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295 Investigation, Asking Questions and Learning the Possible Cause

 Day 44 - 10:09 AM - San Jose, Antipolo, Rizal

"What... What do you mean?"

Jennivive forced out that question from her confusion. Looking at Mark's serious face, she started to have a bad feeling.

She thought that these people the children brought here were people that came from the nearest villages and managed to come here by chance. They were not the first people to have those circumstances after all. About two weeks ago, a family arrived here after their village was decimated by animals that turned into monsters. Of course, that family was not here anymore. Learning that the circumstances in this place were the same as where they came from, they decided to try their luck further and left.

As for them that remained here, it was not because they did not want to leave but rather, they could not. They tried to leave before their situation became this dire but the dangers they encountered in the way pushed them back here. Not only that they had to return to being trapped in this place but they also lost people, mostly, children. Out the almost a two hundred students of this school, only ten were left. And the more than fifty adults that managed to survive the initial attack of the monsters, only seven were left.

More than a week ago, five of their strongest men volunteered to go and find rescue. If it was just them, it was easier to escape from danger and fight since they had no need to protect anything else. That was the last they heard of those men. However, this place was too far from the city in the first place and they who were left here trapped could only pray that those men would reach the city and send help. Since animals became monsters, even if it also happened to other places, areas with a lot of people should be able to fend off those monstrosities.

Or that was how it was supposed to be in their minds.

"The world has ended already."

Mark's words made the poor teacher stare at him with disbelief.

With Karlene's help, Mark told Jennivive gist of the events that happened this past month. The plane crashes, the infected, the mutation and the survivor settlements.

Jennivive did not say anything all the while and just listened while staring at Mark and Karlene in a daze.

At the end of the story, the teacher was totally silent while staring at the coffee table in front of them. Seeing her state, Mark spoke.

"You seem awfully calm."

Finally, she lifted her head and looked at Mark but her eyes still blank. It seemed that she was in the middle of believing and disbelieving what Karlene and Mark had just said.

"I... I just don't know what how should I react to this."

"It might be hard for these to sink into you mind but remember that it's all true. You all better give up on waiting for rescue since no one will come. If you had people that left to call for help, they should be dead already. Not only there are dangerous animals here in the forests, even if they managed to reach the city, the only things they could encounter are the infected. Either way, they will die."

Jennivive became silent once more. It was very hard for her to accept the things she had just heard. Nevertheless, she could totally confirm that those were not lies. She could not think of any motives these people in front of her could have for them to spout such lies. Furthermore, they already saw animals turning into monsters, the zombie like infected and the end of the world was not very unlikely.

Seeing the dazed state of the teacher, Mark decided to leave her alone and went out dragging Karlene out of the room. The dazed teacher did not even react to their group going out.

"Will she be fine?"

Karlene asked as they went out of the room.

"She won't. It might not sink in immediately but it will be a hard blow for her. She was really hopeful that someone would come to rescue them but reality is just that harsh to everyone."

Mark replied as he led the way back to the rooms where the sick were located.

"Reality is harsh to everyone..."

Edzel murmured. Those words hit him home since he was also a victim of it, a poor victim of harsh reality. Reality, it was a formidable foe for everyone who had high expectations about something but failed miserably.

Mark wanted to ask the teacher about things but he never expected that the people here were this ignorant about the happenings of the world outside. Now that the teacher still needed sometime alone, he could only do his investigation on his own.

On the way back, he noticed several figures below the schoolyard. Despite the danger outside, several children were there. The younger ones were on the lookout while the older ones...

They were digging new graves.

"Edzel, go and help them."

"Yes boss."

"I'll go too."

Karlene volunteered.

"Alright, you two go. Also Karlene, you can distribute some of the dried jerky on that bag you are carrying."

"Okay! Wait, what about you?"

"I just have some things to do. Just go if you want to help them."

Making the two go away, Mark continued walking through the hall with Miracle on his arms. Soon, they arrived at the room where the sick were being kept.

"No one should enter here! Ah, you are..."

The middle-aged stout bodied woman inside immediately noticed Mark the moment he came into the room. After all, she was the only one that could notice him since she was the only concious person in the room. She was facing the other way and thought that a child came barging into the place they should not go but she was surprised when she turned around.

This woman was the same, she was not wary about strangers at all. If this was your typical survivor hideout in the city, the moment a stranger entered into their room, murderous eyes would surely be pointed at them. However, the people in this place had not experienced the hardships of the survivors in the city. Furthermore, they were too happy to see new faces, alive.

It was despite how Mark more or less looked like someone who could commit crime anytime.

"We are passing by when the children spotted us and brought us here."

"Ah, yes. I saw your group with Miss Jennivive earlier. But you shouldn't go in here or you might get infected. It will also be dangerous to your daughter."

The woman warned Mark with concern. After all, this place was where the remaining adults that were all sick were being kept.

"We'll be fine. Actually, I want to ask questions."

"Is that so? Then, we can talk outside."

The woman stood up. Of course, it was with difficulty. Like Jennivive, she was also infected. Furthermore, hers was worse since not only her legs and feet but her arms and hands also had those swelling red colored veins. In the least, the state of her legs was still better as she was able to stand and walk without the need of support.

They stood in the hallway overseeing the schoolyard. The woman was surprised seeing Edzel and Karlene trying to help the children but she could only smile with gratitude.

"It's been hard to those children." She murmured before she turned to Mark. "Where is Miss Jennivive?"

"She's back in the office thinking about something."

"I see. What do you want to ask then?"

"Then, madam, it's about the contamination in the river."

Hearing that, her expression became bitter.

"Did anything strange happen before the river become contaminated? The children already told us about the red light in the forest to the north but I don't think that it's all."

Mark pressed on.

"Just call me Imee. Being called Madam is too high classed for me. About the strange things, that red light is just the start of it."

Imee then narrated things that happened that day.

The animals that turned into monsters often appear and that was why they rarely come out. However, those enlarged animals could still be felled and become source of food with the use of some traps and weapons. It was not because they wanted to eat them but they had no other choice.

That day however, the clouds were too thick. They thought that it would rain and as such, they wanted to get more game in case that it really did rain. If it rained, the forest would become more dangerous and they would not be able to find food. Since people in this place mainly relied on hunting, fishing and gathering for food in the forest, there was very little that they could gather around to keep.

To hunt more animals before the rain fell, all the remaining adults went out. There were still fifteen adults at that time. It was not really that dangerous as long as they did not enter deep in the forest since all they needed to do was lure the animals towards the traps they laid beforehand.

However, that bright light appeared disrupting their hunt. They all felt scared and decided to retreat but they were late. From the direction where the light came from, ferocious animals started rampaging. The animals caught up to them and some of them did not manage to escape while a number of the ones who escaped were injured.

"When we escaped that time, we thought that it was over. Some of us died but we are already used to it. Actually, some of those graves there don't have bodies inside but just the belongings of the deceased. We can't go back and retrieve their bodies after all."

When they thought that they were already safe, they came to the river to wash their bloody bodies. Mostly, those that were wounded wanted to clean their wounds.

That was a fatal mistake.

The water was already contaminated and the parts of their bodies that touched the water felt painful midway. They could not help but rush out of the water but it was already too late.

Miss Jennivive was lucky that she went to the river late and she just reached the shallow part but those that washed their bodies, they caught the worst part.

Up to that point, Imee looked at the room behind them.

"Those remaining inside were those that were injured and the water from the river entered their wounds. They were the ones in the worst condition."

She then looked at the other room where the corpses were being kept.

"Mr. Emilio and Ms. Maricris were the most injured at that time. The infection spread faster in their bodies and they did not make it. It won't take too long and we will all follow them."

Imee then raised her unsightly arms in front of her.

"The first day, it's only my hands up to my wrist but now, it's nearing by elbow."

"Is it really contagious?"

"Unfortunately, yes." Imee replied with a sad expression. "The children that took care of us in the first day got infected. We think that anyone who get in touch of our body fluids could get infected easier."

Hearing that, Mark did not ask anything about those infected children. He could only detect sick adults inside the room. Meaning, those children had already gone first.

"Anyway, did anything else happen way before that? At least, a story, folklore or an incident in that forest where the bright light came from?"

"Hmm, let me see. Actually, we had stories that spirits live in that forest and that was why the trees there were very abundant. They said that going there would make the spirits angry and that is why none of us go to that place."

Imee said while thinking.

"Ah." Imee exclaimed as she remembered something. "More than a month ago just before the animals turned into monsters, a small airplane, I think, Ms. Jennivive said that it could be a private jet. Something like that crashed in that forest."

Hearing that, Mark knew. He had found the information he wanted.