It's the End of the World

Chapter Eight.

I woke up the next morning and groaned at the pounding in my head. I looked at the end of the couch to see Daryl was no longer there, something I was very glad about. I climbed up from my position and didn't even bother changing before walking out of the door. I walked into the main room to see everyone sat around the table eating breakfast, I sat down at the end of the table next to Glenn. At least he looked worse than me. Rick came into the room then and Carl smiled mischievously.

"Hello." Rick said, his voice hoarse and his eyes squinting softly in the bright light.

"Are you hung over? Mom said you'd be." Carl stated, and I stifled a small giggle as Rick smirked, looking over at Lori as he sat down.

"Mom is right." He said as he looked towards his son.

"Mom has that annoying habit." Lori added as she picked at her breakfast. All of a sudden T-dog appeared from the kitchen, a steaming pan held in his hand.

"Eggs. Powdered, but-but I do 'em good." T stated happily. He dished out the eggs to all of us, including Glenn, and he groaned as he smelt the eggs in front of him. Dale laughed at Glenn's misfortune.

"Protein helps the hangover." T-dog said, his face in front of Glenn's. He groaned once more.

"Careful Glenn, one more groan and you could be mistaken for a walker." I smirked and everyone laughed as he attempted to glare at me. I picked at the eggs in front of me as Rick passed aspirin around to all of us. I took the two pills happily with the glass of water that T had passed to me.

"Don't ever, ever, ever let me drink again." Glenn groaned and I rolled my eyes lightly as Jacqui mothered him. His head was resting on the table as she stroked his hair.

"I don't know, if you act like this all the time I might have to get you drunk everyday." I stated and Glenn groaned even louder this time at the mention of drinking. Shane walked in next, saying hello to everyone before walking over towards the table where the coffee was situated. I narrowed my eyes at him slightly, he had three long scratches starting from under his ear and stopping at his collarbone.

"What the hell happened to you? Your neck?" T-dog asked and Shane looked puzzled for a moment before his eyes fell to the table. He refused to meet anyone's eyes as he answered.

"I must have done it in my sleep." It was such an effortless lie, one that if I was anyone else, I probably would believed. But, from the position of the scratches, no way in hell was there a chance he did that himself.

"Never seen you do that before." Rick said, his eyebrows furrowed in concern. I watched for Shane's reaction.

"Me neither." He said before looking at Lori. I raised my eyebrow at the pair. "Not like me at all." He stated before going back to his meal. Lori didn't look up from her food at all. I finished off my eggs before standing up. I walked from the kitchen area and walked back towards the hall where my room was. I walked through the door to see Daryl collecting his belongings. I felt extremely awkward after last night, so I let my hair fall in my face as I opened up my bag to rummage round for my clothes. Daryl was stood awkwardly by the door when I'd retrieved my clothes.

"What?" I asked impatiently and he scoffed, shaking his head and looking down at his crossbow.

"'M moving rooms. Staying with Glenn tonight." He stated coldly and I rolled my eyes lightly. Did he really think I'd be bothered?

"Awh, just when you have a heart to heart, Daryl runs away." I said, my eyes closed slightly in a glare. He was staring at me the same way, all of a sudden a scoff escaped his lips.

"You know nothin' 'bout me. Last night was a mistake, was drunk, 's the only reason I told you anythin' 'bout me. It'll never happen again, I don't talk, I keep to myself and that's the way it's always been. I don't need your stupid ass feelin' sorry for me or thinkin' you know me, 'cause you don't." He snapped before turning and abruptly walking from the room. I scoffed lightly before slipping my legs into my denim jeans. Once I was dressed and my hair was placed back on top of my head with a hair tie I walked from the room and back into the main building where a video was being played on the big screen.

"What the hell is this?" I asked Jacqui who stood beside me. She shrugged slightly and we continued watching the video. A display was on the screen, showing various 3D images of human skulls. "The brain?" I asked, an eyebrow raised lightly as I looked at Jenner, not really knowing what this meant.

"An extraordinary one. Not that it matters in the end. Take us in for E.I.V." Jenner stated and VI said 'Enhanced internal view' before the screen changed. The image on the screen now showed the upper shoulders and the head of a person. The screen all of a sudden magnified to show a more detailed image of inside the skull. The brain suddenly lit up with blue thread. Some areas seemed brighter than others, but the lights still shone brightly throughout.

"What are those lights?" I asked as I took a step closer to the screen.

"It's a persons life - experiences, memories. It's everything. Somewhere in all that organic wiring, all those ripples of light, is you - the thing that makes you unique and human." Jenner tried to explain, but all it did was confuse us all. I raised an eyebrow as I looked at him.

"You don't make sense ever?" Daryl asked. And I rolled my eyes softly, but a small smile plastered itself on my face at his comment.

"Those are synapses. Electric impulses in the brain that carry all the messages. They determine everything a person says, does or thinks from the moment of birth to the moment of death." Jenner continued his explanation as though Daryl hadn't spoken.

"Death? That's what this is, a vigil?" Rick asked as he walked over to the doctor. He didn't say anything for a moment, just continued staring at the screen.

"Yes. Or rather a playback of a vigil." He said and Andrea stepped forward, her eyes trained on the blue lights. I looked between the two before looking back at the screen.

"This person died? Who?" Andrea asked, her voice noticeably shaking.

"Test subject 19. Someone who was bitten and infected.. And volunteered to have us record the process. VI, Scan forward to the first event." Jenner said. VI once again copied what he said before the screen flashed with a message that said 'scanning forward'. The lights on the brain still flickered in the outer areas, but now the core was dark, as if black roots had invaded the brain.

"It invades the brain like meningitis. The adrenal glands haemorrhage, the brain goes into shutdown, then the major organs. Then death. Everything you ever were or ever will be.. Gone." Jenner said as the brain went black, I was too busy watching the screen to hear everyone talking, but I knew from the parts I'd heard that they were talking about their lost loved ones. A moment later, something changed.

"The resurrection times vary wildly. We had reports of it happening in as little as three minutes. The longest we heard of was eight hours. In the case of this patient, it was two hours, one minute.." He stopped for a moment. "Seven seconds." He said and I moved forward involuntarily. A red glow flickered at the core of the brain, the rest remained dark. Random sparks shot out from the middle to the edge of the brain, but no more lights came into view.

"It restarts the brain?" I asked as I looked towards the doctor.

"No, just the brain stem. Basically, it gets them up and moving." He stated and I stared at the image, I could hear talking around me, but I was focused on the image before me. The person moves, it's mouth opening and closing. The head moves, the shoulders move as if the arms are being lifted. A gun suddenly appeared at the forehead, pointing down. The bullet moved swiftly through the brain and tears through the red streaks of light. The lights turn off and the person instantly stopped moving. I let out a small gasp and covered my mouth with my hand. I moved away from the group. I know I'd killed these things before, but seeing one die up close and personal was a bit far. Out there I was fighting for my life, in here, I was watching it for no reason what so ever. Well, that's what it felt like anyway.

"It could be anything. Microbial, viral, parasitic, fungal." He continued and I scoffed lightly, looking at him.

"Or the wrath of god?" I said sarcastically and he shrugged.

"There is that." He said and I crossed my arms as I made my way back to the group.

"Somebody must know something. Somebody somewhere." I said. "There are others, right? Other facilities?" I asked. For a doctor he knew jack shit.

"There may be some. People like me."

"But you don't know? How can you not know?" Rick exclaimed, but Jenner didn't seem fazed by this at all. He just continued on like nothing was wrong.

"Everything went down. Communications, directives - all of it. I've been in the dark for almost a month." He stated and I shook my head. I started pacing the floor, unable to deal with standing still for this long a period of time.

"Man, I'm gonna get shitfaced drunk again." Daryl stated as he placed his hands on the table nearest him, looking down at the smooth surface. Well, at least that was one thing I could agree with.

"Dr. Jenner, I know this has been taxing for you and I hate to ask one more question, but.. That clock, it's counting down. What happens at zero?" Dale asked and everyone looked at the doctor.

"The basement generators, they run out of fuel." He stated, looking at the ground. I'd had enough of him pussy footing around everything now, so I got in his face.

"And then?" I asked but Jenner simply ignored me and walked away. "VI, what happens when the power runs out?" I asked and the monotone voice answered me back instantly.

"When the power runs out, facility-wide decontamination will occur." The machine stated. Everyone started to panic and Rick, Shane, Glenn and T-dog raced out of the room, I'm guessing to look for the generators. Everyone else quickly made their way to their rooms, apart from me, I stayed in the main area. I tried looking around, trying to find anything that might explain what was happening here, I didn't come up with anything in the end of my search. Suddenly, there was a loud whirring noise and the remaining lights in the building switched themselves off. Soon enough, the people that had gone back to their rooms came rushing back in, Jenner in front of them. If decontamination meant what I think it did, we were all fucked. Jenner was rambling on about the french as he entered and I turned to everyone.

"Ignore him. Guys, grab your things. Get everything, all your stuff. We need to get out of here now!" I exclaimed loudly and everyone nodded before running to the door they'd just walked through, luckily I didn't go anywhere without my stuff. Glenn had just arrived at the door, but before anyone could get through, the door sealed shut.

"You son of a bitch!" Daryl exclaimed before running towards the doctor who was recording something on his computer. "You locked us in here!" He exclaimed, luckily, Rick and Shane managed to pull Daryl away before he did any damage. We all looked at the clock to see that only twenty eight minutes remained.

What happens? What happens in twenty eight minutes?!" Rick exclaimed and Jenner stood up, shouting in Ricks face.

"You know what this place is?! We protected the public from very nasty stuff! Weaponized Smallpox! Ebola strains that could wipe out half the country! Stuff you don't want getting out! Ever!" He screamed. He took a few moments, composed himself before sitting back down at his desk. "In the event of a catastrophic power failure - In a terrorist attack, for example - H.I.T.s are deployed to prevent any organisms from getting out." He said with a sigh. Before anyone could say anything though, Jenner continued. "VI, define." He said and once again the robotic voice spoke up.

"H.I.T.s—high-impulse thermo baric fuel-air explosives consist of a two-stage aerosol ignition that produces a blast wave of significantly greater power and duration than any other known explosive except nuclear. The vacuum-pressure effect ignites the oxygen at between 5,000 degrees and 6,000 degrees and is useful when the greatest loss of life and damage to structures is desired." VI said and I could feel tears in the corners of my eyes.

"It sets the air on fire. No pain." Jenner said as though it was the best thing in the world. Carol and Sophia both cried out as Daryl turned and threw a bottle of liquor he was holding at the sealed door. I grabbed a fire axe from the wall and grabbed another, quickly passing it over to Daryl. Both of us tried hitting the metal door but it wouldn't budge.

"We can't make a dent!" I exclaimed to the others as I stopped hitting the metal.

"Those doors are designed to withstand a rocket launcher." Jenner said and I narrowed my eyes. I was about to lunge for the man but sadly Daryl beat me to it. It didn't do anything though, he simply got dragged away once more.

"I get it now." I said with a scoff, looking at the doctor, slowly walking towards him. "I didn't get it before. You stayed, when others ran. You stayed here. Now why is that?" I asked and his gaze quickly turned to the ground. I slammed the axe down on his desk, making him jump. "Test subject 19.. That was your wife." I stated and everyone's eyes widened.

"I made a promise. She begged me to keep going as long as I could, how could I say no?" He stated, his eyes downcast. I heard pounding on the door once more as Daryl got back to work. "She was dying. It should’ve been me on that table. I wouldn’t have mattered to anybody. She was a loss to the world. Hell, she ran this place. I just worked here. In our field she was an Einstein. Me? I’m just… Edwin Jenner. She could’ve done something about this. Not me." He said and I placed my hands on the table, leaning down so I was looking into his eyes.

"Your wife didn't have a choice. You do. Thats-.. That's all we want, a choice. A chance." I stated. He looked at me for a moment before nodding. He quickly climbed up, walked over to the security pad and unlocked the door Daryl and me had been trying to beat down. We all rushed to leave, everyone except Jacqui. I was running just behind Daryl, that was until I heard T-dog shouting. I turned and saw he was fighting to try and get Jacqui to follow us. I knew her decision the moment we found out about the time limit, so I wasn't surprised when she said that. I gave her one final nod as a goodbye before running down the hallway once more. I wasn't going to be upset about her decision, it was the best one if you had given up. At least she wouldn't be in pain. We got to the entrance hall and everyone was beating on the glass, trying to get the glass to break. I grabbed the axe I'd used earlier and tried that. It didn't even make a mark.

"Rick! I have something that might help!" Carol exclaimed and Shane grunted as he tried everything to break the impossible glass.

"Carol, I don't think a nail file's gonna do anything." Shane exclaimed but Rick was already walking over to her.

"Look out!" T-dog exclaimed and I looked at Rick wide eyed as I saw the grenade in his hand. I ducked behind the nearest thing I could and quickly stuck my fingers in my ears. There was a giant explosion and the sound of glass shattering but all sound was slightly muffled by the closeness of the explosion. We all ran out as fast as we could through the small gaps in the glass. We started running to our vehicles, the noise had called in quite a few walkers so any that got close enough I quickly swung my axe towards. We finally got to the car and I jumped in, Daryl following close behind, jumping quickly into the drivers seat.

"Their coming!" I exclaimed as I saw Andrea and Dale emerge from the building. Daryl honked the horn impatiently.

"Get back! Everybody down! Down!" Rick exclaimed and I quickly made myself as small as possible in the foot well of Daryl's truck, he did the same only it was more difficult as he was slightly larger. I felt the heat before anything else. The heat blasted out and set everything close enough on fire and then the explosions began. My ears were ringing, but I eventually heard nothing so I peered through the window of the truck. There was nothing left but fire and smoke, the whole building was now in shambles. Daryl sighed softly as he looked at the destruction and I turned to look at him so I wouldn't have to look at the building anymore. He started the truck, and soon we started driving back down the road we came from. We were shaken, but at least we were alive.