Genetics X: Annaleise
Chapter One: The Beginning
07292009 - 0224A
AN: This story is a companion piece to "Genetics X", our massive group RP on the SRA site. If you're interested in this and wish to read the RP so far, a link is available on my profile page. We're not far into it yet, but it seems promising. :3
Also, as a companion piece written before the RP has gotten far, some of the events may not be entirely canon. Please just take this story at face value. :3
Annaleise DeMarco is my character in the RP. Just so's you know.
Before the outbreak of the virus that would twist our society into something barely recognizable, I led a pretty normal life. I was the only child of a businessman, Anthony DeMarco. Most of the time it was just him and myself, my mother having died when I was very young. I barely remembered her, but the one picture of her that I possessed, I nonetheless carried in the breast pocket of my overcoat.
Even as a single father, he worked hard to afford me every opportunity. I went to the best schools, graduated top of my class in high school, and was on my way to an ivy-league college.
We had no idea what was going on in our own backyard.
It started in Overton, Nevada. Every night the television news anchors were bringing news of illness and death in that area. It wasn't long before it started to spread out. In what seemed like no time at all, the illness reached San Rafael. My father was one of the first to fall ill. It was an unforgiving virus, one that my father's body could not adapt to, and more often than not, his face was set into a grimace, his hands knotted in his bedsheets against the pain.
Despite the quarentine orders against those infected with the virus, I stayed by his side, viciously trying to nurse him back to health with my limited medical knowledge. There was no defined cure. No one was really sure at the time how the virus came to be, and why it was suddenly spreading and mutating so quickly.
There was a brief calm at one point, and as I replaced the damp rag on his forehead, warmed from fever, with a fresh cool one, he looked right at me and said, "You must be strong, Anna. You have to survive."
The calmness placated me, and I believed he was getting better, but it soon became apparent that the moment in which he had voiced his wish so gently was only the calm before the storm. The virus worked quickly on my father, and within three days he had fallen to it. I clung to his lifeless body, sobbing into his shirt, for longer than I can really recall. After that time, I found myself numb, unfeeling. All I could remember were his final words to me.
I fell ill the next night. It began like a flu that made me ache to my very bones. My insides felt as though they were twisting and tangling around themselves. I gritted my teeth together and struggled to remain upright as I went about my daily business around the house and attempted to arrange for my father's cremation. It was a difficult time for such a thing. The virus had spread like wildfire worldwide in a matter of a week. People all over were dying, and there simply weren't enough people to deal with such a thing.
Those who died from the virus were not to be buried. There were orders from the government that the corpses of the dead were to be burned, in an effort to stop second-hand exposure to the virus. This, coupled with the lack of funeral homes in relation to the number of those dying, led to home-cremations. The air was thick with the smell of burning flesh. Still my father's body lay in his bed. I couldn't bring myself to burn him myself.
A week passed. Already a fourth of the world's population had fallen. Somehow, I was still alive. The fever had passed, and all I was left with was the physical pain of the virus ravaging my body. Everything else was numb.
Another week passed. Still there was no one to take care of my father's body. He began to decompose, and it was at that point that I realized I had no other choice. I built a makeshift pyre in our backyard, and placed my father's body upon it. He was easily twice my weight when he was living, and I had no idea how I managed to carry him outside to the pyre. Despite how weak my body felt, I seemed to have actually acquired strength.
He burned for hours, as I watched the fire emotionlessly. When it was done, and the fire died down, I bent and scooped a bit of his ashes into a small pouch, sewing it shut and then placing it by my mother's picture on my breast pocket.
Reentering the house, I felt an overwhelming emptiness. The happiness of my childhood home was no more. I went to my room and packed a small bag before venturing down to the kitchen. Turning all four burners on our gas stove on high, I pulled out the drawer containing the dishrags and dumped it unceremoniously onto the flame. I turned my back on the growing fire and left the house, not turning back as I walked down the street. I didn't know where I was going, nor did I care. I just had to get away.
I was so deep in my thoughts, so numb by the fresh turn of events, that I didn't notice the pain recede, or my senses heighten. As I looked up at the nearly full moon starting to rise above the horizon in the east, I felt a pull towards it. I walked in that direction.
It was many days before I stopped, and I had yet to meet another person. I came across the remains of many pyres, and I stared at them with the same emptiness with which I had looked upon my father's own burning body. I should have been tired. At night I followed the moon, and during the day I went wherever there was food to be found. After years of being a strict vegetarian, I found myself craving meat more and more.
I thought little of this. After all that was said and done, I couldn't bring myself to care about something so trivial. I became a strict carnivore. Fruits and vegetables, although easier to find, held absolutely no appeal to me anymore.
I didn't realize it at the time, but the stoicness with which I faced everything was simply my body reacting to instincts borne to me by the virus' mutation within my body.
On the third day, I came across a group of men sitting on the porch of an old filling station. They looked remarkably untouched by the virus, but that wasn't what grabbed my attention by them in particular. It was what they were saying that made me stop and take notice. The virus, they said, was engineered by the government. They had created it in an attempt to boost soldier's abilities in times of war. The virus, instead of creating super-humans, however, had mutated beyond their control to create entirely new species. There had been sightings of werewolves, shape shifters, and people who could control the elements. Most often, though, there had been sightings of vampires.
Real, honest-to-God vampires.
Was that what had happened? Was that why I had not died? Was I becoming something? What would it be?
The thought of living off of the blood of others made my stomach turn over, and I found myself praying that I would not be a vampire. Even in the stories of lore, I had found them to be disgusting, parasitic creatures. They were hardly better than the virus itself.
There were also tales of one creature in particular, a vampire named Tait, who was said to have intentions of taking the place of the recently-fallen government.
The moon rose full that night. The moment it peaked over the horizon, all of my recently acquired strength and stamina was sapped from me for a few minutes as the worst pain I had ever felt in my life overtook me. It was worse than the virus. I would have taken that pain ten times over before choosing this.
My very bones felt like they were liquifying in my body and my insides were once more twisting and turning, reforming themselves. My head felt like it was about to burst. I squeezed my eyes shut and a low growl escaped my throat. The foreign sound shocked me, and all of my psychological defenses against the pain faltered. In that moment, it became to much, and I hit the ground with a thud.
When I regained consciousness, my body felt awkward, foreign. I tried to stand up but stumbled, falling forward onto my palms. My knees never hit the ground, however, and while the position should have been awkward, it was not. My legs felt shorter, as my back was perfectly straight, instead of my rear end being elevated into the air. I looked down at my hands in wonder, as they were no longer hands but heavy, dark brown paws.
The words of the men from the previous day rang in my head as I shifted around to take in the rest of my body: the tail, the hind legs and paws, the broad back...
I guess in retrospect, it was a false apocalypse. The outbreak of the government-engineered virus wasn't the end of humanity, and in fact resulted in the rise of new breeds of creatures. The Earth was still intact. Perhaps instead of an ending, we were handed a new beginning. Maybe it could have been something beautiful. Instead, it started a war.
Perhaps that was to be the true apocalypse of mankind.
Either way, that's the story I'm here to tell, beginning with when I met, and subsequently came under the employ, of the notorius vampire, Tait.
AN: I hope I did the plotline justice. I guess since it's Annaleise's take, it doesn't really matter.
So... I'd really appreciate feedback! And for those of you not involved in the RP, feel free to go check it out at the Sweet Revolution website. :3