“I look off the roof of the building, staring down at humanity going insane. Something like this has never happened before. And there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I have three minutes before the world ends.”
Rebecca, 26, NYC; BGA Science Center
I look off the roof of the building, staring down at humanity going insane. Something like this has never happened before. And there’s nothing I can do to stop it.
I have three minutes before the world ends.
I hear the screams from the Earth below. They’re running away from the virus that is ruining their days. The thought that someone’s birthday is ruined today makes me feel uneasy. I look to see some people jumping off tall buildings as green figures follow them. I feel like I might faint.
I look down at the green goop on the floor of the scientist’s lab. There’s nothing I can do but stare at the shattered vial, and its insides spread around me like quicksand pulling me into the ground. There’s nothing I can do but cry.
I just let out the zombie apocalypse.
The world around me is tossing and turning. I feel dizzy, and nothing is in focus. Everything is blurry and muffled. I feel like I’m slipping out of consciousness. Is this what it feels like to go insane?
The best scientist in the world, Dr. Martin Corazin, trusted me with this vial of the virus, the very first time he’s trusted me with anything, and I’ve betrayed him.
I hear his voice echoing in my head, one of the very few words he’s ever said to me. The world is resting on you. If you can carry this vial up to the top of the building and wait for the drone to take it to NASA headquarters, you will save everyone’s life. If you drop it or open it just the tiniest bit, it will affect the air in nanoseconds, turning everyone who breathes enough of it into a zombie with an uncontrollable addiction to infecting. If you do drop it, we’ll have three minutes before the air gets completely infected.
I fall to the floor and sob until I can’t sob anymore. I look at my electronic watch. Just before it powers off, I see the time. It’s been nearly two minutes.
Suddenly, fear rushes through my body. I realize that I’ve been outside for too long, and I panic, twitching on the floor like I truly am insane. I need to go to a safe zone. I remember the emergency airlock on the fifth floor, fifteen floors down from where I am right now. I run to the door, skipping the elevator and going by stairs, because in the elevator, there’s no way to escape.
I run as fast as I’ve ever ran in my life. I can hear screaming, sobbing, everything you wouldn’t want to hear when you’re causing their pain. I feel a wave of guilt fall over me, but I keep going, trying to breathe only little snippets of air. I run until my feet are sore, until I see that marvelous number painted on the door by Dr. Corazin himself. I push it open, running to the airlock at the end of the hall. Written in large red letters I see Emergency Airlock. I look down at the keyboard. What’s the password? I realize that I’ve never heard the password. I panic, and trying not to breathe in too much air, I knock restlessly on the door. No reply. I know there are people inside, but why would they open the door during a zombie apocalypse? I start to put in random numbers and letters. I know that it’s only seven characters long, but what are they? My crying fit comes again, but I try not to tear up this time because I always gasp in air when I do. I hit my fist on the keyboard repeatedly until I hear a ding. The screen turns green, and the door unlocks. I sigh with relief, wiping my eyes and turning the knob of the door. I hear whimpers and screams as I open the door, and I realize that they all think I’m a zombie. Then I hear a rush of ease sweeping through the cramped room of people, and I try to find an empty spot where I can have just a little bit of space.
I hear someone ask when we can leave, and someone else replies with, “In a couple of minutes, the air isn’t contaminated anymore, and all of the zombies will die. But only less than one percent of humanity will stay alive.”
“That’s us,” I say.
I finally realize that we are the lucky ones — we are one of the few that survived. I feel strong now, knowing that I can and will survive the zombie apocalypse. I look down at my hands in power. I notice a very faint green undertone in my skin, and I finally grasp that I did not survive.
I am a zombie.
And everyone around me will have to be, too.