This story is by Jake A. Strife and was part of our 2021 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The Zombie Killer grinned. He held the only two silver vials. The cure. Sweat dripped into my eyes. Time was short. The ship rocked, making me want to vomit.
“Waited a long time for this.” He adjusted his black fedora with that annoying red feather. “Just gotta put my gun to your head and fire. A major blow to your family. I’ll be saving the world.”
“Dammit,” I said. “I don’t know anything about a family! I woke up in that hospital hours days ago.”
He placed his pistol right between my eyes.
“Just gotta pull the trigger.”
“This wasn’t part of the deal!” I said. “Dr. Beauregard promised!”
He chuckled. “He’s gone through this several times too. Says he knows better than me. But what if letting you live causes this never-ending loop again?”
“Please, Wesley. Kill me, but at least cure Tiffa!”
“You love her.”
We’d been through so much since we woke with no memories. How could I lose her? She needed the cure!
“I do love her.”
He smiled. “What do you know of love? You’re a monster.”
I closed my eyes tight. Never again would I know Tiffa’s embrace or her kiss.”
Moments ticked by. Why wasn’t I dead?
The door across the ballroom was closing. He’d left! On the table beside me was one silver vial. That son of a bitch. I needed both!
Groaning, I snatched the vial. The cure to the virus.
Why did he hate us so? He stared at us with rage ever since we’d met.
Bangs came from overhead. The rapid clacking of talons spread in every direction. No! They’d found me!
I scrambled across the wide ballroom, clutching the cure to my chest. The creatures above were not Level Ones, or Twos. They moved even faster than Level Threes! Level fours? They never stopped evolving!
I raced across the ship, and stumbled into the stairwell. Nasuea struck me hard and I doubled over.
No! I needed to get to Tiffa! We’d come too far to die now!
I burst onto the deck. The ladder was fifty feet away. I could make it. I had to make it!
A shadow fell over me, and there came a violent hiss.
Without stopping, I sprinted for the rail, rolling over it, barely evading the creatures.
Pain shot through my back as I hit the deck of my vessel. The fifty-foot fall should’ve killed me, but I stared up, still breathing.
The face of death stared back over the railing! A near-skeletal creature humanoid with empty eye sockets. It opened its mouth, baring long fangs. A clawed hand rested on the rail as it sniffed the air.
I held my breath, terrified to move. The level four corpse gave a low hiss, and left.
I gasped for air, but it felt wrong. It burned like my lungs were rejecting it. Not a good sign.
Somehow I got up and made it to the stairs.
“Tiffa!” I tripped, and tumbled down, landing beside the bed. This time, I felt no pain. Another bad sign.
I pulled myself up on the bed, leaning over her.
She too was soaked with sweat. Her face red, her blonde hair matted. The bite on her shoulder was black, with green veins spreading outward. The wound on my ankle was the same. The virus spreading through our bodies. According to Dr. Beauregard the cure could reverse it.
“Cures?” she whispered. We met eyes. “Ary, the cures?”
I pursed my lips.
Wesley James. The asshole! He was responsible! He released the virus and doomed us. Doomed the whole world! He needed to die.
Tiffa was innocent. Loving. Timid. She’d never kill him. She wouldn’t even kill the Corpses! That’s why she was bitten! She’d never avenge the billions dead.
I shook my head. “No cures. I’m so sorry.” I hugged her tight.
Softly sobbing, she whispered, “I love you, Ary. At least… we’ll be together… in death…”
She closed her eyes.
I fought the terrible pain wrenching my heart.
“I love you, too…”
And she was gone.
I laid her head on the pillow and kissed her.
Wasting no time, I took the vial and pressed it to my leg. “I’ll avenge you, Tiffa.”
I clicked the button and a needle jabbed into my flesh.
Again, I gasped. But this time the air was right. My lungs hungered for it! Like taking my first breath.
Tiffa groaned. No. It was Tiffa no longer.
I slipped her dagger from its scabbard.
Her eyes opened and now they were glowing a dull green when they’d been blue before.
I wept hysterically as she gripped my wrist. Then I pictured Wesley James and rage exploded. I stabbed her in the forehead. Then stabbed again. And again! All the while seeing his wretched, grinning face!
I staggered away. What had I done? I’d killed her.
No. Welsey had killed her!
Even knowing why I had to survive instead of Tiffa, it didn’t ease my pain.
I sat down, putting my bloody hands over my face. So many emotions tore at me.
A long while later, I heard a voice.
“Hey, anyone alive down there?”
I lifted my head. Was this friend or foe? I gripped my dagger and climbed to the deck.
A guy and girl stood there. Teens like me. They were dressed in black, hooded robes. Behind them, was a different ship. This was marked as the S.S. GOD.
The guy was dark haired and angular jawed. The girl was Asian and beautiful, with long violet hair,
“Are you the only one?” the guy asked.
The girl crossed her arms. “I knew this was a waste of time.”
“My friend…” I sighed. “Died to save me.”
The guy scratched his chin. “One is good enough.”
“Who are you?” I asked.
The girl rolled her eyes. “No memory? Just like the rest of us. This job is so annoying.”
These two had an arrogance about them that was suffocating.
“Come with us,” the guy said. “Unless you fancy dying here, hundreds of miles from land.”
The girl glared at me, then climbed the ladder of their ship. He followed.
I glanced back at the stairs leading. “Goodbye… for now.”
On the new ship, they led me to a hall, and into a large all-white chamber.
Two robed people flanked the entrance, a girl in her twenties with blonde hair. She smiled wickedly when we met eyes. If she looked so much like Tiffa, they could’ve been sisters. But her aura was frightening.
The guy on the other side had his hood pulled up.
Neither said a word as we passed.
My guides led me to a red carpet that led to a throne. On the throne sat a slouching, hooded man. I could feel his age emanating from him.
“I see you won the game,” he said, his voice rasphy.
“A game?” I asked. “What freaking game?”
“He doesn’t remember,” the teen girl said.
“Not at all,” the guy added.
The geezer chortled. “I shall explain much soon. But I am sorry your companion perished. I too lost a love. Decades ago.”
“I don’t care,” I said. “All I want is my revenge on Wesley James!”
Geezer chortled again. “Revenge you shall get, I assure you… if you join us. That is, agree to our terms and conditions.”
“And those are, Gramps?”
“We are a company of gamers. A family. Not by blood, but by purpose. We work together for a common goal. Our terms are you can do nearly anything you desire, as long as you keep our interests first.”
“And conditions?” I asked.
“You help us create a cure for the Omega Virus. Then we help you get revenge.”
“How do I—?” Then it hit me. The cure was in my blood now.
I smiled. “I’ll do whatever you want.”
“Good, good,” the old man said. “We merely want to save the world, after all.”
A goal I could live by.
I approached him, and as I did, the teen guy started toward me. The geezer lifted his hand, stopping him.
I snickered and held out my hand. “The name’s Ary!”
As we shook hands, his insane aura nearly knocked me on my ass. Power emanated from him like a nuclear power plant. What was this guy? He couldn’t be human…”
“Ary?” he asked. “That was part of your name. Once you had the letters Z-a-c-h before it. Your name was Zachary.”
I blinked a few times. The name tag I found at the hospital! Only the last three letters were legible.
“My name is Zachary,” I said. “Okay well—”
“No, that name is not yours any longer.”
Anger simmered in me as he grinned.
“Your name will represent your position in our family. Welcome home, my prodigal Grandson. Welcome to our organization: G.O.D. Mode.”