Dr. Alex Joel lay perfectly still. From this safe little haven in the Lexon Megacity he could see the stars. He never had the time to appreciate them since the Parasite had taken hold of everybody he had ever known - but in it’s way, it was liberating, despite the experiences he had endured that would have broken a lesser man to tears or suicide.
A light snowfall drifted slowly on the lashing mid-winter breeze. Alex had nothing to warm him save for his thick, grey trench coat, though he did not curl himself up in any attempt to conserve heat; that was the least of his worries nowadays. He did not risk a fire, lest they find him again.
Save for the sound of the eerie whistle of the wind, the abandoned block was totally silent. It had been that way for several minutes.
Across the darkened alley, lay two corpses, still warm, a single bullet hole through each of their foreheads.
One was a woman, the other, a man he once knew who had since been infected and brought into military service for the regime. The woman was Hannah Clarke - known more colloquially to Alex as ‘Babe’. The soldiers had found them… more specifically, David Wiseman had found them. He had once travelled with the pair but had managed to get himself captured in a scruff with the Lexon Border Guard, a unit patrolling the city limits for people just like them. Alex had been unable to save them, and he and Hannah had only just recovered from the trauma of their friend’s infection.
Next thing they knew, David was after them, and he knew all their tricks for staying under the radar. It took little under a week for him to find them.
Alex had had no other choice. If he let her live, she would live a life of painful slavery under the Victras Parasite, and if he let David live, he would find him again. He had no choice. With the consent of his girlfriend, Alex put them both down, tears streaming down his face.
He had chosen to be alone with her, as they had little chance to spend quality time with one another as the infection had become more widespread. Instead… this.
Dr. Alex Joel lay perfectly still. Fist clenched, rifle lain down beside him, perfectly parallel to his deathly still posture.
To his left, a small tape recorder. He and Hannah had chosen to document their time together as neither of them were fools, they knew that their time would come sooner or later. Nobody survives in a world like that.
The stars look perfect tonight, don’t they babe? I never thought that I could ever even find a glimmer of happiness living a life like this. But then again, I didn’t count on finding you, now, did I, Alex?
It’s been eight years now, did you know that? Even before this became our world, I wasn’t ever in-place. I have travelled with a lot of people, some that I cared about more than I would have done. You know… David.
Don’t think about him, Alex. It isn’t worth it.
Hannah, please. He was more than just a friend to me, he was like a brother. He sacrificed himself so that we could get into the city unharmed. Name anybody else who would have done that for us.
Yeah… I suppose you are right.
The least we can do is honour his memory in a positive light. He was a good man.
Well, here is to you, David.
And to you, Hannah. This wouldn’t be bearable without you.
Alex. I lo- Wait. What was that?
I didn’t hear anything.
Listen closer. Footsteps.
That looks like…
LET HER GO!
Do it! *fuzzy static*
*The sound of two gunshots*
Alex shuffled his arm slightly to the left, hitting the clunky ‘Stop’ button on the old fashioned recorder, followed by holding down the ‘Rewind’ button for a few seconds, and concluding the motion by clicking ‘Play’ once more. He listened to the recording again. And again. And again.
The voices echoed down the vacant alleyway. Fresh rounds of silent tears would spring forth every time her voice broke through the tattered old speaker on the recorder, and only moments later, they would simply stop, frozen by the biting chill of winter.
Dr. Alex Joel did not lay perfectly still. He clenched his teeth, and scooped the recorder up into his now plane hand, and launching it across the small span of the alley. It did not take much to smash an old plastic case with a few screws holding it together. Alex fixed his eyes on the stars. He dared not look anywhere else. The stars were serene and beautiful, so calm and unchanging, yet so distant and powerful. They had always fascinated him, even from a young age. If he had had his way, he would have become an astronaut; that was his dream as a child. Alex never saw himself as good enough, however, and settled, instead, into a generic degree that served him no real purpose in the world. He had seen nothing of it and contributed nothing to it. He did not dare divert his gaze. He did not dare pay attention to anything but the clear sky, crisp, night sky. If he were to listen closely, he would hear the shuddering death throes of the shattered recorder, Hannah’s voice playing on a broken loop. If he were to look ahead, he would see her corpse, and the cadaver of his best friend, David.
Dr. Alex Joel knew there were others around. Others like him. Women, Children, Un-infected Soldiers. Hell, he had even travelled with a few of them for a short time. At times like this, he would listen for others with Hannah, and the pair would both wonder if there were people just like them, wondering if there are others out there, just like they did.
It was strange, though, most nights, the background would be kept alive with the faint pitter patter of gunfire - the last of any resistance forces opposing the Lexon Complex being put to rest for good. Now, it would seem that the Parasite had won, and Alex’s childhood home had become host to the most inhuman thing he could imagine.
Not even a siren stirred the background, not the sound of cheerful bird singing, nor owl hunting. Not the sound of faint car, or lowering aircraft. All sounds from his childhood that would be welcome now. He hoped that maybe, just maybe, he would open his eyes, and he would wake up as a ten year old again, he would perform his daily routine, he would go to school, he would learn, he would live, he would feel safe. He guessed some things were too much to wish for.
Alex exhaled deeply, and placed his cold hands atop his face, letting out the last of the tears in as dignified manner as possible, before letting them fall back to his sides. He proceeded to watch the stars.
They always say the good ones are taken first. Alex would agree.
Dr. Alex Joel lay perfectly still.