• Chapter One-Marigolds
    "Strange new virus infects a number of people in Texas."
    I should have listened to that. I was thinking back then it was just a bunch of hypochondriacs freaking out. But I was wrong...the crows calling outside must've been trying to tell me what was going to happen next, and what would happen from now on. My name is Aaron Webster, and my children, Taylor, Jackson and Chip are the last people in our family..well, in this house anyways. See, Anna, my wife died of cancer...I miss her. It's been so long, but I've never seemed to get over it. I suppose my time in the military fueled some of that lasting scar on my mentality..I don't have the heart to tell this to anyone else, but I believe that you should know..
    It started out fairly normal. Taylor went to high school, and Jackson went to Elementary school. Taylor wouldn't be home until eleven, there was a football scrimmage she was to play with the marching band at, and a dance at the school. That unnerved me to no end. Chip stayed home with me, and was currently sleeping on the couch. The phone rang, snapping me out of that haze that I was always engulfed in. I gingerly picked it up, chuckling to myself at Chip's inability to hear the ringing. "Hey, Aaron." The voice was extremely familiar. Dmitri. "Did you see the news today?" He sounded worried, but that was abnormal for Dmitri. He was always calm. I felt uneasy. As I turned on the television, I switched it from the generic Monday morning baby cartoons to the news. "Several years ago there was a recorded outbreak of a virus among people in Austin Texas.." Dmitri continued. I laughed. "Dmitri, is this another prank?" I dropped the phone suddenly, gaping at the television screen.

    This time around, Chip woke up. "Zuh..?" His blonde hair was now all messy all over his head. He was the only one in the family who had his mother's hair. Blonde. Everyone else had brown hair. To this day, I never knew why he was different than the others. "Chip, do you still have your gun?" His eyes were now wide, and he seemed wide awake now. "Yea..in the dresser..why ya need it, dad?" He asked slowly. I hesitated, then said simply 'Lock the doors, Chip. And the windows. I'm leaving you with my gun, understand?" Chip still didn't understand, and then he looked at the TV screen. "....Staff members dead at local high school..all clawed out the lymphatic nodes..eew." I bolted from the room, tore open his drawer, and sifted through clothes. I stopped on a picture of a boy about his age, who looked albino from just a glance. His hair was obviously dyed a deep black, and there was an 'XOXO' on the picture. I left it there, shrugging it off. It didn't matter who he liked. If I didn't do something, we'd all be dead. Finally, the small handgun. It was for protection only, an emergencies only weapon. This was an emergency. "Hey dad, it's not loaded.." Chip called out, walking into the room. I gave him a look. "Alright. I'll just have to go unarmed. No time. And Chip..." I said slowly. "..Don't sleep in your underwear anymore." I ran past my son, heading to the door. I tore open the closet door, and brought out my military jacket. It was always in the back of the closet. Just holding it brought back memories, and things that I could reminesce on later, but I had to protect my kids. I had second thoughts, then tossed a paint-stained shirt and pants at Chip. "Put them on. We're going to Marigold High School." He had his clothes on in and instant. "Get in the car." I said slowly opening the door for my half-awake son. He opened the car door and stepped inside, in the front seat. I gripped the wheel as soon as I got in. We only had one car, thankfully, so there was no moving to do. As I left the driveway, it occured to me that the phone was still off the hook. Dmitiri would probably understand. He never seemed to lose his head. "So, dad, what's the problem?" Chip asked, obviously wanting to know. "That disease that's going around sounds dangerous...I don't want Taylor getting it.."
    "They said that it was only passed through saliva.." Chip poked my shoulder. I was always paranoid about my children. 'I want to take no chances." I stepped on the gas pedal, and we peeled out of the driveway. There were hardly any cars on the street. It struck me as strange, because the streets were always crowded when school started, at lunch, and when school ended. It was just about twelve. And yet, the street was completely empty..

    I was broken out of this by my son.."Dad. What's wrong? You're panicking." I concentrated on the road. "That's right..the road..." The almost Cathedral-like building of her school loomed in front of us. On any other day, it would've been a beautiful sight, but not right now. As I clutched the steering wheel, I felt the sweat linger on my palms. Chip reached over and turned the radio on. "He's the one they call Dr. Feel Good.." Click. "Fell in love with a girl.." Click. Eventually he stopped, and just turned it off when he noticed that we were there. The doors in the front were open, beckoning one inside the hallowed halls they held inside. The marble floors and lovely stained glass windows that rose high up in the air, and the tower in the middle that loomed like one's definition of an overseer. The spires on the top almost looked like large spikes ready to impale some invisible flying creature. Birds, that looked like little black dots all sat on it. Even they seemed worried and frantic. I slipped on my coat and walked inside, looking around. War was hell, yes, but this was MUCH worse. The teachers, a few students, laying on the marble floors, necks bloodied in a horribly morbid way, I turned away, put my hand on my heart, whispered a prayer for the dead..and then I felt a cold hand on my shoulder! In seconds I had swerved around and pointed a gun to the person's head. Dmitri! I sighed in relief. "Why are you here?" He shook his head. "You need to get out of here.." I turned again, and yelped loudly, and Dmitri I could hear gasping for air...