Birds of a Feather

Submitted into Contest #58 in response to: Write about someone who purposefully causes a power outage.... view prompt


Thriller Science Fiction

The pain in Angelus' wrist was minimal, but she wasn't going to tell the doctor that. She sat on the emergency room bed, her headphones around her neck, looking around at the sight before her. The makeshift emergency bay of the little hospital was filled with patients. Angelus knew this was because of the recent raid in their small encampment, but she couldn't help but wonder if any of the patients were one of them. One of the sick who recently found their brain being slowly destroyed by a deadly virus. 

The virus started lightly, with each victim feeling slightly under the weather with stuffy noses and a light cough. It spread fast, with most people thinking it was just a little cold. Still, then their bodies would go into a fever-like state, their temperatures rising quickly to over one hundred degrees Fahrenheit, their bodies trying to fight off a virus that it didn't yet understand. More and more fever-ridden people began to go into psychotic breaks, the virus making its way around their brains and destroying the cells a little at first, before obliterating them. The average person would stay alive for only a week after their fever started. The unlucky ones would live longer. 

"So," the doctor said from behind his mask, "On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the worst, how bad is your pain when I do this?" He grabbed her wrist and turned it slightly, but she winced dramatically.

"An eight," she said, her voice muffled from her own mask as though she were about to cry.

Dr. Murt, or Murt, as he had insisted she call him earlier, made a soft humming sound. If she wasn't in the hospital, Angelus wouldn't have assumed he was a doctor. He was dressed nicely, but he didn't have a lab coat on, nor did he have a stethoscope around his neck. 

She was surprised that this was the man she had waited so long to see. When she had come in nearly two and a half hours ago, Angelus had told the emergency room attendant that her brother had accidentally smashed her wrist with a hammer. There was no way for them to know that the "bruising" wasn’t real. She once again glanced around, looking for a clock in the emergency room. When she had walked in, it had been a little bit past midday; she knew it wasn't yet three because her team had yet to arrive. 

"Well," Dr. Murt began, "We'll have to get you an x-ray to be sure, but I am ninety-nine percent sure your wrist is broken in a few places. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait for a CT scanner to become open, which could take a while."

"Is it because of the raid?" Angelus asked, continuing on before the doctor could respond, "are there any sick here?"

"We're not certain," the doctor replied, his voice lower than it had been earlier, "We don't think that this recent raid brought any of the sick with them, but we can't be sure just yet." 

"Are we safe here?" Angelus asked, making her eyes look wide. 

Dr. Murt smiled, "You'll be safe here, it's the safest place to be. But still keep your mask on just in case. We have no idea how this sickness spreads," Dr. Murt said. 

Angelus nodded and tightened the mask around her face. She knew he was lying and that he knew precisely how the virus spread, but she didn't comment on that. 

"Thank you, Doctor," she said instead. 

"Of course, Angie. Do you have any other questions before I go?" he asked her. 

"I don't think so," she paused, "well, actually, I do, but it's not about my wrist."

"What is it?" Dr. Murt asked. 

"Is it true," she began, "That there's researchers here and they're working on a cure for the virus?" 

The doctor's eyes grew wide only for a moment, but Angelus had already seen the truth. 

"Is that what people are saying these days?" he shook his head, "We are all technically working on finding a cure by doing our jobs, we are just trying to keep people safe. That's all anyone can do." 

Angelus nodded as though she were eating up every word, "I get it. Well, thank you. I know it can't be easy." 

Dr. Murt smiled at her and nodded to himself, "If that's all, I've got a few more patients to check on, but I'll make sure you get x-rayed soon." He checked his watch, "It's ten til three now, I'll do my best to make sure your wrist has been checked before three, okay?" 

"Okay," she smiled as he left.

The next ten minutes passed slowly for Angelus. She stared at her phone. The screen was dark. If she hadn't known any better, she would have assumed it was off. 

The end of the ten minutes brought with it a sense of the calm before the storm for Angelus. She took a deep breath and heard yelling coming from the main entrance of the emergency room.

"Get on the ground!" a strong, masculine voice yelled. Angelus heard nothing for a moment before the screaming began. Nurses and patients alike began to cry, even as they dropped to the ground.

She paused for a second, looking at the group of people who had burst into the hospital. Six figures were standing there, although she knew there were eleven in total. They each wore gas masks that covered their entire faces, along with kevlar vests that covered their chest. They wore black pants with belts that carried guns and other materials in them. 

One of them turned towards her and made eye contact before she dropped to the ground. She held her breath and waited anxiously for something to happen. The nearest police station was thirty minutes away. She knew that if she could just make it until then, she would be fine. As she hit the power button on her phone, she could hear the PA system that was announcing an active shooter in the building go quiet as the facility's power shut down.

"We don't want to hurt you," the man yelled, "but we will." 

The emergency room was silent as he spoke. The lights had gone out, but the afternoon sun shined through the windows, providing Angelus enough light to see what was happening. All of the people Angelus had seen earlier refused to make a sound, other than the occasional sniffle and whine. 

"We're looking for Dr. Murt, Dr. Richards, and Dr. Zalo," he yelled. From her position, Angelus could see the group walking around, stopping in front of random patients. When none of the doctors announced themselves, she saw one of the members snatch a crying nurse in pink scrubs off the floor. 

"C'mon, docs, aren't you supposed to save lives?" he said, a strong Jersey accent in his voice, "You wouldn't want anything to happen to this lovely lady here, would you?" At the silence, the man spoke again, "Or are you willing to let your patients die?"

The woman began to sob as the man held her in front of him, the gun against her temple. He cocked the weapon when another voice began to yell. 

"No!" it was Dr. Murt, "Don't!" Angelus couldn't see him at first, but she saw him stand up five feet away from where the nurse was being held. 

"Who are you?" the man holding the nurse growled. 

"I'm Dr. Murt," the doctor answered shakily. "I'm not sure if Dr. Zalo and Dr. Richards are on this level but-" 

"If they aren't, they will be," the man holding the nurse said, "Our team has this place surrounded, everyone in the building is being brought here as we speak."

As soon as he finished speaking, a set of doors Angelus knew opened to the rest of the hospital swung open, and a group of twenty shaken people was brought in by two more of the black-clad team. 

"This is everyone," one of them said, the voice light and feminine. 

"Which one of you is Dr. Richards, and which one is Dr. Zalo?" The man in front of Dr. Murt asked. When neither answered, Dr. Murt spoke. 

"The man in the green shirt is Dr. Richards, and the man in the pink shirt is Dr. Zalo," he stared at the ground, and Angelus could barely hear his voice. 

"Good job, Dr. Murt, glad you understand how this works." the man gestured to the two members of the team nearest the doctors, and they shoved both men forward, towards him. The two doctors gave their companion equal looks of contempt. 

"Will you please let her go?" Dr. Murt asked, still not making eye contact. 

The man stared at him, before chuckling, "Sure," he pushed the nurse back to the ground and stood before the doctors. 

"Now, docs, we're here for one thing. Once we get it, we will gladly leave all of you here, unharmed," he said. "We're here for the vaccine." 

No one said anything, but Angelus could feel the confusion quickly spreading throughout the crowd. 

"Sir," Dr. Zalo, said, "I'm not sure what you're talking about. What vaccine?" 

The man chuckled darkly, "You're not sure what I'm talking about?" he asked, getting closer to the doctor, who shrunk back, "I'm talking about the vaccine that you three have developed." 

Dr. Murt spoke next, "Please, we don't have a vaccine if we did-" 

He was interrupted by the man, "You're telling me, Dr. Murt," he said, taking a step closer to Dr. Murt, "That you had no idea that the two men you've been working with for the past few months, applied for a patent for the vaccine just last month? A vaccine that the two of them claimed would put an end to the illness that is killing thousands daily?" 

"What?" Dr. Murt asked, looking at the man, before turning to the two other doctors. 

"Oh, this is rich," the man at the door laughed. 

"But you both said it wasn't ready, that the lab results were inconclusive. You-You lied to me!" Dr. Murt stammered. 

"We were just trying to get it streamlined!" Dr. Richards said. "We wanted it to be accessible to the public."

"Don't lie to him!" the man with the jersey accent yelled. "If you wanted it to be accessible to the public, you would have given it away! You would have given it to people! But instead, you wanted to make a quick buck, and now nearly half a million people are dead!" 

"What were we supposed to do?" Doctor Zalo yelled, "Give it away for free? We still need money to survive. This idiot couldn't see that, so Doctor Richards and I were going to patent it and sell it." 

"You make me sick," the man said, his accent heavy. "But! It doesn't matter now. We want your vaccine, and you're going to give it to us. Hand it over, and we'll leave." 

Dr. Zalo stared at him angrily, his face getting red. "It's not here," he mumbled. 

"What was that?" the man said. 

"It's not here!" Dr. Zalo repeated loudly. 

"Where is it then?" the man asked. 

"We've hidden it! You'll never find it before the police-" Dr. Zalo said happily. 

"It's on the hospital's sublevel," Dr. Murt said, his voice indifferent. He stared at the man as Dr. Zalo and Dr. Richards stared at him in shock. 

"What" Dr. Richards hissed, "are you doing!" 

"The right thing," Dr. Murt replied, not turning to look at Richards. He stood tall and looked towards the man, "If you'll let me, I can get it, or I'll take you there myself." 

Angelus nearly stopped breathing when a pair of black boots stepped in front of her. She hadn't noticed anyone come towards her. The team member she had made eye contact with earlier pulled her up to her feet and walked her over to Dr. Murt and the man. 

"The three of us will go get the vaccine. If you," the man gestured to Dr. Murt, "try anything funny, I'll kill her." 

Angelus stared at Dr. Murt, silently pleading with him. 

"Okay," he agreed, he bent towards her, "It's going to be okay, Angie. I won't let anything happen to you." 

She nodded and gasped as the man holding her gripped her arm tighter. 

"Let's go, Doctor," he said. 

The three of them walked through the doors that Dr. Richards and Dr. Zalo had walked through earlier. Dr. Murt led them through the halls and towards a back room. 

"Where are we headed, Doc? Are you trying to waste my time? You want to know what happens when you waste my time?" the man said, cocking his gun. 

"No!" Dr. Murt rushed out, "Don't hurt her! I'm not wasting your time. Normally we'd be able to go through the elevator, but the power is out, and there's only one other way to get down there. There's a set of stairs in this room that will take us down. It used to be a fire exit before we expanded the hospital." 

True to what the doctor had said, there was a set of stairs in the room that led the trio down to the hospital's sublevel. 

The area was small, or so it seemed. There was only one dark hallway, with two doors on either side of it. 

"Through here," the doctor said, unlocking one of the doors on the right side of the hallway. The room was dark, but he made his way around it quickly. The rectangular room had two large overhead lights that hung low from the ceiling. Underneath them set a large desk that covered a majority of the room. On it was a set of vials and various liquids. Towards the edge, Angelus could make out a thick binder that she assumed was filled with notes. The doctor grabbed the binder and headed towards the shelves and counters along the wall's left-hand side. 

"These are the notes we've taken for the vaccine. Everything you need to know about it is in here", the doctor said, holding the binder to his chest. He reached into one of the shelves and grabbed four vials, "This is what we've made so far. With this and the notes, you'll be able to make more of the vaccine, so long as you can get the materials." 

"Good job, Doctor," the man said, finally letting go of Angelus and grabbing everything out of the doctor's hands. "We'll be able to work with this." 

The doctor and Angelus stood in silence for a moment before the doctor spoke. 

"Angie, earlier you asked me a question," he started. At Angelus' nod, he continued, "You asked me about the vaccine. How did you know about it?" 

Angelus said nothing, staring at the doctor. 

"We hadn't released anything to the public about even working on a vaccine. So how did you know about it?" Angelus could feel his eyes on her. "You couldn't have known. Unless-"

"Alright, Doc, that's enough," the man said, "we'll be heading back up now." 

"No!" Dr. Murt snarled. "She's one of you isn't she? She's part of your team." 

Angelus and the man stood in silence for a moment. Angelus felt the man reach for his weapon before she saw him. 

"Don't!" she yelled, stepping in front of Dr. Murt. 

"Angelus, what are you doing? He knows. We can't let him leave," he said. 

Angelus turned towards Dr. Murt and sighed. "Yes, I'm one of them, but Doctor, you have to understand-" 

"Angelus!" The man growled behind her. 

"I'm just like you," she said, "I wanted to do the right thing. All I did was shut down the power from my phone." The doctor scoffed at her in response. "Please, Doctor, you have to try to understand. We're trying to help people. Maybe...Maybe you could help us a little more." 

"What?" The doctor and the man asked. The doctor stared at her in consideration.

"You could join us!" Angelus rushed out. 

"What are you talking about?" the man asked her, "he can't join us, Angelus, he-" 

"Think about it, Russ," she said quickly, "No one understands these notes better than he does! Even with all of my knowledge, it'll take me months to understand his work. But with him on the team, we can start mass-producing the vaccine immediately and give it to people!" 

"Ang," Russ, sighed, "even if I thought this was a good idea. Which it's not, how would we get him back upstairs and out the building with us? People will be suspicious if he leaves with us. He's one of the best. They'll send the cops after us." 

"Easy. Take the bullets out of your gun, shoot twice while we're in the hallway. We'll run to the car, and you tell Em everything. She can pretend to send two people to clean up, and we all meet in the van and drive away! It's genius!" Angelus rushed out, her voice getting faster as she spoke. Russ stared at her in silence.

"She's right, you know." Dr. Murt spoke, "It'll take her a long time to understand my notes. I wrote them in shorthand with the other doctors. I'm one of the only people who knows exactly how to make the vaccine. I could help." 

"You're considering this?" Russ stared at the doctor in confusion. "What's wrong with you?" 

"She's right, you're trying to do the right thing. While I might disagree with how you've gone about it, I think something good could come from this." 

Russ shook his head and laughed, "The two of you are birds of a feather."

"What do you say, Doc? Want to join the team?" Angelus asked. 

Dr. Murt nodded, and Angelus smiled. 

"Alright! Let's get this show on the road." Angelus said, and the three of them began walking back the way they came.

September 12, 2020 02:00

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Zea Bowman
13:24 Sep 21, 2020

Wow! I loved reading this story; it was full of great descriptions and I loved the way you ended it. The words seemed to flow effortlessly together. Could you please come read some of my stories? Thanks :)


Lyric Monroe
20:03 Sep 24, 2020

Thank you so much! I absolutely will!


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Saige Severin
20:36 Sep 18, 2020

Hi! I'm from your critique circle. I thought this story was fantastic! There was tons of great foreshadowing and dramatic irony when Angie knew things the doctors didn't. The whole plot feels especially pertinent to today's times, and it was very well written. Great job!


Lyric Monroe
20:03 Sep 24, 2020

Thank you so much! I'm glad the foreshadowing came across!


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Lily Kingston
11:53 Sep 18, 2020

Fantastic story. It's full of suspense and you foreshadow that Angelus is one of them really well. Keep up the good work and keep writing!!


Lyric Monroe
20:03 Sep 24, 2020

Thank you so much!


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