“Unraveling Alex” is the first piece of fan fiction written for my debut young adult dystopian fantasy series The Plague Legacy. Written by the impressively talented Joshua Robertson, this piece takes a look at the origin of some of Alex’s issues in the story and hints at some dark things in his past. If you missed Part 1, read it here.
He did not wait for an answer that couldn’t be given. Almost immediately, Alex stormed towards the door for the lower decks.
Level 2 was dark, darker than he had remembered it. Then again, Cam had a flashlight last time that they were down here. He did not want to be here, but did not have any other choice. Taking shallow breaths to keep the stench of decay out of his mouth and nostrils, Alex took his first step into grimy water that laced the floor.
It was only three steps later, hand flailing along the wall, before Alex started to heave. “Oh god,” he murmured. He fell to his knees and vomited. Twice.
He coughed and choked as the mushed, digested biscuits spewed from his mouth, mixing with the foul muck and bloated rat bodies he knew laced the floor. He could not be more thankful that he was blind in the pitch dark hallway.
He stood slowly on wobbly knees and hoped that he could find where he was going. He did not want to become lost on Level 2. He did not want to die down here!
What was it that Myla had said before? ‘…we’ll have to eat Alex to survive.’
He sniffed at the thought, pushing forward hesitantly, “I’d eat you, Myla.” The thought made him grin slightly to himself, giving him the strength to push forward. The dark girl was nearly as bad as Hannah and nearly as beautiful with her wide black eyes.
Alex let his nose lead him through the haunted hallways of Level 2, following the perfume of death. His mind flashed with memory as his feet trekked forward mechanically, forcing him through the blackness, like a nightmare within a nightmare. He talked to himself in mumbles, a madman in the midst of mayhem.
“Stop it! Stop screaming…so much blood…you deserved it…I told you to stop…I cannot put you back together…”
Words were formed and lost, echoing in the hollow deck, two levels beneath the rest of the orphans. The dead carcasses of the rats bumped against his legs as he stumbled. He tried to stay steady with his thin fingers, but his body till collided several times with the wall. He did not seem to notice, lost in the disarray of his own thoughts.
Alex jerked, his heart skipping a beat, pounding in his chest. His own voice shouting had rattled him back to reality. He twisted around quickly, thinking that he heard another sound behind him. For a moment, he clung to the wall frozen like a statue.
“Chill out, Alex. You are alone. You are always alone.”
Where was Cam?
The boy took a deep breath and gagged. The taste of the decomposing body was on the tip of his tongue. He had finally found the room with the corpse. He trudged inside, carefully reaching out towards nothingness.
Alex held his breath as best as he was able, but when his fingers touched the slippery surface of the gruesome body, he completely lost it. He had nothing left but bile to eject from his stomach. He retched painfully, holding onto the cot that held the dead body. The odor overwhelmed his senses, forcing images to blur in his head of past trauma upon past trauma.
Stop. Please stop.
Alex’s eyes splintered with tears as his body convulsed, trying desperately to push him away from the body.
Mom. Dad. Stop!
His brain triggered every alarm in his body to encourage him to flee from the experience. His hands quaked, the knuckles turning white beneath his grip on the makeshift coffin. His chest flexed, crushing his heart beneath his collapsing rib cage. His muscles tensed until he thought his flesh would shatter into a thousand pieces.
Minutes passed before he got the strength to move from his position. Slowly, he moved his fingers towards the corpse and found the waistline.
“Just do it!”
Quickly, he unbuttoned the pants from the corpse and pulled them off from the body. Alex did not want to think about whether or not any skin would be accompanying the fabric. He just needed to get out of his pee-stained clothes and get back to Level 4. He did his best to block out the next few moments as he peeled his soaked pants off of himself, and slid on the dead man’s trousers.
Alex was sliding his shoes back on when he noticed a light in the hallway.
Maybe this hallway was really haunted. Where was Cam when he needed him?
He backed up to the wall, looking for a place to hide. He could barely process what was happening before the light filled the room.
“Don’t eat me!” Alex shrieked, not even fully aware of where those three words had come from in his frantic state.
“What? I am not going to eat you, Alex. What are you doing down here?”
Alex lifted his eyes to Myla, her dark eyes shadowed by the light. His eyes shifted to his soaked pants that were lying over the corpse’s sunken legs and then back to the pretty girl mutant in front of him.
He gulped, “Looking for my glasses.”
She scrunched up her nose in a cute way, “I think they are lost, immune. Come on, we are supposed to be on Level 4.”
Alex sniffled and followed Myla.
I will not tell her she’s pretty.