Yurickton was not an unpleasant municipality.
Tucked betwixt rolling hills and spreading lazily across the valley between two of the largest rises, Yurickton was a small, quiet town, founded by a man named Crazy Yurick, whose “craziness” remains unconfirmed, excluding the statue in the center of town that states Crazy Yurick in large, block capital letters. All that is known about Nathaniel “Crazy” Yurick is that he founded the town, and was victim to wanderlust several years later, departing for parts unknown and never to be seen again. Since then, Yurickton had gained a bit of a local reputation as a good place for a short vacation; close enough that the travel time was not horrendous, but far enough that people could be secure in the fact that no-one in the street would recognize them.
In fact, not only was Yurickton not unduly unpleasant, but the view at this moment was actually quite pretty; the sun, which was inching towards the horizon in order to begin it’s sojourn across a different sky, was throwing amber and orange light across the town and the aforementioned hills, and the sky was a myriad of colors, ranging from a bright orange in the west to a dark blue in the east. However, most of the residents of Yurickton were not outside or observing this quite beautiful end to the day, and the only group of people that could observe this wonderful evening were busy observing something else of more immediate importance than the existentiality of watching a sunset, even one as incredible as this.
While they did not look it, this group of people was made of scientists. They lacked in the identifying markers of the stereotypical beaker-user, and indeed many of them looked like the average person on the street, though they most assuredly were not. All of them to the number were caught between acting like they were relaxed, and extreme anxiety. The relaxed portion of their description was a sort of façade that nearly everyone, from the actual average people who were currently inside, not enjoying the sunset, to these scientists, who, by interesting coincidence, were also not observing the sunset. Indeed, they seemed to be concentrated on holding on to their strange facsimile of relaxed calm, despite the overarching anxiousness that gripped them all. The anxiety was probably due to the corpse.
The Author shall not endeavor here to describe the dead person; he will assume, instead, that the audience has watched enough mystery and crime television to know perfectly well all the features of the typical corpse, and in fact he has no interest in doing so as the dead person, unfortunate as their situation might be, is not particularly relevant to our story, and therefore shall be ignored entirely except for when it becomes relevant in some way. In fact, in order of relevancy, the Author would rate the man standing above the corpse first, and the order would continue down the line of perfectly or marginally current relevant people present, all the way down to a large man near the back of the group named Timothy, a decently wealthy individual and known eccentric from San Francisco who, for some reason, worked as a janitor at the same laboratory that the rest happened to labor at daily.
The man crouching over the corpse shifted almost imperceptibly from the flat of their feet to the balls, slowly examining the dead body as if mulling over the method of disposal would be the most appropriate for this situation, which is, in fact, what he was thinking about. This particular body was slightly battered from the gunshot it had taken, and the man who was examining it noted the single bullet hole in the corpse’s head while a flash of anger, frustration and grim, exhausted acceptance. The identification tag clipped to the front of the man’s white coat read “Dr. Charles Henderson”, but the rest was illegible, and the ink that made up the carefully printed, crisp letters appeared to have bled out due to the bit of blood that had landed there when he had stabbed the fake FBI agent with the sharp broken end of a pipe. That body in question had already been disposed of in an acid bath, which would have the effect of dissolving it completely given time, but Dr. Charles Henderson apparently considered the current body worth more consideration than the last one. Doctor Henderson, suddenly making his decision, made to stand up, but, as if by afterthought, plucked the identification card off the body’s chest before standing and softly addressing the researcher next to him.
“We’ll treat him with respect, not like that bastard that killed him.” Doctor Henderson seemed to think a moment more, then said, so soft that the researcher had to step a little closer in order to hear: “We’ll bury Ben at Highcastle; it’s what he would have wanted.”
The researcher nodded, then stepped back, selected a handful of the crowd, then, with the assistance of a wiry female doctor who looked more stoic than most of the present men, prepared a stretcher made out of coats and pipes, then moved it beside the deceased Ben, gently moving him and placing him almost reverently on the stretcher before carrying him away. Doctor Henderson watched for a moment, then shifted his attention to the water treatment plant that Ben’s body had been at the entrance of.
“Ben, what were you up to?” the doctor muttered to himself. Then, spying a vial that must have dropped out of Ben’s hand and had been beneath him until he had been moved, Charles crouched down and picked it up, turning it this way and that, then examining the small label. What he see there, though a jumble of numbers and letters to most people, made him take a sharp intake of breath. Quickly, his eyes flicked between the empty vial and the treatment plant before he stood, muttering “You crazy old man…”
The sun, a bit miffed at being ignored, decided to sink a little slower in order to catch the attention of the people still gathered at the entrance to the facility, or at least the two people in the white box van slowly making its way among the streets of the town towards an old, nearly abandoned church, sitting alone on a small hill near the edge of the city. The people of Yurickton went about their lives at home, blissfully unaware of the chemical that had been introduced to their water supply.
Near the center of town, a man named David, tired from a long day at the electronics store where he spent his days, drained a glass of water, heedless of what it contained.
In the only apartment block in the city, a teenager named Sean was taking a shower.
Just outside the edge of town, an adolescent called Jane broke into a cabin, then took long drinks from the faucet in the kitchen; she’d been on the run a long time.
All over the city, men, women and children drank, bathed in, washed in or otherwise came in contact with, water from taps, faucets, showerheads, and many other sources: most of them would remain unchanged, but a few would have wonderful and terrible things occur to them in the following months and weeks.