Tuesday, September 13th 2022.
It was the day the city of Johannesburg descended into chaos.
Reports of a virus had surfaced—a virus that had apparently come from nowhere and was now spreading like wildfire through the neglected and dirt poor townships of Southern Africa. At first, these reports were nothing but banners on the evening news— lines of scrolling text barely noticeable against the garish colors of the news room or blurred lines running beneath the visage of the heavily made up lady reporter as she stared through the camera lens and read meaningless news reports.
It was not until the virus made an untimely appearance in one of the wealthier suburbs that people started to pay attention. Two young girls contracted the new sickness, putting schools into lockdown and citizens into a paranoid suspicion of anyone that so much as coughed.
A week later, the looting started. People fought each other like rabid dogs for the last few remnants of canned goods and bottled water. Riots blazed through the streets, causing smoke, death and destruction. Laws and common decency were ignored in place of every man, woman and child for themselves. Anarchy reigned. A man’s home became his fortress, and if they were unlucky, their graves.
News of the virus were eventually taken seriously by the world at large, the powers that be, and borders and shipping yards were closed. Skies were classed as no-fly zones. Around the world, curfews were enforced. Martial law became the only law. Reports of the disease spreading in Cairo, Somalia and Dubai came to light. Then it was the United Kingdom’s turn to suffer, followed by , China and South America.
The world was in chaos.
Two and a half months later the planet was a dark, lifeless place, inhabited only by those select few who were immune to the disease— and the ever- lasting cockroaches that scuttled among the dead and the barely living.
According to news reports, the virus was attributed to the operations of one organization. CURE. A large military medical facility that had risen to power in 2011. Its leaders had boasted to the world about a new vaccine being developed in the early twenty first century. simply named: Genesis. It was supposed to be a miracle cure for malaria; a vaccine deemed impossible by the scientific community.
It was not until the vaccine was first administered that the symptoms of the virus started to appear. The unfortunate recipients were suddenly struck down with violent coughing fits, vomiting, loss of sight and sudden acts of aggression. Not only did it affect them, but everyone in the vicinity. Like the Bubonic Plague, the disease ran rampant through cities and towns. No one, not even CURE’s esteemed scientists, made the connection between the new virus and the new vaccine, until it was too late. By then, half the world’s population had either died or gone completely insane.
As in every catastrophe, there are always survivors. Those lucky enough to be immune to the effects of the virus. Those lone survivors, desperate to get away from the violence and the stench of death, found their weary way into a new safe haven, a place they would be welcomed providing they met the stringent tests of being allowed entry.
This place was called Catacomb.
It was located deep within South Africa’s largest gold mine. Its tunnels stretched for miles extending through the slums of Soweto and meandered under what used to be the busy streets of Johannesburg, now nothing more than funeral pyres and habitation for rats.
Life on the surface was traded for a safer, if more controlled life underground. The world above was now dead and harsh, overrun by the stench of death and destruction.
Catacomb was now home, and, people feared, would remain so, for now, and for always.