Title: Flash Fiction #18
Fandom: The Walking Dead
Word Count: 1202
Characters: Dr. Judith Warren-Jenner, Dr. Edwin Jenner, various OCs as needed
Author’s Note: This is the continuation of TS-19’s story, as requested by corellian_sugar . I carried over my 1000 word limit but I don’t really care – I needed to get all this out & I couldn’t bring myself to cut any of it.
Disclaimer: I don’t own anything associated with The Walking Dead, sadly. I just like to bring the characters out and play with them from time to time. This is unbeta’d and unedited – all errors are my own. If you see anything that needs correction, please let me know. Concrit is always welcome!
[Roughly four months later]
Dr. Judith Warren-Jenner walked into the conference room, no longer cool and collected. This time, she had dire news to report, and very little hope to be seen on the horizon. Her colleagues knew something major was happening; they all waited around the conference table, speaking in hushed tones save for a few outbreaks of nervous laughter.
“Everyone, can I please have your attention! I’m sorry to be the one to break the news to you but the G.K.E. virus is now a global incident. There have been outbreaks in every country around the world.” As her colleagues began to speak out, seemingly all at once, Judith raised her hands, calling for silence. “Please, let me finish. The main method of transmission seems to be bodily fluids, particularly saliva. It is assumed that blood and other bodily fluids can transmit the virus as well. It is unclear at this time how the virus affects its victims. What is clear is that the victims, shortly after death, reanimate and develop a ravenous craving for flesh.
I’m sure you can imagine the state of things outside of this facility. The government has issued a state of emergency; military units have been called out. At this moment, a military blockade is being set up around this facility.”
Judith paused for breath and looked around at her colleagues. Edwin sent her a small smile of encouragement. “I know that most of you have families, loved ones that you are worried about and want to go home to. I ask that as many of you as possible stay and continue to work; we may be close to a cure and time is of the essence. However, I will not stop you if you choose to leave. I will be staying and continuing to work. Good luck to us all, no matter what we choose to do. May God have mercy on us all.”
With that, she left the conference room, barely making it to her office before breaking down in tears.
Days went by with no real progress on the cure to the G.K.E. virus. Discouraged and disillusioned, scientists began to leave the CDC, taking their chances on the outside. Many of them died within mere yards of the front doors, their screams of terror and pain unable to penetrate the thick glass of the upper level of the building.
Judith continued to work toward a cure, her husband at her side. They began to bring in test subjects; the military blockade provided an almost limitless supply of terminated “walkers”. Unfortunately, they were unable to reverse-engineer a cure for the virus. The tissue they had to work with was too far gone, too necrotic and useless for their purposes.
Within two weeks, the military blockade was overrun. Many of the remaining scientists began to lose hope; some began to lose their sanity. Those poor souls ran headlong into the throng of walkers gathering outside the facility, their hopes for freedom dashed. Morale was nonexistent but still, Judith, Edwin, and a few others persevered, convinced that if they kept going, a cure could be found.
Four weeks after the G.K.E. virus went global, Judith made a breakthrough. Edwin and one of the few remaining scientists, a brilliant man named Jorge Ramirez, went on a mission to procure another test subject; Judith needed a “fresh” sample to test her theory on. She watched from the doors, a rifle in her hands to help protect her husband and friends should they run into trouble. Edwin and Jorge had almost made it back to the safety of the facility when things went horribly wrong. One of the walkers caught Judith unaware, grabbing her and biting into the tender flesh of her arm. She was able to catch the walker with her rifle, knocking it away before shooting it in the head, but the damage was done.
Edwin ran to her, abandoning their subject and scooping Judith up in his arms to carry her back inside. He turned just in time to watch a group of walkers take Jorge down within feet of the doorway; his screams a horrifying testament to his last moments alive. Edwin barely managed to close the doors and seal them. He carried Judith to the lower level and gently laid her on one of the laboratory tables, determined that something had to be done to save her.
Tears streamed down his face as he removed her blouse to check the wound. He begged, “Judith, tell me what to do! There has to be something! We haven’t tried amputation; we can try that! Anything! Please!”
“Edwin, you and I both know that there’s nothing to be done. I’ve been infected – it’s over for me. But this is our chance to view the effects of the virus firsthand on a living specimen. You have to record it… as it happens. Record the effects, see what makes the victims reanimate. You have to, Edwin! It’s the last chance we have to save anyone!”
He argued with her, begged and pleaded with her to let him try to save her; she continued to refuse. As she grew weaker, Edwin gave in to her demands. He and the remaining facility personnel connected various machines and equipment, recording Judith’s last moments. As she drew her last breath, only Edwin remained, refusing to release her hands.
For the next two hours, one minute, and seventeen seconds, Edwin sat with Judith, holding her hands in silence.
Judith began to reanimate, opening her eyes and reaching out to Edwin. Tears streamed down his face as he drew his pistol. “I’ll do as you ask. I’ll find the cure. For you. I love you, Judith.” He put the barrel of the pistol against her head and pulled the trigger.
For the next two weeks, Edwin and his colleagues worked feverishly, using Judith’s tissues and studying the video of the virus’s effects on her brain. As time passed, the others began to lose faith, to lose hope that a cure could be found. They began to give in, to commit suicide in the hallways, unable to face the terrors that awaited them outside the facility.
Finally, only Edwin was left. He continued to work, honoring Judith’s final wishes. Until one day, he made a miscalculation and spilled chemicals on one of the sample dishes, creating corrosive fumes that spread through the lab. He dashed through the doors and into the decontamination shower, mentally cursing himself for his mistake. Then he heard words that struck fear into his heart: “ALL PERSONNEL CLEAR. FULL DECONTAMINATION IN EFFECT.”
“No!” he screamed as he turned to the doors. He tried futilely to force them open as flames engulfed the lab, destroying all of the equipment and samples there. Defeated, he hung his head and left the lab area.
Dr. Edwin Jenner made his final report. He didn’t know why he bothered; they’d been dark for almost a month. No communication from anyone on the outside. Raising his glass to the computers, he said, “I think I’m going to get drunk. Judith, cheers to you, my love. I’m sorry I let you down.”
He sat down with a bottle of wine and waited for his time to run out.