To Start Off Alive

It was already a long commute to the heart of the city. But it got even longer.

It was only five minutes after I got on the subway that it happened. Five men got on. And they took over the train. They pulled out guns and that was that. They didn’t look too much different than me. One of the men had a nasty cough. That made us all a little uneasy.

We couldn’t hear what was going on when they started talking with the people in the control room. They could’ve stopped the train if they wanted to. I suppose they didn’t because the terrorists probably threatened to kill people if they did.

About twenty minutes went by and someone else on the train had developed a nasty cough. I must not have noticed it before. Come to think of it, a couple people had the same cough. They all sounded like they’d been smoking ten packs a day for thirty years. Maybe they had been.

I couldn’t explain it, but I didn’t feel tense or scared. At least, not at first. It’s not like terrorism was routine or anything, but I just didn’t feel afraid. And looking around, nobody else really seemed to be scared either. We all were just at peace with the situation somehow.

By half an hour into it, over half the people on the train were coughing. Needless to say, I covered my mouth with my jacket. I doubted it would do much good, but it made me feel better than doing nothing. But even then I hadn’t started worrying. It was ominous for sure, and a little unnerving maybe, but it didn’t actually frighten me. But then something happened. Something that changed everything. And it was then that I started to worry. And it was then that everybody got scared.

Forty-five minutes in, the terrorist with the cough took to the ground. He coughed up some kind of black liquid. That didn’t bode well for the other coughers. The man started to shake violently and fell onto his back. Then his skin started disappearing. He was still alive when his skin had completely dissolved and all you could see was his muscle. Perhaps the most terrifying part was that he wasn’t screaming. Then it got weird.

The black liquid he had coughed up started moving. It inched toward his body and wrapped itself around him like a cocoon. It looked like he was in a body bag. His body stopped moving. For the next five minutes there was complete silence. Nobody even coughed once. They were probably trying to stifle them. Even the terrorists stopped terrorising.

After those five minutes, the cocoon opened up and out stepped less of a man and more of an insect. Or reptile. It was hard to be sure. But it was out of this world, I’ll tell you that much. Maybe it wasn’t out of this world. Maybe just from one of the dark corners. But it was ugly as all hell. It didn’t seem hostile, though. Terrifying, but not threatening. The whatever-it-was looked at his friends – or whatever they were to him now – as if he still recognized them. Then it ripped open the train doors and leaped out.

The biggest question we all had was: How long had he had the cough? Was it days? Hours? Did it start just before he got on the train? The terrorists had the presence of mind to let the control room know what happened. They understood the gravity of the situation.

The government tried to quarantine us, but we all knew it didn’t matter. It was too late. That thing already got out. It would infect others. The battle was already lost. After another few hours, almost everybody on the train was coughing. We were all just waiting for someone else to cough up black stuff. It was the worst waiting game I had ever played.

Another few hours passed. One person started shaking. Then another. Soon half the place was shaking and vomiting black stuff.

Then I coughed.

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