The sun glaring through the window was what woke me. My head was pounding, and I sat up without even attempting to open my eyes. Sitting up took everything I had, and the only reason I was even attempting it was the sharp pain in my bladder. I stumbled across the living room and almost face planted as I tripped over a body that was sprawled near the bathroom door. I leaned against the sink, trying to keep the world from spinning. When I looked up in the mirror, I didn't recognize the man that looked back at me. The eyes were tired and bloodshot, ringed from no sleep and far too much drinking. The five o'clock shadow had long ago faded into an unruly mess, and as I stared at myself, I wondered how I could have let myself get to this point; yes, a break up is a fairly difficult situation to go through, especially as serious as the one I had gone through, but really? I thought back to the past two months and felt a combination of shame, pity, and embarrassment. The way I had treated myself was one thing; the way I had treated my friends and my sister, the only family I had left, that was unforgivable. Not to mention my actions towards Emily. I shook my head. Staring at myself in the mirror was fixing nothing. I turned and went back into the living room. Instead of stepping over the body blocking the bathroom door, I kicked it. A grunt issued from the mass of blanket that the person had cocooned themselves with, and I recognized Grayson's voice cursing.
"Dude. Get up." He slowly maneuvered himself into a sitting position, and looked blearily around the room.
"What happened?" I shook my head and sighed.
"Hell if I know, man." I walked back over to the couch and sat down. The living room was a disaster. There were empty bottles and cans scattered all over the coffee table and floor, and pizza boxes stacked up in the floor next to the couch. There was another person sprawled across a chair, but they were covered with a blanket and I couldn't remember who else had come over the night before. Grayson crawled over to the couch and sat with his back up against it. "Do you remember who that is over there?" I nodded my head towards the person in question. Grayson shook his head.
"No, and judging by the way I feel, I'm surprised I even remember who I am." The television was still on, and we both sat and watched it without really seeing it.
"Good morning, boys!" My sister, Ruby, bounded into the room, and I grimaced. She laughed and the sound felt like nails being pounded into my skull. "Wow, you look rough." She leaned against the couch and smirked down at me.
"Why are you so happy? And loud?" I laid back down on the couch and threw my arm over my eyes.
"I guess I can handle my alcohol much better than you can." She leaned over the couch and I could feel her staring at me. "Aside from your raging hangover, how are you feeling?" I shrugged.
"Still angry and bitter, as always. Maybe not as much. It's hard to tell really, since I feel like dying." She chuckled.
"That should go away with time." Grayson grabbed the remote from me and started flipping through the channels. "It's a new beginning now, Jace. I know that you spent a lot of your time and life with Em, but it's time to move on. Today is the day we start the new Jace." I moved my arm enough to glare at her.
"I appreciate the enthusiasm, I really do, but it's going to take some time. It's not like flipping a switch, you should know that. I completely agree with the fact that I need to move on. It's just going to take more than getting piss drunk and suddenly deciding everything is okay." Ruby crossed her arms, her smile gone. Grayson was still flipping through the channels, feigning obliviousness.
"I'm sorry for trying to help you. I know exactly how you feel, so don't even act like I don't. I'm tired of you moping around and being a jerk to everyone. That's all you've done for two months, and we're all tired of it. I'm just the only one with the nerve to say anything." Grayson straightened up and quit flipping channels. I could tell that he had turned the television up, but the argument with Ruby was taking most of my attention and I thought he had turned it up to avoid the awkward family feud going on behind him.
"Listen, I'm sorry if I've been a jerk lately, but don't try to guilt trip me. I'm working on it, that's all I can do. Get off my back."
"Guys..." Grayson turned the television a little bit louder.
"This is EXACTLY why Emily left you. You always try, you never do. It's time to grow up. You've been like this our entire lives. Maybe it's time you changed your attitude."
"Are you kidding me, Ruby? Seriously? We aren't having this conversation right now. I'm too hung over, and I'm not going to listen to you gripe at me."
"This is what I mean! You run away from everything-"
"GUYS." Grayson shouted. It stopped Ruby and I both cold; Grayson never raised his voice. "Look." Ruby sat on the arm of the couch next to me. Grayson turned the television up a little bit louder. I will never forget what we saw or heard that first day. Grayson had stopped on a news channel. The look on the reporter's face was indescribable; it reminded me of when the first reports on 9/11 began. It was a haunted look, one of disbelief and sadness.
"I'll repeat what we've been telling you, our viewers, for the past twenty four hours. The flu that has been over taking the city is becoming worse. Reports are flooding in regarding more serious cases where the sufferers are becoming violent. Local authorities state that there is no cause for alarm, but that residents are advised to stay at home. Quarantines are beginning to take effect with those that appear more seriously affected. Please, stay at home and do not, under any circumstances, try to contact any family or other loved ones. A vaccine is currently being worked on and should be made available soon." I looked at Ruby.
"Have you heard anything about this?" She shook her head.
"No. I mean, I know a lot of people who were getting the flu, but I haven't been at work for a couple of days, and I haven't talked to anyone. Well, aside from Lilly and Michael."
"Guys, shut up!" I looked back at the tv.
"Viewers, we have just received word that those that have contracted this 'super flu' are beginning to attack more often and with increasing violence. We have reports that not only are they attacking those they do not know, but they are turning on their own family members and friends. We ask you now, if there are children in the room, to please send them out. What we are about to show you is disturbing and incredibly violent." The screen faded into a very shaky video that clearly came from someone's home video camera. It showed a young man with his arms full of supplies standing in the middle of the street. Two people were moving slowly towards him. Their gait was awkward and slow. The young man appeared unconcerned at first. I'm not sure why he just stood there. It could have been he had no idea how much danger he was in, or maybe he figured he could move away from them quicker than they could follow. However, he failed to notice the third person that was coming up behind him. The third grabbed the young man's shoulder, but instead of the young man dropping his supplies, he clung to them tighter and tried to run into the nearest building. The door was locked, and by the time he fully realized there was no way to get into the building, the three infected had him surrounded. In second, the three overcame him and the scene soon became a gory mess. The young man was ripped apart in a matter of minutes. Whoever was filming finally decided to run in the opposite direction of the attack and the video ended with a blurry view of the ground. The news reporter came back on the air, and it was obvious that she had been crying. "Please, please, to all watching this broadcast, stay in your homes. It is not safe." Grayson turned and looked at us.
"It's finally happened."