The General scoffed. “Gathered from fraudulent websites, kidnapping and murdering people in the middle of the night. All the name of the United States, I know what you’ve done. This whole project disgusts me!”

The 4th of July may evoke pleasant images of parties and sun-splashed cookouts, but it also has a surprising history of violence. For the past several years, the 4th has ranked as the busiest day of the year for treating shooting and stabbing victims.

The holiday, it seems, has always been associated with death. Three presidents who signed the famed Declaration of Independence all died on this historical day. Thomas Jefferson and John Addams both passed away on July 4th, 1826 and James Monroe died on July 4th 1831.

While the tragic loss of a world leader is undoubtedly important, nothing can compare to the violence and bloodshed unleashed on July 4th, 2019.

1

Malcolm Flynn appreciated his new job. Syngess Corporation, the company he worked for, paid him well. His time in the marines had prepared him for urban warfare but the cloak and dagger missions he found himself in were something else entirely.

It all started with the pulse, not a weapon but a frequency. A high pitch tone strong enough to shut down all the electronics within a block radius, including the human mind. It was a form of mental suspension and it wore off in under an hour. Most people felt nothing, but some woke up with a mild headache.

They arrived late at night when activity was the lowest. Their targets ranged from small children to the elderly. He wasn’t sure how they picked them, but he knew it had something to do with DNA.

Syngess owned numerous satellite companies, those ethnicity websites you see commercials for on television. People send in vital DNA information. Nobody realizes how important your biological blueprint is, except the Syngess Corporation. If you have a trait they want, you’re on their target list. Eventually, Malcom would end up on your block. He knew this current job was important or they wouldn’t have him out on the streets on July 3rd, the cusp of a holiday.

2

He always assumed his victim held some special quality. Why they wanted it or what they were doing was unknown to him. On occasion they’d give him tips about his target to help him complete his mission. He had one tonight. Margaret Trainor, age 53, possessed unusually strong bones. No one in her bloodline had ever broken one. Apparently, it was a rare genetic trait. The summary ended with the suggestion that he avoid physical conflict and proceed with extreme caution.

The pulse had been released only moments before. A whole block of suburban Wisconsin had gone black. He approached the targets house at a snail’s pace. The full moon gave the back yard another worldly quality. The blue hue radiated the scene before him. He reached the back door and found it locked. He noticed an opened window a few steps away.

“Door locked”, he whispered, “I see an open window.”

“Copy that Flynn. Be advised Tanner saw movement in the house.”

Malcolm knew the pulse incapacitated everyone. The duration might frequent from person to person, but the signal always worked.

“Tell Tanner to lay off the weed” he hissed.

He worked his way over to the window and breathed in the silence. Confident, he started to enter the house.

3

She must have been flat against the wall, somehow out of his field of vision. He was assaulted almost as soon as he got into the room.

“Who are you? Get out of my house right now! I’ll call the police!”

He managed to toss her off him. He popped her in the forehead with the butt of his pistol, but he realized quickly that it had no effect. The bones! He remembered, they were thicker than he had anticipated. Is that why she wasn’t affected by the pulse?

Knowing the longer the struggle went on, the bigger the chance of failure, Malcolm pushed the tranquilizer gun into the woman’s leg and fired.

4

The following morning, a four star General and a doctor dressed in a lab coat walked hurriedly into the front doors of the Syngess Corporation building.

“We got the final piece of the puzzle late last night. The birth cycle is nearly complete. This will go down as a special day for America.”

They moved their way through the first floor of the monstrous glass structure, headed towards the rear of the building. Security was all around them, but the pair seemed oblivious as they were engaged in conversation.

“You know, a lot of famous people were born on the 4th of July” continued the Doctor.

“Like who? Doctor Frankenstein?” replied the General, nodding his head to the numerous security agents on hand.

“Hardly, I was thinking Nathaniel Hawthorne. The famed author was born on July 4th, 1804 or TV host Geraldo Rivera, he was born on July 4, 1943.”

The General stopped and raised an eyebrow. “Geraldo really? May I remind you this is a military operation.”

“Well, how about Calvin Coolidge then? He’s the only US president to be born on the 4th of July.”

The General chuckled, “A great man, I’ll give you that but these monsters of yours they’re hardly in the same league and I’m warning you, they had better be worth the wait.”

“Don’t call them monsters General, and yes, they will definitely be worth the wait.”

The General rolled his eyes aggressively. “Any killing machine is a monster in my mind.”

“These people General, are near perfect humans not monsters. They hold the most successful genetic traits the world has to offer.”

The General scoffed. “Gathered from fraudulent websites, kidnapping and murdering people in the middle of the night. All the name of the United States, I know what you’ve done. This whole project disgusts me!”

The doctor quickly softened his tone. “General, this is hardly the first time blood has been shed in the name of this country and I’m sure it will not be the last.”

5

They reached a set of cold steel doors. The doctor held a security badge up to a nearby monitor. It was scanned by a red light and opened.

“How did you get newborn babies to deliver as ten year old’s?” asked the General.

The pair proceeded into the room, they walked past a stack of steel cages containing cats.

“A rapid age hormone we stumbled upon. We can take a newborn kitten and turn it into a fully grown cat in a matter of seconds. The human body is different, ten years is the maximum.”

The General glanced at the caged cats impassively. “Impressive.”

The doctor swallowed hard, this was the part of the conversation he had been dreading.

“Impressive yes but there are side effects.”

The General stopped. “Bad news, huh?” His posture indicated he knew this kind of trouble was coming. “I’m listening doctor?”

“Mainly, it’s the subjects need for blood.”

The General threw up his hands in frustration. “Blood? Why in the hell would it need blood?”

The doctor stopped, choosing his words carefully. “We’re not entirely sure Sir. It’s got something to do with a plant we utilized to make the genetic serum work.”

The General laughed. “What kind of a plant was it? A fucking Venus fly trap?”

“Actually General, it’s a Jubbokko plant. An offshoot of the fabled Jubbokko tree from Japan. These trees are said to have grown spontaneously on the field of great battles.”

“Are we talking military battles?”

The doctor nodded his head yes. “You see, this tree soaks up the blood from dead bodies.”

“That’s a load of horse shit” said the General. He postured his body ready to intimidate the doctor, but the man held his ground. He was prepared to give the military leader a full explanation, as soon as they entered a nearby elevator.

“As an adult, this tree can attack and consume any creature it comes into contact with, including humans. It’s rare find General but it is no longer a part of Japanese mythology, not any more. We resurrected the Jubbokko through some plant grounds we detected in a stash of old temple jars discovered in Japan. They’re from a Japanese age known as Jomon. This is the era immediately before the Yayoi arrival. Global temperatures and sea levels dropped during that period, which could have made life more difficult for the hunter-gatherer Jomon people. Conflicts during that time were the first recorded appearance of the Jubbokko tree.”

“Sounds interesting Doctor but what does that mean for your creation?”

“We believe the ingesting of this tree might be the origin of the vampire legend. It supposedly gave warriors who ate it inhuman strength and an insatiable lust for blood.”

“That’s wonderful. So, you’re saying we just gave birth to a nation of genetically enhanced humans with a thirst for human blood?”

“More or less, General that is correct.”

“Well, I guess I was wrong” said the General using his best sarcastic tone “these aren’t monsters at all, they’re genetically enhanced vampires!”

“Just remember, they are children Sir. They might be genetically enhanced, but they still have the mind of a child. Our intellect should give us all the advantage we need.”

The General scoffed in response.

6

The elevator doors opened revealing a scene of bloodlust and violent morbidity. The floor and walls were literally covered with blood. It was as if all of mankind had been thrown into a giant blender. The stench of the massacre made the doctor gag.

The General’s face turned pale. He quickly scanned the area then pulled out a pistol.

“Looks like your creatures are on the loose!”

He stepped out of the elevator and into the darkness. While his back was turned a small form snuck behind the vomiting doctor. A clawed hand quickly slit the unsuspecting man’s throat.

The elevator doors began to close, a gurgling sound drew the General’s attention back just in time to see a tiny figure with its mouth around the doctor’s neck!

He heard a sound coming from his front. Dreading the moment, he turned back to face a pack of rabid children. Dressed in bloody hospital garb, they approached him at an inhuman speed.

Their black eyes locked in, horrid features reminiscent of a vampire.

“God help us” said the General as he emptied his pistol in vain.

Happy Fourth of July!

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