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The Last Day [4/?]

The Last Day
by Effy
Rated R
Faberry; Brittana
[Warnings: Non-Faberritana character death; language; graphic violence; suggestive situations]
Genre: Romance, Action, Adventure, Horror, Science Fiction


The government is forever overstepping boundaries, scientists are forever pushing ethical limits, politicians are forever sweeping mistakes under the rug. Then came the mistake that they couldn't contain and a few impulsive, power-hungry people were suddenly responsible for changing the world. Civilization collapsed over the course of three days.

-

It was almost humorous, Rachel thought, when every channel was filled with an emergency nationwide news bulletin. Really? It had taken that long to finally grow the balls to admit that the government had made a mistake by drugging all of its citizens? Her emotions were drained everything felt numbed and unreal. Shaky images of burning buildings, passenger planes intentionally crashed by their pilots, and fleeing groups of people struggling to get away from gutturally growling mobs. A group of scared, uncomfortable scientists were centered on screen as they explained exactly what they had done.

The reason for the death and destruction that was bringing the country to its knees was Serohestin, a recently created drug that was meant to act as a sort of sedative. The purpose had been to stop violent crimes and bring peace to the world as a whole by eliminating anger by keeping serotonin levels consistently high all of the time. In the trials, the scientists wouldn't look directly at the camera when discussing that bit of the story, it had seemed to work. However, when it was dumped into the water supplies, they hadn't counted on how dilution, individual physiology, and a number of other factors would change the outcome. A number of people hadn't been subjected to the risk including the scientists responsible for creating the drug, the President, Vice President, and others.

They explained the three types of reactions that people had to the drug. Rachel rubbed her eyes and shifted, feeling a stiffness in her limbs from having refused to move from her place on the couch. It had, for some reason, made sense in her mind when she decided that if she didn't acknowledge the corpses behind her, then they weren't there. She would need to face them sooner or later. More than that, she needed to get out of the house. She needed to get out of Lima. From the noises outside, it wasn't going to stay safe by just staying inside.

The first was something that they called Sudden Onset Berserker Syndrome, S.O.B.S., and it had been the reason that a portion of the population exposed to their drug flew into fits of rages. For all intents and purposes, the Berserkers were little more than animals. They would kill any and everyone that they came into contact with in an attempt to express the overwhelming rage and to sate their perpetual hunger for violence. The subjects that they had manage to force in and briefly observe showed no recognition of other human beings and animals. They didn't recognize family, friends, colleague, favorite childhood pet, nothing. There was absolutely nothing. They didn't acknowledge pain and it was reported that it had taken twelve shots from a sidearm to finally take one down.

Of course, none of those shots had been directly into the heart or head. It was confirmed that violent damage to the brain and heart would definitely kill a Berserker. They were easy to spot because the time that they didn't spend trying to destroy those around them was spent animatedly talking to themselves in low tones, sweating heavily and a jerky gait when they walked. The only thing that they didn't actively try to kill was each other. In fact, when with other Bersekers, they grouped together and formed packs. They were a little stronger and faster than usual because their brains were subject to a flood of adrenaline when they went in for the kill. They had been seen cannibalizing their victims. The scientists choked a little and glanced at each other before adding that the victims hadn't necessarily been deceased when consumed.

She grimaced, swallowing thickly as she made the connection. Scott had been a Berserker.

The second was what the scientists named The Bundy Effect. They simply referred to those with the reaction as Bundies. It seemed sick, almost, because the term sounded harmless enough. Hell, if it was misheard it sounded like someone was saying 'bunnies'. Bundies, however, were at the other end of the spectrum from bunnies. Bundies were the people who had acted like the best possible version of themselves, were unnaturally docile and polite after the first exposure. It took about twenty-four hours for them to return to how they normally acted, but there would be a distinct change in their brain function after that period of time. It was found that the prefrontal and orbital cortexes were irreparably damaged and thus rid the afflicted of ethics and moral decision-making as well as the ability to control impulses. It caused the Bundies to lack morals, normal social behaviors and empathy.

Bundies were able to closely mimic normal emotions by using memories of past experiences. They were coherent, charming, more confident and rather likable overall. They were, however, twisted behind the smiles. Within hours of the brain succumbing to The Bundy Effect, they were focused on only a few things: their own amusement, murder and sex. Bundies, it turned out, saw extensive torture to be an endless source of entertainment. They spent hours torturing an individual after lulling them into a false sense of security and raped them repeatedly and violently. Bundies could be anyone. A teammate, a coworker, a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a cousin, a daughter, a son. Anyone. They had very few tells of the inner monster and they were usually only noticed because of keen observation. A few gathered survivors had said that they had just "gotten a feeling" and that it was like "their eyes were empty." It was reportedly possible and common for Bundies to deteriorate into Berserkers.

Under this category fell Finn and Jacob (before he was murdered, of course).

The third group of people, and the smallest group of them all, were the Resistants. The scientists sheepishly admitted that they had absolutely no idea why some people were unaffected by Serohestin, but they just were. Even with continued consumption of polluted water, there was no reason that the resistance would fade. Resistants had no neurological damage or any other signs of having been negatively impacted by the Serohestin. They were simply the average, normal human beings. It seemed to somehow related to genetics, but, seeing as the responsible scientists were cut off and quickly swept away to some supposedly secret facility to try and fix their horrendous mess, there was no one to study the loose correlation of family members and resistance to the drug.

If it was a specific gene or gene combination, it would take a whole bunch of tests to discover and that was something that nobody had the time for anymore. If it was a genetic trait, then it was recessive because it was obvious that there were far more people affected than unaffected. The Resistants were vastly outnumbered by Beserkers and Bundies. It made for a world full of untrustworthy people, hopelessness and death.

Mr. Schuester was like her, a Resistant. Wait. He had been like her. Past tense. Finn, rather the beast inhabiting his body, had probably finished Mr. Schue off after gouging out his eyes in the middle of a crowded hallway. That still left a couple that seemed like they were Resistants: Quinn, Santana, Brittany, possibly Sam. Random kids here and there that she saw throughout the day but never learned the names of. It was funny how she never would have given them a second thought before and now she wished that they would suddenly appear to keep her company.

It wasn't going to happen.

Rachel glanced out through the window at the crumbling world outside for the umpteenth time. The reason that her only real family was dead was because of a bunch of greedy, idealistic scientists. Not just her family, either. Her peers from school were all probably dead, fighting to stay alive or monsters. And she had survived and come out of the scandal without being transformed into a wolf in sheep's clothing. An exceptionally cruel, unnecessarily homicidal wolf in the wool of a particularly fluffy lamb. And it was basically a fluke. It was because of sheer luck that she hadn't begun murdering those around her.

The government that they were supposed to trust had done this to them. They had destroyed countless families and friends all over the globe. There was no reversing the process, no controlling the riots and slaughter, no law or order to anything. When you poison your armies, law enforcement, and politicians with the same thing that you use on your citizens, it can't possibly come as a surprise that they are affected in the exact same ways. There is nothing special about such public protectors or organizers that they would automatically be immune to the drug. The reality was that people were ripping each other apart. Brothers-in-arms were probably at each other's throats both literally and figuratively. Politicians probably were or already had torn about their entire families. Those in positions of civilian law enforcement and public protection were probably setting buildings aflame just for the fun of seeing something burn to the ground with people screaming for help from within.

The reality was that help wasn't coming for anyone.

Her eyes widened and she fumbled with the controller to hurriedly press the power button in order to make her television shut-up. The sounds of howling and nonsensical screeching were coming down the street. Glass shattered somewhere in the distance followed by several loud bangs and the heart-wrenching cries of a child. The neighborhood was quickly being overridden. It couldn't be avoided any longer. She had to abandon her childhood home while it was still a realistic possibility that she could run without immediately being taken down. The crying child continued, the sound carrying even though it was somewhat muffled by the walls and windows.

Right. Time to pack.

Rachel took in a deep breath and stood. It took a few moments to get her tense muscles to cooperate enough to comfortably move around. She couldn't afford to waste time any more, though. She had to just swallow the bile that rose into her mouth every time she even considered looking around the rest of the house and do what had to be done. She had to enlist all of her self-discipline and control over her body to keep her eyes looking right ahead and not at the knife sticking out of her Daddy's skull or the mutilated corpse of her Dad with its corresponding splatters of blood. The sixty seconds that she stood in the doorway to her room felt as though they were the longest she had ever experienced.

Still, she forced her body into motion with a mental checklist already forming as she rummaged through her closet for the plain, sturdy canvas backpack she knew was hanging somewhere within. She couldn't afford to second guess herself on what she decided to bring. The bag had to be strong, which she knew it was, and its contents had to be only the necessities. A change of clothes, several pairs of socks and undergarments; a metal water bottle adorned with a single golden star; MP3 player and charger (she couldn't bring herself to leave it and it didn't take up much room); a wind-up flashlight; a small first aid kit equipped with a few variously sized band-aids, cotton balls, a roll of gauze, a couple of small bandaging pads, tweezers, small scissors, packets of alcohol swabs and an elastic wrap; the photo booth picture of Dad, Daddy and herself, all smiling broadly; three six-inch tall notebooks and several pens; a small container of needles and neat miniature spools of thread in different colors. A scream that was particularly too close drove her from her room without another glance and down to the kitchen when she slid a little on a slick of blood.

Her stomach turned over but she had to gather food. What was it that Puck was always rambling on about Finn about when it came to their lengthy discussions of preparation and survival strategies during a zombie apocalypse? She found herself smiling tightly and tears threatening to make an appearance again when a little voice in her head wondered if the boy was still alive. Semi-perishables. That was it. She had wondered why, during the end of the world, one would choose any sort of food that wasn't non-perishables. No time to think about that now. Puck had thought the scenario through far more than she had and if there was one thing that the boy was serious about, it was planning for an apocalypse.

Unfortunately, it was as she was considering her food options that there was the sound of crashing glass from the other room and a howl tore through the air. Okay, time's up. Her trembling hands seized a couple of protein bars and a plastic bottle of water to stuff into her bag before securing the straps tightly. She tried as hard as she could to remain quiet as she slipped through the back door into the yard. There the first choice of her new life was presented to her. She could either cut around the house and use the streets or stick to running behind the houses. It wasn't hard to decide that she would just stay in the yards.

Behind her, she could hear the front door splinter and primitive grunting sounds as her house was invaded by any number of Berserkers. Her legs were swiftly carrying her away from imminent discovery before she consciously thought about how stupid it was to just stand there with nothing but a glass door between her and cannibalistic animals.

Could they really be considered to be more than animals? Without a conscience, morals, visible emotions, did they still have souls? How could a soul really be defined anyway? Plenty of people claimed that dogs, cats and other creatures had souls. She, in fact, was among those believers. So, what separated the souled from the soulless? How was it to be defined? What exactly made a human human? Could she demote them from a human classification just because they murdered and ate others alive? Plenty of animals did the exact same thing. No. No. It was different. It just was. She couldn't explain how it was, but it was. To be honest, she knew that it was something that she would never be able to wrap her head around.

It wasn't difficult to pass through each of the yards except for a slight struggle she had to clamber over a fence where she felt something sharp dig into her knee on the descent. She ignored it, though she found herself wishing that she had thought to bring actual pants instead of just shorts. It occurred to her that she should be able to grab clothing by cutting through to the shopping center that was only a little ways away. It was a mile, maybe two miles maximum. That wouldn't be difficult to get to at all. The fact that she was in excellent shape was a comforting thought as she felt something like a smile creep onto her face for the briefest of moments.

Soft, haunting laughter was enough to wipe away any momentary reassurance that she had felt. The sound made her heart quicken in time with her rushed strides. Every sense that she had prickled at her skin annoyingly and urged her to take cover behind something, anything that would hide her from view. As it was no time to question her most basic survival instincts, Rachel did exactly that. The little brunette threw herself down on the ground and rolled underneath a cluster of neatly groomed bushes as fast and quietly as she could. It became obvious that those demands that she hide were not paranoid as her eyes widened at the sight of a young man stroll out on the porch of the house, wiping one hands casually on his pants. It really didn't do much seeing as much of his visible clothing was caked with what she could only say was blood. That wasn't the most disturbing aspect of the scene before her.

The single most sickening, frightening thing about the sight before her was the off-white something that was held loosely in the boy's grip. He couldn't have been older than thirteen, yet he seemed totally at ease with the situation he was in. He pulled out a simple swiss army knife, flicked it open, and began scrapping away the meaty parts with the blade. He was whistling under his breath, very focused on whittling away at what Rachel was beginning to realize was not wood or any synthetic material. She had to squeeze her eyes shut, clamp a hand tightly over her mouth and breathe through her nose as her body caught up with her thought process. What the boy was carving away at was bone. It was not any sort of domestic slaughter animal's bone, that would have been too acceptable. Rachel cursed her memory for the anatomy of the human body. No, what the boy was doing was chipping a sharp spearlike weapon out of one end of a human radius. It was an arm bone.

What was worse was that Rachel, who had always been jokingly praised by her fathers for have above average hearing, could recognize agonized sobs and moaning coming from within the average two-story home. It meant one of two things and, considering the explanation of how Bundies acted for their own pleasure, it was going to be the more horrifying option. It seemed like a long time that she lay there under the bushes, but the time did come that the boy appeared satisfied with his handiwork. A grin lit his features, but it didn't have the normal, brightening effect that smiles had with normal people. If anything, it made him look more sinister. The dark eyes scanned the yard for a few seconds before he turned on his heel and almost bounced back inside.

If the resonating scream was anything to go by, the owner of that arm was about to be stabbed to death with his or her own bone. The words spoken inside were muffled and Rachel didn't care to hear what he had to say in any case. She carefully exited her hiding place and pulled herself over the second fence rather ungracefully. It ended with her safe but aching due to the hard, awkward landing of her body on the ground. It might have even been a little funny, her landing, if she wasn't scared out of her mind by the resumed, echoing screams coming from the house of the yard she had just left.

It ended up that Rachel was forced to take cover far more than she would have liked. It was slowing her progress, but there was no longer any such thing as excessive paranoia. Berserkers were roaming the streets in every growing packs. They growled, roared, howled and grunted like an odd mix of early man and wolf. They didn't use words from what Rachel could hear and some part of her found that extremely worrying. If they didn't use a language, then how were they communicating? There was no question that the Berserkers, in fact, were somehow sending and interpreting messages with each other. Excluding the occasional locking of eyes or snuffle, the man-beasts really didn't interact much while still acting as a cohesive, cooperative unit. At least with the Berserkers, she had some way of hearing the far earlier than she saw them. They never saw her because she would huddle down and remain motionless until they found something of interest or moved on to ransack something else.

They presented problems for her when she actually reached the shopping center. Every building was full of either corpses, Berserkers tearing people apart and then playing with or consuming their remains, or Bundies stringing people up to hang from every available inch of ceiling that they could spare. She saw plenty of Resistants that had not been smart or fast enough to escape what she knew was going to be a long, painful death. Not to mention that many buildings had been set on fire and billowed heavy black and grey smoke into the air.

The Bundies were nearly impossible to identify and it was enough reason for her to avoid all humans beings as a solid rule. They newly created indiscriminate murderers could fake fear and she had actually seen one do so while she was approaching the city limits of Lima. A pair of boys had been intent on leaving and were taking a path parallel to her own. Rachel had kept a careful eye on them as she crept through shadows and worked hard to remain out of plain sight at all costs. They were both skinny, but well-conditioned enough to be something like tennis or soccer players. If she had seen them back before Hell broke loose on earth and high school mattered, she would have thought that they were hotter than Puck. Then a woman had come running toward them, holding her arms out wide and crying loudly about how she had lost her child somewhere in the mayhem. It was around that time that the brunette, curious and worried about whether or not the story was true, hunched behind cover in order to peer through and watch the interaction closely. Everything had seemed to be just as it was on the surface until the boys, thinking themselves to be chivalrous good samaritans, turned their back on the woman for just a few seconds.

It had all happened so fast that Rachel couldn't stop her level of fear from increasing and pounding in her head. The woman had totally relaxed. Her shoulders didn't shake from crying and her eyes were fixated on those two boys. A knife, apparently a favorite tool of the afflicted, was pulled delicately from a small, flip-open knife. She moved swiftly and even quieter than Rachel. The three-inch or so blade was plunged deeply into the back of the brunette's neck and then forcefully twisted. The woman wrapped one arm around the boy's body. She adjusted her grip on the blade and then, with all of her force, began dragging her weapon around the entirety of the neck. What was left as a result was a deceased boy with an almost decapitated head. The second boy, a blonde, had been staggering away and just broke into a flat-out run away from the woman who had just murdered his companion. He wasn't looking where he was going and didn't appear to have a firm grasp on what kind of terrain he was running on. As a result, he skidded over some gravel and was sent tumbling to the ground. She threw her whole weight down on top of him and dragged the serrated edge of the knife up his arms to leave long gashes in its wake.

Rachel gave up on the idea of getting clothes or a more reliable food supply. She didn't want to see whatever it was that the Bundy had in store for her second victim. She had no means through which to help and so had only one realistic option: run away. If she ran, she was going to live for a little while longer. She did her absolute best to block out the laughter and yells of pain that echoed through the air behind her. There was nothing she could do for him. It struck a slight chord when she thought about just how easy it had been for her to leave a boy to a gruesome fate. Well, it should have struck something as far as she was concerned. She had almost hoped that it could help her feel some type of emotion even if was irritation.

When Rachel crossed the border out of Lima, Ohio and made her way running down the side of the highway, she never once looked back.

That was the third day; the last day of organized civilization in the United States of America as well as numerous other countries all over the world.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
ordgar
Aug. 12th, 2011 09:27 pm (UTC)

This story is great so far cannot wait for the next instalment, although after reading the last chapter had planned what I might need in such an emergency - let's hope won't happen!!

marsobscura
Aug. 14th, 2011 10:38 pm (UTC)
Holy. Crap.

I can't help wondering when I read or watch apocalyptic stuff like this is whether or not I'd be able to survive during the whole thing... Man, good job Rachel Berry. I wonder how she's going to find Quinn, Santana and Brittany if she's running out of town...

She shoulda grabbed a car... hmm...
mrtoulouse
Aug. 24th, 2011 09:53 pm (UTC)
No internet for over a week and I get back to two updates? Just - yes. Awesome.

I never thought I'd be thankful for not having an internet connection, but when, like with the first two chapters, I can blow through two in a row it seem almost worth it. I'm really enjoying reading this, and I only get more excited for the next part with the growing intensity of each chapter. I'm in rapt anticipation of what's to come next now that we're finally reaching the point of 'all hell breaks loose', y'know?

I love the names you came up for the two sub-sets. 'Bundies' has a great ring to it, and the complete acronym for 'Berserkers' cracked me up (I didn't pay it much mind until I scrolled back up to check it, when it made me chuckle; I hope that was intentional, it's fantastic!) And the opening with Rachel sitting watching the T.V., her fathers' corpses behind her, is really striking - that almost normal moment before everything snaps? - it's some strong imagery, real chilling.

For Rachel's sake I hope she meets up with other people soon, for all her excellent packing (I especially want to congratulate her for choosing a wind-up flashlight, haha), she didn't have the foresight to pack any weapons... Oh, and I wanted to extend a kudos to you for not going easy on the violence; you deliver according to your warnings. There've been a couple toe-curling moments in these last chapters.
asutex
Aug. 25th, 2011 01:24 am (UTC)
Thank you!

Yes, the acronym was very intentional and I'm thrilled that you caught that. Bundies are named for Ted Bundy and the Berserkers are named for the warriors of Old Norse literature. I spent about a week doing the appropriate research to match the personalities to Bundies closely to Ted Bundy just as the Berserkers are as uncontrollable and raging enough as the warriors are described to be. When I write, long hours of reading and research tend to come with it.

It's a bit ridiculous, how I chose what Rachel would pack and forget. I literally stood in the center of my room, closed my eyes and was like, 'I'm Rachel Barbra Berry. I have to gay dads, I probably live as greenly as possible, I'm vegan. And I have ten minutes to pack for survival before someone eats me alive. GO!' And thank you for kudos. I have a dark mind with this story, so the graphic violence seems to write itself.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )