Pain was the first thing that came to Quincy's mind as he woke up. The grit in his eyes, the sickly sweet copper-dust stench of the virus, the metal collar chaining him to the wall digging into his neck... It was nothing new, but he could barely make it out over the burning acid-like sensation that made up most of his right arm and chest, the purple-grey rotten, cankerous flesh speckled by bits of black scabs, paper-like skin, and swollen blisters that oozed out pus and blood every time he moved his arm.
The second thing that came to Quincy's mind was the sound of the crying. Uncontrollable, pained, cacophonous weeping, coming from the ones who couldn't handle the sickness, immediately filling him with an urge to help the person, except he knew that there was nothing he could do. Once the disease set in, there was little to do but wait until it killed you.
Opening his eyes, Quincy coughed up the dust that had settled into his lungs overnight. The clink of the chain binding his neck to the wall made the one closest to him turn her head in his direction for a couple seconds.
"morning." she muttered, her voice dry and raspy, reminding him of autumn leaves on a polluted sidewalk.
Quincy didn't answer. Not because he didn't want to, but because the disease had gotten into his throat and had made him unable to.
Instead, he looked over at one of the other ones, one who was still asleep. She was barely recognizable by now, the virus had taken over so much of her that she was now missing entire limbs, and she couldn't do much but cry and twitch.
The first girl glanced at the girl as well.
"I don't think she's going to last 'till next week."
Quincy raised his tired, bloodshot eyes to the rest of the area. He was in a rectangular room, the ceiling and walls made of solid concrete, and the floor made of sand. A thick haze of dust filled the room, making every breath a struggle, and making whatever sunlight coming in through a missing brick near the ceiling even darker. In the center of the ceiling, a small crack dripped water every few seconds with a continuous tip-tip-tip sound, landing in a metal dog bowl.
Every three feet, there was a thick iron chain poking out of the wall. Attached to the chain was a metal collar, which opened and closed with a padlock. Several of these chains were being used by people, who were all in various states of decay.
There were seven people in total, and as Quincy's eyes swept over each one, he remembered how healthy they had been months before, when the sickness hadn't taken over.
The first one that Quincy could see through the haze was a pale Irish woman clothed in a threadbare brown dress, which was stuck to her shoulders by copious amounts of blood. Her name was Aliza, and she had been put in here only three months ago. Already the virus had gotten to her, turning what was once a beautiful head of curly black hair into a scab-ridden inflamed mess. Whatever hair was left was hanging down in blood-matted dreadlocks over her mutilated face, doing little to hide it.
The second person, an African-American 17-year-old boy named Matt, had been in here longer than Quincy had. The dust made it hard to pick out details, but it was very clear that both of his arms were missing, and one leg had rotted off at the knee. Even though he didn't have a jaw anymore, he could still make some amount of noise, and was the source of the weeping Quincy had woken up to.
The third, the one opposite him, was an eight-year-old girl named Tilla. She was completely Albino, but that was hard to tell with the thick amount of dirt that was caked onto her skin. The disease had begun to set into her face, and she had lost quite a few teeth already. Although the dust made it impossible to tell from the distance in between them, it was apparently all over her jaw and neck. Poor kiddo.
The fourth was a russian man that Quincy could barely make out in the dust, but from what Tilla had said, had committed suicide by breaking his own neck on the first day. He'd died before anyone could get his name, and nobody could see clearly enough to tell where the sickness had gotten to on him. The instant he had died, Tilla had used her teeth to tear Hos head off and move his body to the center of the room, where the remaining habitants had feasted on their first meal in months. All he was now was a pile of bones, some with scraps of ligaments still attatched.
The fifth was Anna. Quincy had already seen her, but getting a second look almost made him nauseous. She was barely recognizable as a human anymore, and looked more like a rotted clay sculpture someone had dipped in red paint and left to dry. Her hair had gone from mid-back healthy brown locks to a tangled brown-black mess that hung over her face, neck, and naked torso. Several dreadlocks had been formed in it where blood had leaked in and dried, and whatever was left was so knotted up that nobody could see what was underneath. Her right leg had rotted off at the knee, her left at the ankle, and both stumps were taut with swelling, while her one remaining arm had been handcuffed to the wall and was covered in oversized, red-pink lumps. Her hours spent awake were in agony, and Quincy could barely recall the time when she was still sane. That had been, what, six months ago? A year ago? Quincy couldn't tell the months apart in this room.
The sixth, the one that had noticed him wake up, was a pleasant 40ish redheaded woman by the name of Sarah. She was from Port Kilton, the giant city neighboring the one Quincy had come from. Although her neck was raw from tugging at the collar and the disease had gotten into one of her legs and was close to rotting it off, she was the nicest person he had seen down here so far, and he thanked her for that.
The seventh was Quincy himself, the four-armed man, the medical anomaly. Instead of having just two arms, he had been born with an extra set—the result of a half-split twin—that functioned in the exact same way as his other arms, but they were pointed in the opposite direction. Essentially, it made it so he could do pushups while facing the ceiling, but not much else.
He was only down here because his father was a skilled blacksmith that people paid top dollar for, and was one of the richest people in the tiny town that he had lived in. Quincy had been captured and held for ransom almost a year ago, and his father had refused to pay for him. His own father, his only relative, the one who had raised him and cared for him up until he had been captured, simply threw him away because, apparently, Quincy wasn't worth a few hundred dollars.