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Apr 21, 2019 2:40 AM
A pandemic kills all adults. Vampires help pick up the pieces.
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It was clear enough when things were going really, definitely going to hell.

Three weeks in, he stopped coming to work. His parents died. His brother ranted and raged at him over the phone for not coming to their funeral. He blocked the number. There's more important work to do. 

Four weeks in, he bought a massive pile of disks through his savings (what was left of them, after the stock market crashes) and started backing up everything he could into them. The Library of Congress. Entire corpuses of online tutorials, code examples, program documentation, university lecture slides, engineering specifications, old forum posts, everything.

Five weeks in, all the major telecom companies had mostly stopped normal operations. Nobody left in the call centers. Riots had torn down cell towers and phone lines. Terence talked to all authorities still left. Tried to get them to see the writing on the wall. Some listened, opened their systems. Some stubbornly refused.

Six weeks in. The power grid was starting to get... Patchy. He found some emergency generators and siphoned gas from abandoned parking lots. He hacked without fear of reprisal, and stole his way into the top level of just about every global network he could. His new comrades and allies from the skeletal carcasses of other companies have stopped responding. The last message was 'You're still healthy, for now. Finish and deploy. Godspeed.' He refuses to cry for more than an hour a day.

Seven weeks in. He starts coughing, despite all his precautions. Well, he had probably been exposed weeks ago. Long gestation time makes for an unstoppable disease.

 

The US Emergency Broadcast system fires. Every phone, tablet, radio station, and email address receives a similar message.

As you all know, a vicious global pandemic has taken society to its knees. Almost every adult human is dead or dying. I've done my best to ensure the preservation of human knowledge over the past seven weeks. As you receive this message, every device I can reach will be fully unlocked and have unrestricted access to all telecommunications networks until they break down. Any electronic devices still reachable will now be downloading an app designed to help you survive, and hopefully help all you poor children eventually rebuild. I suggest everyone use it. The emergency broadcast system, radio stations, and other such things will play the most important passages on loop.

I'm dying on the forty eighth floor of the Empire State Building. If someone could bring me a little tea before I'm finished off, I'd appreciate it, but I understand if you have greater concerns.

Be smart. Be careful. Good luck.

-Terence Johnson, the last IT guy.

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The next day, there is a knock on his door. "Mr. Johnson? Are you still alive in there?" a woman with a painfully beautiful voice shouts.

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He responds in a careless drawl that wouldn't be audible to a human from here. "I don't honestly know. The fever and delusions make it hard to tell."

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The woman opens the door and strolls in, carrying with her a bag and a box of tea-bags. She's rather strikingly pale, but exceedingly healthy looking. She looks Terence up and down. "Ooh, you poor thing. I wish I could have gotten to you sooner."

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"Oh, you've brought tea." He is suddenly intense, alert. "Is the app working?"

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"Very well, I'm sure you'll be glad to hear. It was very kind of you to set that up, with what time you had left. We'll need men like you once this damned thing has run its course."

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He sinks back into the office chair and has a short coughing fit. His breath wheezes. "Nice of you to say, for a vision. Is this it then? Off to heaven with a cup of tea?"

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"I'm fairly certain there will be tea, whether you go to Heaven however is up to you. I'm sure you're still lucid enough to notice that I've not fallen ill?"

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"I will," cough, "Let you know that I am entirely convinced you are a fabrication of my overcooked hippocampus. But I'll play along. Are you immune? Is there a cure?"

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"Yes and no. I'm afraid I'm just a vampire."

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"Ah, so the pandemic is a logistics problem for you?"

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"I'll have you know I have not ended a man's life for the sake of subsistence in three years. I've always considered myself fond of human beings. Aside from having been born one, you have produced the bulk of the world's culture and industry. It would be a shame if you were taken out by some freak microbe. And as a mother myself, I can't abide children being left without supervision."

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"Ah, forgive me. The more recent, dare I say benign vampire stories aren't what I grew up with."

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She laughs. "It's alright, really. There are bigger things to think about than my ego right now. I'm here to offer you a choice. You can allow me to turn you, and continue your work preserving civilization...or I can stay with you until you pass on."

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"Can you subsist on animal blood?"

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"Yes, fairly happily. Human blood is the standard by which all other vintages are measured, though. We also need to eat everything a human does, too. Also, sunlight discomforts, but does not immolate, and religious symbols inflict no discernable harm. We're even still somewhat fertile, although births are naturally quite infrequent."

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"I want to say something about Pascal's wager, but I can't remember the entire concept, just a vague sense of... Hedging one's bets. As you've stated the pros and cons it is quite obvious to me that I should become a vampire, given the option."

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"I am familiar with Pascal's wager." She cuts her own palm with a fingernail. "You'll need to drink my blood. Think of it as communion, but more immediate."

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"I haven't had communion in a decade. My religious leanings are seven weeks recent, I assure you. There is a cup over by the fridge." He doesn't seem to have the strength to get up, himself.

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She fills the cup and holds it up to his lips. "It'll taste like death at first."

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"Tea first, if you don't mind. If this is how my brain has chosen to shut down, I want to have some damn tea before I go."

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"Fair enough."

 

 

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A couple of naked, feral looking children run into the room. 

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"Hi Mummy! Is that the man on the radio?"

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"Are you turning him?"

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"Yes, dears, now shhh, Mr. Johnson is feeling very unwell. Mr. Johnson, Tabitha and Ezekiel."

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