Antonio reveals the starling truth about what they are really up to beneath the ground.
(For “The Bonus Series”)
“Of course I’m alive, what are you doing here?” Antonio, my old friend replied as I stood facing the barrel of a gun.
“Are you serious? I got an email from you asking me to come, the people trapped underground here told me you died weeks ago.”
“I sent no email and I’m certainly not dead. Have you been underground with them?” He asked, his face hidden by the night.
“Yes,” I replied and the circle of people looking in at me widened as everyone took a step back.
Two more guns appeared in the hands I could see highlighted by the torch’s glow and someone said, “We need to kill him.”
“No wait,” Antonio implored as he leapt forward to stand in front of me.
“You know needs to die, we have to burn him.”
“No, he got out somehow and he knows what’s happening inside.”
I stood paralysed by fear and I could feel my jaw trembling in the hot, Australian evening.
“What do you propose? You’re standing too close to him now, we should fire on you both and be done with it.”
“Let me tie him to a tree, I’ll tie us both together and you can watch us until you’re satisfied.”
A low murmur was passed around the killers and I plead my innocence.
“I’ve done nothing wrong.”
“It’s not what you’ve done, but what you might become that frightens us,” the anonymous voice said.
“I don’t mean to frighten anyone, I’ll co-operate.”
“Fine Antonio, tie yourselves with this.” The voice agreed and a long, thin rope was tossed at Antonio’s feet.
“But,” The voice began again, “If my daughter returns and says she thinks you’re a liability, you both die.” He finished and although it was a guilty thought, I must admit I was glad this secretly slaughtered daughter wasn’t ever coming back.
Antonio did a very good job of binding us together and I still thank him for that. Lord knows I would have done the same if I was in his position and I knew the terrors that lay beneath our feet in that facility.
We spoke as we waited and I asked him exactly what it was we waited for.
“We were all researchers here and we were trying to cure the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.” He began.
“You were all trying to cure AIDS? The people still down there said you were protestors.”
“Forget everything they said and open your mind. What I tell you will take a lot of faith to believe.”
“The last twenty four hours has blown my mind wide open, lay it on me.”
“I don’t believe you, there is no way you cured AIDS.”
“I told you, have faith. We didn’t cure AIDS, we cured everything.”
“We developed a kind of serum that assists the immune system. It alters the very purpose of every cell in the body. Every single molecule in the body is able to dedicate itself to healing and there is nothing, no single invader, that can destroy that level of anatomical commitment.”
“What the hell are you talking about? This is utterly insane.”
“No. It is true. This now exists, on our planet, under out very feet.”
“I don’t understand.” I urged and how could I possibly understand? How could anyone hear these words and simply comprehend their spectacular meaning? But read on; Antonio was entirely truthful, this thing does now exist and it haunts me.
“Once our glorious, scientifically generated substance enters your person, your body has the ability to cure any illness. Any single pathological problem becomes totally outmatched by the human body, it’s amazing. We were so proud at the beginning, it was as if we’d defeated god. We cured everything, but there is a damning side effect that renders our invention undoubtedly, diabolically evil.”
“The initial test subject was an old woman named Alice. She was as close to dead as anyone I’ve ever seen. She was unresponsive and unconscious, only a shell full of disease. Within three hours of our creation entering her body, she woke.”
“Oh my god.”
“Yes, it was an absolute miracle. Before the sun set that night, she was entirely cured. No one could sleep and, like fools, we injected the stuff into every patient. The results were the same across the board, undeniable success.”
“NO! Do not congratulate us because as soon as old lady Alice was alone with one other person, she cut their head clean off with a surgical saw. She drank the blood that drained slowly from the corpse and chewed on every piece of soft flesh she could uncover.”
Antonio paused a moment, but I could say nothing. I was entirely crippled by the terror and that terror is still with me as I write.
“I shot her in the head three times when I found the disgusting scene and the group of people standing around you now, fled. Those still inside are infected. This thing we made, this torturous abomination gets into the carrier’s mind and their very soul. As I ran from that nightmare I saw my friends, who had not been injected, feeding on one another. So it’s somehow contagious.”
“What horror,” I began, “And there’s more you don’t know. I spoke to old lady Alice this morning and there wasn’t a single scratch on her.”