Back to the beginning. Taryn was born the middle child of Lori and John Allegheny. A happily married couple from the North Shore of Massachusetts. She had two older brothers and was the first girl of the family’s children. For this reason, she was spoiled. Always had been and always will be. Even her younger sister couldn’t hold a candle to the treatment that Taryn received. She knew of her privilege but did nothing to stop it. In fact, she relished in it. Even when it came to going to high school. She was given a brand new car for her sweet sixteen. Like on those shows you’d see on MTV back in the 90’s. Except Taryn wasn’t ungrateful. In fact, she broke down and cried on the spot.
Living wouldn’t always be easy. Around the time that Taryn was entering her Junior year, her parent suffered a major schism. Her mother, Lori, was guilty of siphoning money out of her own husband’s account to finance day trips with her boyfriend. She was having an affair and it was discovered after a phone call from the said boyfriend was caught as Lori was in the shower. John answered the call to realize it was a facetime call. There on the screen was a half-naked man who immediately said: “I can’t wait to see you, baby.”
Two years later, Taryn was accepted to MIT to begin pre-courses for medical studies. On her first day of orientation, she met someone. He was kind, funny, and generally the kind of guy you only see in movies. His name was Laurence. He was going to study at MIT too.
Within weeks, they were inseparable. A couple, officially, by one month, and madly “in love” not long after. The relationship was short but it was the kind of love that was ignorant and naive of the two young college kids. It was a dangerous game that came to an end as they were served ultimatums. With a few years of trying to get things to work, Taryn’s parents, Lori and John were at odds. Eventually, they decided to divorce. Dahlia, now eleven was going to stay with John so that she wouldn’t suffer from the poor influence of Lori. Taryn was very attached to her younger sister while her older brothers would likely continue to thrive on their own.
Meanwhile, Taryn was in her second year of college now, at MIT. Taryn’s father had connections at UCLA where she could study medicine at her leisure without the pressure and expectations of MIT. Laurence would be forced to join the Marines or be cut off by his gung-ho father. Truly, it was bittersweet for a first love. They decided it was best they do not prolong it. They’d split up with the hopes of eventually reuniting once things had settled in their lives.
That summer was spent moving, preparing for a new life and getting into the swing of things. For the most part, the first two years of living in California were uneventful. She’d made friends and had a new schedule for herself and her little sister. As she began her true medical courses, she was required to retake certain ones for the purpose of meeting requirements of UCLA’s standards. She needed Anatomy and Physiology again. Easy, she thought.
On the first day there, she met someone again. First days always seem to go so well. This one though… He was funnier, more handsome, and rugged. A bad boy type. Like James Dean and Macklemore had an illegitimate love-child. He’d introduced himself rather quickly. Garrett Mercer. He wasn’t much for classes. Really he only took them because his parents made him. They were paying the bills until he would make it big someday as a live DJ.
They spent ever Anatomy class, drawing little notes and making faces. She would help him with his homework and after class, he would walk her to her class but never kissed her. Not like she wanted. One day she up and asked him.
“Why won’t you just man up and kiss me?”
He’d smirk, and lean in close to her. Pausing before he spoke;
“I’d do more than kiss you if you’ll let me.”
Her face flushed like never before and she instinctively pushed him away. Suddenly she was mad and embarrassed at the same time. She didn’t say anything in return. She simply turned from him and walked away. He didn’t chase her, but when she looked back, he seemed a bit defeated. She didn’t talk to him for what seemed to be weeks. Eventually, he cornered her after class. He apologized for how he spoke to her.
“It’s just the type of girls I'm used to… Let me take you out. I want to make it up to you. No games. I promise.”
She let him and it was the first time in a long time she felt this way about someone so quickly. He’d even kiss her. With meaning behind it, or so it felt. Within time they grew closer. She’d start going to his gigs. They started small but within the time they blew up and she was traveling with him when they weren’t in school. After a short while, he failed out of most of his classes and decided to drop out to pursue his career as a live DJ. Despite the protests from Taryn, she eventually supported his decision and would not regret it.
After finishing her first year, Taryn settled into the role of the supportive girlfriend. Shortly before spring break, she’d made a new friend in Jeremiah White. He was a Freshman and a new Med-student. He’d become a part of the tutoring program as a freshman addition. He was supposed to be training and Taryn was assigned to help him learn a few social techniques. She’d break him from his shell as best she could to make sure he was able to help others do the same. Was far too intelligent and good looking to be as shy as he was. She’d made him aware of that. She would have even joked that if he wasn’t younger and if she was taken by the amazing Dj Garrett Mercer, that perhaps they would go on a few dates. They always laughed it off of course and got down to business.
Before long, Garrett was being invited to many parties. Some of them were fairly exclusive with some of the top B-list artists, and some A-listers seeking openers were giving him chances. Most of them he was allowed to bring a guest and usually that was Taryn. One night, Garrett came by her dorm and gave her a gift. A plane ticket. It was a flight to Istanbul to go on a private cruise on a yacht, across the Black Sea in a couple months during their summer break. It was for their anniversary, and to secure a great contract for Garrett’s career. Taryn was going to be his plus one for one of the largest events they would attend to date. Taryn called her friends and bragged. They all declared her the luckiest and perhaps this was his way of proposing to her. She’d scoff. “Garret? Marry me? He’s married to his career. He’d shit diamonds before he ever gave me one.”
The beginning of the trip went off without a hitch, really. They settled into their suite. With them were a group of friends, clients, and potential business partners. Many of them were Garrett’s contacts. A few of them were fairly familiar to Taryn but others were strictly acquaintances. That night was a relaxing one. Taryn and Garrett spent most of the dusk alone, looking out to the shore where they left, the lights of Istanbul growing dimmer and dimmer. It was an unbelievable view. Later in the evening, Garrett played a set. Everyone seemed to love his music. Everyone danced and drank and had a great time, even Taryn, who generally didn’t party.
By the night, she was truly enjoying herself. Folks were wandering around, mingling, drinking and generally partying. Garrett was introducing her to many of his friends and a few of the famous people on the party cruise. She was doing her best not to appear star-struck for some, while others were up and coming as Garrett was. Eventually, Garrett and Taryn snuck away. He took her to the rear of the ship and they watched the water roll behind them as the propellers pushed them forward. They stood there for a long while, quietly chatting about potential contracts, Garrett’s new fame and how Taryn would have to do her best not to kill groupies in the future. They’d have been laughing and joking all the while carnage was breaking loose below the decks. Within moments, roaring screams broke out over the sound of the ocean and the boat’s engines. Something was terribly wrong.
They turned to find someone covered in blood coming for them, pleading for help while being chased by a woman who, while nude, was also covered in blood. Only she seemed like she was so angry at the man. She was shrieking, gurgling and swinging wildly. Eventually, she caught him and pinned him down. She bit into his face and tore a large piece of it from him. He screamed and pleaded with Garrett and Taryn for help but there was none to be had. Taryn was wide-eyed and petrified. Garrett firmly took hold of her arm and tugged her behind him. Shortly after, another person covered in blood came bounding from the other side of the boat headed straight for the couple.
Taryn backed away quickly into an open door and Garrett followed. They slammed the door shut and watched as the blood covered man pounded, scratched and roared at the thick glass and metal stopping him from his meal. Taryn’s body was trembling, and her hands flew to her mouth and she started to cry. Garrett took hold of her and started to direct her toward another room where they would lock themselves in. Just before the door could close for them, another vicious attack came from a crew member. He wasn’t covered in blood, really. Not as much as the others. This one looked as though he had been crying it, however, as well as throwing some up. He went after Taryn first. He grabbed her and she yelped. He pinned her to the ground and Garrett did what he could to pry him off of her. He wasn’t budging and Taryn couldn’t hold him off much longer.
To his right, Garrett found a Fire extinguisher. Without thinking he grabbed it off of the wall and began to bash the back of the man’s skull with fervor and anger, unlike anything she had seen. Taryn was finally able to roll out from under the attacker and they locked themselves inside the room. She couldn’t hold back the sick as she huddled into a ball and vomited on the carpet.
After the had locked themselves inside, they stayed there for a few hours. It seemed like days as they listened to people screaming, and running. There wasn’t anything Taryn could do to help them and Garrett wouldn’t risk going alone. They would simply have to wait. Taryn was curled up in his lap, having taken a blanket from the bed and wrapped it around herself as they huddle in front of the door in a feeble attempt at guarding it. He stroked her hair and tried to calm her as they both sit with their eyes closed, listening to the sounds of inevitable death.
By morning, it seemed most of the sounds had died down, except for a few gurgles here and there. Most of the people had either died or escaped the boat somehow, it seemed. They decided to go and check, seeing as they couldn’t stay locked up forever. Garrett leads Taryn from the room to the decks. Outside there were a few uninfected humans milling about dragging corpses to the edge of the yacht and throwing them over. Everyone seemed to be quite healthy, save for a few scratches and bruises. No one wanted to discuss what happened but wanted nothing more than to get to shore.
After some time trying to figure out the controls, the small group managed to start the engines and figure out how to pilot the boat. They figured they would eventually find and even if they couldn’t navigate very well. The Black Sea was essentially closed off. It didn’t take too long before they found what they were looking for. There was an island or something in the distance. They made their way and rather harshly beached the yacht in a shallow spot. The size of the boat meant the water was deep enough they could jump from the lowest level of the boat and land safely in the water. Each of them did so, making sure to spot the others. They all swam and eventually waded to land. When they got there, they expected to find help, perhaps coast guard or police waiting. Instead, they were greeted with eerie silence.
Suddenly, the pounding of footsteps in the sand. There were more of them. It seemed the sound of the boat hitting the shallow sand attracted them all. There were a dozen or so at least. Before she could turn to say anything, the screams began to echo again. This time, from a woman who was being attacked by a man. He was biting her shoulder. Others went to her aid and pried him from her but the damage was done. She was bleeding badly. Taryn’s instinct hadn’t been to go to her straight away. She was too frightened. Instead, she stood there and watched quietly, panting as the woman went down. Within seconds, another man was attacking. Then another. Each of the victims was taken down so easily. All of them were too tired to fight.
“Run!” Everyone screamed in a sort of ominous chorus. Taryn’s feet obliged, without thinking. This wasn't "fight or flight". It was simply "flight". Garrett wasn’t too far behind, or so she hoped. She pushed hard in the sand and made for the street in front of them, aiming for the trees as she went. Suddenly, her anger, fear, and agony all welled up and she began to cry as she gave her best stride for what she thought would be safe. When she hit the treeline, she collapsed in the wet leaves and grass and hid behind the trunk.
Garrett slid into home with a fury like no other. He took Taryn’s arm. “We have to keep going.” Instead, she just cried. She didn’t want to run. She was too scared. “If I have to, I will literally carry you.” He shouted at her. “We will both fucking die if I have to… Get the fuck up.”
He’d tug her hard, and she has moved to motion again. They’d sprint up a hill and over a clearing into another set of trees. Finally, they could rest. They look to the left and right and found that only a few of the ones they were partying with remained. Friends. They had to be friends. That was all they had now. Taryn collapsed into Garrett and sobbed. “We’re going to die.” She told him. “We’re dead.”
Instead of accepting this fate, Garrett stood and picked her up again, as he always had.