A girl named Lu found her father dead in his lab. A microscope stood on the counter, red blood stained the white wash floors. Someone had killed her father, and she knew exactly why.
Earlier that day, she'd heard her father on the phone. In a frantic manner he said, "I only have today. They know everything." Lu had no idea what her father was talking about then. Her eyebrows furrowed as she listened on to her award winning scientist father; a man who was obsessed with finding a cure to CVX-13. She knew asking him about the call would be futile, so she snuck up to his computer and went through his emails.
Going through the last email received just that morning, a few minutes before the call, she realized that though her father had done something that would be considered Nobel winning, his finding a cure for the disease that was wiping out humanity at the rate of one to two hundred and fifty thousand dead a day, there were people who were willing to pay him to get rid of the cure.
She heard her father whistle as he came down the stairs so she hurried towards the kitchen to pour herself a bowl of cereal. When her father continued down to the basement, she sprinted back to his computer. Just then, she saw a new email pop up from the same email address. This was no longer a negotiation for money. It was now a death threat.
Don't do anything you WILL come to regret Dr. Albert, the email ended. She could not understand why anyone would want to see people die when a solution already lay open and ready to be shared.
In a separate email correspondence, she quickly found out that her father was going to release the formula to the cure on the internet where every eye in the word that had access could see it. And, if anything went wrong, he was to send the formula to his colleague who would then share it with the world.
The people that had emailed him before went by the group's acronym RED, which no one knew what it stood for. They were faceless, nameless and untraceable. Some said it was a three people syndicate while others said it bled into thousands all over the world. They'd brought down pharmaceutical companies whose drugs did more harm than good and who had more money in their pockets than the Rockefellers. RED ensured they saw the sign 'closed' plastered on the pharmaceutical's front door. They removed a president from office by leaking sensitive information, some of which included his correspondence with Russia to 'bomb it all' if worse came to worst. This was on top of his own private scandal with the impregnation of a seventeen year old whom he said he'd take care of, but this didn't make people empathize with him. Now RED was emailing her father with a threat.
She hit reply.
Why don't you want my father to release the cure? You are supposed to be the good guys.
She hit send.
She chewed her fingernails down, foolishly waiting for their reply as she kept her eye on the stairs. Her father, the man of awards, was also a man of temper, especially if he caught you near any of his work materials. Pacing, she thought, of course they can't reply if they know it's anyone buy my father they're talking to. She dashed to the kitchen for some water, splashing some on her face at the sink, and just then, she heard a ding. She run back to the screen and read through. An address. A trap, she thought, as she noted it down.
I am turning eighteen in five months’ time, but what did that matter now? If the virus doesn't kill me first, RED might. But even with these thoughts, she forged ahead. She deleted her email, finished breakfast, went down to her father's lab in the basement and told him that she'd gone out to buy some lady items. He gave her a nod and went back to his work.
I walked outside our house, not knowing that would be the last time I'd see father alive. Not knowing that in the park, I'd meet the head of RED, and fall in love on sight. Not knowing that RED already had a hit man on his way to our house, and our meeting up was to remove any eye witnesses from the crime scene, not give me an explanation. When I grabbed my phone to call my father, R said, "It's too late. I'm sorry, but we can help you."
I didn't run but fly, bumping into shoulders and wiping snot away from my nose. My vision blurred, I cleared the tears but soon, it blurred again. When I arrived home, there was no sign of a struggle and all the emails I'd read before had disappeared. Father's phone was on top of a pile of books on his desk, he was lying on the floor in his white coat. His eyes bled red. His skin was dry and clinging to his bones, his ears and nose; red. Anyone who found him would think he died from exposure to the virus, anyone but me. Outside, a black van waited for me. R rolled down a window. Still crying, I slid in next to him.
Keep your enemies close. In the car, he explained their logic. "Look at where we are as a people, our values be it individual or societal. Cultures have been erased together with morals. Money is our number one priority and we acquire it at any cost. We are eight billion rotten people and the world needs a fresh start. CVX-13 is our way out and the cure your father invented prevents that." When I tried to argue out the logic with, “There are still good people in this world who don't deserve what you’re doing," he said, "yes, and now you're one of those good people, us."
The rest of the way I was silent and soon after, asleep, though I suspect that they sprayed me with something to make me sleep because when I woke up, I had no idea where we were.
Over the next few days, millions of people from all over the world succumbed to the virus. Immediately it entered the bloodstream, it begun to mutate and in less than one hour, death came. The window this virus gave doctors to study it was so little, that every time anyone thought they had found the cure, it no longer worked when delivered. However, my father found one. A concoction of God knows what that would treat every mutated version of CVX-13. RED kept the formula under lock and key. Every day, they trained a small group of us, preparing us for the new world; teaching us how to hunt for only what we need, how to grow from scratch all manner of food and how to operate in a barter system, exchanging what one has for what’s needed with another that needs what you have.
The self-defense skills R passed on to me, I would use against him one day, for father. At least that's what I thought. I don't know if time made me confused or if I should blame it all on love, but after three weeks of one on one sessions with R, I came to understand his logic. I knew that one way or another, for as long as my father was alive, he would try his best to release that cure out into the world at the cost of his own life. R said, "He was always going to be a threat and I'm sorry about what happened. But it needed to happen." I kept silent, still feeling his loss weigh me down heavily, still feeling a pain in my chest that can never be told, and a tear fell. That day, R and I kissed for the first time. Looking back at that kiss, all I can do now is regretfully smile at a lost dream; my father's dream. I had planned to find out the password to R’s safe, break in and release the formula to the cure anyway, not because I believed so much in humanity but because father did.
When Lu died, she was three days shy of turning eighteen. RED, used her father's formula to create a cure but those five months down the line, the virus was too far mutated for the cure to work. Their safety net tore with the death of Lu. Soon, most of RED, the syndicate, would also die off, including R.
After one year of CVX-13 carnage, most of the noise one would hear would be mostly be coming from animals who had begun to roam the city. With parks unmanned, wild animals broke free and after some years, where once there stood a tall glass building, there now stood a tall green tree. The body that once surrendered under the influence of CVX-13 had now grown immune to the virus.
Mission Fresh Start worked, but the founders were not there to see it. They did not witness when a girl with the round face of Lu and a boy with the dark hair of R bumped into each other somewhere on the geography of the new world. They did not see this boy hold the girl's hand or see a tribe of monkey's protect the girl by surrounding them. They did not see the close-knit kind of friendship that ensued between man and animal in the new world. When the girl assured the monkeys that he was a friend and she was okay, he led them all to his shelter where four more people sat. A silent joy permeated as the four gave her a round of hugs.
They prepared some fish, rice and greens on the side, and asked that the unexpected guest not only stay for dinner, but also live with them in the community they had slowly begun to create. Finally, seated with other human beings for the first time in thirteen years, they held hands and gave thanks for the meal before them. Each with a smile on their faces, they exchanged stories as they ate, vowing to teach the silent girl in the corner English, beginning the following day. The boy walked over and sat with the girl, their plates on their laps. As the others ate loudly, the two ate silently, sharing a smile every now and then. The day ahead was filled with new preparations to try and locate more people, but for the time being, they laughed and ate in the new world, as friends.