Chapter 3:

The Report That Changed Everything

Ludicy - Reaching Out

For the second time today, he woke up covered in sweat. This time, he was covered in a cold sweat. It felt good stepping out into the hot sun. There was one thing he noticed immediately. He couldn't hear anything, which made him panic for a few moments. Then the gentle sound of the leaves brushing each other reached his ears, and he was reassured. He decided to run home since he spent the whole day sleeping and wanted to stay in shape, at least a little. The run home was surprisingly quick, so he was satisfied with himself. He stood in front of the green oak door to his house, resting for a bit. When he entered the house, the TV was already on, he forgot to turn it off before leaving. What was on TV was a combination of coincidence and hard-to-believe timing. It was the news. The reporter was saying: "I repeat. A big part of the population has already been infected with the mysterious disease. We still have no idea what it even is, but the assumption is that it is fungal. Our consulting team of medical professionals has instructed us to stay home and avoid approaching anyone who looks pale, has visible growth on their body, or is vomiting up blood. They also said they have multiple patients in custody. They are currently observing the patients and getting insight into the disease progress. All they can say with certainty is that the victim is fully changed after 10 hours. That would be all the information as of now." Daniel's disbelief was at an all-time high as he scrutinized: "What idiot would actually believe something like that? I mean, it was on the national news, and it was an emergency broadcast. It definitely wasn't a scene from a movie. What is happening here? Is September 18th a cursed date or something?" He looked at the clock and was surprised to find it was already 7 pm. He got some dinner, not caring much about what was on the news. After dinner, he went to play some games, and at around 1 am, he went to sleep. The dream came back again. Alex was in his arms, and tears were still rolling down his face. For the first time in a long time, Daniel was happy. Just being in Alex's embrace made him feel like he could do anything. Daniel felt there was a future for him. He didn't say anything for a while, just staying in her embrace. Then he asked: "Why did you leave me? I know I don't deserve to be with you, but I was contempt of being your friend if it meant staying by your side." That was when Alex looked at his teary eyes and said: "You dummy, what are you talking about? I am right here. There you go again with your weird jokes. I would never leave you." The whole time she had a warm smile on her face and seemed genuinely happy. "Danny, come here," she said softly. She pulled him in, and Daniel could feel her crimson velvet lips on his own. Daniel was at a loss with words and just stayed silent. Alex started giggling and kissed him again, this time on the cheek. Daniel was happy, and a smile appeared on his face. For the first time since he started having this dream, he didn't feel cold. Alex got up from the bench and said she was going home. "You should come over later," she said enthusiastically.