his background presence. I ran interference between the two of them, ensuring they never had to speak directly. I had been impressed with Bill’s equanimity in semi dealing with his rival. Bill still hadn’t quite accepted that I had moved on.

Although the virus continued to spread at a rapid rate, we were closing in on a cure. Approximately two weeks after we started, Bill came across what he believed was the antidote. Testing showed that the antidote was nearly as rapid-acting as the virus itself and could be transmitted through the air, which was excellent. Once an infected individual breathed it in, he would be completely cured, which was also good. Unfortunately, once cured, he or she would promptly die. Not optimal.

Interestingly, the gas had no adverse effect on those not infected, so the team and I felt confident that if the antidote was cut with enough inert material, it could be injected into the bloodstream—or possibly still inhaled—without causing death.

I suggested that perhaps Michael could help in compounding the liquid gas into some kind of curative—but hopefully non-toxic—cocktail. Bill pushed back, wanting to do some additional tests. Eventually, however, he saw the wisdom of my suggestion. He put the gaseous antidote into a valve-controlled glass container and packed that into a large cardboard box.

I picked up the box, preparing to load it in to my car, when Bill took it out of my hands.

“I’ll take it to him,” Bill said.

I looked at him, both surprised and pleased that he was willing to put aside his animosity towards Michael in order to stop the scourge, but my Spidey-senses were tingling. Setting my apprehensions aside, I followed Bill to his car.

~~~

Michael Davis was organizing inventory when he heard a thump from the storage room. He glanced up, but he knew better than to investigate. The vampire virus was particularly virulent, and he had to assume that one of the afflicted had gotten through the back door. Being as paranoid as he was, however, he had installed a dead bolt on his side of the door (he would have put it on the outside door, but his landlord wouldn’t allow it). Whatever was on the other side wouldn’t be getting in any time soon.

The door in the front of the store dinged, and Michael paused briefly. Hearing nothing, he continued with his inventory. Those infected with the virus were never quiet, so he had to assume an actual customer had entered.

“Michael.”

The voice from behind him was unwelcome. Jenny’s ex-husband still hated him, and Michael was conflict-adverse. The last thing he wanted was to deal with Bill directly. Michael took a deep breath and turned around to face the counter.

Bill was standing there, with Jenny and another of his chemists—a short Asian man whose name Michael couldn’t remember. Jenny was holding a bulky cardboard box, and Bill had a butcher’s knife in his right hand.

That was the last ting Michael saw before the knife embedded itself into his skull.

~~~

My brain barely registered what I was seeing. Bill had just murdered Michael right in front of me. Stunned, I couldn’t even pull myself out of shock enough to scream. How could Bill hate Michael so much that he would murder the only person who could help us create an antidote? I’m such a fool.

I was still processing when a thump sounded from a nearby room. Bill turned to open the door.

“Bill, don’t!” I knew what had to be on the other side.

Bill ignored me. Clearly, it wasn’t enough for him just to kill Michael, now he intended to infect himself and—most likely—me as well. Suicide by virus. Bill threw the door open wide. At least five “vampires’ were on the other side, milling about aimlessly. When the door opened, they honed in almost as one.

“Bill, you have to stop!” I tried again, but Bill ran into the room with childlike abandon. Worse, Joe Lee, who had come with us to the pharmacy, grinned at me and followed Bill in.

They had both lost their minds.

Desperately, I scrambled to pull the tape off the box and, hands shaking, managed to pull out the heavy glass container. Damn you, Bill. I pointed the nozzle into the room into which Bill and Joe had run.

Bill had started to convulse. He turned to face me, his eyes blood red.

I opened the valve.

Gas streamed out of the container and into the room, washing over the seven souls there. Bill’s eyes lost their crazed look, turning back to the beautiful brown eyes I once loved. He smiled at me knowingly before falling to the floor, dead.

Relief briefly filled me before I was crushed by guilt. The now-empty canister dropped from my limp fingers, and I fell to my knees. I gave myself a few moments to pull myself together. I didn’t have time for remorse—or grief for that matter—those things would come later. Right now, I needed to get back to the lab, inform the team, and make another batch of the murderous antidote.

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