Sandra Benedetto: Viral Vengeance (Part I)

He parted the blinds and squinted at the Airstream that sat immobile and glinting in the sun. The Bloodmobile had shown up that morning as advertised and several people had already gone in today. A few minutes ago he’d seen his neighbor Aggie go in. He didn’t have much time.

He leaned back and ran through his plan the way he’d once climbed rope in gym class, stopping at each knot to make sure he had a solid grip before continuing on. Today several factors could halt his progress. For one, the distance between his trailer and the Bloodmobile. It was maybe only 50 yards, but if he was attacked there was nothing in the way of cover other than a flimsy For Sale sign at the Roberts’s. Second, he wasn’t sure whether the maneuver to gain access to the Airstream was the one he’d used to get into the supply truck in Level 1 or the one he’d used to get into the hospital in Level 3. Finally, he didn’t know how many nurses he would face once he got inside. He’d have to be prepared to kill more than one before saving Aggie. He was on his last life so permanent death was a real possibility.

The nurses were getting more difficult to kill lately, as expected. They were relentless, springing up everywhere with their lethally loaded syringes. When he first started playing, he’d found it unpleasant to use the surgical knife on such attractive adversaries, feeling a mechanical twinge of conscience as he gouged out their hearts. He’d had to remind himself that their coquettish smiles and lovely figures were simply the glossy topcoat of degraded invaders bent on destroying humanity. Now he could slice and carve in the same hungry but unthinking way that he would toss popcorn into his mouth during a movie.

He peered out between the blinds again. The Airstream yielded no secrets, an opaque encapsulation of his enemies’ evildoings. At this very moment a nurse was preparing to infect Aggie with the lethal virus that would eventually eradicate the human race if he didn’t prevail. He was so close to total victory. He only had to kill a few more of these pathological agents of death before he’d have a chance to access the elusive vaccine to win the game. Was it luck or trickery that brought the Bloodmobile into his backyard? He would soon find out. Trepidation and exhilaration fought for each beat of his heart.

He stood up and put on the lab coat. He placed the stethoscope around his neck before picking up the surgical knife in his right hand. Dr. Alex Eleos. He liked the sound of that. He opened the door, and after a peremptory look around, shut it behind him and stepped outside. The sun made him squint. It occurred to him that he hadn’t been outside for days. How many, exactly, he wasn’t sure. He’d been so busy battling his enemies to get to this point. He felt nervous and exhausted even as he walked stridently across the clearing. Weren’t doctors known for their sang-froid? But shit, most doctors don’t have the fate of the world in their hands.

He finally reached the Airstream. He flattened himself against the side, listening but not hearing anything. Aggie had lived there forever; she was a fixture in the park. He would know if she’d been infected by looking at her eyes – if the irises were ringed in orange she would need the antidote. He’d been infected several times himself but had thankfully had earned enough of the antidote each time to beat it. He patted the pocket of his lab coat to make sure that the pills he’d collected this morning were still there.

He looked under the steps for a key, not finding anything. He pushed the wheel of the Airstream and again, nothing. Those were the tricks that had opened the truck and hospital doors. Now what? It seemed too obvious, but he might as well try the door handle . . .

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