It’s another Terribleminds challenge – disease horror! Not sure it’s horrifying, but hopefully at least a little unsettling. Enjoy!
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The first deaths came from a small village. A hunter raved about a plot of government oppression. Nobody believed the old man at first, but there was a growing sense of unease. A few days later, the scenario began to feel likely. Workers came through town the month prior. The taxes had been raised, their crops weren’t growing as fast as they should, and the news spoke of corruption in a nearby region.
They took axes to their homes, searching for surveillance equipment in the walls. When nothing was found, they turned on the hunter. He was hung for working with an enemy nation and forcing his neighbors into ruining their homes. But it was too late. The disease had already taken hold. Within days, the villagers’ symptoms worsened. Someone spotted a handful of large grasshoppers in the field. The citizens burned the land for fear of a pest swarm ruining their livelihood.
The fires drew the attention of the local government, who sent help. The presence of strangers sent the infected villagers into a panic-driven rage. Fire fighters fled after being assaulted. Soldiers marched in next to subdue the villagers. The fighting lasted two days. None of the villagers survived.
Those soldiers that had physical contact with the villagers soon displayed the same symptoms. They refused to leave their bunks. When dragged outside, they lashed out. The medical staff didn’t know what to do with them. It was seen as a psychological issue, so they were eventually diagnosed with PTSD. They were too afraid to go to any hospital for treatment. Instead, the soldiers begged to be allowed to stay in the barracks, where they might be safe.
Two weeks later, they complained of headaches and fever. By then, the virus had blanketed the army base. None of the medical staff would touch their patients for fear of any number of deadly diseases they might contract. Words like Ebola, Smallpox, and Botulism were tossed around. But, paranoia about bioterrorism prevented them from calling for outside help.
When the first soldiers died, nobody dared to speak about it. Many simply abandoned the base, seeking comfort at home. The outside world only worsened their panicking. A few were so desperate to escape their fears that they took the next flight out of the country.
The world news had always been sensationalized, but as the disease spread, even the lightest fluff articles were laced with dread. Medical experts started paying attention when whole populations appeared to be dying for no reason.
Autopsies revealed a virus affecting the brains of sufferers. The CDC and WHO released information on the panic disease. They hoped concrete answers would help those with the virus find the strength to seek out help.
That was when the riots began. Infected people were angry and scared by the news. They razed buildings and attacked any person they saw as a threat – including each other.
Those who remained clean didn’t fare much better. They huddled together in hidden safe areas. Anyone displaying even the slightest paranoid symptoms was thrown out. It was nearly impossible to stay unafraid when a dozen panicking assailants threw Molotov cocktails the next block over.
In one warehouse, days were marked on the wall. If they could hold out, uninfected, for three weeks, there was a chance they would survive. It was the biggest collection of clean people left in the world.
Two and a half weeks of hashes gave the people hope. They went on small supply runs. Very few of the panicked ones were seen lately. A real sense of calm was finally setting in.
That night, a little girl wailed in the corner. She struggled to free herself from her mother’s grip. Her eyes were wide with fear.