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"I haven't been this sick since I was a kid," he thought. He tried to sit up, but his muscles weren't up to the task. Cassie would have been here, taking care of him, if they were still together. But Cassie was gone - the wife he had lost long ago to negligence and his temper.

Cassie had taken such good care of him, that Christmas after Sam had been taken. That year, he'd caught the flu, while most years, he didn't get sick. But the stress of Sam's disappearance, Bill's lapses of judgement, and the increasing drive to meet the needs of the survival of the human race put his immune system on the lowest rung. A lowly flu had taken him out of the office for a week.

This was so much worse. He lay in bed, and reached over for the water pitcher. There was only one glass of water left in there, but it was enough. He carefully poured the water into the glass, his arm muscles trembling with the effort.

It was almost impossible to open the aspirin bottle, but he finally got it. He took two aspirin, drank the last of the water, and fell asleep almost instantly.

He woke up to the sound of screaming. Disoriented, he reached for the gun at his side. Panic set in when he realized it wasn't there. His eyes took in the scene, and he realized he wasn't in a military bunker, a lab, or a small town of panicking civilians.

His skin was sticky with sweat, but his fever had broken. He vaguely remembered waking up feverishly several times, and falling back asleep.

The screaming continued in the hallway outside his 5th floor Virginia apartment.

He pulled his gun from its place on the nightstand and got out of bed.

His first thought was that colonization had begun, and he'd been so sick he slept through the call, or no notification had been given.

But this screaming, which now turned to hysterical crying, was inconsistent with that event. Maybe it was a domestic dispute. Maybe the building was on fire. Maybe a lot of things.

His muscles objected as he walked across the wooden floor to the bathroom.

The hysterical crying continued while he relieved himself. He washed his hands, put on a robe and some slippers, picked up his gun, and walked gingerly to the front door. He felt it for heat, but it was cool to the touch. He looked out the peephole and saw nothing. Except a splatter of blood on the wall.

He opened the door slowly, and saw a woman, vaguely familiar, leaned over someone else. The gut-wrenching sound of ravenous eating left him with a bad feeling. The blood on the walls didn't do anything to calm his discomfort.

"Excuse me, Miss?"

Her head whipped around.

Her face was covered in blood, especially around the mouth. "Stay right where you are," he ordered. He hoped things weren't what they seemed.

She advanced on him, taking two awkward, lurching steps toward him. He took aim, "I will shoot, Miss. Stay where you are."

She took another step, and he fired. The silencer that added bulk to his gun did its job. She fell back, onto the man behind her. He stepped forward cautiously, and nudged her with his foot. There was no response.

He rolled her off of the man beneath her. It was his neighbor, Mr. Shaffer. Most of his upper abdomen was missing.

He listened to the sound of hysterical crying, which continued from the apartment next to his own. He knocked loudly on the door, "Mrs. Angelo? It's me, Mr. Spender, your neighbor. Do you know what's going on?"

There was no response.

He went back into his own apartment and shut the door.

He turned on the radio, and heard static. Every station he tried was nothing but static.

The power was still on, though. Whatever happened had happened recently. He turned on his laptop, and checked the date and time. It had been four days that he'd been laid up with the flu. A lot could happen in four days.

As he expected, his Internet connection was down. The military satellite connection, however, was up.

He checked his secured mail. The earliest notifications spoke only of an outbreak of unknown origin. The source was indeterminate, but definitely along the Eastern Seaboard. The victims didn't stay lying down, and would attack others.

The next few emails described deployment - martial law was declared, as well as a state of emergency. Loss of troops were described in the next emails, and the losses were in the hundreds, then the thousands.

The next message relayed the retreat of all troops for regrouping, and a more strategic deployment from one centralized location. It was this message that dared to use the phrase "zombie invasion."

He reached for his cell phone, and realized he had a cigarette between his lips. He didn't remember lighting up.

He only had one message, from his contact at the State Department, General LaMonte. It was a request to call, with a number.

He dialed that number, but there was no answer. No voicemail picked up. He couldn't be sure if the secured lines were even functional at this point.

He put out his cigarette stump and lit another.

The military may or may not be functioning at this point, and they may or may not be functioning without a head, if the government was a out of commission as it seemed.

Maybe Operation Silo had been activated, to gather up all the truly useful persons within the government, and they had been locked down at Camp David with the President.

He couldn't assume anything.

He put on the kettle, and took a hot shower. The water was boiling quietly when he got out, and he made some tea and buttered toast. He didn't think his stomach would tolerate anything more.

After his modest breakfast, he shaved. Taking a moment to look himself over in the mirror, he thought that he just might be palid enough to be mistaken for one of the dead. He dressed in a dark grey suit, and combed his hair back.

From his closet, he retrieved his largest briefcase, and loaded it with his spare cell phone battery, a second handgun and all the ammunition he had - 11 full clips.

Carrying his briefcase, he stepped out of his apartment into the hallway, making sure his door latched behind him. The smell of human death was overwhelming in the small space.

He knocked on his neighbor's door again, "Mrs. Angelo, I need to know what's going on."

He waited patiently. He couldn't hear anything from within, except the sound of her crying.

"Mrs. Angelo, if you don't open the door, I'll open it by force."

He waited. There was still no sound of movement.

"Mrs. Angelo, if you're near the door, please stand back." He fired a round into the doorframe by the knob. Again, the silencer did its job, and saved his hearing. He nudged the door open and stepped inside, "Mrs. Angelo, please, I just need some information."

He found her cowering in the bathroom. "Mrs. Angelo?"

She looked up, "Leave me alone." Her face was red and tear-stained. With her head lifted from her arms, he could see that her forearm had been bitten.

He looked down at her, "I just need to know what's going on."

"I don't know," she sobbed.

He lit a cigarette, "What do you know, Mrs. Angelo? I've been in bed with a flu, and I haven't heard anything. Help me out."

Her eyes rested on the gun in his hand. She wiped tears from her eyes, but her voice still shook when she spoke, "The news stations said it's viral. It kills the brain."

"What else?" he asked impatiently.

"Nothing else. They stopped broadcasting."

"You're infected," he stated simply.

She nodded, beginning to cry again, "I was bitten."

"Besides being bitten, how else can a person become infected?"

"It's blood borne."

"How long do you have until you're like them?"

"Between two and six hours."

"And you're going to spend your time crying on a bathroom floor, wallowing in self-pity?" he asked, disdain in his voice. He held his cigarette between his lips, took aim, and fired.

Back in his apartment, he shoved a chair under the door handle, and made another piece of toast. While he drank his tea and nibbled the toast, he tried to contact more of his contacts with the military and the government. No one answered.

He thought about Cassandra. She was at Fort Marlene right now. She might be safe from everything going on, if the base had been locked down like it should have been. That facility was designed to turn inward in case of any emergency - that was why they had chosen that location for the Project's most important experiments.

He considered calling his son in New York. He knew Jeffrey's phone number, and he knew where his apartment was. What he didn't know was if Jeffrey had been pulled from his job in Counterfeiting to perform general law enforcement and peace-keeping duties. And of course, he had no idea if the boy had survived.

He thought about his other son in D.C. His job would have placed him at the first reported case. That, combined with his foolish desire to help the public at any cost, meant that his survival was questionable at best. Consideration for his partner's safety might have kept him out of harm's way, but those odds were long.

He imagined that the phone call would not be pleasant.

"Scully, is that you?"

"No, Mulder, it's me. Do you know what's going on?"

"Yeah, it's the end of the world, you Son-of-a-Bitch! What were your doctors trying to do when they released this plague on the world?!"

That wasn't something he felt like dealing with. He didn't even know if this had been the result of a Project experiment gone wrong. The boy might be right in his hypothetical accusations.

He considered calling a number of his contacts, but none of them seemed like they could help him get a handle on information he needed. He'd already tried his colleagues at the Syndicate, and none of them were answering. They might be in bunkers deep beneath the earth. They might be dead.  They might be wandering the streets, their once great brains reduced to the basic desire for flesh.

He took off his jacket and lay in bed for a nap. When he woke the sun hung low in the sky, and he felt rested.

He was nothing if not prepared for an apocalyptic event. He grabbed the duffel bag full of survivalist chow, water, and emergency cigarettes from the closet, stuffed his briefcase of weaponry into it, and put on his suit-jacket. The nap had helped clear his mind. He was going to Fort Marlene.

He killed three of the dead on his way down the stairs, and stopped in the lobby to check his overflowing mail.

He threw away advertisement fliers immediately, and stuffed the rest of the mail into the duffel bag.

It cost him seven more bullets to get across the parking garage and into his car, leaving thirteen left in this clip.

Secure behind his bullet-proof windows, he went through the mail.

MCI wanted him to switch telephone carriers.

A local realtor wanted him to know about the great houses available in the area.

GTE was charging him an outrageous $167.94 for his phone usage this month. If he thought there was going to be a bill next month, he would have considered calling MCI.

AT&T wanted him to upgrade his Internet access.

His electric bill was $63.28.

International Children's Care wanted him to double his previous year's donation in order to help them establish 12 new living spaces where the world's orphans could be raised in a family environment.

The last envelope was addressed to Raul Bloodworth. He lit a cigarette before opening the envelope. His hands shook just a little as he unfolded the letter, dated eight days ago. His story, "Tomorrow is Just Another Day," had been selected to be published in next season's issue of Conspiracies. They were interested in more Jack Colquitt stories, if he had them.

They had included payment, a check for $165, made out to CGB Spender.

He folded the check and the letter, stuffed them into the inner pocket of his suit-jacket, and started the car.

Step 1. Serve
Step 2. Resist from Within

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