How the zombie apocalypse started – 9

Okinawa, Japan

Mac had enjoyed his three-day pass and had returned from Bangkok feeling refreshed and full of the energy of youth. Too much food and beer, along with the late nights, had done little to impact his ripped metabolism.

It was on such weekends that Mac admitted that joining the US Marines had been the best decision he had ever made. He didn’t regret the traumas of boot camp for a second, but right now, he was suffering for his sins. The bug he had picked up either on the plane ride or the city was now making him pay for his extravagance. The stuff he had done in that fair city would have made a priest’s ears melt if he had shared merely half of it in the confessional, so Mac probably only had himself to blame.

Mac liked Okinawa. The Japanese were a polite and friendly people, even though many of them wanted the Americans gone. Despite the threat posed by North Korea, the foreign devils were no longer welcomed by a growing silent (and sometimes not so silent) majority. The occasional peaceful protest certainly made a change from his time in the hellholes of the Middle East where half the population had wanted to kill him.

His time in Japan was easy duty, a chance to keep up his training and to repair his damaged mind from the trauma of battle. Three days of pleasure in Bangkok had really perked his spirits up, only now he felt like shit. He was well aware that the prostitutes of Thailand were riddled with HIV and other venereal diseases, and so he knew better than to go anywhere near them without using protection. Mac could thus reassure himself that at least his dick wasn’t about to drop off any time soon. A small comfort with what was coming.

Even though he was clearly ill, he had felt guilty about going on sick so soon after his trip. There were people relying on him, and lying in bed with the flu was the last thing he wanted. He presumed it was the flu, so Mac had tried to push through it, but when he had collapsed on the parade ground this morning, the beleaguered soldier had been rushed to the medical facility despite his protestations. At least the beds here were more comfortable than his army-issued cot.

One of the nurses had scolded him for his stubbornness, the same nurse attending to him now.

“Open wide,” the nurse said. She slipped a thermometer into his mouth, her demeanour professional, if a tad bored. Mac complied. Although she was cute, she was also an officer. He was just a Lance Corporal, and as such fraternising was to be …discouraged. Besides, a woman that hot wouldn’t go with the likes of him. He was just a grunt. She no doubt had herself one of those flyboys who acted like they owned the place. Mac would therefore keep his romantic thoughts to himself, although with the way he presently felt, getting his end away was the last thing he wanted. Not that he needed to. He’d had enough pussy in Thailand to last him a lifetime.

She extracted the thermometer.

“A hundred and two. Well, lance-corporal, you are officially sick.”

“Yes ma’am,” Mac responded. If she had been a waitress and he was with his mates, he would have undoubtedly mentioned that it was her beauty that had caused the temperature of his blood to rise. Inappropriate in this context, of course. Such a comment might also have been used to explain his heart rate, which the annoying machine at the side of him was registering.

It was a hundred and ten.

Mac’s blood pressure was also through the roof. The virus working within him was having a merry old time destroying what had been a healthy physique. Mac had no idea that he had also infected half the soldiers in his barracks.

The doctor appeared, and Mac tried to sit up to attention.

“You’re ill soldier. You can relax.” The doctor was a full bird colonel, an intimidating presence for a boy like Mac out of the Bronx.

“Yes sir,” Mac said. He didn’t relax, even though there was a sudden pain stuttering through his chest.

“The Lance Corporal collapse on parade this morning,” the nurse told the doctor. Mac could see the way she looked at the colonel. So not a flyboy then. Good on you, colonel, Mac thought, only for the pain to suddenly intensify and shoot into his back. This time it showed on his face.

“You ok there marine?” the doctor asked.

“Yes sir,” Mac said, “just getting a pain.” Mac pointed to his chest.

“Has the patient been off base recently?” The Nurse had triaged the patient, so it was easier for the Doctor to ask her for the highlighted information she had collected. Mac watched the two of them interact and noticed it was difficult to get air into his lungs.

“Three-day pass spent in Bangkok,” the Nurse said without a hint of derision.

Mac coughed.

“We have an alert that there is some sort of outbreak in that city,” the Doctor informed the Nurse. “Might be good to get this man isolated.”

Mac coughed again.

The doctor looked at him, then glanced over the machines that told him Mac’s heart rate was now up to one-thirty. Mac’s third cough turned into a sustained, brain-rattling affair. At the end of it, there were specks of blood across the white sheets.

A switch in the Doctor’s mind flipped.

“Orderly,” he shouted. “Nurse, I want this man isolated now, full PPE.” The words caused the Nurse to step back involuntarily.

“What is it, doctor?” The Nurse sounded alarmed. Mac looked at her and noticed that his vision had become blurred. Despite the pain, he was strangely unconcerned with what was happening to him, his mind disassociating itself from the condition afflicting the body it still controlled. Mac tried to say something, but the words just came out a jumbled mess.

With startling speed, the marine began to plummet downhill towards a death that would be one of nearly a hundred and twenty-seven million on the island of Japan.

The virus was already out there, spreading through the air and the touch as people went about their lives, oblivious to the doom that hurtled towards them.

Mac died five minutes later, and when he resurrected, with black eyes and an unquenchable hunger, he would go on to kill three others before a bullet ended his existence. But by then, the contagion was already burning itself through the military facility.

In Okinawa, the very people needed to maintain order were the first to experience the viruses’ wrath.

 

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