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As soon as Felix slammed the door behind him, he immediately regretted it. It wasn’t that he hated his family he just liked other people more. His family was overprotective and cared too much about every single thing he did. Felix let out a sigh, silently apologized for what he said, and began walking to his grandfather’s old factory.
The explosion had happened six years ago and Felix had visited the remains every month. His grandpa insisted that he check on the factory and make sure everything was perfect, and there was no arguing with grandpa when his mind was set on something. Felix begged his grandpa to go too and his parents let him go without a word. Felix stayed in the car while his grandpa was inside and watched the factory go up in flames.
Felix was fourteen now and was able to walk around the burned rubble and know exactly which room he was in with each step. He went to his grandpa’s office and looked through the rubble as he did every day, but found nothing. As Felix let out a sigh and stood back up, he spotted something out of the corner of his eye in the woods behind the factory. The woods had been strangely unaffected by the explosion and still looked as it did six years ago. Felix went over to the spot in the woods and found a small silver badge. The badge fit perfectly in Felix’s hand and was the shape of a simple diamond. On the front there was a skull engraved in the silver and on the back there was an inscription, “Fear is a natural emotion.”
When Felix walked away from the factory, he stumbled on a stray dog. The dog was not very large, but Felix could easily have lifted it. The dog came over to Felix and begged for attention, food, water, anything. Felix knelt down and as he did the badge in his pocket came out an inch- but an inch was enough. The dog backed away from Felix and began growling. Felix started walking home, but before he could turn around the dog attacked. The dog dug its teeth into Felix’s left hand and he yelped in pain. When the dog stopped biting Felix it backed up again and waited for Felix to make a move. Felix spotted a fire escape on a nearby building and raced toward it as fast as he could. The dog was old and weak, but it was still fast- almost too fast.
As Felix reached the top of the building he looked back down on the old dog. It was looking right at Felix and still showing off its fangs. Felix waited for the dog to give up, but it wasn’t until Felix gave an anonymous tip to animal control that the dog was taken from Felix’s sight. The bite hurt a lot, so Felix began walking to the closest hospital to get stitches.
While Felix was walking along the roads he found a piece of string and fashioned a necklace out of the string and the badge. People gave Felix all kinds of looks as he passed by, but he just assumed it was because of his hand. Suddenly a man grabbed Felix’s shoulder and stared at his badge. Felix turned around to find another person looking necklace. She tried to grab Felix necklace, but Felix moved away before she could. Felix looked behind him and saw an ever increasing mob of people behind him. People of all kinds of backgrounds- business people, mothers and their children, even a homeless man. He ran away from the crowd, but they followed behind him and the same pace.
Felix ducked into a pet store and watched as the crowd ran past the store and continued down the road. When Felix looked for the back door of the store, he noticed an animal that looked familiar- the dog from before. Except something was different- the dogs hair had all fallen out, its teeth were longer, and it was far more muscular. The dog didn’t growl, but its icy eyes were pinned on Felix.
It was here that Felix realized what was wrong. Anyone or anything that had seen Felix’s badge was going to end up like this- hairless, muscular, and near demon-looking. Felix smacked himself when he remembered what happened when he was running from the crowd- as he was escaping the people behind him he had bumped into a TV reporter. He turned around quickly, apologized, and continued running, but not before the camera caught a glimpse of Felix and his necklace- anyone or anything that had been watching the newscast was now after Felix.
When Felix finally located the back door, he exited to find a crowd of- things… The crowd of people that had been following Felix had transformed into ugly, grey, hairless, muscular, and vicious creatures. They had hunched backs, they had a terrible stench, and their nails and teeth were as long as needles. Felix ran away from the crowd, but they were faster and far more capable of hunting him than he was of evading them. Felix could feel their needle-like nails digging into his back, arms, and legs trying to pull him down.
Felix hid his necklace in his pocket and ran into an airport- probably the best idea, but it was his only option. He quickly ran toward the planes that were currently boarding and hoped that, in the confusion, he would be able to hop on a plane and leave the crowd of things behind him. His plans were not carried out exactly as planned- the security guards tried to stop the crowd behind Felix, but they were no match for their vicious instincts. The crowd had been slowed by the guards so Felix boarded a plane and hoped that the door would close before the crowd realized where Felix was and caught up to him.
When Felix boarded the plane he spotted an open seat and sat down before anyone else could protest. He looked to his left and saw his seatmate- a girl with blazing red hair. She looked at his pocket, looked up at him, and told him to get off the plane. Felix looked puzzled- how did she know about the badge? He stood up and started to walk away, but the girl followed behind him.
He got off the plane and immediately spotted the crowd nearby tearing up a McDonald’s. The girl told him to follow her and Felix didn’t protest- he didn’t fully trust her, but he figured it couldn’t hurt. She explained to him that she had seen his badge, but only temporarily. She had been wearing the dark sunglasses she was at the moment and the effects of the badge were clearly evident, she was already losing some hair, but she was strong enough to control her obsession. She took Felix to her home, or rather, the roof of an apartment complex. She told him that the crowd wouldn’t follow them there- for awhile anyway. Felix decided to fall asleep and the girl, Jess, did the same.
While Felix fell into a night of nightmares, Jess was cursed with the inability to sleep- it was one of the many curses that followed looking at the badge. Jess couldn’t sleep, eat, drink, and could barely breathe. The idea was, apparently, that the badge was the one thing that could save Jess and everyone else from their misery- their prolonged suffering. The badge, as well as the person who had found it, had to be destroyed in order for everyone to turn back and, in the long run, survive- Jess was slowly dying every second that Felix lived.
When Felix had woken up, he immediately saw Jess sitting across from him staring at his pocket. She claimed to have gotten some sleep, but some wasn’t very specific. Her eyelids were droopy and grey- she obviously had been up all night. Felix ignored it and acted like he didn’t care, but he did. Jess had saved his life and he was grateful for what she did. He asked her what the plan was, but she didn’t have one. She said it would be best to evade large cities, small towns, and open country- which narrowed it down to just about nowhere being safe.
As Felix and Jess walked down the street, Felix spotted a thing, Jess called them simply Creatures, looking around. The strange thing was, everyone else acted like the Creature wasn’t there. Jess said that to everyone else, Creatures are just regular people looking for something they’ve lost- keys, rings, even their kids. It’s ironic because some people actually stop and try to help the Creature. Jess and Felix traveled through alleys and ducked into stores whenever they spotted a Creature ever heading toward their destination- nowhere.
One night, while Felix was sleeping, Jess decided that it was time- time she quit starving for this boy she barely knew. It was time she noticed that she was going to die if Felix didn’t and who was she to care so much about someone she didn’t know? Jess stood up from their campsite and walked toward the city. When she spotted a Creature she walked up to it and started talking to it- she told it where Felix was and told it to bring others. Jess regretted what she had done, but her life was more important now.
Felix woke up with a crash- he could hear the nearby car spinning out of control after being slammed into by hundreds, maybe even thousands of Creatures. Felix ran for his life, but there was no use. Felix was unprepared and the Creatures were too fast for him. It started with one, then two, four, six, more and more Creatures had dug their nails into Felix and clung onto his flesh as he tried to run away.
As Felix fell and began to be surrounded by Creatures, he remembered the quote on the back of the badge, ‘Fear is a natural emotion.’ It was now that Felix was experiencing fear head-on; there was no light at the end of this tunnel, just a bunch of boulders blocking Felix’s path. Through the mixture of suffocation, blood loss, and the loss of will to live, Felix was dead within minutes.