Biological Conflict: Installment 2 by @batkaren


Read Installment 1 here

Things have always gone bump in the night, and I should tell you that many such bump-goers are beings like me. We have no mutually agreed upon name, but I use the moniker Affected. I suppose Infected would work as well, perhaps better even, given that the origin of our change is bacterial. The crassness of that term simply never called to me.

Once a person is exposed to the Affecting bacteria, the transformation is rapid and unimaginably horrific. First comes the body’s expulsion of all food, along with the human apparatus required to ingest it. Namely, it will be that person’s last and most terrifying defecation. The most aptly named of bowel movements, actually including the bowels themselves…as well as the stomach, pancreas, liver, spleen, etc., etc., etc. The reproductive organs wash out too – they simply no longer serve a purpose, and blood flow will quickly be at a premium. You can’t go wasting liquid on vestigial tissues. An everything-must-go evacuation cleanse for the torso, except of course for the heart and lungs. Imagine your most violent human intestinal flu, and know that that experience was a mere tummy pinprick compared to the intensity of an Affected’s evisceration. After this mother of all monster shits, it’s not uncommon for an Affected’s anus to close up altogether. It simply becomes dead space down there.

So despite the bacterial source of what essentially boils down to biological warfare, reversal is simply not possible, even with antibiotics. Once changed, an Affected’s body can no longer support a human existence, and medical science can’t bring back or recreate those necessary organs and their associated plumbing structure. At least not at present.

The next and most obvious alteration is the thirst. Ever unquenchable, the dehydration sets in almost immediately. This thirst manifests as a need for blood. When liquid evaporates from the Affected’s flesh, what remains grows sluggish. An Affected must always stay ahead of the thirst, because once you’re too slow to feed, time simply becomes a borrowed arrow. The body first hardens, then crumbles into dilapidation. Much like the ruined husk I currently inhabit.

It’s therefore fortunate for the Affected that most of Earth’s creatures emit a scent which, for lack of a better analogy, allow the Affected to acquire a dental hard-on. And with these elongated teeth, an Affected can puncture skin to drain blood, taking life-sustaining hydration for your own needy, greedy heart to distribute to wasted limbs and an increasingly failing brain. And as evolutionary luck would also have it, the bacterial infection creeping through the Affected’s system emits an odor that causes humans (albeit not other animals) to enter a kind of fugue state. By taking advantage of this stupor, an Affected may thus leech fluid from human bounty without a struggle. Most drained people awake the next morning assuming they must have blacked out from drunkenness and are merely suffering a subsequent hangover.

Yes, that’s correct that not all fed-upon creatures become Affected. The bacteria has a flare-up periodicity when it’s most communicable, and those times are actually quite infrequent. Unfortunately, an Affected’s thirst is never-ending, and that need to quench the unslakeable dominates your arid existence. It’s rarely an Affected’s top priority to practice safe draining techniques with victims; I know of none who time a bite to the least infectious cyclical moment.

I apologize if I’m constructing what appears to be an overly bleak tableau for humanity. I should interject here that all is not lost. Because amid all this chaos of Affecteds and humans and viscera and blood, there has always existed a Hunter.

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