I didn’t feel like writing a short bio calling a friend or family member crazy, and then keeping that accusation on the intertubes. So I’m following the prompt closely to “write a short bio of a crazy lady [I] know.” For the first time, I’m writing about my novel in a public area. This is a backstory of Felicia Carter, one of the minor, but pivotal characters in my novel.
At the time of the novel, Felicia is about 40-41. Assuming I’m writing in present time, that means she was born in a bout 1968 or 1969. I’m building her story from there.
Felicia Carter was born to Ted and Jeanette Carter in 1968. She was a normal child, though prone to theatrics because she was an only child. Her parents were anti-hippies, and were older than all her friends’ parents. Her dad served in Vietnam, and she was conceived while he was on leave.
When she was a child, Jimmy Carter was elected, and she took to telling people that he was her uncle. To her knowledge, they weren’t related, but he was actually her third cousin, once removed.
While in high school, she discovered that she loved chemistry. This was about 1984, when the rest of the country loved money. She liked working the equations, making the scales balance as she solved the equations and added the proper number of molecules or took away or added electrons. The balance appealed to her inherited love of order. But the promise of explosions and of perchance disastrous experiments appealed to the part of her that grew up with her hippie friends and their tendency to try to blow up stuff in their parents’ absence.
She entered her local community college in Jackson, Mississippi in the fall of1986 and concentrated on getting as many science credits as possible so she could transfer to Ol’ Miss with a high GPA. But in the spring of 1987, despite her high GPA and assumed intelligence, she met a man and fell in love. They moved in together, and decided to get married in 1990. The round year appealed to both of them. It seemed like they could always remember that year as their anniversary, and they agreed to get married on 9/9/1990. He asked her to leave school to keep house for him, and she initially refused. She wanted to be a chemist, and didn’t see why his major in pre-dental superceded hers. She continued in school for another semester, and realized that she, after 3 semesters, was only one class away from getting her associates’ degree. She applied for Ol’Miss to enter the following fall, but didn’t tell her boyfriend. That spring, she took the one class as a concession to the pre-dental guy, as she kept home easily with only one class. He still didn’t know of her Ol’ Miss plans, and she hid her acceptance letter under the mattress.
In March, she discovered she was pregnant. They decided not to get married because Felicia didn’t care about that convention, and anyway, she was beginning to resent pre-dental guy. Here he was, tying her down again.
Ol’ Miss was put on hold. She had twins, both of whom were sickly. She spent the next five years keeping them safe, nursing their wounds, and being proud of their childish accomplishments.
One day, when pre-dental, who was now a young dentist in Jackson, was running late to work as he went to srop the kids off at school. Dentist always dropped them off, and Felicia picked them up after a day of organizing the house and the necessary social engagements of a young dentist’s wife. Then they played together while they waited for dentist to get off work.
Dentist ran a red light—one of the only red lights in their neighborhood, still new to the locals who’d been used to simply yielding there for decades. Another car plowed into the little Camry, and the twins were both killed. Dentist lingered in the hospital for days, then he died, too.
After a year of blowing through her savings as fast as she blew through boxes of Kleenexes, Felicia decided to go back to chemistry. She saw a recruitment ad in the paper for lab technicians, and discovered she only needed the associates’ degree. She thought she’d do that for a few years, get a feel for the lab, and then go back to college to get her B.S. She got on anti-depressants and tried to pull her life together.
She moved from lab to lab, city to city, and never went back to college. But she began to see more of the world beyond Mississippi. She moved to Chicago and began working for Harbor Laboratory Sciences, helping to make animals more productive. She was excited by the prospect of helping dairy cows produce good milk for longer, helping animals live longer. This seemed like a great idea. HLS decided to move her out to their California offices, to help in implementing some of the ideas they’d been testing.
Though she was just a lab tech, she was able to help the other scientists in the quiet experiments. The cows seemed to be producing more milk, and they were definitely living longer. But unfortunately, a year or so after they should have died, they began to get really sick. The scientists decided to scrap the that round, and sent the cows to slaughter. They tried again, and the cows were still sick. One died in front of Felicia, and she cried. She thought they were doing good. She watched as the cow fell on the ground, milking machine still attached. An hour later, a man came by with a forklift to take her away for a necropsy. Though Felicia was not needed, she decided to go see what had caused the death. Instead, she saw the cow wake up on the huge table and try to take a bite out of the veterinarian performing the necropsy. He acted quickly and shot her with the captive bolt gun, killing her on the table. He mumbled that the necropsy was over, that she must not have really died earlier, saying, “my mistake.”
Felicia tried to warn others about the dead/not-dead cows, as she began to see the situation repeat itself. She stopped going to work, tried to write letters to the editor about the zombie cows to all the local papers. She called all the major news channels, tried posting on blogs, but no one would listen. She stopped taking her anti-depressants and spiraled into mental illness as she dealt again with her twins’ death and the possible death of others if they ate the dead again beef. She got arrested once for trying to warn others about not eating beef. She lost her job officially, lost her home, and was on the streets. When she was staying at a shelter, she met a nice young volunteer who tried to help her get a suit for another chance at an interview. He helped her log on to the shelter computer to email people. But then she heard he got arrested for stealing her a suit. Things just weren’t working out. She kept emailing, and one person said he would try to come interview her if he had a chance.
That week, the farm decided to just haul off one cohort of dairy cows to slaughter and try to start over again. Felicia heard from a former coworker that the cows were on the way to slaughter, and she headed to the slaughterhouse to try to get the dead/not-dead cows on film. Unfortunately, she got too close as she was trying to get a close up of the downed cow pile. One of the cows lurched up and bit her arm, trying to rip it from the socket. The cow managed to break the skin, and the saliva mixed with Felicia’s blood as she struggled to pull away. The mutation created in her own lab traveled into her bloodstream, tearing a path through her cells as it turned her into a dead/not-dead Felicia.