The day was bright, sunny, and warm. Everything was absolutely ordinary. The birds chirped happily and children ran around playing their usual games. An ordinary teenager stood outside in her backyard, the sun warming her pale, freckled face.
“Not a cloud in site…” She noticed to herself, her voice cheerful and light. The sky was ordinarily beautiful on that Saturday afternoon. Not a cloud could be seen on the horizon and the blue sky was a soft pastel. The houses in the small town suburb all matched this normal pastel color. Some were a pale yellow or orange, others were greens and blues. No house was out of place or stuck out more than the others.
Every person in these houses were ordinary too, even the teenage girl. She especially was ordinary. Her blue eyes were dull and her hair was a boring sandy blonde that hung down to her lower back. She had straightened that hair today just like every other day, just like every other girl in school. She enjoyed being ordinary and ignorant of the world around her, after all ignorance is bliss. She played her part to be average. Her grades were the normal B’s, her face was normal, her body wasn’t anything out of the ordinary skinny girl, and she was content.
The young lady sat down in a white lawn chair and opened up a teen magazine. She skimmed a few pages before settling into an article about makeup. After reading it she flipped the pages some more, glancing at photos of overly beautiful models and celebrities. Unlike the girls we know, she wasn’t envious of their beauty. She wasn’t upset that they were beautiful. She didn’t really notice them much. She was just interested in doing what every other girl around her did. Ordinary was the only way to live.
“Isn’t that stuff boring?” Someone asked.
“No,” the girl looked up to address her 10-year-old brother.
“Yeah right. It’s super girly and weird,” He walked farther into the yard, the family’s golden lab close behind him.
She watched them play for a few minutes before going back to her magazine. She engrossed herself in a story about a pop star. In the background her brother laughed as he ran around the yard with the dog. She heard the sliding glass door open.
“Jason, come clean your room before you go over Trevor’s tonight,” Their mother called out.
“Okay…” He called back reluctantly.
“And, Miranda, make sure you do your chores before 6,” She told the girl.
“Alright…” She replied without looking up.
“I mean it. I want all the dishes to be done before me and your dad go out tonight,” Her mother stepped back inside and shut the door. Jason soon followed behind, leaving the dog outside.
The golden dog wagged it’s tail as it trotted up to the ordinary girl. She looked over at it and pet it gently on the head. It’s tongue rolled out of it’s mouth, panting a bit. The teen closed the magazine and got up. She set the magazine in the chair where she had been sitting then picked up the empty metal dog bowl sitting by the door and walked to the side of the house. She turned turned the faucet to the right and placed the bowl under the cool water. Once it was full she turned the water off and placed the bowl down. She stood there and watched the dog drink for a little while. She started to zone out.
Before she could start to daydream she felt the dog’s nose against her hand. She looked down, the dog looked up at her with wide eyes.
“What’s up, boy?” She touched one of his ears. The dog turned it’s head curiously, his eyes growing wider. The girl, a little confused, knelt next to him and put her hand on the back of his neck. She felt his muscles tense and his body shift weight to his front paws.
“M-Ma–” Before she could say his name she felt his weight on top of her and she lay on the ground. She felt his teeth sink into her left shoulder. The pain was excruciating. She screamed at the top of her lungs as the beast bit into her. Adrenaline flowed through her body, momentarily blocking all of the pain. But she saw the blood. It stained the entire top of her shirt and the grass around her. The viciousness of the biting even got it on the side of the house. The girl continued her screams.
It seemed like eternity before she heard her mother’s scream, her brother’s cries for help, and her father’s crude language. It seemed even longer before she felt the animal’s weight lift off of her. She saw her father hit it with the blunt side of a hammer. It went through the side of it’s skull and blood splattered along the vinyl siding of the house. The neighborhood was quiet except for the sound of her family’s crying. Everything had gone silent. Why is that? She thought to herself. It’s a Saturday, everyone should be having fun. What’s wrong?
As blood continued to spill from her body, Miranda lost consciousness. Her and her attacker’s blood was covering the area. Her shirt was soaked, the grass was sticky, and the side of the house had blood splattered up it.
Nothing would ever be ordinary again. Not for this family, the quiet neighborhood, or the world. Ordinary was dead.
Soft light filtered through her eyelids as she began to wake up. Her head was fuzzy with unusual dreams. She opened her eyes expecting to see her room. She caught her breath when she saw she was in an unfamiliar place. Her mother who had been watching her suddenly jumped up and put her arms around the girl. Tears of joy ran down her face.
“Mom?” Miranda lay in the hospital bed confused. She felt her mother’s joyful sobs against her body.
“You’re finally awake… My baby’s finally awake!” She looked her in the eyes, tears still running down her face. She smiled happily. She had purple circles under her eyes and the wrinkles on her face were more noticeable since she wore no makeup. Her usually dull blue eyes now appeared to be a very pale blue, almost gray. Her pupils seemed translucent somehow.
“Mom..?” She said now even more confused.
“I’m going to go get a nurse,” Her mother got up and quickly left the room. She returned within a minute with a nurse. Her mother sat down in a chair and the young nurse checked the monitor next to the bed.
“Do you remember anything?” The woman asked her, looking away.
“Uhm… Not really. I remember having strange dreams but I’m not sure why I’m here,” The nurse then looked at her. Miranda once again caught her breath as she saw her eyes. They were a very pale green, the pupils near translucent. The nurse took notice of her response.
“Don’t be alarmed. It’s a side effect of the vaccine,” She paused, “Do you know how long you’ve been in a coma?”
“Not really…” She said, confusion filling her mind.
“You have been out for 42 days to be exact. We’re not sure what the… Cause was but you were attacked by your dog. He severed the major artery going to your left arm, cut the nerves there, and gave you an unknown virus. Luckily, the paramedics got to you so quickly. Doctors worked to save your arm but it just wasn’t possible after that. Your left arm is gone.”
She glanced down at her body and noticed that her left arm was indeed gone. There wasn’t even a stump left, just nothing. Her eyes began to water as she thought about how she would never be normal again. Despite her feelings, she looked back up at the nurse.
“What’s the virus you mentioned?”
“Oh it’s nothing,” The nurse attempted a smile.
“It’s not nothing!” She felt rage take over her emotions and she gripped the sheets in rage.
“Calm down, please,” Her mother who had been silent the entire time finally spoke up, “You’ve been through a lot. Just rest for now.”
“Fine,” The girl tried to fold her arms across her chest but realized she couldn’t. She looked away from her mother and the nurse. The tension in the room and her body began to melt. She looked back at the women and noticed the nurse messing with the IV.
“This is just some medication to help you relax a bit,” The nurse didn’t look at her. She soon left the room, her mother following behind her. They stood in the hallway for a few minutes talking quietly about the girl. Through the window in the door she saw her mother’s concerned face.
The teen lay in the bed and looked up at the plain white ceiling. She wondered about all the things she had just been told. She remembered a few things of being attacked but not much. She just remembered how quickly it happened and the blood. She shuddered. And what about the virus? Was it horrible? What was it? What did it do to her? What happened after she blacked out?
She wondered so many things, eventually falling asleep thinking about the effects of the virus.
She woke up a few hours later. The lights were dimmed and her mother was asleep in the chair. She looked around the room and noticed how bare it was. There was no TV, no windows, and no bathroom. Well I guess I wouldn’t need a bathroom since I was in a coma. She shook her head trying to clear the strange thoughts out of it.
She attempted to sit up, once again realizing she only had one arm. She tried rolling to her side but didn’t have the strength to. She grunted with frustration. After laying there for an hour she was bored out of her mind. She looked over at her mom.
“Hey, Mom?” She stirred a bit, “Mom?”
“Yeah..?” She asked, eyes still closed.
“When will I get to see Dad and Jason?” She asked thinking about how she hadn’t seen them in so long.
Her mother opened her eyes and sleepily sat up. Tears fell from her eyes and she hid her face in her hands.
“Mom? What’s wrong?” She watched her mother sob and received no answer. “Mom? Answer me!”
“They’re gone!” Her mother looked at her, her face contorted in pain. “They’re dead!”
“They’re… What?” She began crying in disbelief. She couldn’t believe that could’ve happened. It was only yesterday to her that she had seen her brother run around the yard with the dog. The dog that had started this.
The memories flooded back to her. She started to shake violently and the world went black for her once again.
Soft light hit her eyelids as they fluttered open. She woke up looking at the plain white hospital ceiling. She turned her head and saw that she was alone. She remembered everything this time. I guess I should call a nurse. She pressed the call button on the side of the bed. A nurse came in a few minutes later.
“You’re finally awake,” This nurse was an older lady who appeared to be in her forties, the same age as her mother. Her eyes were a pastel brown, pupils almost clear.
“How long was I out this time?” She asked straightforwardly.
“Just a few days. You went into a seizure when you were talking to your mom,” She told her.
“Yeah. I remember everything that happened,” She had a few questions to ask the nurse.
“Must have been horrible,” The nurse seemed to sympathize with her.
“Yeah… Anyways, can you tell me about everything that’s happened? No one will tell me about the virus,” Her usual quiet self seemed to be disappearing.
“I can understand why no one wanted to tell you. But you’re just a couple of years away from being an adult. You’re mature enough to hear about it,” The nurse told her the entire story. The dog had been poisoned by the water she had given him. A virus had immediately taken a hold of him. It caused him to become violent and attack her. The animal had the intent to kill her but instead infected her. His saliva had gotten into her blood stream. In humans the virus doesn’t work as quickly and works in stages due to their different immune systems. Anti-biotics had been pumped into her to try and slow the virus until a cure could be made. Luckily, they worked. After a few weeks of being infected an experimental cure had been created. It was tested on her and worked as well. The only known side effect was the recoloring of pigmentation in the eyes. In some people pigmentation in the eyes, hair, and skin lighten. Some immune systems rejected the cure or were destroyed. Those with no immune systems left to fight quickly died. However, these cases were rare and people still accepted the cure.
“Though a cure was quickly made it’s estimated over a million people were infected. The stages of the virus are much like rabies. The first stages are flu like symptoms that last for a day or two. The second stage lasts for just a few hours and causes muscle spasms or seizures. Once that happens a patient can no longer be cured and the virus shuts down the brain. That’s the third and final stage. The virus quickly restarts parts of the brain, all memories and emotions are gone. When the ‘person’ wakes up they will attack anyone in site. Their senses are heightened and there is no way to cure them.”
“So…” Miranda took all of this in. She felt like she was being pranked. Like maybe this was all a bad joke someone came up with. Or maybe it was a dream. Things like this didn’t exist. Not in her ordinary world. She was ordinary. Ordinary things happened to her. Nothing weird happened in her life. She was angry that any of this was possible.
“We suspect it was a terrorist attack but we don’t know for sure. We’re too busy trying to control the infected population to find out,” The nurse checked the monitor nervously. The girl’s blood pressure and heart rate were increasing.
“Is this really happening?” She looked at where her left arm should be.
“I’m afraid so,” The nurse looked sullen as she glanced at the girl.
“I’m just really not sure what to say. All of this seems like a nightmare,” Her voice became distant.
“I know. It doesn’t seem like it’s possible. Unfortunately, this is the world we live in now. We have to deal with it,” The girl felt as if this nurse understood her feelings.
They both were silent, each thinking their own thoughts. After the nurse was done checking the girl’s vitals and all the wires hooked up to her, she left. She promised to be back to check on her soon. A little over an hour later the same nurse came back. She had a plain pink bag hanging off her shoulder. She set it next to her girl on the bed.
“I know it’s been really boring in here without any TV or games to play, so I got this together for you. It’s just a few things I found but I hope it helps,” The nurse excused herself to go look after other patients.
After she was gone Miranda opened up the bag. It was filled with crayons, coloring books, and an old puzzle book. Most of the pages were filled up in the books and the crayons had been worn down. Normally she would have been bored at the site of these objects, but now they seemed interesting. She picked out a coloring book filled with cartoon animals. She flipped through it and chose to color a picture of a duck. She realized how lucky she was to have lost her left arm. Well not lucky, but luckier than if she had lost her dominate arm. She was grateful she could draw and color. She was grateful to even be alive. Then it hit her.
As she meticulously colored the duck she realized how amazing it was to be alive. That dog could have easily killed her and here she was still breathing. She could have died from the virus that had gone into her system. Well here she was still alive. Her ordinary life had changed so drastically in those first few seconds that it was a miracle she was able to lay in bed coloring. It was a miracle she even woke up from a coma.
What about Dad and Jason? She thought. They must be gone because of the virus. They died because of this.
In her heart she knew that’s what had killed them. She felt a pang of guilt in her stomach as tears flooded her eyes. They soon overflowed and droplets continuously rolled down her face. She started to shake from the crying. Sorrowful sounds escaped her lips as she realized who she had lost. It wasn’t some distant relative or unknown neighbor. She had lost her own father and brother.
“Why?” She asked over and over. Why them? Why our family?
As her sobbing subsided, she fell fast asleep. For now sleeping was the only way she could escape the pain.