1: Infection

This doesn't have to matter.

I shudder and tell this to myself over and over again in an attempt to warm the chill that is rising in my insides. This is like waking up to find yourself naked next to a stranger, or waking up in an unfamiliar place to find that you are covered in ink blotch bruises...been there, done that. That's not what this is. What this really is, is waking up in the abandoned house you'd been partying in last night with a needle hole in your skin and the word INFECTED written in blocky red letters across your forearm. This is a nightmare.

I turn on the faucet and scrub, scrub, scrub the letters until I'm red and raw.

INFECTED. This means that undesirability and death. The Megalopolis's government has found me unfit to live, and has decided that they would rather stab me with deathneedles than let me continue to fester and boil underneath their skin any longer. Hah. I'm only eighteen, having come of legal age a few months ago, and I'm already a scourge? Awesome. Mom and Dad definitely hadn't seen that one coming when they decided to have kids.

The bathroom is cold and dimly-lit, with one warm-colored light bulb providing inadequate light as it hangs in the middle of the ceiling. The tiles are dirty and grimy beneath my bare feet – where the hell did I put my shoes? – and I'm just shaking, scrubbing, shaking. No one can no about this; no one needs to know. I'll just die of this disease that I've been intentionally infected with quietly. Quiet and alone, that's how I want to die. Last night, I would have wanted to go out with a bang; but under these circumstances? No fuckin' way.

I try to remember last night. "You're a pretty little thing, aren't you?" the older man had said, slipping his hands underneath my shirt as I had straddled his lap, smiling. His dirty hands had squirmed their way underneath the wiring of my cute little black lacy bra, searching around in the dark for something to grab on to. They'd found it easily, of course. "What's your name, babe?"

"Val," I had breathed as I'd unbuttoned his stupid gray slacks. Who wore that to a party? "Not Valerie or Valeria, just Val. Morgan."

"Val Morgan," He had groaned as I began to...work my magic, let's say. "Cute."

We had then made out for a little, exchanging saliva like frenzied dogs, or maybe vampires sharing blood – something disgusting and slobbery like that, at least. I had been about to respond with something equally as vacuous when he had knocked me onto my back and attacked me with his needle, the smile gone from his face.

"Val Morgan, Megalopolis resident number eight-one-zero-one-one-ninety-four," He had said, pinning me to the ground with one hand and aiming his syringe with the other. I tried to call for help, but he had knocked the wind out of me; there were plenty of people around in the dark room, dancing and drinking, but none of them had seemed to notice...or care."I am Antoine Searchfield, an officer for population and Undesirable control in the Megalopolis. You have proved yourself a burden to our society. Prepare to be infected."

I had been able to protest now, able to scream. "Antoine Searchfield? What a stupid-ass name!" I'd screeched, writhing under his grasp as he'd tried to grab my left arm. "pretty damn professional, Mr. Searchfield, choosing only me out of a whole party full of useless burnouts and then feeling me up before you-"

The needle had hit me then, filling me up with pixie dust and sands of slumber and everything else that sleep is made of. And that's where I had blacked out.

Ugh. This is me, infected. Val with the mass of messy black hair and the cigarette burns on her bony arms, me, I've been chosen to die. What am I supposed to do, just roll with this? I guess I can. I guess I have to. This doesn't have to matter, remember, Val? My life is a hole, anyway: going nowhere, caged in by dirt and filth. I never had a future, so why should this bother me?

I step out of the bathroom and back into the room where the oh-so-professional Mr. Searchfield had done a thorough search of my bra. We had been sitting on an aptly-named black velvety loveseat with mutli-colored pillows before he had knocked me over, and there, next to the loveseat, are my stilettos. I must have kicked them off before hopping onto the chair with good ol' Antoine. I need to be more picky about the men that I fuck from now on (if I live to do much more fucking, that is).