Viral Infliction: Chapter I

WARNING: There’s gonna be lots of talk about blood

Not so much violence per se, but lots of blood

Just FYI

My phone buzzes, sliding across my desk a few inches and settling next to my laptop.

I pick it up to see a text from a number I don’t recognize. I open it.

“Hey! this is ethan from chem class. sylvie gave me ur number. anyway, could u come meet me outside edwards hall?”

As I stare at the text, another one comes in.

“and no, this isn’t a booty call ;) something weird is happening”

I glare at the screen for a moment, trying to decide which lane to take. I type:

“can u meet me here instead? bit of a walk and i dont have a car”

Send.

Buzz.

“u bet. ur in smith right?”

“right”

Send.

Buzz.

“k, be there in a sec”

I get up, put on my yoga pants, and head out to the lobby of my dorm. This paper’s gonna have to wait.


It was warm during the day, but now, waiting outside the dorm for Ethan to show up, I’m wishing I’d grabbed my jacket. Most people are off-campus for the weekend, so at least I don’t need to deal with anyone asking me why I’m standing outside in a t-shirt and yoga pants in the middle of October.

Ethan shows up a few minutes later; I spot him walking towards the dorm about a hundred feet out. “What’s up?” I say.

“Hey, Lily,” Ethan says, walking up the stairs to meet me. “How are you?”

“Fine,” I say. “What’s up?”

“You read sci-fi, right?” Ethan asks. “I thought I remembered you talking about that one time. That was you, right?”

“Yeah,” I say.

“And you like that sort of thing, right?”

“Yeah,” I repeat. “Where’s this going?”

“Well…” Ethan says, looking around. “Listen. I’m going to pull my Swiss Army knife out. Don’t freak out, OK?”

“OK,” I say.

He pulls the multitool out and, flipping out the blade, runs it across his arm.

“Oh my God, Ethan!” I say, covering my eyes with my hands.

“No, no, watch!” he says. I spread my fingers and peek between the gaps.

The blood pours out for a few seconds, dripping down his arm and onto the ground, but then, it…

…Starts flowing backwards?

Even the blood that had dripped onto the ground is flying back up to his arm.

What the hell?

“What the hell?” I say.

“I don’t know!” Ethan says, laughing a little as we watches the blood fly. He flexes his arm around and the blood follows. “I noticed when I was making dinner. I was chopping up some carrots, and I — ”

“You cook?”

“Yeah, I cook a little,” Ethan says. “Anyways, I cut my ring finger right here on the knuckle. See?”

“…No,” I say.

“Exactly,” he says. “And it was gushing blood! But then, a few seconds later, it just reversed and flew back in, like you saw.”

“So, what you’re saying is…” I say, trailing off.

“What I’m saying,” Ethan says, grinning, “is that I’m immortal.”

“And you’re telling me… why?”

“Two — no, three reasons,” Ethan says. “First, I thought you would be somebody that would understand that this isn’t something that’s just, y’know, completely insane. Just…”

“Just mostly insane,” I say.

“Right,” Ethan says. “Anyways, reason two is because you’ve always seemed trustworthy to me. I know we don’t talk too much, but you seem super level-headed and reasonable and stuff.”

“OK,” I say. “And the third reason?”

“The third reason is that I’ve heard you have video equipment,” Ethan says. “Want to put this on YouTube and go viral?”

I blink. “Whoa. Um. Yeah, that sounds awesome, actually. Where can we film it, though?”

“Arts building? My roomie’s stage managing the show, so he has a key to get in.”

“Alex? You told him?” I ask.

“He’s the one that noticed first.”

“Right,” I say. “Yeah, let’s do it. I’ll grab my stuff and meet you over there.”

“Awesome,” Ethan says. “See you there.”

“Hey,” I say, turning back before I head through the front door. “Are you sure this is permanent? Like, couldn’t you slice open your arm and end up bleeding out or whatever?”

“I dunno,” Ethan says. “That’s why I want to do this as soon as possible!”

“…Fair enough,” I say, opening the door. “See you soon.”

End of Chapter I