The Virus

Traffic was unbelievable this Saturday morning. It seemed as if everyone had somewhere to go. I tried to reach my husband and daughter various times since last night after the medical conference I was attending, abruptly got called off. It was as if every doctor was needed back at their practices, especially in the E.R departments. I had flown out Thursday night, taking yesterday completely off. Now, due to some kind of illness, an increasing number of patients had suddenly swamped the hospitals. There had been some talk among-st us that based on the analyzes, an epidemic of rabies may have been unleashed. Many of us have considered that, perhaps mosquitoes have been a transferring host since most reports have been coming from the Southern states. I’ve been working in the E.R for the past six months, since the move to Delaware, so I had been paged as well. Flights were sold out preventing me from moving my scheduled flight for tomorrow night any closer forcing me the drive home. I continued trying to reach my family, but the circuits remained busy so I tossed my phone into my purse and embraced the highway.
It took me a dragging ten hours to finally get home, my phone died half way into the unplanned road trip and since I couldn’t get a signal anyways,  I didn’t bother to stop for a charger. I opened the front door and stepped inside. The sun was now setting and the orange rays poured in from the open blinds.

“I’m home.” I announced to my little family, but I didn’t hear scurrying feet come greet me. I wonder where they could of gone. The sunken feeling in the pit of my stomach ached, for it had been throbbing for hours because I haven’t been able to hear my loves’ voices. I dropped the luggage by the door and headed upstairs, after plugging my phone in the charger, for a much-needed shower in the master bedroom.

Once I was dressed in a pair of jeans and t-shirt, I decided to go out and look for them. Maybe they had gone to my mother-in-law’s house to make sure she was okay. Maybe the phone lines had been affected here too. I finished getting ready throwing on my tennis shoes and headed back downstairs towards the kitchen, I forgot when was the last time I ate. I flipped through the channels on the little TV I kept on the counter and for some reason the television dish must of fallen off the roof again because I was only able to get a local news channel as it presented a list of symptoms on the blue screen; “Rabies Symptoms may include,but are not limited to: Fever, Redness or swelling on the wound site, possible foaming of the mouth…” The invisible reporter’s monotone voice  read as the next bullet was revealed. I knew it, the biting was a dead give away. I really wish my husband had thought about leaving me a note, but he wouldn’t of expected me to be home until tomorrow. I was in too much of a rush to finish watching the news so I shut off the TV and walked away not feeling hungry anymore.

It was quiet for a May evening, I looked around and some homes were completely dark despite it not even being nine o’clock yet. As I slid into the car I can see that my neighbor’s front door was left wide open. One foot inside the rental, the other remaining on the ground while I hesitated whether to go check on her or not, but the will to find my own family won the debate so I brought my leg in before shutting the door then turning the key in the ignition.
My in-law’s place was about ten minutes away I got there a little sooner avoiding all the main roads. I tried calling their cells and house phone, but again no luck with them either. My husband’s car was parked outside on the curb in front of the house. Relief washed over me in an instant.

After parking my car behind his Corolla I went up the porch steps and knocked on the door no one came to open the door. I juggled the knob, but it was locked so I went back around to the garage. Fortunately, the door leading into the home was unlock which was surprising since the garage had been left open and it was already night out. I stepped inside through the dark kitchen calling out my in-law’s names. “Ally? Fred? Are you home?” I listened for a response, but didn’t hear anyone. “It’s Hannah. Ally?” Still, just how it had been at home no one came to greet me. I proceeded to walk into the house going around the isle in the middle of the dark kitchen when I slipped on something that had been spilled all over the tile floor. I landed hard on my ass, failing to brace my fall gasping in a gush of air as I went. I pull my phone out of my pocket with the warm sticky fluid on my hands. wondering what on earth I had landed on, I instantly regretted not flicking the light switch on when I came in. As I touched the screen searching for the flashlight icon the red fingerprints I left on the glowing screen sent a chill up my spine. The bright light went on and my biggest fear of what the thick liquid could of been was confirmed. In the middle of the kitchen was a puddle of blood underneath my legs. I held on to the counter for support as I scrambled up to my feet, my legs weak as my stomach churned. I lifted my trembling hand pointing the light towards the floor and seeing there was more blood leading into the living room so I ran to switch the kitchen light on before I went any further.

I traced the smears hearing nothing but the drum of my heart pulsing in my ears, a strangled screech escaped my lips as I saw her laying on the floor face down on the blood-soaked carpet. Ally was in her nightgown with empty milky eyes staring wide open into some unseen abyss, sanguine fluid had streamed from the gaping hole on her forehead forming a pool around her head. My hand was over my mouth while pushing my body forward stumbling to where she laid. Knowing I had been too late, I just sunk down on my knees, the sobs began ripping through me. From what I can see she had two more bullet wounds. One at the nape of her neck, that had to of been done in close range and another on her thigh.
“Hannah.” I’ve heard that voice hundreds of times before and never had my name sounded so beautiful. I whipped my head up to find my husband standing by the hall on the opposite side of the room. He was a mess, though I haven’t seen him in just a day he looks as if he hadn’t slept in weeks with deep dark circles underneath his eyes, his forehead also glistened with perspiration. I noticed the blood smeared on his face and more on the grey thermal he wore, but nothing could prepare me when I noticed the caliber in his right hand hanging by his waist while the other one put pressure over what looked to be a severe wound on his shoulder.
“What happened Jake?” I couldn’t help my voice cracking as I struggled to make my lips move. Jacob went to his knees besides me as he hugged me sobbing into my neck. I held him not knowing what else to do needing the condolences myself. After a minute he lifted his head, stress lines creased his forehead making him age instantly, he was extremely hot to the touch. Was he was running a fever?

“Oh, baby. I didn’t know what to do. I came over when I couldn’t get a hold of them.” He took a deep breath as the tears crept down his stubbed cheeks, “Mom was suppose to come over for dinner, but she never came and when I show up here…” He couldn’t finish as the flashback of what ever he found flooded his vision, “Dad was dead and so was mom, but then she wasn’t because even though, I checked her pulse she…she… Hannah she came back.”

As if finding my mother-in-law’s dead body wasn’t enough, now I feared my husband had completely lost his mind, so I tried again ,”Honey, listen to me you’re not making any sense. Where’s Emy,  Jake?” I looked around wanting to get up but he held me down.
“I know it sounds crazy, Hannah, but listen to me. Dad shot mom and then he killed himself. I found them in the room and I came downstairs to check on Emily trying to get through nine-one-one. I couldn’t just leave, I didn’t know what to do.” He struggled with his words in between sobs, ” I was making Emily something to eat when I heard her call out to her grandmother. I ran in here and there she was.” My head swirled as he continued to tell me how he shot Ally on the leg first with the gun he had brought along with him from home. We had kept it by our night stand in case we ever had a home invasion. Ally had tried to attack our daughter and even though Emy managed to get away his mother scratched her arm on the way down,”then I had to do it Hannah.” Another sob ripped through his lips,”I had to do it, she would of bitten Emily, but it was too late anyways. It was too late. I’m so sorry, baby. I couldn’t protect her.” His shoulders quivered uncontrollably.
“What are you talking about Jacob? Did Ally bite you? What happened to your shoulder sweetheart? Please tell me where our daughter is.” I attempted to calm him down as I tried to pry away his hand from the wound to inspect the damage and possible infection, but he didn’t want to show me instead he looked into my eyes sorrow announced deep within them.
“I don’t know where she is, Hannah. She got very sick and I couldn’t take her to the hospital. The news said not to. There’s a broadcast on repeat with symptoms and then they tell you not to go to the hospitals because there isn’t a cure for this thing. The hospital have shut down. So I waited telling myself that she was going to be okay, but when she stopped breathing…” My heart skipped a beat when he said the last two words in unison. My head felt light as if I was going to pass out clutching a hand to my chest I bent over and heaved. Nothing, but bile rose from my empty stomach spilling over onto the beige carpet.
“Where is she?” I could taste bitterness in my throat mixed together with the salt of my tears as I held on to his gaze pleading for an answer.
“I don’t know. I ran downstairs with her searching for the keys. When I finally found them I felt her stirring in my arms,but she wasn’t as warm as she was before. She had been burning with fever all day, nothing was keeping it down. I had hoped that maybe her fever subsided.” My wounded husband dropped his eyes from mine staring down at his hands instead, whispering the words barely audible, “She opened her eyes, I couldn’t see them though. Then, without warning she just bit my shoulder and I accidentally dropped her. I tried talking to her, but she couldn’t hear me. I was scared, that wasn’t our baby. She ran after me and I locked myself in the bathroom.” I strained to listen to him, the pain in his voice reflected what I felt in my heart. “I didn’t hear her after awhile so assumed she must of gotten outside. If it hadn’t been that I heard you I would of never wanted to come out of there.” He peered up towards me.

“Jake there wasn’t any doors left open when I came in.” I stammered in a small shaking voice.                         

     “We need to go now, Hannah.” He managed as hysteria threatening to break free.

Suddenly I heard a shuffling of feet coming from the kitchen.  Looking up, I caught sight of my young daughter. Her presence was bitter-sweet, my motherly instinct happy to see her longing  face, but her disturbing appearance vanished all relief while I noticed the gore that ruined her pretty pink and teal dress.
“My baby.” Was all I could manage as I saw what had been left of my sweet little girl. I made a move to go to her, but felt a restraining grasp on the back of my shirt. My husband was muttering something behind me that sounded like It’s not her, speaking so low he could of been talking to himself. Emily stared at us as a blind man might peer over a menu, she didn’t see us. She looked disoriented, cocking her head to the side slowly closing the space between us with small steps. My arms reached out to her, I’m sure if she at least felt my touch she may come around. We could take her to the hospital and she will be fine. I tried to stand, but Jacob wouldn’t budge, his grip just holding on tighter. Let go I wanted to yell at him, but I just couldn’t even form those two little words. Once she was within reach, Emy hissed at me snarling right before launching towards my face, baring her tiny teeth underneath lips stained with her father’s own blood. Not even then did I recoil away from my child, wanting nothing more than to have my sick daughter in my arms so that I can just soothe her.

POP! POP! The sound was so loud instantly deafening me. My eyes had automatically shut closed at the first shot, my hands had arisen shielding my ringing ears.
Hesitating, I slowly opened my eyes feeling the splatters of blood, hot on my face. Her body laid facing down on the carpet just as her grandmother’s remained a few inches away from us. “AHHHHHH!” I yelled so loud, I felt my eyes would bulge out of my head as my throat went raw. I started sobbing again crawling over to her, hovering over her small forty pound body not knowing how I could cradle her.

“What have you done Jake?” I began to wail staring at my husband who was frozen with horror. I could see as he tried to compose himself, frantically shaking his head while his body shivered before rising unsteadily to his feet. He took a couple steps towards us  extending his hand to me, he mumbles,”You have to go, Hannah.” Reluctantly, I took his hand letting him help me to my feet, my legs felt as if they were made of rubber. I noticed he said YOU instead of WE unlike before in the same moment that he placed the caliber in my hand. He kissed my forehead while stroking my hair, the chokes of our sobs echoing through the hallway. I broke off, “Please Jacob, there must be another way. I can’t do this alone.”

“I will not be the one to kill you. I do not want to become like mom or..” He couldn’t finish what he was about to say. “You need to be strong baby. Get out of the city as soon as possible. Run and don’t look back, don’t hesitate. I love you, we will always be with you.” I couldn’t look at him, my vision was blurred with the tears cascading my cheeks.

“Always be with me. I love you.” My voice was shaking, it was too surreal I just couldn’t wrap my head around what was happening. He wouldn’t allow me to kiss him but he couldn’t keep me from wrapping my arms around him. He held me tight before detaching himself away from me. Jacob brought our hands along with the gun in unison to his temple, smiling briefly looking down at me before squeezing the trigger with my index. One last POP roared through the living room and I was alone in the middle of the tragic massacre of my family covered in blood splatter that had belonged to my daughter and now my husband.

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