"A million deaths is a statistic. A single death is a tragedy." (Quote attributed to Josef Stalin.)


"911 emergency. How can I help you?"

"Yeah, I don't know if it is a home invasion or what, but I'm after hearing gunshots from my neighbours house."

"What's the address?"

"161 Raccoon Street... Holy shit, my neighbour is walking across the street covered in blood."

"Could you repeat that sir?"

"My neighbour is walking across the street cover in blood. Fuck. Fuck. He had a bullet hole in his neck."

"Sir, help is on the way."


Nothing in the way the day started promised anything bad. There was the sound of dogs barking, lawn mowers, the occasional car door slamming, typical Saturday morning sounds for Thomas. He lay in bed listening to it all. His mother, Marian, and sister, Jenny, rushing to get to work at the hospital, his grandfather, John (his mothers father), flicking through the channels, trying to find SpongeBob, or any cartoon really, for eight year old Rickey, who would sit happily in front of the TV until Thomas finally dragged himself out of bed and made breakfast for him.

His mom or sister never made it, not since the accident that had killed his moms husband, Thomas' father. Thomas knew why- Rickey and he looked so like their father, it hurt. The late Robert Kirk wasn't Jenny's father, and she never had much interest in her younger halfsiblings. As far as she was concerned, Robert, Thomas and Rickey were the reason why Marian never got back back with Jenny's father. Jenny totally ignored the fact that the guy was an abusive alcoholic.

Three minutes later, with the SpongeBob theme playing, Marian and Jenny left for work. No goodbye, just the slamming of the front door and the revving of an engine. They were in a rush today because of the strange flu like virus that was sweeping the country. The news had been full of reports of it for days now. Hospitals were full to capacity. Thomas was just waiting for the day his mom and sister decided it would just be easier to sleep at the hospital.

Thomas rolled out of bed and pulled on a pair of underpants, stretched and rolling his massive muscles, then padded to the bathroom to shave. He didn't have much facial hair, but his hair was coal black and his skin so pale that any hair stood out, looking thicker than it actually was.

Glancing at himself in the mirror, Thomas was surprised at how well rested he looked. He hadn't been sleeping too well. He studied himself, as he always did, trying to see the traces of his father- the traces that his mother saw, the traces that made it hard for her to look at him. He saw them at first glance. Jet black hair, sky blue eyes and high cheek bones, those he got from his father, everything else, no. Robert Kirk had been a short, tubby man. Thomas was tall, even at seventeen. Six foot six, strong arms, with wide, mucled shoulders and chest that tapered in a V to his toned abdomen and waist and toned legs. Many of Jenny's friends from college had hit on him, thinking he was much older. Jenny, and her cruel sense of humour, never corrected them. It was no wonder she never had the same group of friends for longer than a few months. Sighing, Thomas stripped, and got into the shower.

Thomas stayed in the shower until the water began to cool, then slowly shaved, enjoying the steam the shower had filled the room with. Afterwards, he padded back to his room with a towel knotted around his waist, and found Rickey sitting on his bed.

"Hey buddy, what's up?" He smiled.

"TV went funny. It's stopped showing SpongeBob," Rickey explained, scrunching up his face. Thomas ruffled his brothers black hair, smiling, then hoisted him into his arms.

"Ok then, let's see what we can do about that," Thomas said, playfully poking his brother in the stomach, making him giggle.

Making their way to the living room, Thomas found their grandfather fast asleep in a worn easy chair, sleeping off the effects of the reunion with his Marine Corps buddies, and the TV showing a blue screen.

"Huh, that's odd," Thomas said, putting Rickey down. One of Rickey's feet snagged the towel as he was been put down, and it pulled the towel free, where it pooled on the floor. Rickey only grinned before picky up a Bob the Builder plushy and starting to play with it. Thomas swore softly, thankful the curtains were shut tight, and was about to bend down and retrieve the towel when three long beeps from the TV, and words appeared on the screen. Before Thomas could read them, a voice began reading them.

"This is the Federal Emergency Broadcast System. The Office of the President has issued the following message. This is a civil emergency. Regular broadcasting has ceased. Do not venture outdoors. Do not allow entry to your home of any person, particularly anyone who appears ill. Please stand by for further information."

There was a further three beeps and the message began to repeat. Thomas stood frozen, all thoughts of retrieving the towel forgotten. He could never remember the Emergency Broadcast System playing before. How long would they have to remain in their homes? How much food was there in the house? Thomas began doing a mental list. Rickey remained engrossed with his toys. He had looked up when the message had first began to play, hoping SpongeBob was back, but he had soon lost interest. Somewhere around the tenth time the message played, Grandpa John grunted himself awake and listened to the message.

"What the hell are those motherfuckers worried about now?" he grumped.

"No idead," Thomas replied. "Just waiting for more info."

"Yeah, well, while you are waiting, get an old man a cup of coffee. And for Gods sake, put on some pants and stop waving your piece in my face. It might be impressive, but I don't want to see it, I ain't your girlfriend," Grandpa John grunted, scratching at his stubble.

Thomas made a face. Grandpa John had been a Gunnery Sergeant in the Marine Corps, and even at seventy two, he could probably beat Thomas ten ways from Sunday, so he was more than able to make his own coffee. Putting on pants, well, he had no argument against that.

"I'll be right back," he muttered, grabbing the towel from the floor.

"And don't forget the cream and breakfast for your brother," Granpa John called, turning his eyes away from the retreating form of his naked grandson and back to the TV, feeling uneasy. He was a combat veteran, tried and tested, and every instinct told him something was terribly wrong, that he should be preparing for a storm. As if to steel his nerves for terrible news, he muttered a phrase that his company had always said before going into a potentially dangerous situation: "When this is all over, and you find yourself facing the devil without ammo, affix bayonet and charge the fucker."

Authors Note: this is an edited version of the chapter. Thanks for the reviews guys- editorial mistakes etc.