11 - Infectious

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Warning to sensitive readers. Chapter contains gore and foul language.


A cruel grin spread in the pale face as dark strands of biomass burrowed down under the skin of the marine. Blood, sweat and other unknown liquids covered his face and littered the ground below him. He wailed and squirmed, desperately trying to get away. Tendrils had curled around his body and was slowly feasting on the still living flesh. Images from his past life flashed before him in pace with his life slowly being drained. He saw his wife, his two children and the family dog. Their faces stained with tears. If he died here, he would break the promise he'd made them. He'd promised to come home in time for Christmas so they could all enjoy some family time together. He knew he wouldn't be able to get away, but he fought nonetheless. If he died now, at least he would know he went down with honor.

"You'll pay...Mercer..." he pressed out into his last, dying breath. The greedy black mass quickly devoured what was left of his body. They swirled for a moment in search for any remaining treat before retracting to their host when nothing was found. Alex clutched his head with one hand and kept the other on the wall for support as the painful memoryflash passed.

"Self-obsessive, huh?" he mumbled once his vision had cleared. He straightened and threw a look over his shoulder. "I'll show you self-obsessive".

A few minutes later he attended a briefing disguised as the marine he'd just consumed. The Lieutenant was giving him and three other soldiers an overview of their mission. They were to stay in teams of two and patrol the streets around the block where the base was situated. There were rumors about a small group of infected wandering away from the containment area to the south. Their job was to find them and make sure they didn't wander further. Alex could guess that their true intentions were something else entirely, but that remained to be seen. He reminded himself to take a peek into the lieutenant's head later on. Any information about the events here in Manhattan was valuable information, and if he couldn't have Dana help him, he'd just have to find it for himself. Gruesome, but effective, and he didn't particularly care if a few men had to give their lives for that information. Surely, the government had more than enough resources to replace them.

"What I'm saying is, kill every son of a bitch you see" the lieutenant explained, looking long and hard at each of the men stationed before him. The briefing was then dismissed, and the two teams marched toward the gates while wishing each other good luck. They parted ways there, Alex's team heading west on 23rd Street, and the others to the east. Before they'd even walked a hundred meters, his teammate started hammering him with questions, as expected.

"Ye got any kids at home waitin' fo' ye? My li'l Elise is five. Pearl o' my life that girl" he said, seemingly dreaming on while gazing off into the distance. Alex would rather knock out the guy and continue on his own, but the consequences of that were not only many, but also boring and troublesome. The simple solution were to just play along and answer the questions asked.

"Naaah, I wasn't lucky enough to have any. Got no wife either". That was a truth, in a way. He'd been at his old apartment some days ago, and according to the framed pictures on the walls, he'd had a girlfriend once. He remembered her face, her blonde hair and the clothes she usually wore, but there was no name. He didn't remember if they'd been close, or if it was just a fling. As of now, he wouldn't consider himself a romantic person. Hell, he was barely even a person at all. He wasn't human anymore, but then what? What was he and who? Did someone who wasn't a real person have an identity? Could he still call himself Alexander Mercer? Alex, or was he just Zeus? Dana... Was Dana not his sister..?

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