Chapter 5:

It's The Little Things In Life

Ludicy - Reaching Out

Daniel opens the door, and Alex is standing there. She's wearing a light blue T-shirt with grey jeans, and her hair is up in a ponytail. Daniel welcomes her and offers her a drink. She kindly declines and asks to go to his room so they can talk. Once in his room, she remarks: "Still into jigsaw puzzles, I see. I like the dedication." She continued on to explain that she had wanted to see if she could handle losing him. She also said she knows that by doing so, she may have done precisely that. Daniel's eyes teared up as he hugged her. He whispered: "You silly, why would you think something like that? We promised we would always stay friends no matter what. Didn't we? On that sunny day at the park, surrounded by blooming peach trees, we promised. That is the one promise I will never break." They gradually lowered to the floor. Daniel was leaning against the wall, and Alex was in his arms. They stayed like that and talked all day. When the sun started to set, Daniel asked her if she would be going home. She said she told her parents she would be sleeping over at a friend's house. Daniel was confused but agreed. He wanted to keep talking to her. They talked until midnight and then went to sleep. Daniel didn't dream that night. He woke up to see Alex lying on his torso. Her long hair was on his arms, and all he could think is how soft it felt. About a minute into thinking about his situation, it hit him. He was half-nude, and a cute girl was sleeping on top of him. She was still wearing her clothes, so why was he only in his shorts? He knew that she had gone to sleep in the guest room. His thinking was interrupted by another realization. He was aroused by the feel of her body on his skin, even though she was still fully clothed. How is he going to explain himself to her? It's only natural it would happen. He can't do anything about it. Is she going to call him a pervert and start hating him for real? That wouldn't make any sense whatsoever. If anything, would she consider it a compliment? With that thought, his mind went blank. He doesn't know a thing about dealing with people since he's always avoided them. It's also been over a year since he last spoke to Alex before this encounter. The conclusion he reached was that he should just accept the situation he found himself in. He hugged her and gazed at her adorable face as she was sleeping. A part of him was convinced this was all a dream, but he had no evidence to support that. After a while, Alex opened her eyes and looked at him. He was startled a bit but didn't move regardless. She smiled and hugged him. The two stayed like that for a while, enjoying the Saturday morning. Then they went down to the living room and turned on the TV. It was already 8:15 am, and a news broadcast was playing on the TV. It said: "Hello everyone, we are now continuing with the events taking place on a global scale. The pathogen has been identified as a member of the Ophiocordyceps genus. Various species have been identified throughout the past, and the most well-known one by the general public is Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, which only infects carpenter ants. The exact origin of the new species is unknown, and it is yet to be named by researchers. We also have preliminary results of the patient-focused research. In the first stage of the infection, which lasts about 2 hours, the patients exhibited extreme nausea with blood vomiting. The second stage seems a bit tamer since the only visible symptom on the outside is pale skin, and it stays so for 3 hours. The third stage lasts for 5 hours and is the most severe. During this stage, growth appears on the patient's body at the place of the transmission. It could be a bite mark, a scratch mark, or even the mouth in airborne transmission. The fourth stage represents the moment the patient changes over completely. That is the moment they lose awareness completely, and the fungus has taken over all their bodily functions. This concludes this report. Stay safe and care for others. Goodbye for now." Daniel was once again caught in disbelief. This didn't make sense. Just a few days ago, everything was fine. Well, not that it matters anyway. What matters now is that he's making breakfast for himself and Alex. He's always wanted to do something like that. The two had breakfast in peace, enjoying their lives as they were. In the middle of the serenity, they hear an explosion happening in the distance. They rushed out of the house to see a building two blocks away blow up. Having no idea what happened, Daniel kept his cool because he really didn't care. He only knew Alex was there with him, and she was safe. Nothing else mattered to him at the time. On the other hand, Alex had clung to him with a worried look on her face. She seemed worried about the people in the building. Daniel comforted her by saying it was most likely an office building, and since it was a Saturday, not many people would be there this early. They went back inside to finish their breakfast. Alex suggested going on a walk, and they did after breakfast. It was sunny, and there was a gentle breeze. They went to a park. The hawthorn tree was overlooking them from the center of the park. Something about this situation seemed familiar. It reminded him of a past event. They sat down on a bench, and Alex clung to him. She looked so cute and gentle. She gave him a kiss on the cheek, and he remembered why this situation seemed so familiar. It reminded him of the dream he had the other day, where Alex had crimson hair. What does that mean? "From this angle, her hair looks kinda blonde, doesn't it?" he thought. On second thought, ever since they had that talk at school, he would sometimes notice a slight change in her hair color. He just brushed it off as his mind playing tricks on him since he hadn't seen her in a long time. She fell asleep in his arms, and he started thinking about everything that was happening. Many things that happened recently didn't make sense. How did a disease spread throughout the whole world without him hearing anything about it? Why did Alex suddenly come back into his life? Why did she leave in the first place? What is even real? What did those dreams mean? What was that explosion earlier about? He wracked his brain for a few hours with Alex in his arms. Those were the happiest moments in his life yet. When Alex awoke, they went back to his house. On the way back, Daniel spotted a young girl crying in an alleyway. He approached her and asked why she was crying. The girl spoke thru tears: "I was on a walk with mommy and daddy when the scary people attacked us. Mommy and daddy said to hide and not come out no matter what happens. I heard them crying and screaming. When I looked, the scary people were biting them. There was a lot of blood. That's when I ran away and hid here." Daniel had never felt so sorry for anyone in his life as he did now. He crouched next to the girl and asked her if she has any family living in the vicinity. She said she didn't. This made Daniel as sad as he was the first few months after Alex left. He offered the girl to come over to his house until they figure something out. She accepted reluctantly. The three looked like a small family walking down the street.