The Final Strain


by Brian Gates

The world ended in neither fire nor ice, but blood. It began with news reports of a rampant flu-like virus that killed all infected. It induced panic when the CDC admitted no cure existed. It escalated when the Federal Government declared martial law and proceeded to throw the world into chaos. It ended in blood.

To make matters worse, the McGuiness brothers discover their sister has been kidnapped. The earth shattering revelation forces them to depart their safe haven and venture out into a world stripped of societal morals. They meet up with others along the way, each affected differently by the D.C. Virus and each with their own story. The group proves to be as different as can be, brought together only by one common cause: survival. Together, they set out following a cryptic radio transmission promising salvation in the Midwest, though the journey proves difficult.

Violent encounters with other survivors shake the assemblage, and a shocking revelation tears their reality apart: the virus was released on purpose!

When the shadowy organization responsible for the genocide sets their targets on the survivors, the group must run, hide, and fight their way to safety…or die trying.


Chapter One

Six men sat in a dimly lit room, discussing, as they had often before, the necessary courses of action the world must undertake. The room itself and everything in it reeked of money drawn out of bottomless bank accounts, from the impeccably carved sandalwood table at which they sat, to the forty-eight-light crystal Baccarat Zenith chandelier hanging from the high ceiling. The room sported immaculate wooden floors polished to a spit shine and chairs bound in the finest maroon leather, embroidered with solid gold buttons running up the armrests. The six men in the room had been the only ones to ever take a seat in those chairs.

In fact, no one else knew of the room’s existence. The location was a mystery to all but the six. They had met there annually for over a decade, but never on the same calendar date twice. Their identity remained as mysterious to the public as the location of the room itself. Over the centuries, their numbers had increased and decreased; currently their count remained a mere half dozen.

The group had no name. That was the way it had always been, and why would they bother to label themselves with one? What was a name besides a means for organizations to give their members a symbol to rally behind, a way to define their identity against rival assemblages? It had been said that there was power in a name.

The six did not require the kind of fanciful influence a name provided, and they had no rivals.

That was not to say names had not been assigned to them over the ages by proletarians, whom could only speculate as to the nature of their existence (or if the group even existed at all) based on rumors that wafted in hushed tones from the lips of the terrified. Those who spoke openly in the streets were either branded as insane or removed altogether, if necessary.

They were viewed as devils. They believed themselves to be angels. But no matter what, they were always ghosts.

A tall man in a black suit and matching tie stood at the head of the table with both palms placed firmly on it. He had managed to retain most of his handsome looks, despite having entered his early fifties. His chestnut hair was flawlessly combed, and his defined jaw line flexed as he gritted his teeth. He appeared calm, and only his piercing blue eyes gave away his trepidation. When he spoke, it was slowly and deliberately, his voice unwavering. “Do you fully understand the gravity?” He turned to his left and stared at an old man.

The old man, who was well into his eighties, wore a gray suit and had stark white hair that was surprisingly thick for his age. His voice wheezed as he spoke. “We have known the gravity of this situation for a long time, Cryo,” he said, using the tall man’s last name, an informality rarely used. “We have only ever debated the timing.”

Sitting next to the old man was the youngest of the group, a middle-aged man with glasses who wore only khakis and a white dress shirt. “So the question persists: Is this the proper time to initiate the agenda and put The Event into action.”

Across from him sat a man dressed far more exotically than the rest. He wore an old-school tartan suit with a matching tailcoat and boiler hat straight out of the eighteen-fifties. He smoked a fat stogy and let the ashes float down into a green, glass ashtray, next to which sat an electronic tablet that he took notes on. “Is the virus even ready yet? From what I’ve garnered, complications remain with certain mutations, and you are all aware we cannot have that.”

The man in the white dress shirt replied, “You know my company has been funding tens of millions of dollars to Bio-Cure over the last decade, yet all we hear is there are more ‘kinks’ to work out. How long will it take before we get a final product that will perform as needed? How long before that team of scientists produces viable results, Mr. Miller?”

His question was directed at another older man in his late sixties, who wore a priceless gold Rolex watch and a plain suit. “As you know, producing a virus to match our unique requirements is no easy task. It takes time, but I have talked to my lead scientist, Dr. Cross, and he does seem to believe that the strain he’s recently finished is acceptable for our purposes.”

“Acceptable?” the old man questioned.

“There is no way to ever rule out the possibility of mutation with this particular kind of virus, but the odds are good,” Miller said.

“How good? The fate of the human species is at stake, so I’d rather not gamble,” the old man said.

“Very good,” Miller replied. “So long as we can obtain the Eleven, then everything will go as planned.”

Cryo said, “The Eleven are being monitored. That is not a concern. What is a concern is the fact that the world’s population has reached critical mass. There are shortages of virtually everything: the fuel supplies have nearly run dry, food is scarce, even for people in first-world countries, and if the sea levels continue to rise, we continue to lose more and more space. The displacement of people will only compound the current problems. We have all known this was coming, and we all know what our choices are.” He turned and looked at the man in the white shirt.

The sixth member, a bald black man who sat at the far end of the table opposite Cryo with a glass of brandy on the rocks, replied with a noticeable but fading British accent. “We can either watch mankind’s slow decline waste them away into bloody oblivion, or…” he hesitated, “we can take the necessary steps to ensure the species progresses into the future.” He took a sip.

“Mr. Dangote is right,” the man in the boiler hat said. “We face an existential crisis one way or another, and my research supports it,” he turned to his left and looked at Miller, “as I know yours does as well, that planet earth has reached a tipping point. The long-term effects of Climate Change exacerbated by overpopulation are reaching a point of irreversibility. If we wait too much longer, it won’t matter what we do. The planet will react in such a way that conditions will be unlivable. It will, in time, snuff out human beings along with the records of everything they have ever accomplished. It will be as though we never existed.”

The old man said, “Then it seems to me that we have no choice at all. We decided long ago that the eradication of the human race was not an option.” He stood up and placed an unlabeled manila folder on the table, engorged with papers. “Long ago, I introduced this agenda to the United Nations, and, despite some hullaballoo, they pledged their support. Not all of them, but many at the UN understand the situation we are facing. If now is the time to act, then let us act.”

There was a moment of silence, his words hung in the air like a fog.

Finally, Cryo said, “You all asked me about the gravity our actions will have. Now I propose a counter question: Do you understand the gravity of what will happen if we don’t?”

No one spoke. Mr. Dangote stopped rattling the ice in his drink, and the man in the boiler hat let his cigar smoke in the ashtray.

“Then I propose we make a decision today.” Cryo placed a hand on the envelope and felt the slightest shake in it as he did so. “All in favor of taking action?”

One by one, six hands made their way into the air.

"The Final Strain"



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