Battle Stories, Short Stories
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The God Strain II

Author: G. Jefferies

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OK, so this is new. Thanks to Rachael Ritchey I started a last five blog battle words bit of fun including this ones ‘surfer’. Alas I had to come up with a new one for this, my inaugural attempt at chucking something totally alien to me. However, in spite of not being able to use The God Strain here, you’ve got an add on. Not sure it works but this will tell me if there’s more than the short story it began with….maybe….


 

Patrick Wakeman had a past that created the future. Most do unless the past dominates the future and existing overrides living. The past is dead, long live the past kind of thing. Patrick’s was hard only in one aspect. His parents were wealthy, too damn well off if you so please. At school he was the Yes Man. Not because he sucked up, but because his dad was a big fan of the band and his name had been influenced, as Patrick found around the age of eleven, by a certain Rick Wakeman. A time when music became the ‘in thing’ and nicknames dropped the Pat and evolved into the keyboard maestro of the aforementioned group. By sixteen the ‘p’ had returned and for the next three years he was disaffectionately known as Prick. Not that he minded, too much, because being of wealthy stock he could afford to be laid back about most things.

Nurture was not just educational peer review. Back home his dad knocked around in political circles and was influential in flu pandemic planning. Given recent scares with influenza strains mutating and bird flu kicking up a storm there was a fair amount of head rubbing deep inside government circles playing the what if game. As a sixth form teen doing the three sciences Patrick had been involved in more than one ethical debate with his father about the merits of cordoning off affected areas in a way not too disparate from the handling of foot and mouth outbreaks in cattle. Movement exclusions and funeral pyres. Shoot to kill enforcement and damage limitation. Politicos nicely bunkered up in sterile safe zones with enough dried food and water to last until things has calmed down and burnt out or a viable vaccine found. Mix in the right circles, book your ticket and off we go. Reminded Patrick of Vault Tech in the Fallout series that had occupied him for many a long night gaming.

Ethics and morals flipped over in his mind time and again. Was it right for the very people supposedly safeguarding countries to get free passes just because they slipped up and dropped the ball? Hell, they couldn’t even fix roads properly.

By nineteen this had festered enough to turn him against the establishment, decide vegetarianism supported his outlook and took up riding the waves on a board at every opportunity. Life was good, parental ties were strained but not severed, university beckoned after a gap year and both Wakeman seniors had concluded it was a phase that would pass once the year was up. Whereupon a politics, philosophy and law degree at King’s College in London would sort him out.

Unbeknown to them, Patrick had decided university was not for him and touring as many beaches as possible was the immediate ambition, maybe the odd inspirational smoke and what would be would be.

All these things ran through his mind as he peered across a beach leaning on the bonnet of his rough looking ford escort. An mild onshore breeze slew his hair backwards as he bemoaned an absence of decent waves.

That was when the weird bespectacled man dropped by and a moment when his brain tripped out before he’d subconsciously decided on selling his motor to go surfing in Australia. His last words before driving off had been deep, so deep he felt quite pleased about things and got one up on his old man at the same time.

“God Flu man; if it hits then everyone dies and I’m going out on a wave.”

That was an hour ago and while Smithy, the man whose name he didn’t know, was passing things on and losing his body in a bus station Patrick was munching a burger in a well known fast food chain.

Nice is it Rick?

He sat staring out of the window. The local high street going about it’s business, cars waiting at a pedestrian crossing whilst a woman with a pushchair crossed towards the market in the other side. A man leaning off a scaffold frame where the local council was restoring tired masonry on a listed building below which dwelt an unlisted supermarket. It was through this revelry of film reel watching through his eyes that his mind rode breakers over sun glazed beaches overseas. The subconscious voice stirred him up. It felt cold and emotionless.

“What the hell?”

He blinked and looked at the half burger. The first words reaching through his head were when, what, why? He remembered heading off towards his flat to pick up some stuff, what was it? The next minute he was here drifting through burgers when he was a vegetarian, how did that happen?

Easy surfer boy, I brought you here to mingle.

“Say what?”

He dropped the burger into its wrapper. Wasn’t bad though…but meat man…think of the morals and killing for food. Disgust rippled through him, it was tasty though.

You like to mingle don’t you Patrick?

“Just a bit, yes…but crowds no, can’t be doing with crowds. It’s why the surfs there. To escape and be free with the spray and sea air all around. Such a high man, such a high.”

Why he was talking under his breath escaped him. It seemed logical, essential even.

I ain’t no man Patrick. They are under a countdown.

“Countdown?”

You said it yourself, to Smithy

“Who the hell is he?”

God Flu man.

He found himself walking along the pavement not quite remembering leaving the burger joint.

“That vacant looking egg head at the sea front?”

The very same. Patient zero.

“Not following man.”

He turned into train station for no apparent reason and continued walking.

Your old man worked on flu pandemic planning yes, not a question more a statement. Mix in the right circles and Vault Tech Overseer.

Patrick’s mind was feeling hemmed in. The view from his eyes drawing further away and part blurred. Like he was coming down with something.

“Too right, everyone’s expendable except those with the golden tickets.”

His voice sounded duller, more internalised.

Doesn’t have to be dude, doesn’t have to be. The voice was using his own phrases.

“How do you mean?”

Give your mum a call.

He felt his forehead crease into a frown. Why would I do that?

“To say hi, tell her you love her before it’s too late”

Too late for what though? He was aware things had changed. His connection with the world was shutting down. Somewhere in the distance he heard one side of a conversation that he wasn’t having.

“Hey mum, how’s it hanging?” There was a pause.

“Good, I just wanted to say I love you. Heading away for a few days so thought I’d upload a few thoughts before I left.”

Upload? I don’t say upload, he thought from deep inside his head. It was dark now and if he he had access to anything other than a mind tomb, about now he’d be entering anxiety bordering on serious insanity.

“Sweet,” he heard, “say hi to Dad and just go to that do, mingle a bit and you’ll feel a lot better. Laters.”

It went quiet. The sounds of the station disappeared and he heard the street noises; cars, buses, chatter of unseen pedestrians, the wail of a disgruntled toddler. The absence of physical chemistry did not placate the panic now settling in.

What are you?

“I’m the God Flu Rick. You familiar with viruses?”

Only computer ones and what the hell is God Flu?

“Yes, your memories tell the tale, gave me an idea that solved your Vault Tech ticket conundrum.”

There was a pause as a door shut and road noise turned into an air conditioning fan.

“Can I help you Sir?” Patrick heard an outsiders voice, male and not too old by the sound of it.

“Yeah man, an hour should be about enough time.”

“Very good Sir, take your pick and for a fiver you can have a coffee too.”

“Cool, I’ll be by the window.”

There was some shuffling and the sound of a chair scraping back.

Vault tech conundrum…what’s that mean?

“Bit of an upload realisation dude, free range is twenty metres. The phone network reaches wider. Your vaults have just been compromised.”

Mum? Please, what’s going on, I just wanted to ride some waves, maybe in Australia.

“Your species has a strong sense of fear Rick, very strong. Not to worry though. By tomorrow we’ll be surfing almost everywhere, and a few days after that no one will care anymore.”

There was some tapping noises in the distance, a keyboard entered his trapped mind and then an image of a cafe and streams of people walking past the window his possessed body sat at. All pausing briefly with a vacant stare before moving on.

What did you do to mum?

“Same as the lab geek, just passing on some tech; countdowns rolling just enjoy the ride, or…you’re a surfer right? Just not quite waves we’re riding now dude. With this button we gets to surf the whole world.”

Patrick was allowed a visual link to see his own finger hit enter on a keyboard. Above it the graphic user interface went black before strings of ones and zeros flew down the screen. Inside a minute things restored, good as new.

What did you just do?

“I just went viral.”

He heard himself laughing, not just any old laugh but a real gut buster.

 


 

© G Jefferies and Fictionisfood, 2016. All rights reserved.

 


 

This entry was posted in: Battle Stories, Short Stories

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Former research scientist the became the primary stay at home Dad for two children. Writing has always been factual in the previous life but always had a fascination with fiction but never been brave enough to develop it further. A comfort zone thing. Science writing is familiar, fiction is not. Hopefully the blog will provide more confidence and lead to a change in career writing from home around children!

112 Comments

    • Possibly some isolated tribe deep in a jungle that has no tech. The rest of us are in deep trouble!!!

      • It would be interested to see who is left. Who got that golden ticket you mentioned. Or was it just a lie and no one gets the golden ticket?

        • It was, shall we say, paused because at the time of writing I figured we were all doomed because it was not just a biological takeover. That implies there is no vaccine to be made that we know off. I know there is a story in the collapse of our civilisation; but its a rather bleak affair lol

          • Yeah…rather bleak without a plucky heroine somewhere to save the world. But I gather plucky is not what any of your characters have ever been called…lol

            • I’ll let you into a secret, writing that is not on my blog has several heroines as it happens; two are seriously courageous. One is the older version of the survivor in Half A Twin: the very first thing I wrote and something I did put up here 😊

              • Seriously courageous and plucky are two different things. But I’m glad to hear you have female heroines. We need more of those.

                • Plucky: having or showing determined courage in the face of difficulties.

                  Not really that different in context lol.

                  I have strong female characters in all my books both as protagonists and antagonists. In fact the one that is looking for a publisher is entirely from a female perspective! I thought that was quite a challenge coming from me lol

  1. lisaorchard1 says

    There’s a lot of potential here. Keep writing!

    • Agreed; but its pretty apocalyptic stuff; although that seems to be in fashion in dystopia at the moment. Thank you Lisa 🙂

  2. angelanoelauthor says

    I’m worried now. Also–I’m typing on a keyboard–I could be the next victim of God Flu. I could destroy the world! ARGHHH.

    • Err, why do you think I left it at two parts!!! I got thinking how on earth could you stop it then quietly put it to one side and wandered off to speak with some trees lol

      • angelanoelauthor says

        Ha! That’s amazing. Maybe my favorite comment ever.

        • Keep popping over and I’m sure we can muster up loads more as half my stuff scares the pants off me too!!!!

  3. I have read part one now and re-read this one again. I love the last line about going viral! A great pun, but terrifying prospect! 🙂

    • Agreed; when that line came out it made me stop and think. I have a background in microbiology and biochemistry and link that into things like The Black Death of Spanish Flu and you soon realise how such things can swiftly take hold. I tried a twist here with a new sentient virus that could use Wi-Fi to travel about. Bit sinister IMO…and quite scary when you think about it. Imagine sentient ransom ware that is not trying to extort money, but destroy the human race with no collateral damage!

    • Thank you so much! This was just two parts and is in my project bag once I decide on whether this can be defeated (one route) or not (another route). That said, I am finishing one book now and that has a sequel based on my paranormal short stories here. I’m getting a shade bogged down with ideas lol

        • Very true!! I also have several projects on the go too so have to ensure I don’t lose sight of those whilst creating new ideas for the future 🙂

  4. I enjoyed this Gary. Ate you on the writinf bandwagon yet??? You k ow I want to see a book from you soon!!!

    • Thank you Ritu, Not yet, I’m away for a long weekend next week and have decided I need to re-read the story so far and make notes on who is where. The final chapters are pretty action packed so I need a refresh into where the characters and sequencing of events! Not to mention decide who makes it through!!!!

  5. Oh, those last few lines… *shudder*

    Excellent companion piece to the first, Gary – now my nightmares can expand a bit… LOL!

    • Not exactly optimistic are they lol. Thank you so much Traci…always nice to hear when people like the writing 😊

  6. Pingback: A-Z PE Challenge Day 7 (G) – gapawa

    • Awesome of you to do this my blogging friend …. Just awesome 😊

    • Hmm….I rather think voting suggests several pieces need expanding….I really ought to get back on track posting writing on here…after all it’s why I’m here 👻

  7. Pingback: #BlogBattle – Week 62 | How the Cookie Crumbles

    • Thank you…I quite like the use of that myself…I don’t often get such inspiration so when it hits I use it….rubbish thing is I forgot the next blog battle was er….today 🤕

      • It’s hard to keep Tuesdays straight now that it’s every other one we BlogBattle on, haha. I have to keep looking at my calendar. 🙂

        • Too right….mind you I’m five weeks into a kindness challenge..two more to go…so I might refer blog battles until after that…then put up a challenge free blog logo !!! Is there a calendar on WordPress??

          • There might be a calendar, I’m not sure. Check your list of “widgets” under Admin.
            Challenge free blog logo? Haha, I have many challenges still to do. 🙂

            • I will hunt down a calendar…although at the current rate of gatherings on my to do list it might take a while 🤔. I think I gave but two left after this week…three Liebster nominations and a repeat three day quote one…. I need a place to put the challenge badges to stop them recycling 😱

    • Thank you for commenting 🙃

      I am thinking the consensus seems to be short story serialisation…we shall see 👻

  8. I love your opening line–and those are always a challenge. I was a Yes fan, too, so I could relate to that part of the story very well. I’ve been meaning to somehow put some rock and roll into my fantasy. You blended it beautifully into this tale. 🙂

    • Thank you so much for getting that…I quite often drop musical references into writing…mostly rock and roll 😀

      Your comment is very much appreciated and brought a smile to a day that has decided to rain a lot 🙃

    • Very kind of you to say that..and to take the time to read it all. Hopefully it makes more sense now 😊

  9. Good sir you tricked me, you are most definitely not a newbie in any sense when it comes to literature. ✅ 😂

    • Blog newbie…and when it comes to writing fiction…likewise…although I have been writing in one way or another most if my life…mainly factual…but always there has been part of me saying give fiction a go…there is a book waiting to out…but internal battles of esteem kept fighting it back…so January was inception day….

      Thank you so much for your kind comment…I really appreciate you taking the time to do that and read the list 🙃

      • Yes, you need to write fiction…I mean I’m glad you came to this decision. I only started writing in January this year lol but once I started I felt my ability to describe emotions and aesthetics gradually improving. Also the ideas start flowing and they can’t really be contained. The world needs more unique movie plots and who are we to keep it from them lol. 😂

        • A good philosophy is that…quite right it’s not for us to deny them material…well providing they throw a bit of cash in with the deal 👻

          One can dream yes 🙃 I think you will the more you write the stronger your ability will become. Feedback will be your friend too….both kind and harsh…providing each qualifies why a point has been made.

          I’m glad too….I can’t stress enough how close I was to giving up before offering my first samples here…even though I have one book waiting to be edited, one at a proofer and several more at various stages of compilation….a two year journey collecting words…that nearly ended in December….classic case of never give up 😱

          • I’m sure you’ll do very well in sales, I want one of your books myself now lol. Good luck with your releases and thank you for connecting, you were right on time I was looking for new reading material. If one of your books goes to film I’ll politely remind you that I told you so 😜

            • Timing is everything…must be Cosmo guidance or something since you were coincidentally seeking new reading. I’ve got a few things back logged to put up due to feedback…most is varied…but then I guess books should be 🙃 My pleasure connecting too…I love this platform…everyone is so friendly, helpful and supportive…I try and reciprocate as much as possible…time and all that. In the unlikely event of a film I shall give you an honourable mention lol

              • I’ve already started to go through your posts tbh lol but yes this has become a brilliant social space too. People are only cheeky about writing, which is fine by me lol. Every success to you and no pressure I’ll take the writing as it comes through. That’s another advantage of writing it’s all on your own time. 😊

                • That’s terribly kind of you….although isn’t that what Treebeard says in LOTR to Merry and Pippin 🤔 Although maybe that was ‘it’s uncommonly kind of you’…hmm…you are dead right though, this is an amazing social space. My goal, if I have one, is to be part of a writing based community, to exchange experiences, tips and advice….although it’s a pretty wide goal post now because bloggers are all really cool 😊

  10. Hmm,, interesting. I too was a little confused, but as it’s a second part, not surprising. I understood what was happening at the end though. And I really like the idea. Brain-hacking, was my first thought. 🙂

    • I can’t decide if part of the fun (from my side) is invoking some confusion sometimes….but that comes from looking at is as potentially an 80,000 word novel…I’m not used to short stories as such so this is all very new to me. Normally I can drip feed what’s going on over the pages. This is a whole new ball game. No idea what it will turn into though…quite like the idea of exploring it further 😊

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment…much appreciated 🙃

      • It’s hard to adjust to short stories. I can’t seem to write one and leave it at that. They usually develop into serials, as Winter has for the Blogbattle.
        Practice makes perfect though, right? 🙂

        • You are not kidding…my natural rhythm is around 5000 words. Cutting it back to 1500 finds me running out of space to throw in everything I want to 🤔 Still, as you say practice and all that 🙃

    • Thank you…probably make more sense if I’d referenced the first part more mind. That was done using the last five blog battle prompts and surfer as a bit of fun after a discussion with Rachael….wouldn’t let me enter that one though so had to add to it with this piece 🙃

      • so I read in the opening paragraph, and I was expecting to obviously have gaps in my understanding….. but I did get the story gist eventually, I think, you write somewhat different hahaha and I shall try and catch up on the other ones.
        ~B

        • Is different a good thing or a bad one 😱 You’d be surprised how the point in tune first paragraph seems to get missed even though it’s linked to the post 🤔 I also considered Patrick doesn’t know what’s going on here too so part of not explaining was to give the reader a similar disadvantage. In the previous one Smithy gets it because he’s a virologist and is patient zero…so there’s more given away there for that reason….question now is leave it as is or expand it further….not sure yet 😊

          • its a good different by the way
            ~B
            PS that is always the question isnt it hahahaha depends where the story is going.

            • Then my mind is at ease and breathing can begin once more 😊

              Very true…in mine I never know where they are going until I write…storyboards for me get shredded by characters who say ‘no way am I doing it that way!’ Highly annoying of them 😇

  11. I just realized why the Absent Child was so much scary-er. It was about a poor dead child. And this one is computers, which just puzzle me anyway. My daughter was trying to explain today about self-hosting stuff. I was nodding my head, but I had a glazed look in my eyes… She hushed pretty quickly after glancing my way…

    • True…but she’s not really a poor dead child not really…that’s reader empathy with this part of the scene….which reminds me I’m supposed to be putting the whole piece up 🤔 Opinions might change then 🤕

        • I suspect you might find it slightly more scary…although I don’t think it is…but then I wrote it and that makes a big difference to the viewpoint as I don’t have to read it for the first time….if that make sense 🤔

          • I understand! If we conceive it, we believe it. Does that fit there?? Not really, oh well….
            At least we understand each other!

            • Pretty much…but conceiving it also quietness the spooky factor…the antagonist in my opus magna is a proper nasty piece of work and yet…one of my favourite characters at the same time….weird really 👻

  12. Well! It wasn’t scary at all, just confusing. So, that’s good, right?
    Probably only a 2, then.
    Or maybe I’m getting un-scareder??

    • Good…now did you read the first one? The idea behind confusing was deliberate here. Patrick hadn’t got a clue what’s really going on and I wanted the reader empathising with him. Part one is kind of necessary though so I should have probably stressed that more…

      Maybe this is a form of therapy in scary 😊

        • Excellent…then the ruse worked….although in fairness thus coukd also be a stand alone where progress through more if the story unveils what’s happening…. Maybe….ish…

  13. The words and flow of story was amazing. Like @bloggeray I too had a confused look at the end, but your explanation did clear up a bit. Need to rush to read part 1 now! Love reading your work Gary!
    Best wishes!
    Syeda

    • Thank you but I’ve two strands of thought as I said to bloggeray, one is to keep the reader guessing as if you are Patrick and the other is with one eye on the whole potential story which would have to leak information rather than just throw it out in one go…I’m not used to short stories alas, so this is new territory with the low word count. Really appreciate your words though and hope part one sheds some light on things 😊

      • I face the same problem, just can’t keep the word count low! Part one cleared up a lot for me. You should keep it coming, as it has really got a ‘hooking’ effect! Waiting for the next now.

        • Some things just don’t want low word counts I find. But then I’ve never really worked to a word count before. I have a natural 5000 word per chapter average. I tend to write in that rhythm. These two would probably sit as two scenes in the same chapter leaving this as a chapter end I guess? Thank you again 😊

    • Thank you Daisy 😊 Did you catch (on topic..poor word choice) the first part? It’s linked in this one, or should be. Might clear up some things 😊

  14. I didn’t totally get the story, particularly the God Flu bit but it was very interesting, specially the twist at the end. And the writing style was lovely, the condensed description and the way you conveyed Rick’s confusion.
    Great post. Loved it.

    • I thought that might be an issue. This is actually the second part of one I put up last week…hopefully that would reveal more. In a nutshell though The God Flu was coined by Smithy in the first one. It’s an invading virus that has a prime directive to take over a body and spread by none conventional vectors…in this case using ‘wifi’ like mechanisms. I hoped its origins bleed out in the two pieces slowly…but my aim is to try and give readers the persons experience because they don’t really know either….

      Thank you so much for reading it and the generous feedback my friend 😊

      • My bad, then! Jumped to the second part without going through the first. I will read the first one now.
        Your explanation makes things a lot clearer than what they were earlier. Thanks for the generous help to my simple mind. 😀
        You’ve been really successful at creating that atmosphere of confusion for both the character and the reader. Kudos!

        • Not bad no lol…but what you said was interesting in terms of how a reader views it. There are back references which won’t make any connections if the first isn’t read…but…Patrick doesn’t know anything about the first bit either other than meeting the chap that passed it to him…so from one angle this one should leave you as confused as him maybe?

          No problems with explaining either…I like feedback to be an engagement 😊

  15. Wow!! The dialogs got me hooked. The anticipation and tensed built were perfect! I loved this Gary, specially the lines ,”Too late for what” and “I just went viral” Brilliant!!!!!

    • I hope the dialogue was clear though…the part where the voice switches and control is usurped by the virus. Might be more to write in this series after all 😊

      Have to say when the I just went viral line appeared it had me chuckling for ages…bit weird I know but in context I too thought it was not bad, not bad at all 🤔

      Thank you for commenting 😊

      • The dialogs were clear. The voice switch was easier to understand here, after I read the first part. I loved that line! Especially for the context. Made me laugh, hehe. Are you planning to build more on this?

        • I should have emphasised reading part 1 first…hindsight and all that…I wasn’t going to do more but it seems to have been received rather well so I might see where the next bit springs up from…no idea where it goes next 🤔

          • May be you should develop more. It is interesting. May be mentioning the previous parts will help most of the first time readers.

            • Might have a think on it. One idea keeps returning but it’s never really expanded properly. Might go back to another project first though of I’ll end up with too much unfinished business 🤔

  16. Oh, my word, how I love your writing style! You really do have the most amazing way with words and such a massive brain 🙂 This is quintessential you…the depth, the suspense, the descriptions, the fantastic dialogue…all of it…your gift is awesome…thanks for sharing with us 🙂

    • I’m going to instal you as my cheerleader at this rate 🙃 I was thinking the story ended after the first part and this was just tidying up the surfer dude. If this keeps up I shall end up serialising more 🤔

      Thanks for the generous feedback Truky 😊

  17. Pingback: #BlogBattle 61 “Surfer” Entries & Voting | BlogBattle

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