**Submission for Elizabeth Finto and Taylor Malone – The three elements we used were writing, design, and photography.
**Disclaimer: Dr. Kenneth L. Davis is a real person at Mount Sinai Hospital – we used his name, but not his occupation. The picture is not actually him, and I’m sure he is a wonderful doctor and man.
It’s day 86 of what could be the end of humankind as we know it. As if the initial release of the E.N.D virus wasn’t enough, devastating explosions began popping up all over the world. The people who are lucky enough to still be alive still don’t know who’s doing it, or where they’re coming from. But we think we have an idea. But I’m getting ahead myself. Let’s go back to the beginning of the end.
I guess you could say the end started when people all over the world started seeing strange lights in the sky, but the real journey began when I came to NYU to give a guest lecture. I am a doctor who specializes in oncology in Seattle, Washington. I was invited to speak to 100 medical students about what I’ve been working on. I was scheduled to fly back to Seattle the next day, but I was called by my boss, Dr. Vanessa Locke, to go to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, and to talk to Dr. Kenneth L. Davis, who is President and Chief Executive Officer of Mount Sinai Health Services. I thought it was odd, but she proceeded to tell me it was urgent, so I obliged.
Upon arriving, something seemed wrong. People were beginning to line up outside to receive vaccinations. When I asked what they were doing, one woman reported that a local news outlet ordered all citizens to go to the nearest hospital to get a vaccine to “combat a new and fatal Ebola outbreak that is quickly sweeping the country”. They were told that if they didn’t get the vaccine, they would be punished.
I was shocked that I had heard nothing about it, especially since I had been in one of the largest American cities for over 24 hours. I was curious but suspicious, and continued going to meet with Dr. Davis. He was a very cold and strange man. He said that Dr. Locke had spoken very highly of me and that she truly believed I could be trusted with this information. The information he was referring to was far worse than I could have ever imagined.
He told me that the government was requiring citizens to get vaccinated in order to proceed with an experiment that they believed could make humans immune to all deadly diseases. He also informed me, that the state of New York was their trial area. If things went well, they would give the technology to other states and countries. I felt wrong about it from the beginning, and declined any help he wanted from me. I didn’t understand how such a big decision could be made so soon, with no one knowing about it until everyone in the state new about it. It also didn’t add up that citizens would be punished for refusing the vaccine. In all of my years, I’ve never heard of anything so strange.
As I was leaving the hospital, I noticed a young girl, a college student, who was refusing the vaccine. They were holding her down, trying to give her the shot with restraints on her limbs, so I told them I would take her and do it in a quiet room where she felt more safe. They didn’t question it, given the chaos that was ensuing all over the hospital and state, so they let her go.
She came with me, yelling about how she didn’t want the vaccine, and being in a empty room wouldn’t change that. I reassured her to stick with me, and for some reason, she actually did. We went in the room and I told her I would not be giving her the shot. I told her about my meeting with Dr. Davis and that I didn’t trust what was going on, and that I believe this will not help mankind.
Looking back, I’m not entirely sure why I told her. I think I just saw some of myself in her, refusing the vaccine that was sprung upon the world overnight. Regardless, I’m glad I told her. We left together, and now on day 86, while things have gotten worse than we had ever anticipated, we are still standing side-by-side.
Within 24 hours of meeting Felicity, people began getting sick and dying. The vaccines were ordered to be administered at every hospital in the country. White trucks with men in white lab coats were driving through neighborhoods, going into people’s homes, and forcing them to get the shots. It was like something out of a movie.
The government announced that they had shut down transportation everywhere. If you drove somewhere, you would be put into jail immediately. Planes weren’t flying, and trains stopped running. Wherever you were in that moment, you were trapped there. So, here I was, trapped in New York City with no way to get home, with a college student who I had just met. You can imagine, given such terrifying circumstances, I was just desperate to have someone to lean on and talk to. I don’t know what I would do if I hadn’t met Felicity.
I talked to my husband basically all day everyday for the whole first week I was there. Bombs began going off constantly all over the world, and it seemed like every news station was covering the E.N.D. One evening, we were on the phone before I went to bed, trying to give each other some hope and motivation to get through whatever terrible thing was happening to the world, when I heard a bomb go off in the background, and the call was dropped. I still haven’t spoken to him. 10 days after arriving in New York City, after people were dying from viruses and bombings, the government turned off all electricity. No news, no phone calls, no ways to get letters to your loved ones because of the lack of transportation. We had nothing.
We spent the first 20 days or so crying in Flick’s apartment. I call her Flick because she always flicks her bangs out of her face when she’s deep in thought, which we both had been since the end began coming. After that, she told me that she was sick of sitting around, and said she was going to walk to her house in Woodstock, Vermont, whether I was going or not. At that point, I felt like I had absolutely nothing to lose, so we started making plans.
Here were the facts we had: Dr. Vanessa Locke could absolutely not be trusted. Quite honestly, we didn’t know if ANYONE could be trusted at this point. If we went outside, and the guards patrolling the streets saw that we were alive, we would be taken. I don’t know what would happen if we were taken, but I wasn’t interested in finding out. We would have to be sneaky, and VERY careful. We also knew that we would have to find places periodically to live, because we can’t walk for 4 days straight. We decided that wherever we stayed, it had to look extremely inhabitable and abandoned so they didn’t raid it, thinking people were sleeping there. This was unfortunate because we ended up getting sick from dust and mold, but we’re alive so that’s all that matters.
Here is the first house we lived in on our journey:
Flick and I decided to continuously journal our experiences, as you may have noticed, because it would make it easier to keep track of evidence, stay safe, and reflect on this experience if we ever made it out alive and life went back to “normal”. We also took photos on Felicity’s polaroid and a disposable camera we found when we raided the CVS down the street before leaving for Vermont.
We set out on February 20th of 2018, and when we made it there, we think it was June 8th. We’re not sure, because we had to track it by night and day, and at one point along the way, we lost our calendar. All I know is the Summer came with a vengeance that year, and most of our trip was spent trying to seek shaded shelter.
You’re probably wondering why a 4 day trip took us months to complete, well that’s because there was a lot of thought that had to go into every single thing we did. We had to stay safe while not knowing what was going to be around the next corner. There were moments where I thought I was going to die. There were moments where I thought Flick was going to die, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get through the E.N.D without her. I had no idea where my husband was, if he still was alive.
The first couple of days on our way to Woodstock, we tried to walk as far as we could, while only stopping when absolutely necessary. I’m not sure how many miles we walked those days. You may be wondering how we knew what direction we were going. Due to the fact that all transportation and power had been shut down, we were able to walk on the highways where we could read the signs overhead. Flick and I both had a pretty good sense of direction, and it was a mini-celebration whenever we could get to the next county, city, or state line. Thank goodness for Felicity stealing a map before we left, that was a huge help too.
Of course, due to there being no power anywhere, we had no idea what was going on in the other parts of the country. On our journey, we saw a number of people. Some were dead, and some were alive. Those who were alive were begging for help or food. Since I am, or used to be, a doctor, I would try to tend to any of the other people’s’ wounds. That’s the only assistance I could give. This virus was unnamed and unknown. I would only tend to the people who I knew were safe to touch or be close to. There was no way I was going to get sick. I couldn’t. There were a few instances in which I wondered how many people were left. Was my family still alive? Was Flick’s mom still alive? Were we going to survive?
As I said before, we had to think through everything and anything we did along our journey. After walking a number of miles, we decided not to rush. We needed to care for ourselves. We would eat anything that we could. I had a few snacks in my bag that I had packed for the plane flights. However, they began to be something we had to save for as long as we could. When we raided the CVS, we not only bought the polaroid camera, but we also stocked up on granola bars, water, and other snacks.
Flick and I both kept journals and tried to write as much as we could. However, when we weren’t walking, eating, or living inside our heads, we would lay awake at night and talk about our lives. I told Flick how I knew I wanted to be a doctor when I was a little girl after watching an episode of “Sesame Street” and asking my mom to buy me a toy doctor kit, and I told her about my family. She told me about her relationship with her mom, what her life was like as a NYU student, and what it was like growing up in Woodstock, VT. We really trusted each other and I knew that I would try to protect her at all costs, and that she would do the same for me.
In March, my first wedding anniversary came and went. I wished and prayed that my husband was okay and alive. God only knew. Flick and I kept thinking that we were getting closer, and one of us would check our little old-fashioned map to see where we were. We weren’t even halfway there. How? It felt like we had been walking for a year, and it had only been a few weeks. We would see multiple abandoned cars on the road, and we would feel so tempted to get in and drive the rest of the way, but we had no idea who was watching us and what would happen to us if we did begin to drive. Would the cars even work? It’s like seeing an ice cream cone on TV, and immediately wanting to have it in your hands.
As far as shelter went, we would sometimes campout in the woods in a little lean-to fort that I knew how to build very easily thanks to my dad and brothers being Eagle Scouts. Other times, we would go off the highway or path we were walking on, and we would stay in an abandoned house for the night. I have to say, looking out onto a street in a suburban neighborhood and not seeing anyone else around is quite creepy and uncomfortable. It’s almost like you begin to imagine the little kids who would ride their bikes up and down the street and the parents talking to each other at the bus-stop. Except now, there was none of that. It was a literal ghost-town. Neither Flick nor I had any weapons on us, so if we had to fight off someone or something, we had to run and just keep running. That was our strategy.
After realizing that it was now May, due to the fact that we were writing a tally mark for everyday since the day we left, we had walked so many miles it was equivalent to at least twenty marathons. Except this marathon didn’t have a definite finish line. We were going to try to find Flick’s childhood home. Maybe her mom would be there. That was the hope.
The saddest day was when we happened upon a little boy who must have died from the virus. He was all alone. This was the first child that we had seen. I decided the kind and sympathetic thing to do was to bury him. We walked into the woods a little bit, and dug a hole for the young boy. Once we had buried him, I found a big rock to mark his grave. No one would really know what this meant, but it was nice to know that there was a marked place where he would remain and stay away from the E.N.D. As someone who is a doctor and a want-to-be-mother, this was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Sure, I’ve lost patients before, however, I’ve never lost a child. It is something Flick and I will never, ever forget.
A few days later, Flick and I found a little cafe off the path. We had seen other restaurants along our way, of course, but this was the first one that we saw that wasn’t occupied or destroyed. We went inside while remaining alert, and we hit the jackpot! There were all sorts of canned foods in the pantry. We filled my bag with as much as I could carry, and we grabbed some other things too. It was a God-send. That was the first moment throughout the entire journey where I felt real hope that we would get through this. We stayed in there for a very short amount of time in fear that someone else would find this place, but after we were able to sit down on chairs that weren’t made out of dirt or mud, we decided to leave.
The best day of our entire journey arrived. We had come to the Vermont state line. Flick and I both cried tears of joy and sadness. Joy because we had made it this far. Sadness because we had no idea who or what was going to be a part of our past and near future. What was awaiting us?
Flick began to get nervous as to who or what we would find when we arrived at her old house. She had such high hopes that her mom would be there, but neither one of us could be sure. Would her house still be standing?
Vermont is such a small state, Flick knew exactly how to go and what the fastest route was. She was pointing out to me where her grandparents lived and how they would visit them on the weekends when she was a child. She showed me her elementary school, which was barely standing anymore. She shared with me how she “dated” her first boyfriend in fourth grade. It lasted about a week because boys still believed girls had cooties at that age. She then took me sightseeing and we got to see a few historical monuments. Once again, no one else was around. We were getting closer and closer. She showed me her high school, where she wrote for the school newspaper. We passed her favorite restaurant where she and her mom celebrated her birthday every year. We passed the park where Flick spent a lot of time thinking and walking her dog. Everything was basically destroyed and in ruins, but it still felt like home to Flick.
We reached the entrance to her neighborhood. The sign was still there, and it read “Mountainville.” Flick took a deep breath, and we walked in. She began to show me the houses where her childhood friends lived, and where her bus stop was. She showed me the secret path that led down to a little creek behind a number of houses. Then, we turned onto her street, Ledger Drive. A few moments later, we stopped at her house. There it was. It was still standing! However, it felt empty. We walked up the long driveway, and up to the front door. Flick took another deep breath, and began to worry about what would be on the other side of the door. I grabbed her hand and gave it a squeeze. She leaned up against the door, and it was open. It was such a safe neighborhood before, that no one ever locked their doors. The door gave in, and we walked into the house that was still in pretty good condition. Flick called out to her mom: “Mom? It’s Flick. Are you here?” We didn’t get an answer, and Flick began to lose hope. She began to check every inch of every room. Maybe she was hiding. Then, she checked outside, and her mom’s car was in the driveway and it looked as though it hadn’t been touched in forever. Flick and I walked upstairs and Flick walked into her mom’s bedroom. The bed was made as usual, and everything looked pretty clean. She checked in the bathroom, and then checked in the little linen closet.
The door opened, and although the power had been out now for months, and it was hard to see anything. Then, out came Flick’s mom from the linen closet. She was alive and well! Flick’s mom held her daughter in an embrace and took her face in her hands, and asked “Felicity, is it really you?” Flick nodded through tears. Flick’s mom came up to me and thanked me for coming with Flick, and for helping to keep her safe. We told her everything we saw, heard, ate, and more. I told her about how I had ended up in New York, and how I am still wondering if my husband is alive and ok. Flick’s mom told me that I was more than welcome to stay in their house. She didn’t have much food left, but she was happy to put me up for a few nights. It was as if I had been taken in as one of their family members. We spent the night telling more and more stories while trying to only focus on the stories about things that happened before the E.N.D. came to hurt us.
Now, about three months after Flick and I left that day in New York, the E.N.D is still infecting the world. However, transportation and electricity has been restored. As soon as the power came back on, I was still with Flick and her mom, and we immediately turned on the TV. We heard report after report as to what had happened. It turned out that the vaccinations contained deadly, dangerous substances that would cause the vaccinated people to become paralyzed without the ability to speak or move. I was right, Dr. Vanessa Locke and Dr. Kenneth L. Davis had been behind this whole thing the entire time. I should have put an end to it as soon as I felt something was wrong. I’m a doctor. I took an oath to do no harm, and instead I did harm. After learning that there had been over 1,000,000 deaths countrywide, I barely had any hope that any of my loved ones were still alive.
After talking to Flick, I picked up my phone, which had been turned off, but still had a charge on it, and I attempted to call my husband. After a few rings, and me giving up all hope that he would be on the other end, I heard an all-too-familiar man’s voice. Tears sprung to my eyes as I hear my husband’s voice say “Hello?” I slipped out the word “Hi!” before I was a huge ball of tears. I told him how I thought he had died the day that our phone call dropped when the bombs were going off. He told me that no he was able to escape from everything when he saw an old man trying to shuffle people inside an old apartment building. Somehow, he was able to survive. He told me that he had stayed in Seattle, and he didn’t want to try to walk to New York because it was just too risky. I told him all about Flick and our journey. I told him everything and anything that I could remember. Then, I told him that I would try to make it home soon.
After a few hours, I had my flights booked to go back home. I had tears in my eyes as I gave Flick and her mom hugs when they dropped me off at the airport. They were my family. I put Flick’s number in my phone, and I promised I would tell her when I landed safely, and that I would see her again someday.
I got into the airport, and next thing I knew I was on the plane on the way home. After about eight hours of a flight, I landed in Seattle. The damage had really been done here. As I got off the plane and made my way down to leave, and there he was. I was home. Life was going to go back to normal someday, hopefully.