The Hate

https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/culladobehindthecurtain/episodes/2016-10-29T19_54_45-07_00

The gravity was noticeably weaker on this new planet, and any novelty the colonists had found in the slower falls and higher ascents was quickly wearing off. It was an unexpected adjustment, one that affected their operation on a very basic infrastructural level beyond the overall poverty and lack of resources they all had. Necessity and disaster had seen them leave earth in a hurry, and as such they had no elaborate plans for housing, a fact that was further complicated by their new planet being completely devoid of oxygen. They had set up scaffolds within the central shaft of the base camp, itself set up in the shape of an underground missile silo, a central hollow from which various offshoots, offices, and “businesses,” if you could call them that, had formed.

The upside of living on a planet with low gravity was that if you fell off your scaffolding, you could catch your fall, even from great heights.

Of course, this wouldn’t have been a problem if they could have stayed on earth. But that was not an option.

The downside of living on a planet with low gravity was that the already starving masses were charged with a strict regimen of exercise daily. Most did not meet this requirement, and in addition to malnourishment, their bone density began to decrease. The first death had happened late in the night, an old man in his seventies waking to use the public restroom, misjudging his leap to the staircase along the side of the silo, and plummeting slowly, unnoticed, to the floor, unable to catch his fall.

This would have not happened, had humanity been able to stay on earth. Then again, everyone had been impressed the man had even survived the journey.

He had a name, Russell Dornan, and had become something of a historian. When his body collided with the steel alloy surface of the silo, the valuable contents of the hard drive that was his mind was lost to the ages. He was the last of humanity that remembered the original run of Full House when it was new, the first President Bush, and the Persian Gulf War. He remembered a time before the Internet, whereas most of the refugees remembered a time after it.

The Director considered this as he hopped from scaffold to scaffold the next day, checking in with the suffering citizens in his charge. He was a man in his mid forties, youthful and spry, but he had an agedness in his eyes that people trusted and more importantly trusted in. He had organized the mass exodus from earth, in the waning days of the War on Hate, a monster that had been living amongst them all for the entirety of human history, only choosing to make its truer forms known in the late twenty-first century.

The Director leapt up to the scaffold where Dornan’s daughter, Brenda and grandson Timothy lived. Brenda Dornan looked silently at the Director, sadness and anger at their situation in her eyes, though she was too exhausted to express this anger. The Director was observant, though.

“Can I do anything for you?” he said. “Room is limited, but we can relocate you elsewhere.”

She didn’t break her gaze.

“We’re fine here,” she said. “For now.”

The Director nodded. “I’m sorry.”

“Wish there’d been more time,” she said.

“Me too.” Then he added: “You are always welcome for dinner. Always.”

Brenda nodded, her eyes distant, as though she was convincing herself that was a good idea.

“Be good to see Fiona,” she said, referring to The Director’s wife.

Though the exchange was tense, it was not hostile. Everyone knew that without the Director’s last-minute planning, they would have been consumed alive by The Hate.   They owed their prolonged survival to him. They couldn’t be too angry with him, but even if they were, he would have understood.

The Director sighed, and remembered another lifetime, when he was a child and everything was provided for him. Whenever things did not go his way, whenever he discovered something he didn’t like, he’d wish it away into the cornfield.

Once, as a boy of six, he was stung by a bee, and felt the bee’s fear and loathing course through his hand in the form of venom. It was the most pain he had ever felt, and he wanted nothing more than for all bees to be exterminated.

“I wish there never were any bees,” the boy would say.

The Director smiled at the memory in spite of himself as he made his way to the offices of The Silo.

“I wish there never were any Hate,” he muttered to himself now, and the thought brought him back to where it all started.


Like Russell Dornan, The Director also had a name, a strange name for an unusual man: Alister Rhodes. Young Rhodes had become a legend in the early days of the War on Hate for surviving an encounter with The Hate in Parma, Ohio, which the creature had completely overtaken.

Rhodes had been seventeen at the time, and he was with his friends at the mall.

In these days, the economy was already dwindling, and malls were even seedier affairs than they were in the early days of the Great Recession. It was about closing time, and Rhodes, who had been indecisive about a purchase at one of the novelty stores, a place with gaming merchandise but with a cheap pop-up store vibe, and told his friends to wait for him as he went back to get it. Rhodes couldn’t even remember what it was–maybe a Wizard Wars scarf? A pair of League of Vengeful Superheroes socks?

Either way, when he returned to the store, he found himself alone with a clerk different from the one earlier in the night. Rhodes didn’t think much of it at first, until making eye contact with the man, a sallow Caucasian man with wavy orange hair and a strange glint in his eye.

“We’re closing,” the clerk said.

“I just wanted to grab one thing,” Rhodes said, “if that’s all right.”

The clerk grinned at him, and his teeth seemed unusually sharp: “Sure…for you…”

Rhodes felt that strange surge of adrenaline that comes when you know you’re in a bad situation but don’t know why yet. It was a similar neurological response to fight-or-flight, but one cultivated by years of training in social and cultural mores. Rhodes didn’t want to be rude.

“Nah, don’t worry about it,” he said. “I can come back tomorrow.”

The clerk’s smile deepened.

“You can’t,” he said simply.

“What?” Rhodes replied, slowly backing out of the store.

“I have already taken your friends.” The clerk said as he stepped out from behind the counter.

The mall was mostly empty, and just above the quiet hum of the Muzak, Rhodes could hear the pounding of feet, coming his way.

Even now, all these years later, on a distant planet, Rhodes could recall certain details but not others. He remembered the fluorescent lights in the mall shutting off one by one. He remembered catching a glimpse of one of his pursuers, his friend Jeremy from high school, someone he had known since kindergarten, from countless birthday parties, charging at him, arms outstretched, his eyes possessed of the same glint that the store clerk had, his tongue…but no, tongues didn’t do that.

Then again, friends didn’t suddenly just turn on life long friends either.

Rhodes at this point accepted he would never know how he escaped that mall alive, or how he ended up back at home. At the time it had been so abstract in his terrified young mind that when he woke up the next morning he had thought it was a bad dream.

The imagery didn’t help either. He could have sworn he had seen his friend Casey, Jeremy’s girlfriend, shift in shape, her skin tearing as her arms stretched out to reach him, her eyes beginning to creep out of their sockets, turning into tentacles with which to grab him.

Ridiculous. This was a bad dream, a dream where he was dealing with his insecurities about his friends, yeah? He had read that somewhere. That the monsters we saw in dreams were manifestations of insecurities or fears, and the nightmare was the brain’s way of neutralizing them, sort of like running a fever to kill harmful bacteria. That was it, right?

Still, it didn’t explain why Rhodes, who usually opted to sleep in his drawers, had slept in the same clothes he had worn to the mall in his dreams: long khaki cargo pants and a black button-down shirt. His belt was even still on.

It was twelve o’clock, Saturday.   His parents were probably making lunch now.

He stretched out his legs, and slowly made his way downstairs.

>>>

Granny Rhodes was at the table already, and he heard clanking in the kitchen.

“I was wondering when you were going to get up,” Granny Rhodes muttered distantly.

“Sorry I slept in, Mom!” Rhodes yelled into the kitchen.

“Hey, Ali, have you seen your father?” his mom said. “He went out to look for you last night and didn’t come back.”

She also sounded strange, sedated, almost.

“No,” Rhodes said, “should we look for him?”

He heard the clanking stop. Silence.

Broken by a nonchalant: “Nah, he’ll find his way back.”

Rhodes took a seat next to Granny.

“Saw a nice young man today,” Granny said. “Said he knew you. Good to see nice young men when everything’s going so bad in the world these days.”

“Who was it, Granny?”

She shrugged and stirred her coffee halfheartedly.

“Hey, are you guys okay?” Rhodes said, and that’s when he heard the snickering from under the table.

“I hope you don’t mind,” Granny said, “we heard him knocking at the door this morning, and decided to let him in. He said he was very hungry!”

The clerk from the night before crawled out from under the table and had a seat at its head.

Rhodes immediately pushed away.

“Guys,” he said, “we need to get out of here.”

The clerk laughed and long, pink muscular tentacles shot out of his fingers. Instinctively, Rhodes knew he couldn’t let the tentacles touch him. It would be the end if any of it touched him. The clerk’s head extended from his body, supported by the pink flesh underneath, and his arms and legs split and shifted to give his form a countenance almost like a centipede.

All’s I need is you, the clerk hissed.

“Granny, you’re in danger!” Rhodes shouted as he backed away, shuffling back on all fours.

One of the tentacles had shot right past Granny Rhodes’ face.

“I know, sweetie,” Granny Rhodes said, staring at her coffee as though the tentacle wasn’t there, “I saw some white supremacists moving into the neighborhood just earlier this week. I think they’ve broken into our house.”

This, though!” Rhodes shouted, “Do you see this?”

And though he didn’t have a name for it then, Rhodes knew in his heart that The Hate had already taken his mom, his grandma, and more than likely his dad as he had slept that morning.

Rhodes saw the tentacles were brittle, and swinging a dining room chair, he shattered several, causing the creature to screech in pain, giving him just enough time to run away as granny stared at him one last time, blankly, before her body and the clerk’s became one large, pink miasma.

<<<

The Taking of Parma was one of the first major events in the War on Hate. Rhodes had run to his car, driving as far away as possible, calling 911 as he did so. Eventually he was taken in by the government for questioning, as he was the sole survivor of what was at the time called The Cuchulain Epidemic, as it made people’s appearances grow grotesque and wrathful like the Irish warrior of ancient myth.

Quickly, though, this simply became known as The Hate.

The worst thing about it was that while everyone knew it was there, and everyone could identify when it was present, nobody could exactly figure out what it was. Every time a scientist attempted to study it, they would become infected, and would have to be quarantined. At the very least, a three-step life cycle had been identified. The first stage, the hardest to identify, was the Excitability stage. At this stage The Hate would only manifest if its new host was provoked. The Second Stage, the one people feared the most, was Malice. At this stage, the host, fully assimilated into The Hate’s hive mind, would begin hunting for new host, through which it could spread what scientists assumed was a parasite. The final stage, which could happen either immediately or after a hunt had completed depending on the strength of any given subject, was Indifference, in which the subject became complacent, disinterested, and typically nonaggressive. At this stage they were simply a reserve of energy for The Hate, which though it operated as a collective seemed to move as one mind.

As more and more people were claimed by The Hate, both within the government and outside of it, Rhodes became a symbol that The Hate could be fought, that one could face it and survive. In the waning days of earth, as a critical mass was claimed by The Hate, Rhodes made the controversial but ultimately agreed-upon decision that the only way to save the rest of humanity from The Hate was to leave those infected behind and start a new world elsewhere. Rhodes suggested a planet with minimal atmosphere, where quarantining would be easy, as by this point the government had the equipment to terraform, and by all accounts hosts of The Hate had already infected much of Mars.

Rhodes’ suggested Jupiter’s moon of Europa as a new home.

The trip had been, by cosmonautical standards, last minute and haphazard, but it had gotten the job done; after intense screening, it was confirmed that all twenty-thousand occupants of the final stronghold of the UN Coalition of Hate Survivors were, in fact, not infected, and they were all frozen in preparation for the journey.

As Rhodes sat at his desk, and began to log the details of the eldest member of the UNCHS’ death, he considered the terrifying truth about that Saturday morning, which he had hidden from the public in order to allow hope to foster:

He had always felt that running from the Hate, leaving his mother and grandmother behind, even if they had been completely consumed, as his greatest failure.


Unlike the rest of the Europa colony, Rhodes lived in a mansion, which had a penthouse near the moon’s surface, its entrance accessible underground. Rhodes rarely spent much time here, preferring instead to work with the residents of the Europa Hate Free Colony, making sure their conditions were optimal even if they weren’t ideal.

Everyone comes home sometime, though. Plus, it was the only place where Rhodes and Fiona could truly be alone, a luxury he did not take for granted. Rhodes had met Fiona Skye when he had visited the home of her father, General Martin Skye, after the general had taken interest in Rhodes’ methods.

The general was something of a fascist; in any other age he would have been made a laughing stock by media and citizen alike for his old fashioned views on the nature of order and justice. In these days, however, his rhetoric made people feel safe, even as it quietly filled them with terror.

“Hate is not a cancer,” the general would say, “because you can survive cancer. It is only a disease in the way Death is a disease. It is a metamorphosis. Think of the zombies of television past. When your loved one is touched by The Hate, they cease to be your loved one. They belong to it, the Great Malevolent Hypnotist.”

Rhodes wondered if this rhetoric had escalated the violence of the War on Hate. Any time an argument broke out amongst families, or offense of any extreme kind was taken, people would kill the supposed Hate-infected without hesitation. They would burn the body, because all could agree, you could not­­–you could not–let it touch you. Propaganda signs were erected in squares and posted over billboards. Where once you might have looked to find the nearest Cracker Barrel, now you were met with THE HATE: ONE TOUCH, AND YOU’RE IT!

People were terrified of The Hate, and of each other.

Rhodes was the first to admit that while he survived, he had no greater understanding of this monster than any other scientist. His best plan was to screen those who did not have The Hate and house them in a gated, even walled community. General Skye liked this idea and even proposed ghettos for those who had The Hate, but in perhaps an ironic twist The Hate spread so quickly that eventually those who did not have it were forced to live in a ghetto of their own fashion to stay safe in the days leading to the Great Exodus.

The General stayed on earth, even when invited to join them on the new planet, as he said his passion for exterminating The Hate was greater than his instinct to survive. Most likely he was there, even now, killing former friends and citizens, in the name of reclaiming one more host from The Hate.

Needless to say, Rhodes found General Skye exhausting, and it was after one of these exhausting meetings over proposed ghettos that Rhodes met Skye’s daughter, Fiona.

The conversation at the table was mostly dominated by the general, but what Rhodes and Fiona both remembered of that night was searching each other’s eyes, silently studying them to see if they felt the same way about this old fashioned rhetoric.

Both were relieved to find the other did not.

“Dad would have fared better in a time when imperialism wasn’t a dirty word,” Fiona said. “Some people want to build block castles, other people want to knock the castles down so someone else can have a chance to build them. I guess you could say Dad is the latter.”

“I don’t want to talk about your dad,” Rhodes said quietly.

Fiona smiled. “What do you want to talk about? And if you say ‘I don’t know, whatever you want to talk about, Fiona!’ the conversation is over.”

Rhodes was silent, and Fiona went silent too. And they walked for a while together, knowing in the silence that they would be walking together many more times. Fiona later told Rhodes she believed that the only place you were truly safe from The Hate was Silence, and she asked people what they wanted to talk about to see if they understood this.

Most people just wanted to talk about a time before The Hate, or what a time After The Hate would look like. Or how they were sick of talking about The Hate.

The conversation was always dominated by The Hate.

Rhodes was glad he had passed Fiona’s test.

As he headed through the narrow corridors of his house–for Europa, it was a mansion, but space was still consolidated–Rhodes discovered Fiona and Brenda Dornan, eating together in the kitchen, as Timothy quietly played with Hot Wheels cars, one a police van, the other a Cadillac.

While there was a garden and a farm in The Silo, non-processed meat was not yet allowed, and everyone in the Silo, scaffold dweller and administrator alike, was on a strictly regimented diet of frozen TV dinners until the animal population was deemed self-sustaining.

“I got out the wine,” Fiona said to Rhodes.

“Tonight is a night for wine,” he said. “I’m glad you could join us, Brenda.”

Brenda nodded. “Fiona and I were just talking about the early days of getting moved in here, when we were all getting used to the gravity. And construction workers were doing inventory, and somebody got this bright idea to play the Blue Danube while they were assembling the scaffolds. And this one guy–Drew Preston, yeah? –thinks the scaffolds are assembled, not realizing they still need to be anchored. So he leans against the tallest one for lunch, and it slowly falls over, dominoing all the other ones as the construction crew is leaping for their dear life, all to the…all to the tune of the…”

At this point she was laughing almost to the point of wheezing.

“Buh buh dah dum dum! Wah wah, wah wah!”

Everybody laughed at her rendition of the piece.

“It’s amazing nobody died sooner,” Rhodes said, before he could stop himself.

The room went silent. Fiona shot him a look, more confused at how he could be so stupid than outright angry.   Brenda tensed up, and took another sip of wine.

“Hey Timothy,” Fiona said, changing the subject, “whatcha playing?”

“Cops and robbers,” Timothy said. “But I have a problem.”

“What is it, buddy?” Fiona said.

“If the robbers committed a crime, and the officer goes to stop them, but then gets infected with The Hate, who shoots who for the good guy to win?”

The room got quiet again. Rhodes breathed in to say something, and Fiona, not wanting Rhodes to dig himself in deeper, jumped in first:

“It doesn’t matter anymore,” she said. “There isn’t any hate out here. So if you commit a crime, nobody has to get shot. The cops take you to prison where you work to help the colony, and everybody wins.”

Brenda’s eyes widened, impressed with the answer.

“It’s a bit of a walk back to your place,” Fiona said to her. “You and Timothy can feel free to stay here for the night, we have a spare room that looks out the mountainside.”

“That would be wonderful,” Brenda said. “He loves looking at the stars.”

>>>

Rhodes and Fiona also had a room on the mountainside, which looked over the pale, luminous rocks of Europa, its sky blacker than anything on earth, its primary source of light the reflection of the sun off of the gasses of Jupiter.   They also had skylights, with mirrors like periscopes that allowed them to see the surface of the plateau above them while still retaining some privacy once the surface was terraformed and people roamed the mountains freely.

Fiona and Rhodes lay in bed together, staring at the pale ground above them.

“I wish there was room in here for everyone,” Rhodes said, referring to the house. “I know resources are limited, but there’s got to be a better solution than the scaffolds.”

“Something I don’t know how to deal with,” Fiona said, “is the fact that I could give this mattress up, but I like the comfort. Sometimes I feel like I need the comfort.”

“You have a stressful job,” Rhodes said, “Like me you’re The Director around here. There’s a lot we both have to manage. It sucks, but we deserve some comfort. If we rest well then we’ll make better decisions, and it’ll work out better for everyone.”

“You think we’ll ever get to a point where people can own property that isn’t a platform on a scaffold?”

“I think people are very creative,” Rhodes said. “It may take a while, but things will get more sophisticated out here.”

Fiona smiled and kissed his forehead. “I hope you’re right.”
She rolled over and went to sleep.

Rhodes continued watching through the skylights. Sometimes he’d imagine some curious, intelligent alien life form would happen upon their base, and teach them some sort of space magic survival or something. Truth be told, he had to push back the fear every night that the little pocket of humanity that was in his care was living on some sort of egg timer. His backup plan was to make one more mass exodus to Io, another moon of Jupiter with a frozen surface, if Europa didn’t work out. He hadn’t wanted to build a base in the ice, but the presence of water would lend them other resources. He didn’t want to bring this up, however, until they were out of options here.

He thought he saw something black move over the skylight.

It’s nothing, he thought, go back to sleep.

He heard rocks scattering outside.

With a minimal atmosphere, there was no wind to stir any of the dust out here.

Maybe the terraforming is going quicker than

Unmistakably, he heard the rustle of feet.

He went to the window overlooking the valley where they had built the silo, but saw nothing.

The noises were coming from above them. Rhodes quietly stood up on his bed to get a better look through his skylight.

There were six of them, maybe more, hairy amorphous blobs with legs, like tarantulas. The blobs that the legs carried had faces, though, two white eyes in the midst of the black fur, and thin but wide smiles filled with razor sharp teeth.

And in those eyes, Rhodes saw a familiar glint.

The Hate had already been here. Maybe it had always been here.

Rhodes heard something shatter downstairs, followed by screams and shouts from Timothy and Brenda.

“Fiona! Wake up!”

Rhodes pulled a revolver from his bedside table and loaded it.

“What’s going on?” she said, disoriented from being half asleep.

“Look out the skylight,” Rhodes said, “it’s The Hate. It’s already infected this moon’s indigenous life.”

Rhodes hit a button, sealing off the mansion from the rest of the silo. He couldn’t let any of those things get in, even if it meant his house losing oxygen.

“Europa has indigenous life?” Fiona said, putting on a gas mask as Rhodes did the same.

“Whatever it is,” Rhodes said, “it isn’t human. Maybe it’s the original entity, I don’t know. But it got into Brenda and Timothy’s room.”

He handed her the gun and they charged down the stairs.

They could hear a wheezing, howling noise, ostensibly from one of the creatures, as they approached the guest room.

“How many are in there?” Rhodes shouted through the door.

“Just one!” Brenda shouted. “Quick, get it away from Timothy!”

Rhodes kicked the door open and ducked as Fiona took aim and fired at the creature, which had four legs on the floor and five on the wall as it crawled for Timothy.

“Don’t shoot my son!” Brenda, who was holding a fire axe, shouted.

“I won’t,” Fiona said, firing at the legs, causing the creature to fall to the ground, sputtering and writhing.

“Hand me that,” Rhodes said to Brenda.

She tossed him the axe and he began to hack the limbs off the creature, which continued to fight back at first when severed but slowly became stiff. Finally he landed the axe in the creature’s back.

“The sheets,” he said.

Brenda ripped the sheet off her bed and tossed it to Rhodes, who used it to grab the creature’s thorax, which was about the size of his chest, and throw it back out the window.

Fiona led Brenda and Timothy back into the house, from the now breached bedroom and using a sealing tool, blocked off the bedroom doorway and restored the house’s atmosphere.

“How did it find us?” Brenda said, visibly shaken.

“I think it’s always been here,” Rhodes said. “Maybe it’s everywhere.”

“Oh, so it’s here and it’s on earth so that makes it everywhere?” Brenda said.

“Maybe that’s how Mars fell so quickly,” Fiona said, but her eyes were fixated on a cut on Timothy’s shoulder. “How’d you get that, buddy?”

“The spider cut it.”

The room went silent as Fiona looked at the boy with sadness, her gun still in hand.

“Oh, no you don’t,” Brenda said. “I’ve already lost my father, you are not taking my son.”

“We’re not going to hurt him, Brenda,” Fiona said. “We’re going to study his symptoms and make sure he’s not infected.”

“And if he is?”

“We’ll have to see. If he’s not overly symptomatic of Excitability, he might be able to live a normal life, that’s always been my hope. We would still have to quarantine him.”

“We’ll test both of you,” Rhodes said. “You can stay with Timothy throughout the process. It’s just a safety precau–”

“You can both go to hell,” Brenda said. “My boy and I do not have The Hate.”

“Brenda, I know this has been a really stressful night,” Fiona said, reaching for the boy, “but just trust us here…”

“Get away from my SON!” Brenda shouted, knocking the gun out of Fiona’s hand.

“I’ll hold her down,” Fiona said. “Grab the gun.”

She went to hold Brenda down, only to realize with horror that fleshy, pink tentacles were coming out of Brenda’s eyes, puncturing Fiona’s hand.

“Timothy, look away,” Rhodes said.

In slow motion, Rhodes watched as Fiona Skye, the only family he’d known since The Hate had touched his own, became contaminated by The Hate, living inside of a woman who had once been her friend.

This time, he did not run.

Immediately he fired, severing the tentacle from its grasp of Fiona’s hand. A second shot separated Brenda’s neck from her head. Her body stood up, and began to angrily flail around. Rhodes took his axe and prodded the body into the bathroom nearby, pulling the door shut and locking it from the inside as the flailing torso tumbled into the tub.

Rhodes leaned his axe against the door, further barring the creature from getting out.

Fiona stood there, staring at her hand, bruised and oozing where the creature had grabbed it.

“The tub,” she said quietly, “it could get into the water supply…”

“It doesn’t matter,” Rhodes said.  “You’re infected.”

“You can’t save me,” Fiona said, “but you can save everyone else.”

“I can’t,” Rhodes said. “I’ve never had a plan beyond running away from this thing, avoiding it. I get us to a whole new planet and I find it’s been here all along. Maybe we just need to learn to live with it. Tame it, domesticate it.”

Fiona nervously looked at Timothy.

“Hey…how are you doing, Timothy?”

Timothy sat there, quietly, staring at her.

“Mom wouldn’t do that to you,” he said quietly.

Fiona nodded. “This thing makes people do stuff they don’t mean. But even if they don’t mean it, they still hurt people. That’s why we tried to stop it.”

“You’re not acting scary,” Timothy said.

Fiona laughed. “I guess…that’s because I know I have it.”

“Seriously, though,” Rhodes said, “you’re functioning asymptomatically. I’ve seen people who were less damaged by The Hate that would already be looking like some sort of monstrosity by now.”

“I can feel it inside of me,” Fiona said. “And I, well…” she laughed. “I hate it. But I know that’s not constructive.”

“You’re fighting it,” Rhodes said.

He looked at Timothy. “Are you angry, Timothy?”

“I’m scared,” Timothy said.

“He must have gotten scratched from falling,” Rhodes said. “How long do you think you can fight off the Malevolence stage?”

“I don’t know,” Fiona said. “But if I was to get somewhere safe…somewhere with you…maybe we could learn how to treat it.”

And Rhodes knew what she meant.
“Like you said,” she added, “we have to learn to live with it.”

Rhodes looked at Timothy. “I want you to do something for me, okay buddy? Call security; tell them The Hate got us. Tell them Mrs. Fiona and I are infected, but we’re okay and need to be taken to the infirmary right away. We know the cure for it.”

“Do you know the cure for it?” Timothy said.

Rhodes laughed. “I don’t even know what this thing is to begin with. I just have a hunch. Now go.”

Timothy ran out of the room to the entryway, where the intercom was. Rhodes could hear him making the call. The boy stuttered, but he said everything just right.

Rhodes looked at Fiona, whose eyes were fighting back the glint that had been in so many of his nightmares, the daughter of a man who had done horrible things to keep her from being in the situation they were both in.

“I will always love you,” she said quietly.

“I will always believe that,” he said back.

He took her hand, and kissed it where The Hate had infected it.

He could feel the entity travelling into his blood through the soft skin of his lips.

It didn’t feel at all how he had expected.

+++

Samuel Cullado
25 October 2016

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