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Chris gave him a withering look. “Say that like you mean it, or I’m going home to Santa Cruz.”

He couldn’t, and so he said nothing at all, and the two of them looked at each other, waiting for the end of the world.

* * *

The CDC has no comment on the tragic deaths in San Antonio, Texas. Drs. Lauren McKenzie and Taylor Beatts were conducting a series of clinical trials aimed at combating drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis…

July 18, 2014: The Rising

It began nowhere. It began everywhere. It began without warning; it began with all the warning in the world. It could have been prevented a thousand times over. There was nothing that anyone could have done.

It began on July 18, 2014.

At 6:42 AM, EST, in a hotel in Columbus, Ohio, Lauren Morris rolled over in her sleep and sighed. That was all; the starting bell of the apocalypse was a simple exhale by a sleeping woman unaware of the transformation going on inside her body. Marburg Amberlee and the Kellis cure fell dormant as their children, their beautiful, terrible children, swarmed through Lauren’s blood and into her organs, taking over every function and claiming every nerve. At 6:48 AM, Lauren’s body opened its eyes, and the virus looked out upon the world, and found that it was hungry. She would be found clawing at the door three hours later when the maids came to clean her room. The room did not get cleaned.

At 9:53 AM, CDT, in the city of Peoria, Illinois, Michael Dowell was hit by a car while crossing the street at a busy intersection. Despite flying more than three yards through the air and hitting the ground with a bone-shattering degree of force, Michael climbed back to his feet almost immediately, to the great relief of bystanders and drivers alike. This relief turned quickly to bewilderment and terror as he lunged at the crowd, biting four people before he could be subdued.

At 10:15 AM, PDT, in the town of Lodi, California, Debbie Goldman left her home and began jogging along her usual route, despite the already record-breaking heat and the recent warnings of her physician. Her explosive cardiac event struck at 11:03 AM. Death was almost instantaneous. Her collapse went unwitnessed, as did her subsequent revival. She staggered to her feet, no longer moving at anything resembling a jog. As she made her way along the road, she encountered a group of teenagers walking to the neighborhood ampm; three of the six were bitten in the struggle that followed.

At 11:31 AM, MDT, at the Colorado Cancer Research Center in Denver, Colorado, two of the patients from the Marburg Amberlee cancer trials went into spontaneous viral amplification as the live viral bodies already active in their systems were pushed into a form of slumber by the encroaching Kellis-Amberlee infection. The primary physician’s administrative assistant, Janice Barton, was able to trigger the alarm before she was overtaken by the infected. The details of this outbreak remain almost entirely unknown, as the lab was successfully sealed and burned to the ground before the infection could spread.

Ironically, Denver was the source point for one of the two viruses responsible for ending the world, and yet it was spared the worst ravages of the Rising until the second wave began on July 26th. Some say that the tragedy that followed came about only because of that temporary reprieve; they weren’t prepared. Those people are not entirely wrong.

And so it went, over and over, all throughout North America. Some of the infected suffered nosebleeds before amplification began, signaling an elevated level of the Marburg Amberlee virus; others did not. Some of the infected would find themselves trapped in cars or hotel rooms, thwarted by stairs or doorknobs; others would not. The Rising had begun.

At 6:18 AM, GMT, on July 19th, in the city of London, England, Lawrence Whitaker was waiting for the Central Line Tube to arrive and take him to work when he felt a warm wetness on his upper lip. He touched it lightly, and frowned at the blood covering his fingertips. He hadn’t had a nosebleed since he was a boy. Then he shrugged, produced a tissue, and wiped the blood away. Nothing to be done.

At 3:47 PM, IST, in the city of Mumbai, India, Sanjiv Gupta was answering calls for the American company whose customers he supported when he realized that his eyes were no longer quite focusing on the screen. Pleading exhaustion, he excused himself for his afternoon break, retreating to the employee restroom. He rinsed his eyes three times, but the blurriness in his vision didn’t go away. Then his nose began to bleed, and an inability to see became the least of his problems.

And so it went, over and over, all throughout the world. The end was beginning at last.

* * *

Reports of unusually violent behavior are coming in from across the Midwest, leading some to speculate that the little brown bat, which has been known to migrate during warm weather, may have triggered a rabies epidemic of previously unseen scope…

July 19, 2014: Berkeley, California

“In looking at the biological structure of the screwfly, the real question isn’t ‘What was evolution thinking,’ it’s ‘Are any of you paying attention to me, or should I just stop talking and put all of this on your final exam’?” Professor Michael Mason picked up one of the books on his desk and dropped it without ceremony. The resulting boom made half the students jump, and made almost all of them guiltily focus their attention on the front of the lecture hall. Michael folded his arms. “Since you’re all clearly sharing with the rest of the class, does anybody feel like sharing with me?”

Silence fell over the lecture hall. Michael cocked his head slightly to the side, watching them, and waited. Finally, one of the students cleared her throat and said, “It’s just there are these crazy stories going around campus, you know? So we’re a little on edge.”