What If? Grace EditionStarted by Grace Wood at Apr 22, 2022 3:55 AM
I make pretty pictures appear on the walls, or windows, whatever is available. It is a little more than that, but that's the gist of it.
Grace got out of her car, just about managing to push it to its limits, petrol on its last dregs. She stood outside the mansion’s gate, using the intercom, hearing Xavier’s voice helping rid the chills running down her spine.
“It is good to hear your voice, Grace.”
“And yours, Professor. It took longer than first anticipated to get past the checkpoints, and getting petrol was a nightmare, but...this?”
The silence around her was deafening, New York's hustle and bustle reduced to desolate streets, shops shuttered, abandoned cars, looted houses, occasional zombie groans piercing what should be quiet, desolate streets.
Quiet used to mean peaceful for Grace. Now, quiet meant terror, sheer panic, toxic sludge creeping through veins, anxiety through the roof…
“Apologies, Grace, but we must test you before you step foot in the school.”
The gate opened, Grace taking her bags out of the boot, walking onto school grounds, Scott and Jean coming towards her with masks and gloves on.
“Sorry, Grace, but we have to be careful.”
“It's alright, Scott. The virus is spread by bodily fluids, just by breathing I could put you, everyone else at risk.”
Scott swabbed Grace’s cheek, then nostril, Jean taking her temperature.
Once it was confirmed Grace wasn’t infected, the test was binned, and hands were washed, Scott and Jean hugged Grace, not letting go as she began to cry. They took her bags and helped her inside the school.
Grace sprinted over to Xavier, hugging her, pair surrounded by mutants, equally terrified, adults attempting to comfort the children.
"How many people are here? Made it out safely?"
"Fifty, forty students and ten staff. Most got to the airports before everywhere shut down."
"Piotr managed to get back to the farm, Ust Ordynsky hasn't been affected by the virus, thankfully. The army has been drafted in, they aren't letting anyone in or out."
Grace sat on the couch next to Ororo.
"We are running out of supplies, we have maybe three more days, but they need to be used up, and we managed to get some milk…"
Scott raised his brows above his glasses. Grace laughed.
"You're asking if I'd like a cup of tea…" She lowered her voice, kids in the room. "Considering what's going on, I could do with some bourbon, but tea will do."
Scott laughed, leaving for the nearest kitchen.
"We will have to make a supply run soon…"
Jean announced, sitting beside Scott.
"I'll come with you, I need to work on my barrier technique, and you're a great teacher, so I will shadow and observe. I have some bags of pasta, jars of sauce, some bottles of flavoured water and jars of peanut butter. It isn't much, but it'll last for a few days."
"We've had to scratch cook, the recipe books we have for show are no longer for show…"
"Yes we've finally become civilised, we cook now."
"Couple bonding moment? Piotr and I had those, I recall his face when he smelt burning and rushed to the oven, pulling out a warped tray with almond and coconut cookies stuck to it…"
"How is he?"
"He's fine, thank Odin. I don't think I'd have coped half as well if I didn't know that. My Dad has had to stay with his Mum, he didn't want to leave her on her own. How are your families faring?"
Luckily, Scott and Jean's families were doing well, they had grouped up and began storing food in an old bomb shelter, built underground.
Grace finished her tea, looking around, Hank's cheery blue face, and twitching moustache nowhere to be seen?
His armchair was empty, though a divot in it said he was in it recently? Professor X entered the room and his face was grave.
"Hank may be infected. He's displaying symptoms, but hasn't been bitten. He's been looked over thoroughly by Ororo and Jean and there's not a bite mark."
Grace swallowed, anxious reflex.
"Is the virus airborne? In that case…"
"No, Grace. We would all be infected, were that the case. He was, however, scratched four days ago, on a supply run."
"They eat with their hands, right? If their saliva is on their fingernails, and they scratch you? It is in bodily fluids…"
"In any case, Hank has locked himself in the basement, behind several metal barriers and walls."
The four sat in silence for a good five minutes, Grace antsy, needing a distraction, though the news wouldn't provide a positive one...
Turning on the TV, the four were stunned to see Dr Bruce Banner being attacked in broad daylight, by a zombified Iron Man, Dr Strange and Wong?
"They can still use their powers?! How can we beat them when they aren't slow, lumbering idiots?"
Jean tilted her head, auburn locks slipping over her shoulder.
"Could it be that the virus doesn't take over their central nervous system? They have control over their actions, but still feel the need to tear people apart to eat? This is unlike anything the world has seen…"
"Manufactured? It makes sense, given it takes hold but doesn't make the person weaker? If they stumble and are so slow, you could run rings around them, hardly anyone would take it seriously."
Grace eyed Scott disdainfully, but the realisation that he could, in fact, be correct was ever looming.
"It appears it may have been manufactured, though by whom, I have no idea. HYDRA is finished, the US Government wouldn't release this in their own country, and another country wouldn't dare attack the US with bioweapons."
Jean sat up.
"If Hank is infected, we must get everyone out, without panicking the students."
Scott rubbed her back.
"What shall we tell them? We only have eight cars, and the Blackbird is out of fuel."
Professor X closed his eyes.
"We must find a way. The tunnels beneath the mansion are imperative here, but they put the children nearer Hank than I would like."
"Then we'll have to face him."
Scott groaned, pinching his nose.
"I really don't want to hurt him, but we have to get out. How quickly does the virus spread after being bitten?"
Within seconds of Tony biting a poor, random man, he was up and flailing around violently.
*Thor's hammer, this is bad. How do we stand a chance here if it takes seconds to turn? Turn on our friends? Our families? How are we supposed to get out of here?"
Okoye appeared on screen, carving through the undead with her spear like a knife through butter.
"Wakanda...they must be one of the last strongholds on Earth. We have to leave and try to get to Okoye. If we can rendezvous there, I am certain they have a base of operations in New York. It would be too risky to be outside for extended periods of time, otherwise."
The Professor was right, Grace, Jean and Scott getting up, clearing everything away.
"Anything you need, get it now. We need to be out of here in five minutes. Hank is showing symptoms far after possibly being exposed, likely due to the X-Gene slowing it down, that's why he only just began feeling unwell, but the test came back negative…"
"They aren't infallible, no test truly is…"
Jean headed up the stairs, Grace following, going straight to her room, grabbing a portable phone charger, her laptop and some clothes. She had to make do with a quick wash with a flannel, not having time for a shower. With her bags packed, they ran downstairs, Scott and Jean remaining by the door Hank was behind, atrocious groans, pained moans coming from the man.
Once everyone was in the cars, some of the adults decided to go for a fuel run, the others looking for food, somewhere safe to take the children.
Let me know if you find Banner, Okoye or the shelter please, Grace.
Will do, Jean. Be careful, you two.
Grace walked as quietly as possible, steps cautious, trail of destruction, New York’s classic skyscraper background reduced to rubble, having been looted long ago, their dust crunching underfoot, the remains of a once bustling city, a hub for creatives now desolate, palette grey, the artist having fled with the rest…
An ever-frighteningly familiar moan around the corner, on 42nd Street, the once blinding neon signs of theatres off, their bulbs smashed, glass littering the ground. Stealthily, the brunette took a look around, seeing if she could use anything as a distraction: create a noise to draw the undead’s attention away from her.
“What are you doing outside during the day?!”
Grace spun around to see Okoye, the Dora Maije’s spear against her throat. She gestured to her jacket pocket with her eyes, hands up.
"Okoye, right? We saw you on the news. Grace Wood, mutant, a member of the X-Men, teacher at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. My I.D badge is in my top jacket pocket. I’ve been tested today, and I’m not infected, I swear…”
A much lovelier sound came from the man running towards her, standing in front of the spear, shaking his head.
She could have kissed his cheek, she was so grateful, and happy…