Once the infection of the plague takes over in the victim’s body, it’s only a matter of time before any animal close by gets the same urge a shark feels when blood is fills its water. It all started right after the metal beam landed on my husband’s leg. The rats came out to feast on him in such harmony, all synchronized. The plague took another.
“Stop!” I yelled as if those filthy little beasts could understand. Of course, they couldn’t.
I knew they would come. Or some other infected organism. One touch from the infected and the plague isn’t choosey. Knowing this, I tried my best to be strong unlike when the plague took my grandmother. I said that I would never let myself get that low again if I was to continue to survive. But here I was now screaming hysterically with tears flowing at speeds I didn’t know were possible. I flailed so much and so ridiculously that the handcuffs which held me in place attached to an old radiator now dangled freely. My wrist was very bruised and a little scrap of radiator clanged at the other end. I was free but too late.
The person I loved was eaten down to the bone. Those beautiful strong eyes were now gone.
I forced myself to look at his skeleton. I tried to commit everything to memory, this way I’ll never wonder. I’ll never regret moving on too quickly. With my grandma, I had walked in on our dogs in the middle of it all. I left the house without taking a breath and then cried on the corner up the block. With my husband, call it a sadistic form of closure, I guess.
The only good thing about darkness is that it exposes the light. And the room became a metaphor, covered in dust and ember, I noticed it held a small beam of orange light piercing through the top left ceiling. Orange meant the sun was nearing the end of his shift. That would mean my husband and I witnessed our last sunset yesterday. I’m grateful for that. But now that he’s nothing more than a few pounds of skeleton, I find it necessary to escape even more. Better yet, I find it necessary to survive.
I know I don’t have much time. I will find the Sheriff that ordered our containment. And I’ll give him the plague just as I did my husband. Except this time, it won’t be an accident.
The Sheriff had gone mad with power. Or at least I think so. He has those who believe his killing and containments are justified. My justification though? Give him the plague. The thing is, the town had a plan. And he didn’t follow it. In return, accidents happened and he assumes killing can stop the effects. Whatever happened to looking for a vaccine or rational thinking?
Despite knowing time was running out, I gave myself some time alone next to my husband’s bones. I said a prayer and then said, “I’m sorry that this will be your final resting place.”
Getting out of the building wasn’t as hard as I assumed it to be. The fire had weakened the walls enough where I could break a big hole away to squeeze out. I didn’t say goodbye to my husband. We did that already with our eyes before the rats did their thing. To move forward I would need to let go of my past for now. And squeezing through that dirty pile of a building was the first step.
I was checking cellphones on the ground as I walked since the Sheriff’s men took all my belongings. It was like a pawn shop exploded with wallets, clothes, bones and other items the infected can’t consume. Most of the cellphones were either dead or locked. But I did find one with neither issue. The background picture in the phone was of a mother and her three kids, smiling during a time where the world was free of the plague.
I dialed my mom on the cellphone.“Oh, good heavens Maya you’re okay. How is Phillip?”
I had refused two things thus far: acknowledge my dead husband’s name because it’s just easier to talk about him without saying it now that he’s dead. And the other thing is that I refused to say the Sheriff’s name simply because–he’s a prick. “They made him touch my blood. He got the plague and passed away mom.”
“Oh…I’m so…there was a pause that felt like an eternity. The only time I heard her scream harder was when I told her grandma died.… “terribly sorry. Dear you know I am just out of…” More crying. “words at this point.”
“The Sheriff’s men handcuffed me to the old squatter house on Trimark Street and torched the place, but Phillip saved me and doused the fire.”
“You know what happened next mom. Listen, the Sheriff wants me wiped out completely. He knows all about my plague, how many people it’s killed. You have to skip town before they…” I could hear a boom in the background.
“Please tell me that wasn’t your door…”
“They’re here Maya. I love you.”
“Mom, you have to run. Don’t just accept it.” My voice trembled so much so that the words barely came out. “Mom!!!”
My mom never answered me. Instead my ears just picked up her screams. I kept my ear to the phone the entire time. I listened until the torturing made her screams simmer down less and less. I sat on the ground with no strength left and a hollow chest. I killed my husband, and they killed my mom. The only two people in my life that matters are gone. One was my fault, the other was based on fear. And of course, I accidentally killed the Sheriff’s son. So, in return he made sure my mom’s death was as brutal as possible.
With nothing but the cold and unforgiving world around me, I let my feet take me in the direction of the county housing the Sheriff. He surely thought I was dead right now. Maybe I am inside. But on the outside, I have one mission.
A half hour into my walking, two things happened, I realized that the smart thing to do wouldn’t be to kill the Sheriff but rather give him the plague. Killing him wouldn’t feel right. Killing him would make me just as bad. The plague on the other hand–I will give him the same curse this life gave me. The second thing that happened is that a horse came galloping towards me.
My first instinct was to let it keep going. I have no clue on how to handle a horse and since it’s running so manically it must be in an awful state. Maybe it belonged to one of the Sheriff’s men, maybe it fled an infected farm, either way, here I was waving my arms and trying to settle it down. I made the mistake of petting the damn thing once it calmed. Unfortunately for this horse, my gloves were destroyed, therefore dooming it to death very shortly. I’d make it to the Sheriff by then.
The horse galloped as the sun said its final goodbyes for the day. Knowing that I may get hurt confronting the Sheriff, I wondered if it had said its final goodbye to me. I was nervous. They had guns. I had a weird disease that required me to touch them. No blood contact, no saliva, just a touch. It’s something I dearly took for granted looking back. I should have showed more affection towards the ones I loved.
I n front of the police precinct, the cops all came running out, guns drawn probably at word that the sick woman on the horse arrived. He knew my name of course. They probably didn’t.
And then also like clockwork, the squirrels, the mice, the little red foxes all came running towards my horse. “I’m so sorry.” I whispered to it.” And they devoured the poor, hysterically screeching beast until horse bones sprinkled the pavement.
The police parted ways for the wannabe cowboy Sheriff holding his belt, as if his waist was the one directing him.
“If it ain’t the witch that killed my boy. You survived huh? Not now though, shoot her boys.”
“Wait.” I had no plan. I should have had one. But I guess, I don’t know, my emotions took me here. So, I raised my hand as if I were about to say something important to stall. They all watched as I picked up the horse bones.
“Hold your fire. Let’s see what she has to say.”
This horse really helped me I must say. I threw the bones up in the air as a distraction. The cops all covered their heads for the incoming bone rain as I tackled the Sheriff. Touching his face.
“Nooooooooo!” He screamed. “I’m infected!”
The police then shot me in the back. The last thing I can tell you is that the plague took another one, but at least this one deserved it.
About the Author:
Joseph Reilly is the author of the novel Vanishing Love set to be released by Adelaide Books in November 2020. He is the current head writer for ShipByMail Services Inc. Joseph’s writing has been published by Ephemeral Elegies, Monologue Blogger and Chegg.com, among others. He has also penned two self- published contemporary romance novels Hearts and Diners, and Better at Friendships on Amazon along with holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing from The New School in New York. You can read all of his work and more at joereillywrites.wordpress.com.