Zac Szalay
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M-340

By Zac Szalay

What a fool I was for thinking that someway, somehow I could find the cure for the infection that was gripping my small town near London. I used to be a proud doctor and quite the salesman, but not since this epidemic. I walked into my shack of a home only to find the same mess I had left myself. Papers, vials, syringes, they all acted as a carpet over my dirt floor. The cages that held my test subjects rattled, confirming that they were still alive. I kissed the picture of my beautiful Daisy that was hanging right above the corridor in my home. This damned epidemic, which people referred to as “The Crimson Plague”, stole my wife and countless others in its swarm of the terrene. Back when I worked for the hospital, I made it my complete life goal to find the cure to this hell on Earth, and I did. I began distributing it to the masses, only to be found that the cure was deficient. It did absolutely nothing. The hospital fired me, leaving me broke and unable to take care of Daisy. I wanted to quit, but I knew I had to perfect my cure to avenge my spouse's death. And I would be relentless until I did so.

The mess around my workstation began to combine into a mountain of junk. I wanted to test two possible cures, so I grabbed two rats and cleared off my workspace. My arm acted like a brush, taking off all the clutter in one swoop. When the mess hit the floor, I heard glass explode. I searched, throwing papers over my shoulders to find a small vial containing a yellowish liquid labeled: SOLUTION M-340. Curious, I grabbed a third rat. I proceeded to inject them with my three cure possibilities. What fur was left of the Crimson Rats felt wet and hard on my hands. Tired, and quite honestly fed up with this hellish reality, I crawled into my uncomforting bed and tried to get some rest. I would continue tomorrow.

The sun through my window seemed to peel my crusted eyes open. I moped out of rest and back to my station. I checked the rat cages only to find two dead rats, and a... a live one! In disbelief, my legs gave out. I grabbed my cherished picture of Daisy and just stared at it. Rivers of tears crawled down my face and flooded the old picture frame. I couldn’t even comprehend the utter joy that came to me. I jumped out of my kneel and grabbed the M-340 and my sales equipment. I had never left my home so fast.

My feet clicked against the cobblestone as I rushed to town square. The grey skies were like a tablecloth over our once cheerful town. I neared the platform stained with ale and rainwater. It reminded me of the last time I was here. The band played, the people were so jolly. Us doctors called that the Medicine Show. Those days were over, but I would bring them back. I would do what others, including my former self, have failed to do. I would cure The Crimson Plague. The streets were clouded by the poor and the sick. I approached the platform and every step I took made me all the more proud.

“Come one, come all! The cure for the bloody Crimson Plague has met its maker!” I made up my chant as I went. A raspy cough came from the crowd followed by, “That’s Thomas Layne! Why would anyone EVER buy from you again? You’re a failure!”. More chants filled the arid town square. I tried to explain myself, but was denied by the disgusted townspeople. Speechless, I surveyed the crowd and found a boy. He was skinny and frail, near death without a doubt. I injected him with the M-340, and watched as the townspeople observed. The boy rose with surprise and confidence. The herd of people erupted towards the platform. I fixed my fathers ebony top hat as I spoke with a strong voice, “Everyone! Come get your M-340 while you can!” The people shouted, throwing money and laughing. I sold until there was absolutely nothing left. I had finally done it. I had finally cured The Crimson Plague.

As I arrived home, I was almost uncomfortable having the amount of money I had in one pocket. I kissed the photo of Daisy as I always did, and I knew her death wasn’t in vain. I laid in my bed and grinned, the hair from my face tickling my neck. I sighed in content, but something… wasn’t right. The joy and cheer that I heard earlier had faded away. I eerily walked towards my window facing town square. What I saw... changed my entire being. Bodies. Unorganized stacks of bodies. Blood and organs hung from the people's eyes and mouths. I ran to my M-340 rat subject only to find the same disturbing corpse. What had I done? My last meal came back up like a waterfall in reverse. I thought I had cured it but I just sped up the mortality of my neighbors. I was the puppeteer in this massacre, my life seemed to be a stain on the product of humanity. I was completely disgusted with myself. I closed my eyes trying to close out the images, but all I could see was the bodies. The bodies of the men, women, and children that I killed. I slowly walked over to my old military sword. Claps of thunder littered the fowl silence. I extended my arms in front of me and with the last crash of thunder I would ever hear, I thrust.

The End.

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