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PROLOGUE:

The day that would change everything started out like any other. I got up, donned my everyday attire, and prepared for another day at school.

My brother, Stan, was late to breakfast, forgetting to shower and brush his teeth. It was disgusting. He said the reason he was late was because he forgot to set his alarm clock, but judging from the noises that emanated from his room the previous night, I knew precisely the real reason: World of WarCraft.

As we rode the buss to school that morning, it was a tough decision to choose between making a joke about it being World of WarCrack, or World of WarCrap. All joking aside, though, he did need help, because if someone didn’t help him kick the vice, he would move on to harder stuff, like the sci-fi MMO’s, or maybe even Japanese porn games. If it ever came to that, there would be no way of getting him back into normal society from that point.

“Chris, shut up!” My brother replied to my joke, “I never make fun of your hobbies.”

I answered: “Oh yeah, well I wouldn’t have to if you didn’t go for weird and antisocial fantasy stuff.”

As we arrived at school, we headed to our first period classes, while he was frustrated by my comment, and I was embarrassed at how far he was from normal.


ANOTHER DAY AT SCHOOL:

The day started out all right. I got to check in with my girlfriend before first period, which was as boring as ever, so I didn’t stop talking to her as the class went on. Things started to get creepy by third period.

Third period was the only period I shared with Stan, but the things that took place that day were too weird even for him. About half way into the lecture, one of the students got up, and said he wasn’t feeling well, and asked the teacher to be excused. The teacher refused, and he returned to his seat. Everything appeared to be normal, but a few minutes later, he got up and spoke to the teacher again.

The second time, the student had blood coming out of his eyes and nose. The teacher told him to return to his seat, but he remained inert. The teacher told him again, in a louder voice that got all the students’ attention, but the sick student still didn’t move. Suddenly, the sick student grabbed the teacher, and bit him on the arm.

The teacher called the school police, and had him sent to the principal’s office, then continued his lecture like nothing happened.


RAVENOUS:

After that period, it was time for lunch. I was sitting alone in my usual spot with my girlfriend, hoping that my friends may show up, but not caring either way. Stan was sitting at the weird table away from the crowd with his group of like-minded losers, talking about all sorts of weird shit you couldn’t pay me to pretend to care about.

It was just like any other day, until the teacher from my last period showed up. The bite on his arm was bandaged, and he looked a little pale and had a mild cough. He was just about to dig into his packed lunch at the teachers’ table, when suddenly, he started to spasm and convulse. The other teachers started to shift away from him, while one got out his phone to call 911, and another put her hand on his shoulder. Big mistake… He immediately jerked his twitchy head in her direction, and chomped off several of her fingers with a singularly loud crunch. At that point, the entire lunch room was focusing on the faculty table, even the losers sitting with Stan were snapped out of their own little worlds of fantasy by the very real shrieking of the teacher clutching her mutilated hand, as the diseased teacher made a sickly gurgle while swallowing the fingers.

The teacher who just lashed out with relentless violence now had blood percolating from his eyes and nose, and now I knew what he was… Ravenous: That’s what I decided to call them, because that’s what they are! The bitten teacher with the missing fingers became ravenous too, and began running after the students, while the first teacher to get infected turned to the other teachers, and regurgitated a fountain of blood upon their faces, signing their death warrants.

Within an instant, the students were stampeding out of the cafeteria. In the panic, my friends were lost in the commotion, swept away by the mindless and uncontrollable tide of the sea of people, whipped up into a tropical storm by the violent outburst.

As the crowd dispersed upon leaving the building, I stood outside, alone, having to fend for myself in any way I could. The school was in ruins, with windows broken and doors flung off their hinges, smoke pouring out of it like an industrial factory. Crashed cars littered the streets. Luckily, one of the crashed cars happened to be a cop car that looked like it had been gone through. I searched the car, and found a .45 cal. Revolver, with ammo to spare under the passenger seat. I loaded the revolver, and began to walk the long way home.


ON THE WAY HOME:

Before I was a whole block away from the school, I heard a familiar yet irritating voice. “Hey! Chris! Wait up!” It was my brother. He ran up to me, winded after the short jog. Though I didn’t look forward to dragging him along, I couldn’t leave him at the mercy of the ravenous.

We started walking home, my self slowing down to match his pace. Suddenly, with an uproarious sound, a ravenous burst out from between two boarded up houses, rocketing toward us at a full sprint. I took aim, and within a split second, fired a bullet that hit him square in the face, blood and brain matter and eyeballs ejected out the back of his skull. I could see what was behind his head through the circular hole that completely supplanted his face, and I didn’t like what I saw.

More ravenous had been alerted by the noise, and where one fell, two more rushed out from the alley to take his place. I fired another shot as the two traveled in a straight line towards me. The first ravenous was struck across the spine with a high caliber hollow-point round, dropping him limp to the ground in two halves while the leaden projectile punched cleanly through the one behind, taking out several vertebrae along with a lot of grisly viscera.

“Wow! That was…” exclaimed Stan before I cut him off. “SHUSH!” I said while clasping my hand over his mouth. “Didn’t you just see how they were attracted to sound?” I whispered. “Now we need to be quiet if we’re going to get home alive.” I reloaded the revolver, and continued, silently, towards home.

The short lived stillness was broken when we were suddenly attacked once more. A fat and bloated man leaning out the window of a car watched us ravenously as we passed by. When we had our backs turned to him, he vomited his intestines at us! My little brother shrieked as the coils and coils of soft, pink flesh wrapped around his waist, and pulled him to the ground. I wheeled around, ready to scold him for making noise, when the site of Stan wrapped in glistening, viscous guts put my mind on a more pressing issue.

Stan began to scream a second time, but the intestines whipped their way into his mouth, silencing and beginning to asphyxiate him, as their ravenous owner was steadily swallowing his digestive tract, dragging Stan closer and closer to rows of eagerly awaiting teeth and claws! With a single well placed shot, I severed the coils of guts wrapped around Stan, and with a second shot, I bull’s eyed the gas tank of the car and made it combust, immolating the ravenous within.

As I reloaded the revolver, Stan shook off the limp and lifeless digestive organs, and got to his feet. He began to examine them, and to my disappointment, started speaking again. “Did that thing just use it’s intestines as an appendage? I couldn’t believe intestines could move like that, at least not on a normal human.”

“Who said it was normal? Or human?” I retorted.

“But do you know what this means?” he said: “They’re changing. They can go through mutations, nay, evolution!”

“Even now, you still won’t stop talking about genetics and evolution and all that stuff, huh?” I said. “I’m starting to wish I never unbound your mouth from those intestines. Anyway, be quiet! We’ve already attracted more than enough of those things, and I’m starting to run out of ammo.” I explained.

The two of us were once again silent, as we ambled back to our house. The sun was starting to set, as we saw a welcoming and familiar sight. Our house stood pristine and welcoming against the bleak landscape created by the ravenous, its porch light a beckoning beacon in the mild dimness of the setting sun.


DEATH IN THE FAMILY:

We stepped inside, myself holstering my revolver, and Stan placing his coat drenched in vital fluid on the coat rack. “What’s going on out there?” Asked Mom. “Why did you take so long to come home?” Asked Dad.

“No time to explain…” I replied. “We need to make the house safe before they get here!”

“Who?” Asked my parents.

I didn’t reply, but instead turned on the TV, to reveal a news report of the ravenous in their unrelenting campaign of vile and corrupted instinct. They immediately understood, and agreed to help me arrange the furniture in a way to block all the doors. After that, I went out to dad’s tool shed to get some nails and boards with which to secure the windows.

I was getting ready to ask my mother to help me board up some windows, while father helped Stan seal the others, but then I came to a sudden realization: Where is Stan?

I ran upstairs to Stan’s room, and barged inside. He usually wouldn’t want me in here, not that I would want to spend any time in this dump if I can avoid it. Strangely, he was nowhere to be seen, but his backpack and school supplies were left on the bed. It was when I looked at the things sprawled across his bed that I saw it… There were several syringes. Some were empty, but others were filled with a red fluid that almost swirled of its own accord in its confinement, and reflected a sanguine color so bright that it almost looked like the fluid was glowing. Next to the syringes was a notepad. I looked through his notes, DNA helixes and atomic diagrams and complex math equations danced across the page with feverish scrawl.

I couldn’t understand what all these things meant, but I didn’t need to, because of the words written at the top of the page: “CURE FOR CANCER” As I read this, I now knew the exact origin of the ravenous, and why Stan had a strange fixation with their perverse evolution. I should have known that he would try something like this. He was always too smart for his own good, and now he thinks he’s ready to change the world, without giving any thought to the consequences.

“So, you’ve fount out what I’ve been working on behind your back?” Said a voice from behind me. It was Stan, standing between me and the door, dressed in his lab coat and glasses.

“Why, Stan?” I tried to reason, “why did you try to invent solutions to the world’s problems, with no regard for the sanctity of natural life and the sacred purity of the human form?” I pleaded.

“What reason have I…” Questioned Stan “to respect the essential order of a world that had never a single ounce of respect for me? Why should I honor the natural order of a world so unfair and corrupt?”

I answered: “Stan, I know the world looks like it sucks to you, but it only looks that way to you because you’re weird and unpopular. You didn’t have to be this way, I tried to save you, to convince you to drop all these weird fantasies and live an orderly life, but you just refused to be helped.”

Stan replied: “Help? Help how? All you did was make fun of me for not being like you, and rub it in my face that you’re more popular than I! Well, after a life time of being mistreated by everyone around me and seeing my bullies get away with it, I decided I’d had enough. I chose to change the world forever!”

Our shouting had gotten mom and dad’s attention, and they were standing outside the room behind Stan. “Stan, what is the meaning of this?” Asked mom. “Son!” said dad “listen to your brother, don’t do anything rash!”

“Enough!” Stan snapped! “I’M DONE HAVING OTHER PEOPLE TELL ME WHAT I CAN AND CAN’T DO!” And with that, he pulled two full syringes from his jacket, and with animalistic alacrity, infused the abhorrent contents into our parents’ veins! Immediately, they began to clutch their heads and wail, as red liquid trickled from their orifices, and their voices warped into ghastly, distorted, guttural groans. “Now, GET HIM!” Stan bellowed while pointing at me.

The two parents who had loved and cared for us suddenly began to obey the commands of my little brother, converging on me, devoid of any feelings save for a grim and primeval hunger. With great qualms and remorse, but not a second of hesitation, I raised my revolver and lined up the face of my father in the sights. With one pull of the trigger, the head of the man who footed the bill for our whole household for longer than I had been alive was reduced to fragments that showered the wall behind. Sparing no time to grieve, I aimed to the side to lock on to the face of my mother. The blood streaked face that was the first face I saw in this world while I breast fed was cruelly emancipated from her neck. Her head went spinning into the air with the force of the high caliber bullet shredding her neck, a steady stream of blood draining from her spinning and falling head painted a red spiral onto the wall, before her head landed motionlessly between her feet.

I was getting ready to aim my next shot at Stan, but found him to be absent from the room. “You’ll never bring ME to justice!” Stan exclaimed from behind me. I turned around to see out his bedroom window that he was standing on the neighbors’ roof, out of range of my armament, standing in a position of triumph, his lab coat dramatically gliding behind him in the breeze. Before I could reply, a deep and ominous voice billowed out “Not so fast!” from an undulating cloud of black smoke that had appeared behind him. As the dark vapors dispelled, a form appeared standing behind Stan. It was tall, towering head and shoulders over him and standing at least eight feet tall. Its height was augmented by a pair of immense bovine horns above its ears, and black and leathery wings, tipped at their joints with smaller horn-like protrusions. Its body transformed at the waist from that of a man into the hind legs of a goat, a sharp stinger emerging from the end of its tail. I could see all these features by a crimson glow that exuded from its eyes.

A very sullen devil stood behind Stan, the illumination of its eyes disrupted by the occasional gout of steam that issued from its pierced, bovine nose, as the red spotlights of its eyes were fixated on the human in front of him. “Well, well? If it isn’t the brilliant little scientist who thought he could cure cancer?” Bellowed the demonic presence. “It’s midnight, and the ravenous have failed to destroy the world. What have you to say for your self, mortal?”

“It was a fluke!” Stan pleaded. “I never expected my brother to be able to vanquish the ravenous with such ease!”

“I’ve had enough with your excuses!” Said the demon, “The duration of our contract has elapsed, and mortal men still walk the earth!” He said while pointing to me. “I should have never trusted you. You have failed me like all the other scientists before you. Einstein failed to create a nuclear Armageddon, Tesla failed to destroy the world with electricity, and Darwin failed to end the world by creating a genocidal war in the name of “evolution”. I should have expected you would fail to destroy the world with the ravenous as well.”

“No, please, I haven’t failed yet. I still have some of the formula, and I can try again as soon as I see another potential victim! Please, I beg…” Stan sobbed before he was cut off by the devil’s infernal voice.

“SILENCE, PETTY MORTAL! Aside from failing to destroy and pervert all that is good in the world, do you know what else the scientists preceding you all had in common?” He asked, rhetorically. “They never invented anything else after that, and that’s because I never gave them a second chance!” And with those words, he held his hands out in the vacuous space in front of him, and with a little effort, pulled them apart to reveal a portal in the intervening space.

From the circular portal, air-distorting waves of heat wafted into the cold night air, accompanied a deafening cacophony, composed of innumerable anguished screams and dejected moans. Yearning and longing hands reached out of this aperture to the hereafter, rotting, decaying, scalded and mutilated, but those desperate hands of fated souls paled in comparison to the things I saw on the other side of the orifice. The things therein were too horrible to be described in the English language, or any other language of this world. The devil grabbed my brother around the waist with one immense and muscular hand, his sharp and ragged nails catching on his coat, and threw him into the portal while he and the hands struggled in vain. That was the last I saw of my whole family. The devil then started to climb into the horrid ingress, but before he had completely disappeared into his destination, he turned to me. “I’ll be seeing you and your family later.” It said, before leaving. Its laughter joined the horrible noise of the screams as the portal closed.


YOUTH WITHOUT INNOCENCE:

The ear-splitting sounds and grisly sights from that night compose the nightmares I have had to this very day, though when I wake up from one set of nightmares, it’s always into another. Without my family, I have been thrust into the unwelcoming arms of a foster father. On the best of days he’s neglectful, and on the worst days he is an overbearing tyrant, ruling the castle of his house with an iron fist that would make Kim Jong Un envious. He makes me do the most gross and vile of household chores whenever I’m not at school, beating me with his belt if I fail, and only beating me slightly less if I succeed. When the devil claimed that he would see the rest of my family, I sure hope he was including this guy.

In the brief respite I get at school and during his neglectful days spent watching football while sitting hammered on the couch, I indulge in vices myself. I pop whole bottles of whatever unlabeled pills I can get from the man in the trench coat behind my new school, wash them down with a bottle of scotch, and soothe the burn of the fire water with some herbal vapors, by which I mean weed. The only times I’m not miserable in this new home are when I engage in spells of self harming escapism worse than any of the habits I tried to make my brother quit. I guess he’ll have a nice ironic laugh when I tell him about this on the other side. Judging by the fact that my new delinquent friends introduced me to erotic asphyxiation and cutting, I might see my brother any day now.

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