Everything has a start. A clock ticks because someone built it to. That someone was born of someone else and their desires. Those desires derived from passion, which came from love that sparks in the mind. The mind was created by millions of atoms joining up to create humans. Humans evolved from apes that evolved from birds, fish, dinosaurs and finally the most minuscule molecule floating in space before the big bang that created our beautiful blue Earth.
One of the humans that lived on our Earth was called Hazel Maddings. She was nothing exceptional, really, and that is why the story is not about her. It is about the aftermath of her perfectly average life; The life that accidentally started the New Beginning.
Hazel was born on May 21st, in Belfast, Ireland. She had an average amount of friends growing up, average grades when in school, and an average job; Hospital receptionist at the Woodbridge Institute For the Terminally Ill in Cardiff. She was married once, to Tom McKinnon and had two children with him, Nancy and Amina.
She didn’t know it yet, but when she drove to work on April 27th, it was the biggest mistake in history, whose consequences would out-live her by thousands of years.
The Woodbridge Institute was known for its experimental treatments. Dr. Woodbridge, the lead doctor and namesake of the hospital, was responsible for the newest treatment of the Bubonic Plague; V864, which contained three elements called Radium, Zinc, and an unknown substance historians refer to as the “Endgame” chemical.
On April 27th, that fateful day, Hazel was 31 years old. She had the same lunch she had every single day for the past ten years, and did almost every action the exact same way she always did. Every action except one.
At approximately 3:43 in the afternoon, Hazel Maddings of Cardiff was called to room 241 to deliver a glass of water to Mrs. Evelyn Rivers, who was dying of a rare disease of the liver.
Unfortunately for Hazel, Evelyn, and the universe, she did not notice the large yellow sign that read “QUARANTINE: DO NOT ENTER”, and delivered the water to room 242, the room in which Dr. Woodbridge had quarantined 4 patients who were given treatment V864.
The room itself was no different to any other in the institute. It had 4 beds divided by white sheets hanging on hooks by the ceiling. When you first looked at them, the patients were no different either, but when you saw them closely, I’ve heard accounts their eyes were empty and their hands as pale as the moon.
But unlike what Hazel thought, the only consequence for her actions was not that poor Mrs. Rivers had to wait a minute longer to recieve her drink. It was not that she had disturbed a room of seemingly peaceful patients, either. Her real crime was letting out the toxins of the Endgame to the world.
Endgame spreads quickly, but its effects take form long after reaching the body. Every man, woman, and child on earth was infected by it, though they knew not its power until the first child was born after the door to room 242 was opened.
The baby’s name was Henry Shillings. Throughout his mother’s pregnancy, he seemed a healthy boy with no present defects. But when he was born, his glassy eyes looked just as the patients in room 242’s eyes had been. The doctors checked his heart. It seemed it could beat, it just didn’t see a reason to. Henry was pronounced dead after just 30 seconds of life, as all the babies from then on had as well.
Babies from Nigeria to Canada just didn’t see a reason to breathe.
With an aging population, the humans of the world grew hopeless. Priests speculated it was an act of God, but in truth, it was a lethal sin.
You see, Dr. Woodbridge knew from the moment he looked at the patients what he had done. He kept his deadly experiment a secret, trying his hardest to make sure neither his reputation nor the world would be ruined. He had a plan, a very stupid plan in hindsight, that was to leave the patients of room 242 to die, and with them, so would the endgame. But he forgot something while coming up with his scheme. He forgot about mistakes.
This is why, the day after Endgame was released, Doctor Woodbridge was found dead in his office. His wounds were freshly made, by a gun that lay in his right hand. A bible lay in his left. On his desk a blood-splattered letter was folded hastily, it’s words in the shaky writing of a man approaching death. The letter is the reason I, a historian trying to piece together our world, know these awful truths. It displayed his error, something he could never bring himself to do while alive.
While the world around them suffered, one small family lived on. There had been something slightly off about their genes, a glitch per se, which made them virtually unaffected by V864. They kept giving birth. To healthy babies who could breath. Babies who could experience the world at full. This family was the Segal family, of Calais. They were farmers, and had been for a very long time.
If you were born within the past 350 years, you are a Segal.
The Matriarch of the Segal family, Adelina Segal, had a revelation. She was a strong woman, with a quick mind and fierce opinions. She had to build a new society. Her own society, with her own rules. To protect her children, she thought it best to abandon what had killed the others. Adelina was immune to endgame, she knew that, but she was scared. Scared of what else might be out there, what supposedly amazing cures would turn out to be the thing that killed her. And so, she thought, it was best to rid her little world of anything to do with science. No maths, no medicine, no new inventions, nor any progress that wasn’t approved by her.
Society turned into a dictatorship. Her own children, now grown, started families of their own, and raised their children with the same beliefs they had been taught.
Now, after 10 generations of Segal’s, the world has a population of roughly 2300 men and women brainwashed by their parents.
But one problem occurred during the 3rd generation; An outbreak of Influenza decimated the population to half its size. Since there was no medicine to stop it, it spread like a forest fire. People died on the streets by the dozen. Carts full of bodies were a regular sight on the street, and yet no attempted cures ever reached the public.
It was also in generation three that the “Alliance de Scientifiques”, or Alliance of Scientists, was formed to try and combat the injustices of the new world. The original plan was to educate the population on the wonders of the old world and bring them to realize what they had been missing. What they had been dying because of the lack of. But most people were not convinced, and so they had to resort to other tactics. The Alliance would slip medicine into food, do all they could to help the uninformed population without being found out.
While the name implies that the Alliance was exclusively for those studying science, it developed into something new. Anybody who was considered a rebel by society, an academic or a historian like me, was accepted into the ADS. Originally, being a historian was not illegal, but over time the profession was deemed dangerous, unnecessary, and to be met with the greatest punishment a human can offer, death.
The Alliance has around 12 historians, 36 scientists, and 25 other types of academics. Even to each other, our identities are unknown. We live in constant fear of exposure, and as I write this, I can hear them coming for me. But nevertheless, I must inform you of one last thing. Without science, the world is far more dangerous than it is with. I would like you to continue this for me. Research our past, and save our future.
There horses are loud against the still fields. On the horizon, I can see the glow of torches. I consider running, but I know it is worthless.
Please assume, dearest reader, that if this manuscript does not continue past this paragraph, that I, your obedient giver of knowledge, am dead.
The horses gallop as swiftly as my heartbeats. They are at my door. My fate has been decided.