The Infection: Ebola

by Bennett Elisha Cullison, age 11
The Infection: Ebola Bennett is 11. He likes to cook, likes geography, spelling, and loves puppies, and kittens. He has many hobbies. He loves infectious diseases!

“Dad? Why are you here?” I asked confused. His stubby beard twitched and his eyes twinkled. “We’re moving” he said. “The disease has hit Arlington.”

DAY 1

I woke up.

“Wha, why?” This was supposed to be a sleepover, it isn’t like Mark to sleep in. The sun was gleaming through the window. I rubbed my bleary eyes and only then realized that Mark wasn’t in bed. I heard talking and rustling downstairs, so I untangled myself from the sheets and followed the voices to Mark’s yard. He was hiding behind his mother shivering with excitement. “W-what’s going on?” I asked, tired from the constant night.

“The best thing that’s ever gonna be going on!” he replied, excited. It really annoys me how much he forgets things. I ask him a question and he replies with something that makes me ask more questions, but doesn’t answer my question in the first place.

“What is going on?” I asked again coolly.

“Fine, ebola has hit North Carolina and we’re going north! The disease is spreading in every direction!” he yelled really fast.

I had heard of ebola. I actually did a project on it. It slowly bleeds you and it’s super contagious. “Bro! This ain’t something to be excited about! Ebola kills you! You bleed to death!” I whispered. His smile quickly faded and suddenly looked real, real scared.

”You mean we could actually die? Not like Dragonball-Z-Kai manga die?” he faintly moaned.

“Actually die, seriously. Are you relating death to Dragonball? We’re 11.” I responded. I strained to look past Mark’s mom, who was talking to someone, but her long black hair was in the way of my eyes.

“Louie.” I heard the faint voice behind me, “Please take me with you.” Suddenly I got really mad, I didn’t know what the heck was happening, so I barged into Mark’s fat mom, almost knocked her over, and stepped outside in my pjs, and there was my dad in his big yellow Jeep, crammed with stuff from home.

“Dad? Why are you here?” I asked confused. His stubby beard twitched and his eyes twinkled. “We’re moving” he said. “The disease has hit Arlington.”

While the parents talked to each other Mark and I played soccer outside. “So, do you think your mom is going to let you come?” I queried. “I dunno, she really likes this house, we were kinda house poor when we got this place, she spent all her money on it. What about all our friends?” he asked. “Well, dad said that he had kinda gotten a caravan set up of all the neighbors and friends that live in this area. This is the last house we’re gonna hit, a few people didn’t wanna come, your mom’s keepin’ the group waitin’. Do ya wanna see how many people are waiting, I actually don’t know, ‘cause I was staying at your house while dad asked people to come.”

“Sure!”

We walked towards Mark’s green front yard, and could already see a huge line of cars on the street. Subarus, Jeeps, Toyotas, Land Rovers, and big Honda Pilots were lined up. “Whoa,” Mark whispered. We went out back to play soccer again in the back yard.

“Dang, if the disease has already hit Arlington, it’s gonna get here in DC in like five minutes.” I thought out loud. We passed the ball around a few times before Mark accidentally hit the ball into the hydrangeas, I said I would get it, and suddenly it went over the neighbor’s wall. “A little help here?” I asked. Mark came over and gave me a boost, and I climbed over the big brick wall and landed on my feet in the yard. I did a full 360 degree scan and found the soccer ball in a thorny bush. Ouch! Those things really hurt!

As I turned towards Mark’s yard I heard a loud groan and thump. I turned this time towards the back alleyway and saw a bedraggled man lying face-down. I started towards him, thinking that he had a heart attack or something, because I couldn’t hear him say anything. Suddenly everything went quiet for a second, the birds stopped tweeting, the parent’s talking stopped, and I couldn’t hear Mark’s footsteps. The hairs on my neck rose, and my heart was racing.

The man was bleeding from every skin pore on his body.

I let out a long, blood-curdling shriek. “AHHHHRGHCK!!!”

”Louie!!?” I heard Mark’s frantic voice behind me.

I really dunno how I managed to hurdle a five foot wall, I mean, I’m only a medium height 11 year old; either my sneakers were really springy or fear drove me. I think. Anyways, I jumped right over the wall and landed on Mark. “Louie, what’s hap-”

“Deadebolaguy!Deadebolaguy” I yelled really fast while pointing towards the alleyway through the wall. I untangled my legs from his, and got up and started running toward the house.”Hey, wait up!” Mark yelled.

I covered the hill to the house in no time. I tracked muddy footprints all over the furnished, wooden floor. Mark’s mom twisted her her head around and stared at me. “What on earth-“

”Deadebolaguy! Deadebolaguy!” I yelled really fast pointing at the lump on the alleyway. Mark rushed into the room, panting, and bent over to lean on his legs. Dad looked at Mark’s mom. “Make your decision!” he yelled.

DAY 2

“Alright peeps, let’s clear this joint! DC is being infected, we gotta go! Only get the essentials!” Dad was yelling at everyone while carrying a chair. “Anyone got extra space in their cars?” he yelled again while carrying food. I was exhausted, my hands had a lot of callouses and blisters.

“Dad, can I take a break?” I asked.

“Wait a sec son, I gotta get somethin’ from home. Hmm, sure, take a break.” He ran off in the direction of home.

”Oh, he’s gettin’ the big boy.” one of my 60 year old neighbors said to another. Twenty minutes later everyone heard honking outside. When I went outside, my jaw dropped: Dad had gotten a huge cargo truck! Everyone except for Mark’s family and I knew this.

“Go big or go home!” one person yelled.

Most people seemed cheery, but some didn’t. One muttered that we were probably going to get infected because we were taking so long to load everything. One of my favorite sayings was “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” I decided to have some fun with Mark.

“Hey Mark, let’s have some fun. Wanna explore the huge cargo truck?”

“Um, okay; shouldn’t we ask the adults?” Mark always was a bit nervous: that’s why we are friends. I totally am too confident.

I also never subside from some things, like that zombie dude. He really gave me the heebie-jeebies.

“Breh” I said with low sink in my eyes, “What is possibly bad about going into a cargo truck that’s owned by my father”. This just goes to show what a wuss Mark is. There was just boring junk in the truck. “See, nothing bad in here.”

“Yeah I guess you’re right”.

I heard a honk, and a yell followed. “We’re leaving!” my dad yelled. “Mark! Go find your mom, fast! We’re leaving!” I jumped out of the truck and ran to the front of the line of cars and jumped into the Jeep, and sat down in the car. It was already dusk. I was about to say something when my dad interrupted me, “Go to sleep son, I’ll explain things in the morning.” I didn’t object. I was tired.

 Day 3

I woke up. I stretched my back a lot and let out a bit of a groan and opened my eyes fully. In most stories I’ve read the person wakes up and it takes a moment to realize where he is. That’s not true. I woke up and remembered every detail of the last day. I looked to my Dad, who was sternly focused on the road. I can understand why he was so focused on the road. On most drives to the North he got lost because he couldn’t read some of the signs. He didn’t mind a big detour when it was only us traveling, but now he had lives in his hands. Don’t get the wrong idea, it’s serious, not in those stories where it’s kinda sarcastic. He was trying to go north but on the smallest roads so no people would jump on the cars to go north with us. I am scared at every corner of the dark, dark road, thinking that some weirdo lumberjack would jump from a big spruce tree onto the Jeep. I should really stop thinking about stuff like that. I’m kind of acting like Mark. God no.

      DAY 4

My stomach started growling like a lion; we were running out of snacks. We couldn’t even pull over to a fast food joint. They are abandoned. “Dad, where did all the the food go?”

”You ate it all”. OOP! I didn’t even leave some for Dad! That makes me feel bad. However hungry I am, he is three times more. And he’s driving.

I look ahead. There isn’t much to see. Just some plains. A dirt road. I just stare at the the beauty. The winds rush through the wheat fields on both sides of us. A small forest approaches us. More like a clump of trees. We start passing through the island of trees, and I see squirrels jumping around with nuts in their mouths. I never really realized how beautiful nature is without humans. I even starting to wish that humans went extinct and turned into animals. Then the world would be perfect.

Nature is beautiful.

I feel some sort of rumbling in my trance. But I don’t mind it. I continue watching the animals and even start to notice the plants.

But the animals noticed. Not some of the animals. All of the animals.

Suddenly all the animals scampered into their holes and the birds took off. “Dad, all the animals left!”

“Humpf” he replied with some sort of grunt. We suddenly broke out of the small forest and back out on to the sunny, bright farm road. I went back scanning the nature. I notice now that one side of the road now has tobacco growing. I see a weird column of dirt not far off. I squint my eyes to see better.

Oh. My. God. “Dad!?” I asked. He replied with a grunt, still concentrated on the road. “DAD!!!!!” I yelled! The thing was getting closer.

He turned his head towards me and stared. “Louie?” he asked. The thing was really close now!

“TORNADO!!!”

“Holy crap!” Dad pulled over, pushed on the emergency brake, and squashed some tobacco plants. He slowly came out of the car and stood looking at mother nature approaching. Heads started popping out of cars and many multitudes of gasps followed. My Dad just stood there watching. Remember I said that nature was beautiful? NOT TRUE! My dad was still, and the tornado was approaching. Everybody was staring at Dad waiting for some sort of command. Time seemed to stop. The tornado was huge. It was at least half a mile long. My Dad turned around with a hysterical look on his face and started waving his hands around. As he swung around his glasses flying about 5 feet in midair before it was sucked into the tornado.

“Go! Go! Don’t wait for us!” The tornado was only a fifty yards away and coming fast. “Go! Go!” Even though his words were jumbled because he was so worried and speaking so fast the people in the group seemed to get the idea from his hand signals and started moving down the road at top speed. “Go! Go!” he yelled at the cars that were moving by. Dad’s shirt and khaki pants were flapping wildly.

Suddenly even his shirt was ripped off and his buff abdomen muscles were exposed. There were five cars left but it seemed like ten. The cars were rocking wildly, and one cars front had even popped off. My heart was beating extremely fast right now. The Jeep was almost sideways. I thought the whole car would just tip over. Suddenly the driver’s door flew open, see, that corner of the yellow car was closest to the tornado. I looked out the window of my seat. The tornado was ten yards away. I was really freakin’ scared right now. I was starting to get sucked through the door that had flown open. Then I remembered something. “Dad?”… No reply. I started to break down. We will have died, but we saved many lives.

As I started thinking about what would be in our obituary, I heard a voice. “A little help here, Louie!?” It was Dad.

“Whe-Where are you?” I asked.

“Hanging by the door.”

“Hanging by the do-?” He cut me off.

“Help me! Quick, we only have a few seconds!”

Oh no, I couldn’t find any way to get Dad. The tornado probably have hit us by now, but somehow, it had shifted direction: we had a few more seconds to live, then I had an idea.

“Dad, hang on, I about to do something!” I yelled.

“I am, literally!” he shyly joked. Then he got serious. “We only have ten seconds!” I knew he was right, the tornado only 20 feet away. This had to work. The back of the Jeep was hanging in mid-air. If Dad hadn’t hit on the emergency brakes we would be dead right now. Here we go! I pull on the seat belt.

7…

I pull on it even more. The tornado is pulling Dad’s pant’s off.

6…

The seatbelt can’t go any further. Dad can’t reach it. I yell,”Jump!”

5…

The car is at a 45 degree angle. It’ll start flying soon. Moment of truth.

He jumps.

4…

Dad misses the belt! Thank God! He hangs on with one finger in the buckle.

3…

I start pulling him, but he yells at me. “Hit the gas, I wont make it in time!

2…

I let go. I climb over the seat. I think dad is still hanging onto the seatbelt.

1…

I hit the gas pedal.

The car comes down with big crash. “Yowch! Stop driving I need to get in!” Dad screams.

“Quick! Were not out of the woods yet.” The tornado is literally ten feet away!

He runs into the car with the seat belt for safety. He had cuts all over!

“Quick, keep on going! Get to the other side of the highway so we can parallel the tornado! Keep on going after that!” I follow his instructions with great difficulty. Man, I am not the one to crack under pressure

“You should already have your driver’s license!” He says.

“Ha! I’m the only one on the highway!” Wait. Why aren’t we pulling over and letting Dad drive?

“Dad?”

”I know what you’re thinking Louie. The tornado hasn’t dissipated, so were not out of the woods yet. The tornado might even hit the group ahead! Quick stop and let me drive!”

Aw man, I really wish that we didn’t have a group with us. We probably would have been much closer to our destination. But since we had 20 cars with us, going on small roads was treacherous. At one point we were even moving at 3 miles per hour. The tornado finally dissipated. “Thank goodness!” He breathed out relief. I did too. That was the second bad thing that happened to me on the trip.

“Dad, where are we even going to?” I had forgotten to ask that question.

“Victoria Island.” he grunted as usual. Victoria Island! That was on the other side of Canada! That was even further than Vancouver! I started going hysterical.

“Where are we?” I asked meekly, I was starting to get angry and carsick.

“Oh, well we just went past the sign that said ‘Bonjour, Quebec’.” No. Freakin’. Way.

“We’re only in Quebec!? Are you serious!? I wish we had left the group behind!” My Dad did not like that. He gave me a cold, long stare.

“So you think that you would choose the lives of others over a long car drive. Think about what you’ve just said. If you weren’t my son I would have enough sense to leave you back in DC with the infected. How could you even think about leaving your best friend behind!? Go to sleep.”

I was shocked.

DAY 5

“Wake up son.” My Dad said. I opened my to eyes to a blurry, bright world. “I wanted to say sorry about last night. I got a little bit angry about you complaining. I really don’t like them coming with us too. It’s just the right thing. I hope you understand that. I’m also really tired from last night. Having no food for 2 days also coincides with that. We’re about to do something related to food that you will really like.” A grin broke out on his face.

“Yeah I’m sorry too.” I mumbled through drowsiness.

A short while later Dad pulled over. “Here we are.” I looked outside.

Nothing but a fast food joint. I saw a Chic-Fil-A, Taco Be- Wait, the stores here are abandoned. My Dad was yelling at people to pull over and get out of their cars. Everybody was groaning about food like me. When everybody was pulling over, Dad took an axe out of the back of the Jeep, and started walking up the drive-thru for McDonalds. I ran after him. “Dad, why is this fast food joint abandoned? We’re in Quebec! Isn’t it safe here?”

“No son, Canada is almost fully infected.”

“Then why are we staying there on Victoria Island!? Why not Switzerland or something!? The Time Magazine said that Europe was safe!”

“The Time lied. The whole world has almost been completely infected, haven’t you been following the radio over the last few months? Northwestern Canada and Greenland are the last safe havens for anybody who doesn’t want to run the risk of getting infected. I don’t want to scare you, but most people in Quebec are dead right now. This was the first place to get infected in North America; then a train from Quebec dropped off a sick person in North Carolina. That’s the story.”

I listened to about ⅛ of whatever the heck he said. But I remember him talking about this place being the first area to be infected. I was jumped out of those scary thoughts when I heard a loud crash.

“What the hell?” one of my neighbors yelled. My dad had bashed in the drivethru window. My dad turned around.

“It’s food and shelter,” he sighed.

“Why didn’t you bash in the door?” I asked.

“In case somebody else had the same idea to raid a joint, and threaten us. I don’t think they’d have the same idea to go through the drivethru window. A lot of people will know that getting food is more important than stealing jewelry.” Some old people had trouble getting, but everybody eventually got in. Everybody had Big Macs in their stomachs and space to sleep. Soon everybody was snoring away and dreaming.

Except for me. So I ate some chicken nuggets, and crashed.

 Day 6

I explored the McDonalds.

I wasn’t feeling good. Emotionally, not physically. Louie called me a wuss literally every day . I knew that I was one, but it’s so hard to change a personality. I was always a scaredy-cat, from the first day I started walking to yesterday. I tried to think about the good things. I went back to summer camp. When I won second place in the archery tournament, when I went ziplining in Massachusetts, when I went to Hershey Park. Then I was sad again. I shuffled over to the deep-fryer for chicken nuggets. People say that McDonalds tastes bad, but their chicken nuggets are actually addictive. Everything in the kitchen looked up to date, as french fries were ready to fry, and burgers half cooked on the grill.

“What are you doing, honey?” Mom had woken up.

“Just hanging around,” I replied.

“Do you want to help me make breakfast?” she frowned as she looked around at the available ingredients.

“Oh I’m so happy we passed that Whole Foods on the way here. The stuff here is so healthy!?” Mom said sarcastically.

“Mom, society is crumbling, ebola is taking the world, vitamins and nutrition are the least of our worries.”

She looked at me with a strange look, and then said, “I suppose you’re right.”

As we prepared some bacon we heard a loud banging from outside the back door. Some shouts ensued. “Let us in! We need food!” Instead of running to the door to let the people in, I ran to where everybody was sleeping. Mom was frozen in her seat. “Hey!” I shrieked “People are banging on the door! They might break the glass!”

My body kind of worked without my brain. It’s funny how it does that. My Mom had been talking literally the whole drive about the bad things about ebola. Not one good thing! Well, I guess there are none cuz’ it’ll be almost impossible to hotwire a Lamborghini. All she had been doing was scaring me on the trip. So of course I’m hysterical.

Louie and his Dad shot out of their sleeping bags in their pajamas. Louie’s dad pulled out a pistol from his pants. “I really don’t want to use this,” Louie’s Dad whispered as he ran over to the back door. The screams stopped. Once he reached the door, he poked his eyes out through the mail slot. Everyone was silent. “Don’t look out the window” he said solemnly.        

“But Miste-” I tried to say.

“Call me Buck, and don’t look outside” his voice quavered. Louie stayed with me as Buck left. I heard him comforting my shocked mom around the corner. He was kind of acting like he owned me. That made me angry.

I snapped out of some crazy thoughts I had about what was outside leaning against the back door from Louie’s voice. “Wanna see what’s out

there?” he asked.

“No!” I kind of whisper/shouted. “If your dad was somewhat scared we definitely shouldn’t look outside.”

“Whatever suits you, Mark’’ he said and stood up. His mouth dropped open and his eyes were like big white plates. He put his hand over his mouth and ran off with the same expression.

I never looked out the back door.

Day 7

I ate some chicken nuggets with some honey mustard. It was amazing. Then I had a Big Mac, amazing too. Best of all, a double quarter pounder. Oooo! My dream! A McDonald’s all you can eat buffet! I continued stuffing myself while Mark walked up.

“Mind if I join you?”

“Not. At .All!” I said between mouthfuls.

I had the biggest appetite in the whole class. I even won an all you can eat hamburger contest against adults!

“What did you see yesterday?” Mark asked.

“Why don’t you see for yourself?” I queried. “You too much of a wuss?” I meanly teased. Mark’s face turned red.

I will always regret that. First of all, it was really mean, and Mark had had enough of it. Second, you may think he’s small, but he’s a foot taller and wider than me.

He punched me in the stomach with all his might and literally sent me flying. He walked away angrily from the lump of flesh that was me to the bathroom. Then I dragged myself to the adults outside to leave.              

Day I Dunno

Day 9: Ontario looks just like Minnesota. Well, it’s so close I guess it must be. So many lakes outside. At one point on the road, everybody pulled over and jumped into some. We even broke into an abandoned farm!

People there probably died recently; the animals are still there. I’m really scared. Hopefully they don’t come back and try to shoot us. But even if they did, there’s thirty of us, so I’m sure we can take them on. We milked

the cows, and got eggs from the chickens! Mark and I kind of recovered

and explored the farm. There were even dogs there! We found some

beagles in the basement! There were beagles puppies under the couch!

So cute! We spent an hour cuddling with them. The adult dogs didn’t mind.

We ran up to Dad. “Dad, Dad! There’s puppies!”

“Puppies?” He perked up at that thought. He thought for awhile. “You guys can take the puppies, but you guys have to take care of them, as well as scavenge for food for them. Maybe when they grow up they’ll scent food!”

“Yes!” Mark and I gave each other a chest bump. We ran to the the cuties.

DAY SOMETHING

I’ve been losing track of days really bad. Hopefully someone else will tell me. That day we had gotten all kinds of goodness, cows, ponies, pigs, and other stuff. If you’re asking how on Earth we got that load over here to Western Canada; we put them in the cargo truck. And if you’re wondering how it took about a month to get here: debris. We even spent three days pushing a truck out of the way. Sometimes we just climbed over the obstacle and just stole some vehicles. We met a few lone survivors.

They joined the group without question. A young dude about my age also joined. He was found walking alone on around day 25: he seemed pretty traumatized, but we managed. His name is Christiano.

We are now at the bridge to Victoria Island! Finally! It shouldn’t have taken 30 days. Since day 15 or so, I’ve added a mode to my personality, Survival mode. I’ll explain later. I’m very nervous. Dad decided to camp at the beginning of the bridge for the night. All technological things have crashed. No more Facetime. No more Clash of Clans! All I hear is screams and fire crackling. It looks like there are huge fires all over the the city. One person is infected from unknown origins in our group. We’re keepin’ him in his car. The puppies are getting bigger. Mark and I are allowed to milk the cows.

  DAY SOMETHING

Most of the group went to the island to find a place to set up shop. The others stay back to guard the vehicles and the puppies. We’re across the long bridge now. This place smells of iron. Screams seem to be coming from deep in the city. Cars are turned over and abandoned. Something feels wrong. I thought the bridge would have a barricade and a warm welcome, but it looks deserted. “What the hell!?” Dad shouts. “Not only were the buildings on fire last night, this place is supposed to be nice, but I don’t see anything good about it. In fact, this place is about the opposite of what we want!” This place looks completely deserted. The desolate long halls make me feel as if I’m alone. Trash cans have been toppled, buildings caved in. Instead of happy, I’m scared. I kinda want to turn back.

“Dad, There are blood stains all around the street!” I yell. There’s one building across the street that’s completely on fire. Dad lets out a shout. “Anyone here!?” I’m still only hearing screams and fire. We turn a corner. And see a sight. People are fighting each other with knives and axes. Heads are flying. Some of the people are staring at us.

A few start running toward us. Blood is flying everywhere. Bits of human flesh fall from their teeth They are about 200 yards away. Oh my gosh, I start running back to the bridge. I see Dad shoot a crazy person in the leg, everyone in the group runs except Dad. He’s firing his pistol crazily. He’s yelling all the curse words he knows. We get to the bridge. “Dad! Come on!” I scream. All the screams have set off a carefully dangling skyscraper thingie. If it falls, we can escape. It definitely won’t hit Dad though. But It’ll trap the crazy people. Dad is firing his pistol instead of running. “DAD!” he looks up and sees they skyscraper. He runs like a panicked armadillo. The skyscraper is falling fast.  Everybody is screaming.

Dad is running with all his strength. A knife goes flying by his head.

Dad swears under his panting. The skyscraper comes down with the sound of billions of pounds of window and cement breaking. Krabooompsh!!! There is a huge cloud of dirt. We wait for the cloud to clear. We wait. And wait. And wait.

Finally, the cloud clears, but there’s no one there. But suddenly some rubble moves in the wreckage a few feet away.

“Dad!”

It’s not Dad. It’s a crazy person caked in dirt with a bloody knife. We all are petrified. Someone lets out a scream. Then the crazy person starts laughing. “It’s me guys!” he cackles. “It’s Buck!”

“You’re not Dad!” I yell. Unaware that he just said my Dad’s name. “He had a pistol!”

He wiped away the dirt on his face, and it was him. Everybody let out a sigh of relief. “How’d you get the knife?” I asked embarrassed. “Remember that guy threw a knife at my head?” Dad said. Then he Tsk Tsked while waving the knife. “Let’s get out of here!” Dad yells.  

We all run across the bridge.

When we’re in the middle of the bridge someone stops the group.

“Buck, what will do?” said a young man named Ian. Everyone looks at Dad, including me. I can tell he doesn’t know.

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