by Caroline Galeotafiore
You subject me to your cold, inanimate, gray stare,
And I can feel myself freeze solid like a diamond.
It makes me wonder if your chest is hollow and bare,
For I can’t imagine a heart withstanding such cold climates.
I shiver as I am shamed in your field of vision.
I cringe as I am cornered with you at an arm’s lengths distance.
The meeting of our minds would be a catastrophic collision.
I am withholding woeful words because someone like you never listens.
You subject me to your sweltering, laser lashing eyes,
And I can feel myself burn from my core to my skin.
With a smile on your lips, you wear a deceitful disguise,
But behind your steel eyes, I see the fire within.
I couldn’t even touch you if you were resting in my hands,
For nothing that I do so much as even leaves you fazed.
You wouldn’t even see me if I gave you the chance,
For no matter how bright I shine, your eyes remain hazed.
You subject me to your immovable, emotionless, metal stare,
And I prudently ponder if your heart could ever care.
Common conception is that the eyes reflect the soul,
But yours go straight to hell; a hell that’s barren, empty, and cold. I reluctantly realize an inevitable truth;
One that shakes me, and shakes me, and shakes me so deep.
Before life left you low, you were just like me in your youth,
And behind steel eyes are the secrets that you keep;
Secrets of sorrows and passionate pains;
Secrets of self-loathing and miserable mistakes.
You subject me to your cold, inanimate, gray stare,
And I can feel myself freeze solid like a stone,
But I thaw out and stretch my hand as far as I dare,
And your steel eyes soften because they’re no longer alone.
by Melissa Theodorakatos
“Medallia, wake up,” a muffled voice spoke above her. She opened her eyes slowly and saw a glimpse of a man’s face. Her eyes were so blurry. She could barely make out his face. “Medallia, come on. Wake up. You need to get up. It’s important.” She widened her vision and met the bright blue eyes above her.
“Chris. You came to see me.” Her voice was still groggy from the anesthesia. She paused for a moment, trying to sit upright. “What happened to me? I cannot feel my leg. He wouldn’t tell me what he was going to do before I passed out.”
“Medallia, you have to whisper ok? He cut away some of the infection, it spread through most of your leg. We can talk about this later; I got to get you out of here now. I will explain your leg on the chopper.” His voice was full of panic as he spoke to her. When her eyes cleared, she saw how pale his complexion had become. He was speaking in a soft whisper that she could barely make out.
“Where are we going?” she responded.
“We have to leave this place now. But you have to be quiet and do not say a word when we leave this room, ok?” Medallia nodded. She leaned forward on the bed and saw the large white wrapping that surrounded her entire leg past her knee. “I brought you some clothes, I think they are your size. We have to move fast.” He was still whispering to her as he gently lifted her, placing her immediately onto the ground. “Don’t put any pressure on your right leg, lean on my shoulders if you need balance.” He handed her the black T-shirt he had brought her and slipped the denim shorts onto her legs. When she was fully dressed, he pulled her into his arms once more and headed for the curtain. “I’m sorry, I could not find any shoes. I will get you some after we leave. You will not have to do any walking so we should be ok. Hold onto me tight, I am going to have to do some running.” As he walked, she locked her arms tight around his neck to stay upright. “Stay quiet, I will try to be very careful with your leg, but even if you feel pain you need to hold in the screams. You have to trust me, ok?” he said as he glanced down at her.
He quietly moved out of her room and out around the perimeter of the hospital. She looked around and didn’t see a single doctor or nurse on the floor. Patients that were still in their beds were sound asleep as they passed. Chris made his way down the narrow corridors making as little noise as possible. He came to a small white door with a similar code box as the one he used earlier. He used his free arm to punch in the codes and a small beep sounded as the door cracked open. “Grab the handle and close the door slowly so it doesn’t make any noise.” She did as she was told, and Chris continued towards a black chopper. It was different than the one they rode earlier that day, with a smaller body and extremely tiny propeller. Chris opened the passenger door and lifted her onto the seat. He ran around the other side and pulled himself up onto the driver’s side, pausing for a moment as he stared at the dashboard.
“Once I turn this engine on, alarms will go off throughout the entire building and security will be on their way. I just hope they don’t get out here before I leave the area. No vehicle is allowed to leave the perimeters, even to tailgate an enemy so we should be ok. I just hope I can fly this damn thing.” He continued to stare at the dashboard as he spoke.
“You don’t know how to fly a chopper?” she yelled.
“No, no, I do, I just never flew one this tiny. But I should be ok. Just hold on tight.” He turned on the engine and flicked a bunch of switches sending the entire vehicle up into the air. Medallia glanced out her window to see men in police uniforms pour out of the emergency exit they had used. They were all shouting and pointing guns towards the chopper. “Hang on!” He revved the engine, and the vehicle sped forward. Bullets hit the back end of the cabin, but none were strong enough to pierce the metal entirely. Medallia could see the police start to gather near the door of the facilities. No one could chase them, and they knew they had to give up. Chris continued on for a few moments until they were out of gun-range. He locked the chopper into auto-pilot and wiped his brow with the back of his hand.
“Well, I guess I have some explaining to do, don’t I?”
“I would say so. I mean it’s not every day I wake up on the cement of New York City with cuts on my leg, get taken to an emergency center, have some doctor knock me out and cut into my leg, and then have an officer illegally remove me from the premises.”
“Well, after everything that has happened today, I think you will believe me.” He began by explaining what had happened after the doctor at the emergency center excused him from the room.
“So, you are telling me that there is some kind of foreign biotic bacteria inside me!” she screamed.
“Yes. It must have entered your bloodstream from the leg wound. When the doctor cut away at your leg they took samples and noticed the strain of this bacteria has spread. They were afraid that it would turn you into one of the creatures that attacked the city and did not want to take any chances. The Commander issued an order to have blood tests drawn immediately. The results all showed traces of the bacteria. They were discussing all night whether or not they were going to kill you, and I knew that I had to get you out of there before they finished their meeting.” He paused for a moment and turned to face her. “I was not going to let them slaughter you because of a stupid fear. And if they are right, and it does turn you into one of those monsters, at least I can die knowing I did the right thing. But we are going to have to be extremely careful from now on. If I know the Commander correctly, he already has images of you and I sent to every headquarters in the country. We have just become an addition to the list of the country’s worst enemies.”
Medallia stared at him in silence. She had no words to describe how she was feeling. A part of her was thankful that Chris had saved her life, but another was scared that she would become something the entire nation feared. “Medallia, are you all right?” his voice snapping her back to reality.
“Yeah. I was just thinking. I want to tell you how thankful I am that you saved me back there. I don’t even want to know what they would have done to me if you hadn’t. It was so, so, um, brave of you.” She put her head down in shame. Thoughts were barely forming in her mind as she stumbled over her own words. “You didn’t have to do any of that for me. You barely even know who I am, and you risked everything. You left behind your job, your friends, your life. Why?”
Chris slightly chuckled. “Believe me, if anything, helping you was the one thing I knew I had to do. I could not stand being there one more day. They all treated me like crap because of my position and nothing that I said or suggested was ever taken seriously. That was not a life; it was a place to survive. When the attacks started and I was signed up for the recruitment, I thought it would finally be my big break in the field. I was wrong, and before I knew it, part of me was wishing I had been walking on the New York streets when they came for us. When I saw your life form appear on our radar, I knew I had to come find you. Something just told me I had to; it was like a voice spoke to me. The same thing happened when I had to decide what to do about the situation back at headquarters. I could not be more certain about anything right now.”
“What are we supposed to do now though? I mean this chopper cannot run on the fuel it has forever. And we have no food or water to last us more than a few days” she said with panic in her voice.
“Relax. I thought this all through before I came and woke you up tonight. There is a place on the outskirts of Massachusetts that is a refugee camp. I was sent there a few days ago to try and get the survivors to join the nearest headquarters, but they felt that a government supported survival camp would only cause them more pain. Believe me, I knew exactly what they meant. They will probably have no idea that you are infected with the bacteria, and they most likely won’t remember my face. I figured we would go there and try to get some shelter for a while until we figure out what to do. Eventually, I plan on figuring out what is causing these things to attack us and maybe even find a way to stop them myself. But one can only dream.”
She nodded and leaned back into her seat. “Chris?”
“Yeah?” he replied.
“What if the infection does turn me into a monster?”
“Don’t think about that right now. Think positive. I will do whatever I can to make sure that doesn’t happen to you. But you have to promise that you will tell me if anything feels or seems strange with you. I don’t care if it’s something really small, you tell me ok?”
“Ok. That won’t make me stop thinking about it though. I keep thinking about those stupid zombie apocalypse movies and it is not helping. Can you promise me something though, now that we are being all open and honest with one another?”
“Sure, go ahead.”
“If I do change, can you promise you will kill me immediately. Don’t try to help me, just kill me. I don’t want to hurt anyone, even though I know I would not be in control. And promise you won’t blame yourself if you have to.” Her voice cracked, and the tears began to well in her eyes.
Chris looked over and saw her wiping her cheeks with the back side of her hand. Her hair was caked in dirt and mud from the previous morning, but she was still so beautiful. He watched her for a while and let out a long sigh. “I promise I will take your life, but I won’t promise anymore than that. Now, enough of that crying. I don’t see your eyes turning red or your mouth spilling out blood and foam yet, so I think you are fine. When you start feeling the urge to bite my arm off, we can both cry.” She laughed a little and turned slightly in her seat. Just looking at her made him happy. He could not understand why his feelings were so strong, but something about her was captivating. He felt as if he was connected to her in some way, as if they had known each other for a long time, but he knew that was impossible.
A few minutes had passed and Medallia had drifted back into a deep sleep. He grabbed a blanket from behind his chair and draped it gently around her. He switched the chopper back to manual and slowly accelerated. “Jeez, I hope I don’t fall asleep” he whispered. He looked out onto the rest of the city below him. Everything was pitch black leaving the immense buildings to form rectangular boxes of all sizes in the night sky. It reminded him of a cardboard diorama that children would make in elementary school. They traveled for a few more moments before he saw the outline of the apartment building he lived in for most of his early years. His mind flashed back to one of his darkest memories.
“Jean, killing yourself is not going to solve anything! It will just mean he has won! I know he hurt you but please, please for the love of God come down!” Chris was shouting from beneath the railing on top of his old apartment building. He had known Jean since he was a child; she lived in the apartment across the hall from his. For weeks, Chris and his single mother would hear screaming from across the hall. Some nights, Chris’ mother would go across and knock on their door to only be greeted by Jean herself, usually looking like she had just woken up. She would always smile to his mother and say that the screaming was from nightmares that she often experienced. Her step father would usually come to the door shortly after and complain about how nosey his mother was being and would rudely ask her to leave. Although his mother was never truly convinced with Jean’s story, there was nothing she could do.
When Jean and Chris started high school, they found themselves spending every spare moment together. They would walk home together after class and would play video games in Chris’ apartment when his mother was out at work. They started dating during their sophomore year, and soon after they became an item at school. One day after class, Jean and Chris were watching a movie in his apartment as they sat on his living room couch. He put his arm around her and brushed against a long thin bump on the top of her back. At first contact, Jean screamed and jerked away from him.
“What, what did I do?” he asked nervously, although he already knew what had happened.
“Nothing. You did nothing, I just… I have to get going, my father will be home soon.” She got up and headed for the door.
“Woah woah, wait a minute.” He ran towards her and threw himself between her and the door. “Lift up your shirt and turn around.”
“What? You pig, I told you I want to leave, now move out of my way!” Her voice was getting louder, but Chris did not budge.
“Listen to me Jean, I know what has been going on at home. If he has touched you or hurt you, you can tell me, ok? Let me see your back.” He spoke in a calming voice as he reached out and held her arms. “I care about you Jean, and I don’t want anything to happen to you ok?” Reluctantly, she turned and slowly lifted her T-Shirt. With every inch that the fabric moved up her back, a new welt mark appeared. They formed lines across the entire lower end of her back, forming raised bumps in all directions. “Jean, did he do this to you?” She stayed silent and slowly nodded her head without even looking back. “Did he do this to you last night?” Again she nodded. “Has he done this to you before?” She nodded again, and her shoulders started to shake. He pulled her shirt down and grabbed her arms to turn her around. When her eyes met his he pulled her in and held her for a long time. His shirt was saturated with her tears, but he did not let her go.
Weeks later her father was given a slap on the wrist, being allowed to leave jail after a month as long as he moved from the apartment entirely. Before he left, he told her how she would pay for everything. When he slammed the door shut, she rose to her feet and headed towards the stairs that led to the roof. When she reached the top, she climbed to the top of the railing and stared down onto the lit streets of Manhattan. Everything was so bright, and the noise of the traffic reached up towards her. Chris bolted through the doors and immediately saw Jean balanced on the edge of the roof.
“Jean, please come down, don’t do this to me. I love you.”
“I love you too Chris, you know that right? You have to understand he will just hurt me again, nothing will end this.” She was sobbing as she moved closer to the edge, peering her head downward to the street thousands of feet below her. “Goodbye Chris.”
“Jean, no!” He ran to her and reached for her jacket, but his hands did not grab her in time. Her body went sailing off the roof towards the blinking lights of the city. He peered over the railing downwards, reaching his arms towards her believing he could still save her. He heard the thud, and saw the miniature figure of her body on the pavement. He collapsed on the ground.
“Chris? Chris are you all right?” Medallia was hunched over her seat shaking his body.
The memory instantly stopped, and he jumped in his seat disoriented. “Oh, yes I, I’m sorry. I was daydreaming. I didn’t hear you.” He looked around the cockpit in confusion. Reliving that moment was so real to him, he felt the same pain he did when he watched Jean fall from the roof that night. He looked at Medallia and realized the answer to what he had been asking himself earlier. She reminded him of Jean. Her eyes, her hair, everything was similar, right down to her voice and personality. Inside, he felt he could save Medallia. He knew that if he could, it might bring him closure from the darkness of his past.
“I thought you had passed out or something. The chopper started to tilt, and I didn’t know what to do.” She was frowning at him, her eyes reflecting the light of the dashboard.
“I’m ok. I think I may have dozed off for a little. I’ll put her on auto-pilot for a while and take a quick break. I think I might have an energy drink in the back.” He got up and started to head towards the small back end of the chopper. Medallia could tell something was wrong, but she knew better than to ask. It was already starting to show signs of daylight on the horizon far ahead. The light meant they were exposed to anyone or anything that could see them. I hope he knows what he is doing.
The sun had already reached halfway up the sky when Chris began to slow down the chopper for landing. Medallia looked down and saw dozens of tents spread out in the wooded area beneath them. “Well, here we are, I hope they have some food for us.” Chris looked so eager as he started to lower the controls. He slowly reached the ground in between two large trees. He turned off the engine and waited for the propellers to lose motion.
“I’ll head to the camp and make sure things are ok before you come. If I remember correctly, we aren’t too far away from them. Wait here and don’t open the door for anyone.” He reached in his pocket and pulled out a small handheld device. “If you need anything, press this button, it will buzz my receiver.”
Medallia nodded as he hopped out of the chopper. She let out a large sigh and stretched her good leg in front of her. She immediately stopped as she felt something brush against her foot. Looking downward, she saw a small tape recorder on the floor. She kicked it towards her with her foot and pulled it onto her lap. I wonder what the tape says. She fumbled with the buttons for a few moments until static began to pour from the speaker, startling her slightly. The static faded and a voice peered through.
This is Officer Christopher Taylor from the New York City Police Department. They have Medallia, and they are going to kill her simply because they have found some foreign DNA in her system. If anyone finds this tape, and I am dead, make sure they pay for going above the law and killing off a patient over a fear. Line 43 of the Human Rights Code of Emergency Conditions states that no victim should be put in any form of danger under unproven suspicions. I tried to voice my opinion, but I was immediately shot down. She is not the first victim to be murdered because of the bacteria. There were five others before her, Taylor Dawson, Michael Rulley, Samantha Hutchinson, Travis Smithson, and David Bucha. Their deaths have been recorded as various medical failures suggesting the patients died due to biological issues. I will have it known that these records are false, and that the headquarters are not safe. All five victims, and now six with Medallia, who have contracted the bacteria are all between the ages of 22–25 and have been diagnosed with rare immune deficiencies. I believe these deficiencies are the reason the bacteria remains in the body after contact. All five victims did not show any signs of altercations after the bacteria had spread and killing them was entirely unjustifiable. I have boarded the Delta 004 chopper and will be leaving with Medallia tonight to reach an unspecified refugee camp to get her help. Her leg is badly wounded, and the bacteria must be treated immediately. If I do not make it, I want our story exposed, and I want the main level of headquarters to pay for what they have done to these innocent people. Again, the tape went silent, but she could tell more film remained. She waited patiently until the voice emerged again.
This is Chris Taylor, ex Officer of the New York Police Department. I have cleared my records from the database and have wiped out all information on Medallia. If you find this tape, and I am gone, please reenter us into the system to ensure our death is known to any family that we both have. This may be the last time I record anything. I am taking a great risk leaving tonight, but I need to get her out of here. I cannot sit back and watch her die like the others. She is different. She reminds me of Jean. I cannot explain why I feel this way about her, especially after knowing her one day, but I feel this connection. I don’t know why I am saying this all to a damn tape recorder. I better go, the guards are about to switch shifts, and I have about ten minutes to get her out of here. The tape clicked and the recorder shut off entirely.
Medallia leaned forward and rested her head in her hands. She argued with herself about whether or not she should mention the tape to Chris. I don’t want to embarrass him, but I want some answers about everything that took place back at the headquarters. If my records are entirely wiped out, I can never have my identity back if this all gets figured out. My wallet. My wallet was missing when I woke up yesterday. I wonder if this has anything to do with it, maybe they knew I had the infection, and took it all before I woke up? No. That can’t be, Chris said he saw my life form minutes before the phone rang. But what if he didn’t even know.
Her thoughts were immediately interrupted as a loud banging sound appeared outside the chopper. She froze for a few moments, and her heart began to pound furiously in her chest. She grabbed the small device Chris had given her and pressed the button furiously.
Chris felt a small buzzing in the pocket of his pants while he was talking with the camp General. He stopped mid-sentence and started to panic. Something must have happened. It must be one of the creatures. They have been hovering in wooded areas for weeks. He pulled his gun from the holster, and he ran back towards the chopper, yelling as he spoke, “the girl I am with is in trouble. She is in our chopper about a half a mile through these woods.” The General quickly signaled his men, and they quickly followed.
Chris leaped over branches and pushed away stray branches as he followed the path towards the chopper. Oh God, please let her be ok. He could hear the guards behind him but continued to run forward. He saw the top of the propeller, and slowed down to try and get a glimpse of the vehicle. He could see a large figure standing behind the tail of the chopper, banging on the edge, rattling it with every blow.
The figure turned towards the area Chris was hiding, and growled loudly. He did not recognize the creature at all. Its eyes were gigantic, covering half its face, with a mouth forming just below the base of his eyeball. When it growled, sharp razor teeth appeared on top and bottom of its gums. As Chris looked towards the chest area, she saw bulging growths throbbing all over its torso, extending around to its back and down its spine. Its arms were large and muscularly, with sharp claws extending past its fingers. The creature growled once more and went back to attacking the chopper. Chris knew it would not hold up much longer and tried to figure out a way to get to the chopper without the creature seeing.
The few guards that had followed him caught up and came to a halt as they approached him. Chris turned and motioned towards the chopper. The General peered around the tree Chris was hiding behind and made hand gestures behind him. The men nodded and started to move towards the left of their position. Chris could immediately tell that this was not their first encounter with the creatures.
The general turned and faced Chris, leaning in slightly before he spoke. “When we get in position, you run around the back of the vehicle and get her out. We will try to distract the creature, but you need to be fast.”
Chris nodded and began to head around the tree to get ready for the rescue. I can’t mess up. I need to get her out of there. I just hope she is all right.
To be continued….
by Caroline Galeotafiore
I’m rebuilding these walls that have since late broken down,
And now, they’ll stand stalwart, ten times as strong.
I’ll ignore the calls that sound for the war of this town,
And instead, I’ll fight my own battle lifelong.
My defenses may close me in, but they faithfully keep you out,
And I refuse to let you break them down anymore.
I’d rather be safe and alone than accompanied and pained with doubt.
I will no longer answer the knock at my door.
I’ve heard it’s safer on the outside, but I’m stuck in the crux,
So I surround myself with unbreakable shields.
I’ve heard it’s bound to leave your tongue tied when your thoughts are in flux,
So I silently sit as my mind reluctantly yields.
It yields to the reign of the almighty queen,
The one that beats in 4:4 time signature.
It yields to the power of the obscure and obscene,
The entities that make one most insecure.
How do you go back to the beginning when you can’t turn around?
How do you scream with no existence of sound?
How do you live when there’s no reality to life?
How do you find peace in the midst of such strife?
I’ve heard that life is lived forward, yet understood backward,
But how do you understand when you can’t look back?
I’ve heard that in the dead of the night, you can still hear the blackbird,
But how do you hear when your heart booms as it’s ruined and wracked?
by Melissa Theodorakatos
Chris paused for a few moments to gather his thoughts. He knew explaining the entire situation would be shocking to Medallia, but there was no other way around it. After a few more moments passed, he began to speak, “The entire country was under attack from some biotic form. We do not know what it is, but we think it may be some kind of alien species. The CIA had some clues that an attack was going to take place when unauthorized aircraft started entering the atmosphere out of thin air. They would vanish anytime one of our guys would get too close. It was entirely bizarre. Random areas would fall under heavy bombing, with reports of weird creatures raiding the streets and killing anything in their path.
“The CIA formed a special tasks force and started creating underground shelters in heavily populated areas around the country in case the attack took place on a large nation-wide scale. The smaller attacks were kept a secret as much as possible from the general public to avoid a rebellion. A few men from the NYPD were asked to remain at the nearest shelter for as long as the threat existed.
“I was one of the individuals that were asked to go, along with the rest of the men you will meet when we arrive. For a few days, we thought everything was going to be fine, and men were told they could leave the shelters and go home. The aircrafts were off the radar and no small attacks were seen taking place anywhere across the country, until last night that is. Around ten o’clock ships of all sizes appeared like magic above us. They came in the thousands, hovering over major cities everywhere. The US sent out aircraft to attack, but they were vaporized instantly if they got too close. A bunch of us remained at the bases in case the species returned.
“We were sure that this threat was not going away, and unfortunately we were right. News spread quickly, and the entire nation was in a panic. People were running around the streets of New York City like animals. It was a sight. When the attack hit we were ordered to stay indoors of the shelter. The attack went on ‘till 11:30, and by then, almost every single person in the city was vaporized. No traces of the bodies were found anywhere, which was unlike their previous attacks.
“How you are still alive is a miracle. Other cities were lucky, only some people were killed. Afterwards, the beings just left, and again, they disappeared from our radars. That is why we were so cautious to come for you right away. We were afraid these things could take on human life forms. It is all a matter of safety at this point; we need to save as much of the population as possible. Millions are reported dead.” Chris’ face grew solemn immediately after speaking. He was panting slightly, with a small portion of sweat accumulating on his forehead from his excitement. “And the worst part is, we have no idea what else these things are capable of.”
Medallia stared into space for a few moments. She had no idea what to even say. Nothing made sense to her, and if what he was saying to her was true, that meant everyone that she knew who lived in the city was gone. Her heart was racing again, and her stomach began to gurgle. She leaned up on her arms quickly and expelled the remainder of her dinner onto her shirt.
“Oh god, I’m sorry I upset you. Here, grab my hand you need to sit up so you don’t choke.” Chris grabbed her arm and leaned her back against the chopper’s seat. He quickly grabbed a bottle of water from the behind him and handed it to her. Richards sat in silence shaking his head in the driver’s seat.
She quickly gulped down half of the water bottle and wiped her face with the sleeves of her shirt. She felt disgusting. “I’m ok now, I just need to sit up for a while.” She looked up at him as she spoke. It was the first time she really looked at his face. She was so consumed by his story that she never noticed how bright blue his eyes were. They were entirely mesmerizing, locking her eyes with his until Chris spoke.
“Come on, I’ll lift you onto the seat. We still have a ways to go, so it is best if you are comfortable. I’ll get you a new shirt too.” He smiled at her, lifting her spirits slightly. Whether she was dreaming or not, she was glad he was there to help her through this. It was the first time all day she actually felt safe.
Chris helped her onto the seat and rummaged through the same shelf he received the blankets from earlier until he found a T-shirt. “It is really big, but at least it will get you out of that mess you are wearing now.” He handed her the shirt and turned away. “You can let me know when you are done, ok?”
She quickly changed into the new shirt, hoping the entire time that Richards would not turn around. “I’m done, thank you.”
“My pleasure, you can just throw the old one in the bag on your left,” he said pointing in the direction of the garbage bag.
She stuffed the shirt into the bag, frowning slightly. For some reason, she felt extremely sad to see it go. She felt as if throwing it away would throw away part of her past. What a silly thing to think about Medallia. Get yourself together. You have other things to worry about. She turned her head away and leaned back onto the seat. She rested her leg onto the blankets below her as Chris settled next to her. She felt her eyes slowly lower as she fell into a deep sleep.
“Medallia, wake up,” Chris said as he lightly poked at her arm, “we are at the shelter now, it’s time to get up.” Medallia’s eyes slowly opened, bombarded them with the light that poured through the windshield.
“Oh. Where are we?” she mumbled as she lifted her head and squinted to allow her eyes time to adjust.
“The shelter. We just landed. We need to get you inside and get those wounds taken care of as soon as possible. Come on, I’ll carry you.” He grabbed hold of her arm and brought it around his shoulders. He placed an arm around her back and under her knees, lowering both of them out of the chopper. Her leg began to throb, while it dangled haphazardly. She bit her lip firmly to mask her groaning.
Chris led them to a large black door and slowly lowered her body to the ground, pulling her arms onto his shoulders to balance her weight. He removed a panel off a small box located near the handle and began to press in a variety of codes. Medallia looked around to try and figure out where they were, but it was no use. It was some kind of suburban dwelling, probably right outside of the city. She looked back towards the chopper and saw Richards standing outside for a smoke. He smokes. Another reason to strongly dislike him. She was startled instantly, as a high-pitched beep emerged from the black panel. Chris quickly pulled her into his arms and headed inside a dark entrance.
“Amazing job Chris, you have entirely gone above my expectations on this assignment” a man said from the darkness. Medallia knew it was the Chief; she could recognize his raspy voice anywhere, even after their short phone call earlier. “And Medallia, you look a little pale, how is that leg doing?”
“It could be better, I have a feeling it might be getting infected. I feel a bit sick.” Her head was killing her, and her fever was getting worse. She tried to distract herself, but her thoughts were consuming her. A few years ago, she was diagnosed with a rare disease that weakens your immune system to extremely low levels. Last time she had a terrible paper cut, it took over a month to heal. Don’t think the worst. They could give you some medication, and it will speed up the process. You are not going to lose your leg. She tried to believe herself, but her thoughts came as no comfort.
“Chris, take her to the emergency center immediately, they are expecting her. If it is infected, they will need to flush out the wound before it goes any deeper. A few of the other victims with similar cuts had a foreign bacteria growing. If Medallia has this, it needs to be taken out before it attacks her blood stream.”
Chris did not even answer the Chief. He instead started to race through the upcoming corridors. They came to the end of a small hallway with a large red sign above the door. Even with her blurred vision, Medallia could see that it was the emergency center. Chris pushed through the door, flooding both of them with a great deal of noise and extremely bright lights that surrounded the hospital-like environment. Before they could move, a woman ran towards them. She was wearing a nurse’s uniform that was stained with different shades of red. Is that blood? And if it is, is it from different people? So much for sanitation.
“Chris! I was starting to get worried. Take the girl to bed number 8 and get her into the hospital gown I left by the pillow. She can leave on her underwear” She quickly turned and stormed away, giving Chris no chance to reply. He followed her directions and walked around the perimeter of the room until he found bed number 8. He walked through the curtain and gently lowered Medallia onto the bed. He helped her sit upwards so she could change.
He pulled the curtain closed around the bed and started to unlace her shoes. When he got to her right leg, he stared for a few seconds. The bandaged from the convenience store had fallen off hours before, exposing the wound to the air. He noticed it had turned a faint green color around the open flesh. He had seen this same coloring on other patients that were infected with the foreign bacteria, but he decided it was best not to alarm Medallia.
Chris continued to help Medallia with her clothing, turning to face the wall when necessary until she was fully dressed in the hospital gown. He lifted her legs onto the cot and helped her lean onto the lifeless pillow. Before he could sit, the same nurse that had greeted them pulled open the curtain, leading into the room with a large metal tray in her arms.
“Oh good, she is all dressed. Chris, take this and fill it up with the usual and clean her off as much as possible. Both doctors are busy with other victims, so he will probably won’t see her for another hour.” She placed the tray on the bed and started to walk away.
“Excuse me, Nurse Emily, she has a very bad wound that needs to be looked at immediately. There is a risk of infection, could you have a doctor view the condition first before making her wait all this time?” he said as polite as possible.
“Chris, there is an overwhelming amount of patients, which I know you are aware of. I cannot cater to one person over others who were here before her!”
“Look, not all the patients before her have gaping wounds with bacteria that could enter their blood stream, ok? I think catering is necessary in this situation.” His voice rose a bit, forcing the nurse to take a step backwards.
“Do not raise your voice to me! Remember your place here, you are simply an officer. That does not give you authority to command anyone in these facilities. I will put her file, in order, with the rest of the patients, and the doctor will see her when he sees her.” She turned and stormed out behind the curtain.
“Stupid witch,” Chris mumbled under his breath.
“If they have protocol they have to follow Chris, I have to wait like everyone else.” Medallia attempted to calm him, but she knew nothing would stop his ranting.
“You don’t understand. If any of the Lieutenants walked in here with you, a doctor would be at your side immediately. I get no respect here because I am just an officer. You need medical attention immediately.” He headed for the curtain.
“Chris, what are you doing?” she yelled, but he was gone before she could stop him.
A few minutes passed, and Medallia sat staring at the ceiling. If what Chris and the Chief said is right, I am going to lose my leg for sure. Great. I hope he can get the doctor to see me soon. God this thing throbs, and my head is spinning. Foreign bacteria. God the room is spinning. Where is this guy. Chris. Chris has nice eyes. He better come… Before she could finish her thought, she drifted into a deep sleep. Shortly after, Chris stormed into her room, violently tearing the curtain closed behind him. He stopped short, staring straight at Medallia’s eyes. His heart sank when he saw them closed.
Chris stumbled over to the bed and placed his hand over her mouth gently, feeling a slight breeze brush against his palm. A wave of relief came over him, forcing him to sink into the chair beside the cot. He sat up slightly to stretch and felt his arm brush against something cold. He turned to see the metal tray that the nurse had brought in earlier. He was so wrapped up in finding a doctor that he forgot to clean off her cuts. He prepared the tray, and filled a large sponge with antibacterial solution. He lifted her arms slowly, gently moving the sponge over the cuts. There was a great deal of mud and smudges from the fall, forcing him to repeat areas multiple times until she was clean. Medallia turned her head towards him and slowly opened your eyes. He stopped cleaning and glanced down at her slightly. “I’m sorry that I woke you. I was trying to be as gentle as possible.”
“No, it’s fine. I’m glad you are here. I felt so strange earlier and just passed out.” She rubbed her eyes with her right hand, smudging makeup down her face.
“The doctor didn’t listen to me, but there aren’t too many people before you. I figured I would get you all cleaned up now and give the doctor more time to exam your leg.” He was smiling as he moved onto her shoulders. He was able to work at a faster pace now that she was awake.
Chris continued to clean around her face, wiping away the makeup and dirt that formed around her eyes. As he hovered over her, Medallia stared straight into his eyes once more. I feel so relaxed with him. This is so strange. I haven’t felt like this around anyone since college. I guess that tends to happen when you drink every weekend to hide your sorrows, shutting out the entire world.
Her thoughts were instantly interrupted when he started to clean around her wound. She flinched, sending her leg off the table.
“I’m sorry, I was trying not to get any of the water into the cut.” He had a look of panic on his face as he gently moved her leg back in place.
“It’s all right, I was just not expecting it.” She calmed her breathing and leaned backwards on the cot. She heard a stirring outside the curtain and saw a hand extend inside. The doctor stepped through, throwing medical equipment onto the cart beside him.
“Chris, you are free to leave now,” the man said as he pointed to the curtain. “I am sure there are things you can tend to at the officer post.” He immediately turned towards Medallia before Chris could respond. “I am Dr. Breener, I am going to take care of this leg for you.”
“Ok, I’ll go back to my post like a good little boy,” Chris answered with a great deal of sarcasm in his voice. “I’ll come visit you later after they take care of you. If you need me, I am at officer post 4.” Medallia nodded at him, and he was gone.
After ten minutes passed, she was hooked up to a heart rate monitor, was being fed an IV, was on oxygen, and had blood drawn from her arms and legs. “I have given you some anesthesia, you should be asleep in a few moments.” The doctor did not even face her as he spoke.
“Wait, why are you knocking me out?” She could already feel the kick of the medication numbing her.
“It is a very simple procedure, I have to cut away some of the infection in your leg, just relax and it will …” but Medallia was asleep before he could finish his sentence.
To be continued…..
by Caroline Galeotafiore
Only the strongest kind of people can truly love the weak ones.
Only the strongest kind of wall would be able to trap them in.
What my eyes fail to see is still worth my heart believing.
What I cannot feel on the surface is merely hidden deep within.
I am the beholder of my mind,
And only I know the secrets my mind chooses to keep.
I am the beholder of my heart,
And only I can feel the void that runs miles deep.
These miles are filled with hopeless hopes
Crushed by a mountain of faithless leaps.
These miles are filled with dreamless dreams
Drowned in rivers made of tearless weeps.
Only the weakest kind of people can truly hate the strong ones.
It only takes the weakest kind of wall to be able to shut them out.
What I can feel underneath the surface gives me power to hold on.
What my eyes are able to see is still worthy of my heart’s doubt.
I am the beholder of my dreams,
And only I have watched them fade to bud-less flowers.
I am the beholder of my hopes,
And only I can feel them crash like falling towers.
It’s not the years in your life, but the life in your years,
And my life adds up to just two hours.
It’s not the love in the heart, but the heart in the love,
And my heart is bathed in loveless showers.
by Melissa Theodorakatos
The ground felt extremely cold underneath the portions of her exposed back. The remnants of her alcohol induced night remain on her chest and the ground in front of her where she had fallen hours before. Scrapes and bruises were visible on her hands and arms from the cement beneath her. She quickly pushed against the ridged ground until she was kneeling upwards. She squinted her eyes from the sun and wiped the dirt away from her face that had now smeared across her cheek. She had no energy to stand and instead decided to crawl to her purse that was a few feet away from her. As she made her way across the cement, she tried to clear her mind as much as possible. Her memory was entirely blurred, leaving her with no trace of how she ended up on this fragmented sidewalk in the first place. When she finally reached her purse, she felt a sudden pain strike her entire left leg. When she looked down, she saw the huge gash that existed from her knee to the front of her ankle. The wound had collected pieces of sediments during her crawl, which contributed to the strong pain. She quickly turned onto her back to lie and laid still until the pain subsided. While she waited, she was able to rummage through what was left of her handbag.
Everything was gone except for a few candy wrappers and makeup. Nothing remained of her identity or finances, leaving her with no choice but to walk towards her apartment, if she could find it that is. When she felt her leg ease, she grabbed for the garbage pail next to her to pull herself upwards. With every last bit of energy she had left, she quickly pushed onto her legs and leaned onto the pail until she was steady. She stumbled towards the street corner to try and make out the sign. The green strip extending outward from the pole read: 1st Avenue. Across the street another read: 80th Street.
”No!” she called out loudly, startling the birds that had gathered around the garbage pail she had used as anchorage. She scanned around her, trying to find someone or something that could help her. In her mind, she knew walking was impossible; her apartment was miles away, and she had no money to even attempt to endure a subway ride in her condition. A few moments passed when she suddenly felt a knot form in her stomach. Something was terribly wrong. For the first time since she had awoken, she realized how desolate the streets around her were. This is New York City, it is never this dead. She had a feeling she was not the only one who had suffered something tragic the night before.
She walked down the avenue to try and find a clock. The bank across the street was closed, but a small disc shaped object was located above the indoor ATMs. She hurried across, ignoring even looking for the non-existent traffic, and reached the glass doors. 9:30 in the morning. She walked around to the front of the bank to view their store hours, but realized she didn’t even know what day it was. What good would it even do if I knew the day?No one is around here anyway. She continued down the avenue and came across a corner store with an opened front door. A rush of excitement ran through her entire body, leaving her unaware of any pain she felt a few moments before. Almost running, she entered the store and looked around for the owner.
”Hello? Is anyone in here?” she yelled. It remained quiet. “Excuse me! Could someone please help me?” but still nothing, only silence surrounded her. “Great! First I wake up on a cold and wet New York City street that is desolate, at 9 something in the morning, on God only knows what day of the week with an oozing leg and cuts all over my body! Then I find out I am miles away from my apartment, with only damn pigeons to ask for help! And now, the wonderful corner store is open, with no one inside!” Her shouting echoed loudly through the store and faded to silence. She stood there for a moment taking in her situation. She walked around the store till she found the first aid section and peered through the inventory. Of course, why would they have large band-aids? That would be too easy. She quickly grabbed the necessary items and sat on the ground beneath her to begin cleaning and dressing each one of her open sores. Her arms were not too hard to deal with, but her leg gave her a great hassle. Every little touch of the cleanser made her flinch enough to draw tears in her eyes. After applying the sixth and final bandage to her leg, she let out a great sigh of relief.
She dragged her body to the end of the aisle and leaned against the side panel. What am I supposed to do now? She sat thinking for a while but found herself drawn into a blank mental state. Nothing productive would form of her thoughts, no solutions entered her mind. Instead, she sat comatose on the floor of the corner store waiting for something to happen. Suddenly, a ringing sound entered the room, startling her in the process. Her mind quickly snapped back into reality, and she pulled herself onto her feet to scope out the source of the ringing. Is it a phone? I think it’s a phone. How stupid can I be? I didn’t even check to see if there was one behind the counter. Never leave me in a zombie apocalypse; I’d die five minutes after the infection began to spread. She reached the counter and saw the phone lying on the side of the register. She fumbled it in her hands for a few seconds and jammed her finger into the receive button before the other end hung up.
”Hello?” she said in an almost half whisper.
”Who is this?” a panicked male voice responded from the other line.
”M-my name Medallia Stanton. Who is this?” she answered back.
”Are you a human?” the voice growled back.
”Yes, what else could I be? Can you please tell me what is going on here?” she questioned with a confused tone. The knot in the pit of her stomach grew back again.
”Prove it!” he shouted.
”Prove it? I’m talking to you on the phone, wouldn’t that be proof enough that I am a human? Please answer me,” she questioned.
”What is your social security number?” he yelled.
”My social- what? Who is this?” she shouted. Her patience was growing thin with this man, but she knew he was the only one that could actually help her out of this situation.
”I cannot give you any further information unless I have proof that you are, in fact, a human. Respond with your social security number or I will hang up the line,” he replied with a stern and authoritative tone.
She was unsure whether or not to respond with the information he requested, but denying him would only leave her stranded yet again. What do I do now? Think Medallia, think.
”Are you still there?” the voice bellowed into the receiver.
”Yes. I’m sorry, the number is 555–55–5555,” her voice shaking with each number. Her heart was racing, and the pit of her stomach felt as a hand was squeezing its entire contents. She had the sudden urge to vomit and attempted to ease the feeling by focusing on the man’s voice on the other line.
”Give me a second while I process your information.” He was so official, she felt as if she was calling a customer service line.
She waited patiently, hearing the muffled sounds of the man clicking key after key on what sounded like a computer. Every second felt like an eternity, and the urge to vomit emerged again. She quickly moved the mouthpiece of the phone away from her face and heaved the contents of yesterday’s meal on the floor. The smell radiated around her and made her eyes water. She quickly pulled the cord around the counter and moved as far as she could from the puddle, wiping her mouth as she walked. She sat waiting at the phone hoping the man did not hear her gruesome noises.
Finally, the man spoke again. “All right Medallia, we have you in our system. You are in fact a human,” he stated with a matter-of-fact tone.
Well no kidding, I don’t get what else I could possibly be if I’m sitting here on the phone with this guy. It’s not like a cat could just walk up in here and answer the telephone.
”Ok. Can you please tell me who this is now?” her voice was more assertive this time. Between the vomiting and the diligent waiting, her patience had disintegrated entirely.
”Yes, of course. I am sorry for the delay. My name is Martin Hollinsky. I am the chief officer of security for New York City. Sonar popped up on our screens of a life form at your location, and I routed the number to try and contact you. I had to ask if you were a human because our scanners do not differentiate between human and other biotic forms. Is there anyone else there with you?” His voice was much calmer, almost relaxed, now.
”No, I am alone. There is no one on the streets or in any of the stores. I woke up on the sidewalk, and I have no idea how I got here. I have no money and no cell phone; both were taken out of my bag when I was asleep. I have no way of getting back to my apartment. I need someone to please tell me what the hell is going on here.” She began to shake again, something about the words ‘biotic forms’ made her feel uneasy. She wondered what he could possibly be talking about.
”A squad chopper is on its way to pick you up. They will bring you to my headquarters and we will talk then. For now, please remain at your current location and find something to defend yourself with in case.” His voice ended following the disconnection of the phone call.
She stood there speechless, with no way to contact the man or even find out what he meant by any of the information he had given her. Frustration filled her mind. Find something to defend myself? What am I defending against? And how long would this man like me to sit around and wait? It could be days before they send someone. Idiot. He thinks he can just hang up on me like that, well when I -
Before she could finish her thought, a large noise developed above the store. She heard a loud muffled sound followed by a man’s voice amplified by a microphone.
”Medallia Stanton, this is Lieutenant Richards from the NYPD, please exit the area with your hands above your head immediately.” His voice echoed into the store.
Reluctantly she walked out of the store, limping cautiously on her newly bandaged leg, with her hands raised firmly above her head. She looked above and saw the chopper hovering over the building, with a short ladder dangling underneath the base. A man above her tugged on the ladder, sending it closer to the ground. He started to climb down with one hand; the other was holding a gun. When he reached the ground, he pointed the pistol towards her.
”Place your arms out to your side and turn around,” his voice commanded.
She timidly turned around and waited as the man patted down her torso, feeling for a long time around her bra line. She felt extremely uncomfortable and began to flinch.
”Stay still! If you move again, I will have to arrest you!” His voice was louder than the muffled noise of the chopper in her ear. She began to feel the tears well up in her eyes again.
”I haven’t done anything wrong, why are you searching me? Martin Hollinsky said you were coming to take me to him, not to suspect me of a crime!” She began to shake as the words poured out of her mouth. She always hated cops, ever since she was arrested in high school for public defacement. The cop brutally beat her the evening she was arrested, and got away with it. Nothing her or her family said would make the judge convict him of any crime even with the dozens of bruises that were covering her body. Instead, she served a hundred hours of community service cleaning graffiti around the city.
”This is a standard procedure. If you would not like to comply, than you can stay in this deserted city for all I care!” He was getting angrier by the second. She decided it was best to stay quiet and listen. She stood still and waited as the cop searched her, remaining as still as possible. After a few moments, she felt a sharp pain radiate down back.
”What was that!” she screamed before even thinking.
”Stay still! I am extracting a DNA sample, if you move the vial will break inside your skin.” He was yelling again.
”Why didn’t you warn me!” her scream radiated the space between the large buildings around them.
He did not answer; he simply pulled the needle from her back and walked towards the ladder. She didn’t know if she should follow or not, but the pain and the fear immobilized her entirely. What seemed like hours, the man finally poked his head out of the door of the chopper.
”Climb the ladder and hurry up!” he shouted at her.
She hated this man. Even with all the wounds that were visible around her body, he offered her no help. How would he like me to climb the ladder with a leg like this? She quickly looked down and saw the blood stains appearing under the cotton swab of the band-aids.
”I cannot climb this. I have no strength in my right leg because of this wound,” lifting up her leg towards the ladder.
The man yelled something she could not make out and went back into the chopper. Another man started down the steps towards her. He was younger and seemed just as afraid of the Lieutenant as she was. When he reached the base, she saw he had no weapon pointed towards her.
”Can you move your arms ok?” he asked in a quiet and sweet voice.
”Yeah, the cuts are not that deep,” she answered
”Grab onto my shoulders ok and hold on really tight, I am going to climb the both of us up. Pretend I am giving you a piggy-back ride, ok?” he began to smirk a little as he said it.
”I am too heavy, you’ll hurt yourself or lose grip and we will both fall,” she replied.
”You? Heavy? Please, you are as thin as anything, now get on, ok?” and he turned towards the ladder before she could comply. He hoisted himself on the first step and waited for her to join him.
Leaning with her good leg on the first step, she pulled herself up onto his back and locked her hands around his neck.
”You can put your legs around me so they do not get caught on the ladder, ok?” he said in a half whisper. She locked her legs around and used every bit of strength she could to hold on. The pain was excruciating in her leg from the pressure, but she knew it was better than climbing the ladder alone.
When they reached the top, the man hoisted himself onto the chopper and gently rolled on his side so she could let go of his shoulders. Before she could pull herself onto the seat closet to her, the man had lifted her in his arms and laid her down across the floor behind the driver and began to pull the ladder into the chopper. He closed the door and gave the Lieutenant the signal to leave, causing the vehicle to jerk forward. The man stood above her, hunching downward to avoid bumping his head. He reached for some blankets in an alcove attached the ceiling and threw them haphazardly on the back seat.
”Let me put one under your head so you are comfortable ok? And another for under your knee to get some pressure off that leg.” His voice was so soothing compared to the Lieutenant’s. She nodded her head in approval.
”What is your name?” she asked him.
”Oh, how stupid of me, I’m Officer Taylor, but you can call me by my first name Christopher, or Chris for short.” After he spoke, he leaned towards her face and whispered softly “Don’t worry, I am nothing like Richards up there, no one likes him around here, but he’s one of the only one’s left that can drive a rescue chopper, so he goes out on all the rescue missions.”
She nodded again to ensure Richards would not hear them. “Where are you both taking me?”
”To the main headquarters of the NYPD. Well, technically it is not our headquarters, it’s the main survival headquarters. Any officer or medical assistant who survived the attack is now located there. It is where we search for other survivors and send out a crew to retrieve any we find. You are really lucky, no one else survived in your area. We were so shocked when we saw your life form on the radar system.” He grinned widely after speaking.
”What attack? And what do you mean no one survived?” she asked with a confused voice. Everything was starting to come together, and the knot in her stomach emerged yet again.
”I guess the Chief didn’t fill you in much did he? And I also take it you do not remember anything?” he asked.
”No and no. He hung up on me before I could say a word after he found out I was human. And I woke up on the sidewalk with no memory of what happened to me last night. All that I could find was my empty purse and vomit stains on my shirt, and of course, I cannot forget these wonderful wounds,” she said in a sarcastic tone.
Officer Taylor sat down on the ground next to Medallia and leaned slightly on the door of the chopper. He let out a great sigh and closed his eyes. “What you are going to hear will probably make you think I am crazy, but you need to believe me.”
“I will, don’t worry.” She looked up at him as his eyes slightly opened.
“Well, here goes nothing.”
To be continued….