This is a sneak peek into my latest work-in-progress, my second book Unforget.
It follows the story of Larisse McKenley, an actress in a post-apocolyptic future where humans were decimated by the medicine-immune common cold (now called the Coma), and now, the recovered civilization is built about health and sanitation. Even though Earth has been declared disease-free by the Government, civilization still remembers the effects of one, unsuspecting illness. Marketers sell “E-coli immune” products instead of the latest fashions, fit, average, and natural models have replaced the tall, lanky ideals of the past, and Genetic Ratings, or ratings that indicate a person’s immunity to disease, is what determines a person’s social status. When Larisse gets a job at the most prestigious film institution, the government-funded Erth Productions, she uncovers a world full of the remnants of pre-Coma humans. This story traces her journey as she discovers disease for the first time, finds out that humans have not yet escaped extinction, and sees the extent to which the government had veiled the truth from their citizens.
Will she be a silent observer, or will she fight?
And yet, sometimes, what is done with the best intentions, can cause disastrous results.
The silence was so brittle that Larisse feared it would shatter.
Water leaked from the tin roof to the edge of the vast, vast lake, where Larisse was leaned over. If she really wanted to, she could almost pretend that she was in a spa, bathing in the Zon. Before everything.
Dipping her fingers into the water, she breathed in the dank, musty air.
It’s been sixteen minutes since the movie should have been shown. They were late.
Larisse let the black ice cold water trickle from her fingers, the sound of water trickling on silence filling space, and then turned to face the person behind her.
The hard-eyed woman stood in front of her, her blond hair plastered with sweat to her forehead and her slightly boxy frame sticking to the cotton fabric of her clothes. The barely-there light only made her already angled face more weary-looking. She sneezed, before speaking.
Wiping the dust from her blue shirt sleeves, she started going back to the wooden door frame leading away from the lake.
“Melina?” Larisse asked.
She turned, covering a cut profusely bleeding in her wrist that was now in full view.
“Is Adrian alright?”
The woman stilled, her eyes softening for a second, before she hid them again. She seemed unsure.
“He’s in the garage.”
The woman went through the doors, leaving the sunny patch from where the roof didn’t quite touch the cave ceiling to Larisse.
It was time to go.
At the garage, Larisse took in the room turned emergency war hospital. Everywhere, from the Toyota pickup truck to the dusty pile of pale neon hula hoops in the corner, was draped with countless injured. People with cuts, people with burns, people who were unconscious and talking feverishly in their sleep. There was even a line of injured still waiting to be treated along the tin wall.
“This is my fault, ” Hush’s quivering voice came from behind the car. Stepping over a bleeding person and the nurse who was dressing his wound, and narrowly dodging another twitching person clutching at the car tire, she caught sight of her friend.
Her eyes were squeezed tightly shut, her head leaning heavily on the car wheel. Her shaking, veiny hand lie on top of her right leg. Twisted at an odd angle and sticking out of her ripped jeans, it didn’t look like a living part of her.
“My fault…’ She stiffened, a red-stained tear scarring her face.
“I did this….”
“My.” The wheel made a deflating noise as she hit her head against it. “Fault!”
The girl pushed herself away from the car, collapsing into a fit of coughs and sweat on the ground.
Larisse carefully knelt down. The smell of half-digested bread and gastric acid filled the air enveloped her.
Holding her breath, and feeling extremely precarious as to why she was even doing this, she placed her palm on the girl’s red-tinted, ripped, black shirt.
She was shivering, little movements rippling down her spine.
“Serena, get her a blanket!”
The nurse rushed over, and covered Hush’s small frame with a soft duvet.
Shaking the gooey substance off her hands, Larisse stroked the girl’s back, trying to stop her own hand from shaking.
Why did God do this? Why couldn’t He have chosen some other human being to emotionally torture, another set of people who weren’t her friends and family to kill off and murder?
Why did she have to be the one whose memory meant death, and where the greater good had to be filled with such gore?
What kind of sick person are you?
She was stroking Hush too much, her nails digging into the blanket.
Stopping, Larisse stood up. Her friend would be fine, with these nurses. She had to find Adrian.
What kind of sick person are you?
She wanted to go up to his face and ask Him, breaking down, tears smeared over her face, she didn’t care. She wanted Him to see the amount of life that had ebbed from her these past weeks. And yet, when she imagined herself yelling at a statue of Him, all she saw…was herself. Yelling at a mirror image, except the other her was the perfect one from the Zon. Before everything.
The other girl stared blankly, before simply stating. “Every death has a reason.” And she didn’t know what that meant, how could she?
A cold hand clamped over her forehead.
Black eyes peered from beneath a nurse’s mask.
“You’re feverish Larisse.”
There were two nurses, their outlines blurring together. The world was so shaky….
“No. I’m fine,” Larisse said unsteadily, clutching the cold plastic of the car for support. She stood up. “And where’s…”
Her eyes laid on a pair of swollen, bleeding ones. Adrian. He lie, in a makeshift bed of pillows. Three bulletholes, in perfect alignment, ran down his chest. It made three flowering dots of a deadly sort.
“I don’t think he’ll make it,” Larisse heard one of the nurses whisper just behind the cacophony of other whispers, grunts, and whimpers.
He smelled of petroleum, and looked like a lightning victim. His hair stood out on end, a frightened, static expression on his face. His mouth was filled with dust and dirt, and yet he hadn’t spit it out. But from beneath the three flowering red dots, was a breathing chest.
“Hm.” Larisse’s mouth curved into a small, bitter smile, “This always happens doesn’t it?”
His forehead was cool from sweat when she kissed it.
“You’re going to be alright. You’re going to be al..” Stopping, she turned her face slightly away. A tear slid down her cheek, her head hot.
He tilted his face upwards slightly, his forehead pressing more firmly into her lips.