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  • Jeff Bacon

Holes

The flesh concaves and dries. Skin tissue, blood vessels, and muscle disintegrate. All that is left is a hole. It started with a promise, the promise of a cure. The cure made the disease look like a common cold. We all jumped in line for the vaccine. We felt proud to be a part of the movement.


The vaccinations stopped after the first million died. We were all removed from our homes and placed in camps. The unvaccinated feared they could catch holes from us. They divided the camps by those who had holes and those who had no symptoms.



I had no holes. We had daily inspections in the yard. We lined up, stripped off our clothes and waited for the guards to inspect us from a distance with scopes. If a person appears to have a hole, they shoot them with a tranquilizer dart and scooped up by robotic carts. They scoop the bodies up and then taken to the other side of the camp and placed in incinerators.


Over time, my body changed. My senses heightened. My body became stronger. I grew a second set of eyelids that closed the opposite way. They automatically closed to shield my eyes from sunlight. A few of us noticed these changes and compared what we could do. We had been modified. We were no longer human.


A few weeks later, during the morning inspection, a shadow on my body made the guards suspect I was growing a hole. The tranquilizer dart bounced off my chest. I looked up at the guards as they fired again and again. I put my clothes back on as the robotic cart came by. I grabbed the arm and swung the cart around and around, then let it go. It crashed through the wall. The prisoners ran towards the breach to escape. The guards switched to bullets,


We did not know where we were. A group of us made it to a tree line and disappeared into the forest. We heard the search parties and their dogs. The group kept moving to put distance between us and them. When night fell, we had the advantage; we had developed the ability to see in the dark. We found refuge in a cave, there we built a fire and scavenged for food. Nothing seemed edible, it all tasted like crap.


I heard rustling outside of the cave, then a voice echoed through the chambers.

“Come out and you won’t be hurt.”


We looked at each other and silently agreed to follow their instructions. We filed out of the cave one by one, where they placed us on our knees with guns pointed at our heads. Something came over me. Call it animal instinct, I grabbed the gun and pulled the guard down to me. I sunk my teeth into his neck. The blood flowed into my mouth. It was so satisfying and delicious I couldn’t stop. When the last trickle of blood went down my throat. The other prisoners had done the same. They looked like animals feeding on prey.


I walked over to the captain of the guard, who happened to still be alive. “Do you wish to live?”


The captain nodded as he pissed his pants.


The others had finished their meals. I turned to them. “There are others out in the woods. Find them. This one is mine.”


I was all alone with the captain, or so I thought. The bodies of the slain quivered and shook on the ground. Each one rose to their feet, changed by the experience. I looked at them and knew they weren’t like me, but could be useful.


I waved them on. “Go into the forest and hunt.” Amazingly, they followed my command. The woods filled with gun shots and screams.


I dragged the captain over to a rock and sat him down. “Are there more camps?”


The piss-stained captain shook his head. “Y-Y-Yes.” He slid off the rock to the ground and drew in the dirt. “Down Highway 13 there is a camp every thirty miles.”


I picked him up with one hand. “What else can you tell me? Be useful, or be dead. The choice is yours.”


“Um, supply trucks, schedules, storm drains, I know everything about the camps.”

I sat the captain down and turned my back on him. He pulled a small knife out of his pants and tried to stab me in the back. The blade didn’t penetrate my skin. I whipped around as he fell backwards on the ground.


“I wasn’t truthful with you, captain. Something else I learned tonight is when I drink your blood, I see everything you know.”


I grabbed his leg and flung his body to my other hand. I crooked his neck to the side and sunk my teeth into his pudgy little neck. I dropped his carcass on the ground.


The others returned to the cave. I had become the leader of the group. We were at the top of the food chain, no longer human, but something for the depths of myth. Humanity had created its own demise. Their demise started with freeing every camp we could find to build our numbers. Then we would manage the humans, just like herds of livestock. After all, they were now our food.

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