This is a two part story called “Gear of the Machine” and “Grenade in the Fist” 
Part I:
Who do they think they are? These…FUCKING ASSHOLES! Like I want to be here, holding the line! Fuck them! But we do our duty, right? That’s my purpose; to do as I’m told. I’m trying to protect them. And this is what they do; they show up ready to fight with their protectors. As soon as we are given the go ahead I am going to bash every single one of these fucking people’s skulls in.
Pigs. Masked, armored pigs they call us. They don’t even realize. They would already be dead if we let them out of the city. I have a wife, I have two kids, I have places I need to be, people I need to protect. But here I am, on the streets with these liberal ivory tower fucking piece of shit KIDS. They think they know what the world is like. They think they know what true freedom is. They see us standing in their way. Hey, I’d be more than happy to let you walk through this barricade, watch the weak get picked off, thin this pathetic herd out some.
Here comes the rocks. They are starting small with throwing rocks; they won’t hurt us.  I see the few wiry guys standing towards the back, putting soaked rags into the tops of glass bottles. I see the few here and there who are obviously carrying firearms. They are going to be the first ones I shoot.
My wife is alone right now. I taught her how to shoot my guns, but I should be there. I should be protecting my own. Now they roll out the tires…yeah fuckholes, light those up, you cover your mouths with handkerchiefs. I have a gas mask. Who do you think has the upper hand dealing with toxic black smoke? They are idiots, they are ignorant, they think they might change something. The only thing they are guaranteed is my boot up their ass.
They play at rebellion; they romanticize Che Guevera, and William Wallace. They don’t realize…this actually IS the end. This is not just an attack, this is not just an outbreak. This is the mother fucking end. Hellfire, and blood rain. The oceans turning black, and the sky turning scarlet. Panic is our new master, and we will all serve it. Fear - that’s what dwells in our hearts.
But I’m not fearful now. I’m angry. I’m out for blood. More so than these “rebels” They think their anger will keep them safe, but I’m angrier, I’m meaner. I’m the one who goes bump in the night, not the infected. ME. If you can see the whites of my eyes, then prepare to meet YOUR FUCKING END. 
My baton is light in my hand, like holding air. This will be okay to start with, but I’m waiting for the order to put on our masks, to pull out our side arms. I’m waiting for this shit to go up to 11. The streets will be red with blood when I’m done tonight.
“GO BACK TO YOUR HOMES, THE CITY IS IN QUARANTINE!” They shout over the megaphone. 
As I thought, it only riles them up more. They yell and scream about authority, and rights, and privileges. I’ll tell you who have the rights, and who has the authority; the people with the power. You have a rock, I have a Beretta M9. You have a molotov cocktail, we have M1 Abrams Tanks. We will FUCK YOU UP. I’ll smile as you run, and scream. It’s because of you I’m not at home, protecting my own, so I will take immense pleasure in causing you pain. Lots and lots of pain.
Time to be the bully, time to flex some muscle, time to get a fucking hard-on! We fire some tear gas into the crowd, and they scatter like the roaches they are. The best part is they didn’t see it coming because of their stupid tire fire. The smoke had obstructed their line of sight. One of the cans hits one of them in the head, he’s not going to be getting up…ever, and that makes me laugh, so hard. I start hitting my batton against my shield, and after a few beats we all are doing it. One unit, Five fingers alone are weak, but they can make a fist.
“ANY ONE CAUGHT ON THE STREET WILL BE SHOT ON SIGHT, RETURN TO YOUR HOMES IMMEDIATELY!”
There’s tarry rubber smoke in the air, the grit and grime sticking to my skin because I’m sweating bullets. Today is turning out to be a pretty good day after all. Masks are going on, the wind is picking up. This is going to be fun.
We start walking forwards, slowly, and then faster and faster. They launch that first cocktail, and it hits right in front of us. We don’t miss a step. We walk through the fire as easily as we do their smoke. This is no joke. We are not to be fucked with. At first I didn’t want to be here…but now there’s nowhere I’d rather be. 
Here we go, I’m going to enjoy this. FUCK YOU. 
Part II:
Who do they think they are? These…FUCKING FASCIST PIGS! There’s nowhere I’d rather be right now, than here at the front line. This has gone on long enough. We will not sit quietly in our homes while the world burns around us. We are strong, we are capable, and they want us to sit on the sidelines as they fumble trying to think of a solution. Well closing borders and locking up your people will do nothing. The infection is already inside, already spreading out its tentacles to envelope us all.
They call us rebels, revolutionaries, anarchists. They are wrong though. We are so much worse, they underestimate us, they think too casually of us. This is our moment to take on the establishment, we will seize the reins and come out on top. Today is day one of the end. They stand in a line opposite us in the square, dressed head to toe in black gear, with helmets and clear shields. Some look afraid, some look angry, a few even stand to the side, talking to one another and laughing. They think this will be easy. They won’t remember today…they won’t live through it.
We start by throwing rocks, make sure they are paying attention. Those who weren’t looking at  us… they are now. They don’t realize what we’ve done, why we picked this square as opposed to any other one. It’s simple: we hold this square, and all of its exits but one; the one they came in through. While they wait for the order to strike, we’ve closed up that last exit.
The people in the back are getting some Molotov cocktails ready. This is our next step: we ramp up the aggression in them. The rocks they can handle, but being fire bombed? That they will not stand for. First though, we need to slow them down, confuse them, and obscure their vision of us. So we start the tire fire. If one of them were to see the bulk under our coats, see a wire slip out, we might not get to the last stage before they just shoot us. There are a dozen of us wearing the bombs; we are the martyrs today. We haven’t armed the bombs yet, but once they start to come for us…we will.
The smoke is thick, it fills the air, burns to breathe in. It’s filled with carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and styrene. We are breathing fire, literally. We burn for our country, and we will do whatever it takes. The smoke hides us, makes them wonder, we emerge here and there through the smoke to throw another rock, another slur at them before disappearing into it again.
They are getting angry; I can see it. They are getting tired of our “games.” It’s working, we are sucking them in. They don’t know what we plan, what they are about to experience. They don’t know fear, not yet. They see us as the enemy, but what will they do when it’s a beautiful woman who walks into a market and blows herself up, or a child, maybe even their own child. Then they will be afraid, then they won’t know who to hit, who to silence…we will be all around them.
We have filled the store fronts and homes that face the square with the infected, ones we were able to take alive. Now all we need is to get them to step forward, get close enough to open those doors, let them out, cause the panic we need. No one leaves this square alive.
The infected are not the end game though. That’s why we have the bombs. When I can see the whites of their eyes I’ll do it. We made the triggers death-proof. We arm the bomb by pressing down on a button in our hand, with the wires running up our sleeves. It’s only when we release the button that the bomb detonates. 
They yell over the megaphone, we don’t even listen; we just yell louder. They don’t realize, the ones who hold the power, who have the authority are those who are willing to go to the extreme. They mean to quell a rebellion. We mean to burn the establishment to cinder. 
They are getting excited now. I can see it on their faces; they are getting pumped up, they are starting to look forward to this. Tear gas canisters launch into the air. We knew this wasn’t going to be easy, it wasn’t going to be gentle. It burns, worse than I could have imagined. My lungs were already on fire from the smoke, now they are positively melting. They yell out over the microphone again, and we just yell LOUDER. Through the yelling I can hear it, like war drums, first only one, then all of them. They are banging their batons against their shields, they are coming.
I have 10lbs of trinitrotoluene on my vest, better known as TNT, with 20lbs of nails, and ball bearings ready to do their damage. We considered C4…but we wanted the stronger option. They are walking forwards now; I grab one of the cocktails, light it up and watch it sail through the air. It hits directly in front of their feet, and they march right through it. Good, they mean business…and so do we. They are going to name schools after us. Children will be given my name, to keep my legacy alive. People will remember this day. It’ll take a lot more than water to wash the blood off the streets. 
They think they’re a fist. Well we are the pinless grenade that they are holding. They are getting  cIose now. I hold down the button. 
Here we go. The winds are changing. No one leaves this square alive.
Story by Ben Kurstin (Screenwriter and Cinematographer for Chrysalis)

This is a two part story called “Gear of the Machine” and “Grenade in the Fist” 

Part I:

Who do they think they are? These…FUCKING ASSHOLES! Like I want to be here, holding the line! Fuck them! But we do our duty, right? That’s my purpose; to do as I’m told. I’m trying to protect them. And this is what they do; they show up ready to fight with their protectors. As soon as we are given the go ahead I am going to bash every single one of these fucking people’s skulls in.

Pigs. Masked, armored pigs they call us. They don’t even realize. They would already be dead if we let them out of the city. I have a wife, I have two kids, I have places I need to be, people I need to protect. But here I am, on the streets with these liberal ivory tower fucking piece of shit KIDS. They think they know what the world is like. They think they know what true freedom is. They see us standing in their way. Hey, I’d be more than happy to let you walk through this barricade, watch the weak get picked off, thin this pathetic herd out some.

Here comes the rocks. They are starting small with throwing rocks; they won’t hurt us.  I see the few wiry guys standing towards the back, putting soaked rags into the tops of glass bottles. I see the few here and there who are obviously carrying firearms. They are going to be the first ones I shoot.

My wife is alone right now. I taught her how to shoot my guns, but I should be there. I should be protecting my own. Now they roll out the tires…yeah fuckholes, light those up, you cover your mouths with handkerchiefs. I have a gas mask. Who do you think has the upper hand dealing with toxic black smoke? They are idiots, they are ignorant, they think they might change something. The only thing they are guaranteed is my boot up their ass.

They play at rebellion; they romanticize Che Guevera, and William Wallace. They don’t realize…this actually IS the end. This is not just an attack, this is not just an outbreak. This is the mother fucking end. Hellfire, and blood rain. The oceans turning black, and the sky turning scarlet. Panic is our new master, and we will all serve it. Fear - that’s what dwells in our hearts.

But I’m not fearful now. I’m angry. I’m out for blood. More so than these “rebels” They think their anger will keep them safe, but I’m angrier, I’m meaner. I’m the one who goes bump in the night, not the infected. ME. If you can see the whites of my eyes, then prepare to meet YOUR FUCKING END.

My baton is light in my hand, like holding air. This will be okay to start with, but I’m waiting for the order to put on our masks, to pull out our side arms. I’m waiting for this shit to go up to 11. The streets will be red with blood when I’m done tonight.

“GO BACK TO YOUR HOMES, THE CITY IS IN QUARANTINE!” They shout over the megaphone.

As I thought, it only riles them up more. They yell and scream about authority, and rights, and privileges. I’ll tell you who have the rights, and who has the authority; the people with the power. You have a rock, I have a Beretta M9. You have a molotov cocktail, we have M1 Abrams Tanks. We will FUCK YOU UP. I’ll smile as you run, and scream. It’s because of you I’m not at home, protecting my own, so I will take immense pleasure in causing you pain. Lots and lots of pain.

Time to be the bully, time to flex some muscle, time to get a fucking hard-on! We fire some tear gas into the crowd, and they scatter like the roaches they are. The best part is they didn’t see it coming because of their stupid tire fire. The smoke had obstructed their line of sight. One of the cans hits one of them in the head, he’s not going to be getting up…ever, and that makes me laugh, so hard. I start hitting my batton against my shield, and after a few beats we all are doing it. One unit, Five fingers alone are weak, but they can make a fist.

“ANY ONE CAUGHT ON THE STREET WILL BE SHOT ON SIGHT, RETURN TO YOUR HOMES IMMEDIATELY!”

There’s tarry rubber smoke in the air, the grit and grime sticking to my skin because I’m sweating bullets. Today is turning out to be a pretty good day after all. Masks are going on, the wind is picking up. This is going to be fun.

We start walking forwards, slowly, and then faster and faster. They launch that first cocktail, and it hits right in front of us. We don’t miss a step. We walk through the fire as easily as we do their smoke. This is no joke. We are not to be fucked with. At first I didn’t want to be here…but now there’s nowhere I’d rather be.

Here we go, I’m going to enjoy this. FUCK YOU.

Part II:

Who do they think they are? These…FUCKING FASCIST PIGS! There’s nowhere I’d rather be right now, than here at the front line. This has gone on long enough. We will not sit quietly in our homes while the world burns around us. We are strong, we are capable, and they want us to sit on the sidelines as they fumble trying to think of a solution. Well closing borders and locking up your people will do nothing. The infection is already inside, already spreading out its tentacles to envelope us all.

They call us rebels, revolutionaries, anarchists. They are wrong though. We are so much worse, they underestimate us, they think too casually of us. This is our moment to take on the establishment, we will seize the reins and come out on top. Today is day one of the end. They stand in a line opposite us in the square, dressed head to toe in black gear, with helmets and clear shields. Some look afraid, some look angry, a few even stand to the side, talking to one another and laughing. They think this will be easy. They won’t remember today…they won’t live through it.

We start by throwing rocks, make sure they are paying attention. Those who weren’t looking at  us… they are now. They don’t realize what we’ve done, why we picked this square as opposed to any other one. It’s simple: we hold this square, and all of its exits but one; the one they came in through. While they wait for the order to strike, we’ve closed up that last exit.

The people in the back are getting some Molotov cocktails ready. This is our next step: we ramp up the aggression in them. The rocks they can handle, but being fire bombed? That they will not stand for. First though, we need to slow them down, confuse them, and obscure their vision of us. So we start the tire fire. If one of them were to see the bulk under our coats, see a wire slip out, we might not get to the last stage before they just shoot us. There are a dozen of us wearing the bombs; we are the martyrs today. We haven’t armed the bombs yet, but once they start to come for us…we will.

The smoke is thick, it fills the air, burns to breathe in. It’s filled with carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and styrene. We are breathing fire, literally. We burn for our country, and we will do whatever it takes. The smoke hides us, makes them wonder, we emerge here and there through the smoke to throw another rock, another slur at them before disappearing into it again.

They are getting angry; I can see it. They are getting tired of our “games.” It’s working, we are sucking them in. They don’t know what we plan, what they are about to experience. They don’t know fear, not yet. They see us as the enemy, but what will they do when it’s a beautiful woman who walks into a market and blows herself up, or a child, maybe even their own child. Then they will be afraid, then they won’t know who to hit, who to silence…we will be all around them.

We have filled the store fronts and homes that face the square with the infected, ones we were able to take alive. Now all we need is to get them to step forward, get close enough to open those doors, let them out, cause the panic we need. No one leaves this square alive.

The infected are not the end game though. That’s why we have the bombs. When I can see the whites of their eyes I’ll do it. We made the triggers death-proof. We arm the bomb by pressing down on a button in our hand, with the wires running up our sleeves. It’s only when we release the button that the bomb detonates.

They yell over the megaphone, we don’t even listen; we just yell louder. They don’t realize, the ones who hold the power, who have the authority are those who are willing to go to the extreme. They mean to quell a rebellion. We mean to burn the establishment to cinder.

They are getting excited now. I can see it on their faces; they are getting pumped up, they are starting to look forward to this. Tear gas canisters launch into the air. We knew this wasn’t going to be easy, it wasn’t going to be gentle. It burns, worse than I could have imagined. My lungs were already on fire from the smoke, now they are positively melting. They yell out over the microphone again, and we just yell LOUDER. Through the yelling I can hear it, like war drums, first only one, then all of them. They are banging their batons against their shields, they are coming.

I have 10lbs of trinitrotoluene on my vest, better known as TNT, with 20lbs of nails, and ball bearings ready to do their damage. We considered C4…but we wanted the stronger option. They are walking forwards now; I grab one of the cocktails, light it up and watch it sail through the air. It hits directly in front of their feet, and they march right through it. Good, they mean business…and so do we. They are going to name schools after us. Children will be given my name, to keep my legacy alive. People will remember this day. It’ll take a lot more than water to wash the blood off the streets.

They think they’re a fist. Well we are the pinless grenade that they are holding. They are getting  cIose now. I hold down the button.

Here we go. The winds are changing. No one leaves this square alive.

Story by Ben Kurstin (Screenwriter and Cinematographer for Chrysalis)

I See Them Bloom, For Me and You


Just a field of purple, little purple flowers on spindly green leaves growing out of small mounds of dirt. “Listen here boy, you’re with me for the summer, I provide food, shelter and a weapon, but you work the field.” The sun is starting to set, he seems content to stay outside, he’s not scared of the dark.

We begin to walk down one of the rows. He keeps talking, seems more to himself than to me, “They grow for three seasons, and only three seasons, I’ve tried to breed them to last longer but they won’t. It’s all dependent on the virus, and it only works when it’s a fresh kill.” He looks at me, “Do you understand?” I nod my head, but I don’t really understand, the look on his face says he knows that I’m not following. 

“They said burn the bodies, that was foolish. No one was experimenting, to see what would happen, see what the virus was capable of, but I was. If you bury one that’s fresh, like it’s just been killed, 3 feet under the ground and let wild rosemary grow on it…you get this.” With that he waves his hand over the flower covered mounds. “The virus is biological, it doesn’t just affect humans, it mutates some plants as well, gets the animals sick…but nothing like us, it likes us the most.”

I finally get the courage to speak, “But why, why the flowers?” He smiles down at me and pulls out a small pipe and metal box. He puts the pipe in his mouth and then opens the box, inside are many buds of the same purple flower, but dried out. “Because it get’s you high kid.” He chuckles to himself, and with that he puts a small piece of flower into the end of the pipe and lights it up. I say, “My name is Josh, not kid.” He ignores me. 

After he inhales deeply and lets out a thin stream of smoke, he hands me the pipe. I hesitate. “Trust me, you’re going to want to be high for this” I look up, we’ve stopped walking and are standing in front of a series of kennels. Each one houses a different infected, with chains around their neck that are connected to a bolt in the floor. They can’t even stand. He looks at me expectantly, I raise the pipe to my mouth, he lights the flower with a match, and I inhale.

“We need to seed the north field, so we’re going to need 20 fresh kills, that is your first job.” He walks me over to a shed, opens the door and hands me a sledge hammer. “Give it a swing.” I try and lift it over my head, but my arms shake. “Your arms will get stronger, and if you’re lucky, the kills will get easier.” He reaches back into the shed and pulls out a gas mask, “We rinse these off at the end of the day…you are to wear this at all times when watering the crop, and smashing the infected, you got it?” I nod my head, he leans in really close, “And don’t you ever drink the water that comes from that well, it’s no good, you’ll end up there.” With a thumb he motions to the kennel. “The bodies in the ground have turned this whole area into poison, anything but the flower that grows here is going to make you sick, or worse.”
He hands me a pair of garden shears, my arms are overflowing with equipment now. “The north field is yours to tend, I’ve been expanding, and can’t handle another field to oversee. Now come with me…Smasher, I need to make sure you can actually kill one of them. Start with the head”
Story by Ben Kurstin (Screenwriter and Cinematographer for Chrysalis)

I See Them Bloom, For Me and You

Just a field of purple, little purple flowers on spindly green leaves growing out of small mounds of dirt. “Listen here boy, you’re with me for the summer, I provide food, shelter and a weapon, but you work the field.” The sun is starting to set, he seems content to stay outside, he’s not scared of the dark.

We begin to walk down one of the rows. He keeps talking, seems more to himself than to me, “They grow for three seasons, and only three seasons, I’ve tried to breed them to last longer but they won’t. It’s all dependent on the virus, and it only works when it’s a fresh kill.” He looks at me, “Do you understand?” I nod my head, but I don’t really understand, the look on his face says he knows that I’m not following.

“They said burn the bodies, that was foolish. No one was experimenting, to see what would happen, see what the virus was capable of, but I was. If you bury one that’s fresh, like it’s just been killed, 3 feet under the ground and let wild rosemary grow on it…you get this.” With that he waves his hand over the flower covered mounds. “The virus is biological, it doesn’t just affect humans, it mutates some plants as well, gets the animals sick…but nothing like us, it likes us the most.”

I finally get the courage to speak, “But why, why the flowers?” He smiles down at me and pulls out a small pipe and metal box. He puts the pipe in his mouth and then opens the box, inside are many buds of the same purple flower, but dried out. “Because it get’s you high kid.” He chuckles to himself, and with that he puts a small piece of flower into the end of the pipe and lights it up. I say, “My name is Josh, not kid.” He ignores me.

After he inhales deeply and lets out a thin stream of smoke, he hands me the pipe. I hesitate. “Trust me, you’re going to want to be high for this” I look up, we’ve stopped walking and are standing in front of a series of kennels. Each one houses a different infected, with chains around their neck that are connected to a bolt in the floor. They can’t even stand. He looks at me expectantly, I raise the pipe to my mouth, he lights the flower with a match, and I inhale.

“We need to seed the north field, so we’re going to need 20 fresh kills, that is your first job.” He walks me over to a shed, opens the door and hands me a sledge hammer. “Give it a swing.” I try and lift it over my head, but my arms shake. “Your arms will get stronger, and if you’re lucky, the kills will get easier.” He reaches back into the shed and pulls out a gas mask, “We rinse these off at the end of the day…you are to wear this at all times when watering the crop, and smashing the infected, you got it?” I nod my head, he leans in really close, “And don’t you ever drink the water that comes from that well, it’s no good, you’ll end up there.” With a thumb he motions to the kennel. “The bodies in the ground have turned this whole area into poison, anything but the flower that grows here is going to make you sick, or worse.”


He hands me a pair of garden shears, my arms are overflowing with equipment now. “The north field is yours to tend, I’ve been expanding, and can’t handle another field to oversee. Now come with me…Smasher, I need to make sure you can actually kill one of them. Start with the head”

Story by Ben Kurstin (Screenwriter and Cinematographer for Chrysalis)

Student Driver


Mr. Alvarez is yelling at me. I can’t make a rolling stop, it has to be a full stop, for a full second. Like it even matters. There was no one at the intersection. Who would even know, or care? I thought driver’s ed would be more fun than this. This is just how to make a turn, how to go faster and shit. I turn the wheel and I hit the gas, I must be a genius for figuring that one out.

The radio is on a low hum, listening to NPR, and it’s terrible. I think I’m paying more attention to it than he is. He insists on having it on, in case something important happens, but then he doesn’t even listen to it as it drones on. I catch a word here and there, “attack” “New York” “Chicago…and abroad” “subway stations” “mysterious illness” “waterborne virus.”

It’s so BORING. We are in a Chicago suburb; maybe something exciting will happen here too. Probably not…because it’s so BORING.

At the next stop sign I make the full stop. He calms down a little, loosens his grip on the dashboard. “That’s better, you’re getting it now.” I begin to remove my foot from the brake when he stops me. “Hold on a second…looks like someone needs to cross the road.” My eyes drift over to the old lady stumbling from the sidewalk and into the street. She’s moving erratically and slowly…then suddenly fast. She walks into the middle of the street and then stops. She hunches over and starts throwing up…it looks like blood. This lady is gross.

“Oh my God. Stay here, this woman needs help. Put the car in park and throw on your hazard lights, and put on the emergency brake too, it’s a good habit to get into, okay?” I do as he says, and he gets out and starts walking quickly over to the woman, but as he gets closer he begins to slow down. The look on his face goes quickly from concern to shock. He stops, and I hear the muffled conversation through the glass, “Ma’am…are you alright…?” He steps forward another few steps and she jerks wildly. He stops again.

“Ma’am, we need to get you to the hospital.  We have a car over here, we can drive you…or I can call an ambulance…” She makes no response, and just remains hunched over with little drips of blood falling off her lips and chin. Mr. Alvarez looks back towards me and the car, and holds up a finger for me to wait. He takes a few steps closer and is looking at her arm. I look too, there is some dried blood on it, and what looks like…a bite. She must have been attacked by a dog or something. Maybe she has rabies! That would be crazy.

Mr. Alvarez reaches towards her and there is a flurry of movement. I can’t make out anything, just a sudden move, and a flash of colored fabric…and then it’s over. Mr. Alvarez is lying flat on his back, and holding his neck. Blood is gushing out like a hose. He isn’t writhing around at all, he’s still, just letting it seep out of him. Over him stands the old lady, she leans in and starts pulling on his body. She takes his arm to her mouth and gnashes her teeth into his flesh. I honk the horn, I don’t know what else to do. She immediately turns and looks at the car, as if she didn’t even know I was there. She starts walking and wobbling towards me. I hit the gas hard, the engine revs, but I go nowhere. She’s getting closer, I frantically pull the shifter…thing…into drive and hit the gas again. Almost no change, I inch ahead, lurching. The car is moving, but it’s fighting me. Why? She’s nearly at the car.

I hit the door lock, but it’s the wrong button; it’s for the window. NO, Fuck! The drivers window starts to go down automatically. She’s at the hood, and climbing up it. I finally figure out the problem, and grab the handle of the parking brake and push it down. The car picks up immediately and I go speeding through the intersection. The old lady goes flying towards the windshield and smashes it into cracked puzzle pieces. 

She starts reaching around, and into the window, I’m flying down the street, her hand is limply trying to reach me, but nowhere close. Another person walks into the road. I slam on the brakes, and the old lady goes flying off and into the other person. There is a cloud of red in the air, and then a heap of flesh on the ground.

My hazards are still on, I turn them off, and put my turn signal on to indicate I’m going around the mess in the road. I’m heading home, I’m going to be in so much trouble for the damage to the car, they are going to ground me…I probably won’t even get to go to the Halloween dance. 
Today sucks dick.
Story by Ben Kurstin (Screenwriter and Cinematographer for Chrysalis)

Student Driver

Mr. Alvarez is yelling at me. I can’t make a rolling stop, it has to be a full stop, for a full second. Like it even matters. There was no one at the intersection. Who would even know, or care? I thought driver’s ed would be more fun than this. This is just how to make a turn, how to go faster and shit. I turn the wheel and I hit the gas, I must be a genius for figuring that one out.

The radio is on a low hum, listening to NPR, and it’s terrible. I think I’m paying more attention to it than he is. He insists on having it on, in case something important happens, but then he doesn’t even listen to it as it drones on. I catch a word here and there, “attack” “New York” “Chicago…and abroad” “subway stations” “mysterious illness” “waterborne virus.”

It’s so BORING. We are in a Chicago suburb; maybe something exciting will happen here too. Probably not…because it’s so BORING.

At the next stop sign I make the full stop. He calms down a little, loosens his grip on the dashboard. “That’s better, you’re getting it now.” I begin to remove my foot from the brake when he stops me. “Hold on a second…looks like someone needs to cross the road.” My eyes drift over to the old lady stumbling from the sidewalk and into the street. She’s moving erratically and slowly…then suddenly fast. She walks into the middle of the street and then stops. She hunches over and starts throwing up…it looks like blood. This lady is gross.

“Oh my God. Stay here, this woman needs help. Put the car in park and throw on your hazard lights, and put on the emergency brake too, it’s a good habit to get into, okay?” I do as he says, and he gets out and starts walking quickly over to the woman, but as he gets closer he begins to slow down. The look on his face goes quickly from concern to shock. He stops, and I hear the muffled conversation through the glass, “Ma’am…are you alright…?” He steps forward another few steps and she jerks wildly. He stops again.

“Ma’am, we need to get you to the hospital.  We have a car over here, we can drive you…or I can call an ambulance…” She makes no response, and just remains hunched over with little drips of blood falling off her lips and chin. Mr. Alvarez looks back towards me and the car, and holds up a finger for me to wait. He takes a few steps closer and is looking at her arm. I look too, there is some dried blood on it, and what looks like…a bite. She must have been attacked by a dog or something. Maybe she has rabies! That would be crazy.

Mr. Alvarez reaches towards her and there is a flurry of movement. I can’t make out anything, just a sudden move, and a flash of colored fabric…and then it’s over. Mr. Alvarez is lying flat on his back, and holding his neck. Blood is gushing out like a hose. He isn’t writhing around at all, he’s still, just letting it seep out of him. Over him stands the old lady, she leans in and starts pulling on his body. She takes his arm to her mouth and gnashes her teeth into his flesh. I honk the horn, I don’t know what else to do. She immediately turns and looks at the car, as if she didn’t even know I was there. She starts walking and wobbling towards me. I hit the gas hard, the engine revs, but I go nowhere. She’s getting closer, I frantically pull the shifter…thing…into drive and hit the gas again. Almost no change, I inch ahead, lurching. The car is moving, but it’s fighting me. Why? She’s nearly at the car.

I hit the door lock, but it’s the wrong button; it’s for the window. NO, Fuck! The drivers window starts to go down automatically. She’s at the hood, and climbing up it. I finally figure out the problem, and grab the handle of the parking brake and push it down. The car picks up immediately and I go speeding through the intersection. The old lady goes flying towards the windshield and smashes it into cracked puzzle pieces.

She starts reaching around, and into the window, I’m flying down the street, her hand is limply trying to reach me, but nowhere close. Another person walks into the road. I slam on the brakes, and the old lady goes flying off and into the other person. There is a cloud of red in the air, and then a heap of flesh on the ground.

My hazards are still on, I turn them off, and put my turn signal on to indicate I’m going around the mess in the road. I’m heading home, I’m going to be in so much trouble for the damage to the car, they are going to ground me…I probably won’t even get to go to the Halloween dance.


Today sucks dick.

Story by Ben Kurstin (Screenwriter and Cinematographer for Chrysalis)

Serial

I would be lying if I said I didn’t get pleasure out of it. The hunt is so exhilarating. There are reasons young men go to war, they want to kill. They want to see the life leave the eyes of another person, and know that they are responsible for that. I’m a man of flesh and blood, just like them, and I want the same thing. I want to see them die.
My first kill has been the high note that I have been chasing all these years. They had broken into the house. I could hear them in the kitchen, I snuck up behind, and bashed their brains in with a bat. I kept one  by the side of my bed in case of times like this. I could have used my gun, but I didn’t want to make too much noise and bring more unwanted attention. It felt so good, swing after swing until there was nothing discernable about the face or head left. At first I couldn’t tell if it had been a man or women. I flipped it over with my foot, and based on clothing and lack of breasts I guess it had been a man. I just dragged it outside beyond the fence and left it there. 
I couldn’t sleep the rest of the night. I wasn’t scared, I was energized, I wanted to do it again. I silently prayed that they hadn’t been alone, that another would come in after them. By dawn I had already prepped a bag, and collected several weapons that I could use. I gathered all the tools I needed to spend an extended amount of time in the “wilds” until I would need to restock. And so I went out hunting.
Let me tell you, the hunting was good. The plenty that I experienced in the early days makes what we have now look like nothing at all. They were everywhere. How I miss those days, I wish I knew then what I know now. I was just so lucky.
I was smart, calculating. I’d wait for one to go out on their own, and I’d corner them, and then smash them to pieces. Some adults, some children, it made no difference. The warm splash of blood, the gurgling sound, the crack of bones, it was all music to my ears. I would take little mementos from each kill, something to remember them by. A necklace, an ID if they had one on them, perhaps a letter or note. I wish I could describe how it made me feel, but I’m no poet. All I can say is that it made me feel alive, more alive than they were. I went down to sleeping 3 maybe 4 hours a night, I just couldn’t stay asleep, not when there was so much work to do, so many more out there, roaming, searching, no point in them going any further.
So have I answered your question? You should count yourself lucky, you’re the first person I’ve told this to, perhaps it’s because you’re the first to ask. Most don’t get much more out other than, “No” “Please don’t” “I beg of you!” “Why?!” “I’m not infected, I wasn’t bit.” and blah, blah, blah. They always beg, as if I hadn’t heard it all before. They offer food, their weapons, everything they have, but I already have all I need; this bat, this knife, this gun, and enough strength in my arms to finish the job.
I never saw the point in hunting the infected, but the runners, that’s where I found my joy. Sure, if one took a bite at me I’d smash it, but there was nothing about it that was fun. It didn’t make me feel the same.
Now hold still, I’m not in the habit of missing. 

Photo and Story by Ben Kurstin (Screenwriter and Cinematographer for Chrysalis)

Serial

I would be lying if I said I didn’t get pleasure out of it. The hunt is so exhilarating. There are reasons young men go to war, they want to kill. They want to see the life leave the eyes of another person, and know that they are responsible for that. I’m a man of flesh and blood, just like them, and I want the same thing. I want to see them die.

My first kill has been the high note that I have been chasing all these years. They had broken into the house. I could hear them in the kitchen, I snuck up behind, and bashed their brains in with a bat. I kept one  by the side of my bed in case of times like this. I could have used my gun, but I didn’t want to make too much noise and bring more unwanted attention. It felt so good, swing after swing until there was nothing discernable about the face or head left. At first I couldn’t tell if it had been a man or women. I flipped it over with my foot, and based on clothing and lack of breasts I guess it had been a man. I just dragged it outside beyond the fence and left it there.

I couldn’t sleep the rest of the night. I wasn’t scared, I was energized, I wanted to do it again. I silently prayed that they hadn’t been alone, that another would come in after them. By dawn I had already prepped a bag, and collected several weapons that I could use. I gathered all the tools I needed to spend an extended amount of time in the “wilds” until I would need to restock. And so I went out hunting.

Let me tell you, the hunting was good. The plenty that I experienced in the early days makes what we have now look like nothing at all. They were everywhere. How I miss those days, I wish I knew then what I know now. I was just so lucky.

I was smart, calculating. I’d wait for one to go out on their own, and I’d corner them, and then smash them to pieces. Some adults, some children, it made no difference. The warm splash of blood, the gurgling sound, the crack of bones, it was all music to my ears. I would take little mementos from each kill, something to remember them by. A necklace, an ID if they had one on them, perhaps a letter or note. I wish I could describe how it made me feel, but I’m no poet. All I can say is that it made me feel alive, more alive than they were. I went down to sleeping 3 maybe 4 hours a night, I just couldn’t stay asleep, not when there was so much work to do, so many more out there, roaming, searching, no point in them going any further.

So have I answered your question? You should count yourself lucky, you’re the first person I’ve told this to, perhaps it’s because you’re the first to ask. Most don’t get much more out other than, “No” “Please don’t” “I beg of you!” “Why?!” “I’m not infected, I wasn’t bit.” and blah, blah, blah. They always beg, as if I hadn’t heard it all before. They offer food, their weapons, everything they have, but I already have all I need; this bat, this knife, this gun, and enough strength in my arms to finish the job.

I never saw the point in hunting the infected, but the runners, that’s where I found my joy. Sure, if one took a bite at me I’d smash it, but there was nothing about it that was fun. It didn’t make me feel the same.

Now hold still, I’m not in the habit of missing.

Photo and Story by Ben Kurstin (Screenwriter and Cinematographer for Chrysalis)

Friends and followers, TODAY IS THE DAY!  Get your digital copy of Chrysalis—available for purchase as of right now!

Visit our website at www.TheRestAreDead.com to purchase and download the film for $7.99, or buy the feature-packed deluxe version for $12.99 which includes loads of terrific content: a commentary track, behind-the-scenes featurettes, a roundtable discussion on Kickstarter with several Chicago-based filmmakers, the entire Chrysalis soundtrack, and more!

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Not Lusus Naturae
We called them Silents. No one knows why they didn’t speak. Perhaps it was because they were always being told to be quiet, for fear that an infected would hear us. It could have been the shock, seeing these terrible things from such an early age – maybe it stunted them, shut them down, made them not want to speak. We knew it wasn’t autism; the kids were completely normal, they just didn’t speak until they were older. Even then most didn’t say much.
My “Night Watch” buddy was a Silent. We weren’t sure if he had always been one, but ever since he woke up and we nursed him back to health, he has been silent. As the adults in the group, we did the “Watch Buddy” system for a few reasons. It allowed us to have a second pair of eyes, another pair of ears, and to make sure we would stay awake. We hoped that during an attack they could wake up everyone else, while we fought off…whatever was attacking. 
Also, it gave us the opportunity to teach them, for so many had been born into this. They had never been to school, never had any education other than how to kill an infected. So we doubled up: they helped us with the watch, we helped them to learn. 
If you thought that what you learned in school was useless, this took it to a whole new level.
Why would they need to know about the Magna Carta, or trigonometry? I guess better to keep the knowledge alive in people than only in books. Ensure that these aren’t things that are forgotten. My Silent was a boy, and I called him Aram. It means “quiet” in the language of my parents. He was quick, and sharp, not like some of the other Silents, who were off in their own world. Aram would nod, shake his head, use his hands to communicate; he made himself known.  I once asked him to talk, and he quickly changed the subject. I think he was trying to compliment me on my hair. He was funny like that.
This night we were working on English. We were reading “Little House on the Prairie.”  I was asking him what he thought of the book, and to the best of his ability he was expressing himself. He had become very good at having a whole conversation with facial expressions and body movement. After he had shown me his thoughts we sat there for a few minutes, and we stared out into the black. 
“Monsters,” I said. He turned to look at me as I spoke. “I never thought I’d live in a world with real, honest to God monsters.” I turned and smiled at him.  I often talked about these more adult things with him; he was a good listener, and beyond the education I was giving him, I felt it also important to be honest with him, real. I wanted to speak my mind, and give him a worldview that he wouldn’t have known. 
What I got back from him was unexpected.  He shook his head as if trying to get a bee away from his face. His expression: contorted, as if in pain. He jumped up, and stood in front of the fire; he paced back and forth for a minute, and with his hands began having an internal argument with himself. I watched with fascination; he had never been this animated before, this stirred up.
He finally stopped right in front of the small fire, casting me in a shadow, and he suddenly seemed imposing, I couldn’t see his eyes anymore, and it was unsettling. He held out his hand, and made a fist. He then brought it to his chest, and thumped it a few times. “I don’t know what you’re saying,” I said.  He did it again, slower, with more intention, and then in a voice too loud for such a little boy he said, “No, pain.” 
I was stunned. I never expected him to speak, or if he did, not like this. I was too nervous that if I spoke he would stop, so I motioned with my hand and head for him to continue. He stammered a moment, looked deep in thought and then continued. “They aren’t monsters, they are people.”
He walked back to his seat next to me and sat down. “People can’t be monsters…they are just in pain. They hurt, and they want to make others hurt too. That doesn’t make them monsters, it makes them sad.”
He turned and looked at me, and asked, “Have you ever had to kill one that you knew?” I nodded my head.  He proceeded, “Were they a monster?” I shook my head. “He was my brother.” I was suddenly overcome; I hadn’t thought about that in a long time. A single tear drops from my eye. Aram was looking into me deep, reading my emotions, reading my face. He was analyzing me. “They are parents and kids, friends and helpers. But now they’re sick, and you don’t let people stay sick, you help them.” With that he slowly brought his fist to the dirt, and made an impression. “You make them stop hurting.”
I nodded my head again. “Don’t hate them, don’t call them monsters…just help them stop hurting.” He was teaching me. 
We were both quiet for a few moments, and he picked up the next book. “Math now?” he asked.  I nodded my head, still too deep in thought to move on so quickly. Sensing my silence, he spoke again. “My name is Josh, but you can keep calling me Aram.  I like it.”
~Story by Ben Kurstin (Screenwriter and Cinematographer for Chrysalis)

Not Lusus Naturae

We called them Silents. No one knows why they didn’t speak. Perhaps it was because they were always being told to be quiet, for fear that an infected would hear us. It could have been the shock, seeing these terrible things from such an early age – maybe it stunted them, shut them down, made them not want to speak. We knew it wasn’t autism; the kids were completely normal, they just didn’t speak until they were older. Even then most didn’t say much.

My “Night Watch” buddy was a Silent. We weren’t sure if he had always been one, but ever since he woke up and we nursed him back to health, he has been silent. As the adults in the group, we did the “Watch Buddy” system for a few reasons. It allowed us to have a second pair of eyes, another pair of ears, and to make sure we would stay awake. We hoped that during an attack they could wake up everyone else, while we fought off…whatever was attacking. 

Also, it gave us the opportunity to teach them, for so many had been born into this. They had never been to school, never had any education other than how to kill an infected. So we doubled up: they helped us with the watch, we helped them to learn. 

If you thought that what you learned in school was useless, this took it to a whole new level.

Why would they need to know about the Magna Carta, or trigonometry? I guess better to keep the knowledge alive in people than only in books. Ensure that these aren’t things that are forgotten. My Silent was a boy, and I called him Aram. It means “quiet” in the language of my parents. He was quick, and sharp, not like some of the other Silents, who were off in their own world. Aram would nod, shake his head, use his hands to communicate; he made himself known.  I once asked him to talk, and he quickly changed the subject. I think he was trying to compliment me on my hair. He was funny like that.

This night we were working on English. We were reading “Little House on the Prairie.”  I was asking him what he thought of the book, and to the best of his ability he was expressing himself. He had become very good at having a whole conversation with facial expressions and body movement. After he had shown me his thoughts we sat there for a few minutes, and we stared out into the black. 

“Monsters,” I said. He turned to look at me as I spoke. “I never thought I’d live in a world with real, honest to God monsters.” I turned and smiled at him.  I often talked about these more adult things with him; he was a good listener, and beyond the education I was giving him, I felt it also important to be honest with him, real. I wanted to speak my mind, and give him a worldview that he wouldn’t have known. 

What I got back from him was unexpected.  He shook his head as if trying to get a bee away from his face. His expression: contorted, as if in pain. He jumped up, and stood in front of the fire; he paced back and forth for a minute, and with his hands began having an internal argument with himself. I watched with fascination; he had never been this animated before, this stirred up.

He finally stopped right in front of the small fire, casting me in a shadow, and he suddenly seemed imposing, I couldn’t see his eyes anymore, and it was unsettling. He held out his hand, and made a fist. He then brought it to his chest, and thumped it a few times. “I don’t know what you’re saying,” I said.  He did it again, slower, with more intention, and then in a voice too loud for such a little boy he said, “No, pain.” 

I was stunned. I never expected him to speak, or if he did, not like this. I was too nervous that if I spoke he would stop, so I motioned with my hand and head for him to continue. He stammered a moment, looked deep in thought and then continued. “They aren’t monsters, they are people.”

He walked back to his seat next to me and sat down. “People can’t be monsters…they are just in pain. They hurt, and they want to make others hurt too. That doesn’t make them monsters, it makes them sad.”

He turned and looked at me, and asked, “Have you ever had to kill one that you knew?” I nodded my head.  He proceeded, “Were they a monster?” I shook my head. “He was my brother.” I was suddenly overcome; I hadn’t thought about that in a long time. A single tear drops from my eye. Aram was looking into me deep, reading my emotions, reading my face. He was analyzing me. “They are parents and kids, friends and helpers. But now they’re sick, and you don’t let people stay sick, you help them.” With that he slowly brought his fist to the dirt, and made an impression. “You make them stop hurting.”

I nodded my head again. “Don’t hate them, don’t call them monsters…just help them stop hurting.” He was teaching me. 

We were both quiet for a few moments, and he picked up the next book. “Math now?” he asked.  I nodded my head, still too deep in thought to move on so quickly. Sensing my silence, he spoke again. “My name is Josh, but you can keep calling me Aram.  I like it.”

~Story by Ben Kurstin (Screenwriter and Cinematographer for Chrysalis)

Never Out of My Sight
A siren is screaming in my ear.  I’m still not used to hearing them, constantly. I open my eyes not to see sky, or road, but grass and dirt. It takes me a moment to realize I’m still in the driver’s seat, and our car is upside down. I look over to my wife; she is in a daze, she has gashes on her face and arms, but she’s alive. I look to her belly, where our baby is. I will never take my eyes off them.
In the ambulance I reassure her, it’s all going to be okay. I look deeply into her eyes, I won’t look away, I make her believe it, and I believe it too. The baby is coming early because of the accident. We are speeding down the road, zipping in and out of traffic.  Thank God we were driving near Tulsa; she will be able to get proper medical care there.
It’s a quick labor, and rough. She is barely into the ER when the baby comes. As the baby crowns my wife rips open; she’s bleeding, a lot. The hospital is packed to the gills with the sick, the injured, family and friends. Everyone wears a mask, just in case; the infected are spitting blood into the air. Now I wish we weren’t in Tulsa - there are too many people, it’s chaos. 
I was wrong. We have come to a dangerous place. 
Everywhere there are people tied to stretchers, rooms that have been filled with infected and then locked, wood boards nailed up to hold the weight of those trying to get out. The doctors begin to stitch my wife up, but more and more infected are pouring in…they leave halfway through, they just…leave us here, as my wife bleeds.
I sit by her bedside, try to keep her calm, reassure her that the doctors will come back, that they will close her up. I watch over her and my child; it’s a girl. I wish I could tell my family, but the phone system got overloaded and won’t be back for hours, or days.  Suddenly there is a crack, and a scream…it’s coming from outside. I turn to see an ambulance mount the curb and come careening towards the front doors.  It’s not slowing down, it’s speeding up. There’s no driver…wait…yes there is…but she looks infected. The ambulance entering the building sounds like a bomb going off, the whole building shakes.  I jump back over to my wife, to shield her and the baby with my body. 
It seems like it lasts forever, but when it stops, it’s deathly quiet. And then it begins: the sounds of running, hard footsteps, lots of them. I look to my wife; her eyes are closed, the sheets are bloody, she’s bleeding out.  The ambulance smashed down the walls, or at least the doors that were holding back the locked-up infected, and now they are out, and concentrated, and they are spreading over the building like a tidal wave. 
I can only carry one. I look at my wife one last time.  I run. 
I will name you Abira, after your mother.
You will never be out of my sight.
~ Story by Ben Kurstin (Screenwriter and Cinematographer for Chrysalis)

Never Out of My Sight

A siren is screaming in my ear.  I’m still not used to hearing them, constantly. I open my eyes not to see sky, or road, but grass and dirt. It takes me a moment to realize I’m still in the driver’s seat, and our car is upside down. I look over to my wife; she is in a daze, she has gashes on her face and arms, but she’s alive. I look to her belly, where our baby is. I will never take my eyes off them.

In the ambulance I reassure her, it’s all going to be okay. I look deeply into her eyes, I won’t look away, I make her believe it, and I believe it too. The baby is coming early because of the accident. We are speeding down the road, zipping in and out of traffic.  Thank God we were driving near Tulsa; she will be able to get proper medical care there.

It’s a quick labor, and rough. She is barely into the ER when the baby comes. As the baby crowns my wife rips open; she’s bleeding, a lot. The hospital is packed to the gills with the sick, the injured, family and friends. Everyone wears a mask, just in case; the infected are spitting blood into the air. Now I wish we weren’t in Tulsa - there are too many people, it’s chaos.

I was wrong. We have come to a dangerous place.

Everywhere there are people tied to stretchers, rooms that have been filled with infected and then locked, wood boards nailed up to hold the weight of those trying to get out. The doctors begin to stitch my wife up, but more and more infected are pouring in…they leave halfway through, they just…leave us here, as my wife bleeds.

I sit by her bedside, try to keep her calm, reassure her that the doctors will come back, that they will close her up. I watch over her and my child; it’s a girl. I wish I could tell my family, but the phone system got overloaded and won’t be back for hours, or days.  Suddenly there is a crack, and a scream…it’s coming from outside. I turn to see an ambulance mount the curb and come careening towards the front doors.  It’s not slowing down, it’s speeding up. There’s no driver…wait…yes there is…but she looks infected. The ambulance entering the building sounds like a bomb going off, the whole building shakes.  I jump back over to my wife, to shield her and the baby with my body.

It seems like it lasts forever, but when it stops, it’s deathly quiet. And then it begins: the sounds of running, hard footsteps, lots of them. I look to my wife; her eyes are closed, the sheets are bloody, she’s bleeding out.  The ambulance smashed down the walls, or at least the doors that were holding back the locked-up infected, and now they are out, and concentrated, and they are spreading over the building like a tidal wave.

I can only carry one. I look at my wife one last time.  I run.

I will name you Abira, after your mother.

You will never be out of my sight.

~ Story by Ben Kurstin (Screenwriter and Cinematographer for Chrysalis)

(This painting was discovered in a home 32 days after the bomb went off in Washington D.C. The body of the artist was nearby, paintbrush still in hand, having succumbed to acute radiation poisoning. The artists name is unknown.)


The Bomb: Bright/Dark

-   October 1st, 2019  -  5:22 PM EST -  Washington D.C.  - 

Bright. 
So bright. 
Ungodly bright. 

Then a grey, spinning nothingness. The wind whipping past my face, the shock waves reverberating through my body. Dust, and dirt and garbage flying by my blinded body.
I blink hard a few times, my vision clears, and I look up at the cloud. 

Hot.
So hot.
Ungodly Hot.

As it dims the shape of a mushroom forms in my pupils. There is no mistaking what I am seeing. There is no deluding myself. This is going to be it. How did they hit us? Who hit us? How could we let this happen? Out of this heat will come a nuclear winter.

Loud.
So loud.
Ungodly loud.

My thoughts go to the panic of never being able to hear again, what if I can’t hear anymore? Then I calm myself down, not to worry, you’ll be dead soon. Worry more about the pain, hope that it comes fast and then it’s all over. Watching the fire ball spread, I realize it’s not going to be fast, this death is going to be from radiation poisoning, the fires won’t claim me, not unless I run into them.

Sick.
So sick.
Ungodly sick.

I fall into a ditch, vomit coating my blouse and skirt, it’s mostly blood at this point. I lay my hands in front of me, try and push myself off the ground, but crumble again. The blistering is not only confined to where skin was exposed, it’s all over, boiling and red. The fever has begun, my head feels as if it is smashed in a vice. I’m losing control of my body, the tremors move through me like an earthquake, and I shake uncontrollably.

Weak.
So weak.
Ungodly weak.

Finally, able to push myself upright again, I keep walking, I can at least go out on my feet, standing, with some dignity. How far have I walked? There are other people around, they are all fleeing. They see me, clutch their children closer, brandish guns, before looking towards the fire and running again. I catch my reflection in a car’s window, my skin hangs loose like an ill fitted sweater. Blood drips out my mouth and down my clothes, the hair that hasn’t been scorched off is coming out in bloody clumps. My skin blistered, red, as I shake…like one of them, like an infected. They think I’m infected.

Funny.
So funny.
Ungodly funny.

I stop in a park, sit down on a bench and face the city on a hill. Nothing but a charred hole. Screams, sirens, the sound of flames licking the sky. A figure comes out of the haze, bounding towards me, child under one arm, gun in the other. He sees me and stops. “Look away honey.” He raises his gun and marches directly towards me. He looks me in the eyes. He sees what I am, I nod my head. “Please” He hesitates and then fires. Nothing.

Dark.
So dark.
Ungodly dark.
Thank you.

- Story and Image by Ben Kurstin (Screenwriter and Cinematographer for Chrysalis) 

(This painting was discovered in a home 32 days after the bomb went off in Washington D.C. The body of the artist was nearby, paintbrush still in hand, having succumbed to acute radiation poisoning. The artists name is unknown.)

The Bomb: Bright/Dark

-   October 1st, 2019  -  5:22 PM EST -  Washington D.C.  -


Bright.

So bright.

Ungodly bright.


Then a grey, spinning nothingness. The wind whipping past my face, the shock waves reverberating through my body. Dust, and dirt and garbage flying by my blinded body.

I blink hard a few times, my vision clears, and I look up at the cloud.


Hot.

So hot.

Ungodly Hot.


As it dims the shape of a mushroom forms in my pupils. There is no mistaking what I am seeing. There is no deluding myself. This is going to be it. How did they hit us? Who hit us? How could we let this happen? Out of this heat will come a nuclear winter.


Loud.

So loud.

Ungodly loud.


My thoughts go to the panic of never being able to hear again, what if I can’t hear anymore? Then I calm myself down, not to worry, you’ll be dead soon. Worry more about the pain, hope that it comes fast and then it’s all over. Watching the fire ball spread, I realize it’s not going to be fast, this death is going to be from radiation poisoning, the fires won’t claim me, not unless I run into them.


Sick.

So sick.

Ungodly sick.


I fall into a ditch, vomit coating my blouse and skirt, it’s mostly blood at this point. I lay my hands in front of me, try and push myself off the ground, but crumble again. The blistering is not only confined to where skin was exposed, it’s all over, boiling and red. The fever has begun, my head feels as if it is smashed in a vice. I’m losing control of my body, the tremors move through me like an earthquake, and I shake uncontrollably.


Weak.

So weak.

Ungodly weak.


Finally, able to push myself upright again, I keep walking, I can at least go out on my feet, standing, with some dignity. How far have I walked? There are other people around, they are all fleeing. They see me, clutch their children closer, brandish guns, before looking towards the fire and running again. I catch my reflection in a car’s window, my skin hangs loose like an ill fitted sweater. Blood drips out my mouth and down my clothes, the hair that hasn’t been scorched off is coming out in bloody clumps. My skin blistered, red, as I shake…like one of them, like an infected. They think I’m infected.


Funny.

So funny.

Ungodly funny.


I stop in a park, sit down on a bench and face the city on a hill. Nothing but a charred hole. Screams, sirens, the sound of flames licking the sky. A figure comes out of the haze, bounding towards me, child under one arm, gun in the other. He sees me and stops. “Look away honey.” He raises his gun and marches directly towards me. He looks me in the eyes. He sees what I am, I nod my head. “Please” He hesitates and then fires. Nothing.


Dark.

So dark.

Ungodly dark.

Thank you.

- Story and Image by Ben Kurstin (Screenwriter and Cinematographer for Chrysalis) 

Premiere tickets ON SALE NOW!

It’s time!  Tickets are officially on sale for the Chrysalis premiere on Wednesday, April 23 at 7:30pm at the Logan Theater:

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/628947

Be sure to tell your friends and family to come out, and be sure to snatch up tickets quick because we have a pretty good feeling we’re going to sell out this screening.  Can’t wait to see you all there and show you what a freaking awesome movie we made.  See you soon!

Lost, Children

It was like the autumn leaves dropping from the trees. They were everywhere. Yellowed, brittle from being in the sun, getting wet and then drying again. Outside walls were covered with them, every inch taken up with another happy face, another tragic plea of hope that they were simply lost. The pictures on them at first were so vivid, then slowly fading until there was nothing left to distinguish one from another. I wonder if anyone ever even got a call at the numbers they put on the posters. Do missing people ever get found? Adults, children, every race and creed…the virus wasn’t prejudiced. We were all just fodder.

For a while I collected the posters, kept them in a book, but it became too hard, too gut wrenching to pick up another one. The book had become heavy; not only in weight. So I found a quiet place, out in an old growth forest, and I buried it. I read the names out loud if they were still legible, and anything nice that was written about them I’d say as well. I gave them the burial that I knew none of them got. I knew this Psalm, and I thought better to say something than nothing at all.


The Lord is my shepherd,

I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

he leadeth me beside still waters.


It was at this point that the tears started to run down my face.


He…restores my soul,

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness…for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no…evil,

thy rod, and thy staff comfort me.


There was a rustling, something ahead of me, maybe 50 yards out.


Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies,

Anoint my head with oil, my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness…and mercy shall follow me all the days…of my life,

and I will dwell in the House of the Lord…forever.


I pulled a large stone over the place that I buried the book, and I don’t know why I thought this fitting, but I cut my hand and dripped the blood over the stone. The rustling was getting louder; whether it was an animal or an infected, I didn’t want to know.  I walked in the other direction, my knife in hand, both hands covered in the dirt of the grave. I washed them off in a small stream, but my hands won’t ever be clean again. I headed for more open ground.

I never looked at another poster again.  I averted my eyes.  I didn’t want to see their faces, I didn’t want to know their names.  I never prayed again, not to him, who abandoned his children.

~ Story by Ben Kurstin (Screenwriter and Cinematographer on Chrysalis)