Febrile.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short depicting a young girl and the beginning of her journey to what could be the end of the human population as hinted to her by the swift murder of her brother, mother and father on the part of our microscopic antagonist.

Submitted: August 21, 2016

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Submitted: August 21, 2016

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Nobody stays around for long here, no one trusts, no one loves, no one is loved. Everybody keeps to themselves. No contact with others that is not through glass, plastic, the phone line, a virtual screen. Or the best that anyone can manage these days through a surgical mask. The last time I had any contact with another human being that was uncut, untoughed by anything, I was about 20 years old. That day sticks out in my memory because it was effectively the end of my life in the connected world our human population has known for countless generations.
It was the end of life as everyone knew it. And though that day I did not know this, I could not have known that in the next room, my younger brother Jack was incubating the virus that was already destroying our world and would soon rip through our family and the worlds population. I heard him coughing through the night and went in to his room in the morning to wake him for school and found him dead, cold and still with his face strained with a look of utter horror.
The fever this virus causes climbs so high and is so relentless that the body remains warm for some time after the patient dies, as though the virus knows that if it keeps itself warm, it can spread itself further. Like it had learned from the example rabies set in dogs and cats. his body was without a pulse, he was not breathing, still perspiring but as white as the sheet he was lying on, the lesions on his skin livid and red as cherries, blood tricking still from them. His lips were chapped and chard dry, his eyes still open in horror, wide from the strain of the cough. There was vomit around his mouth and head, on his pillow and his hands were clasped around bunches of his blanket, as though he was still shivering.

I rushed to him and checked his neck for a pulse, yelling his name and shaking him. Stripping his button down pajama top automatically as if I thought there was a chance he would be alright If I started CPR. I yelled for my parents to help. They came and my mother checked him over, in that concerned mother does, picking up his little lifeless body and holding it up to her ear, brushing back his soaked hair and kissing his forehead and cheeks. She could not understand that he was dead as I tried to tell them that he had probably died during the night. My father looked numb with shock.

My brother was found to be patient one. Patient zero had just come back from America on holiday. He lived in our street and went to the same school as my younger brother. He had died on the same day as my brother and so we had no time to protect ourselves from it. We could not know the danger we and the rest of the world were in as that same day, the virus was to infect randomly, ruthlessly and without any discernible pattern throughout out street and the world. Baffling scientists and health workers the world over.

Around the world, the virus, dubbed by scientist as antichrist was on the move. By the time it had hit our family, it had probably hit at least ten other families around the world because from that day forward, the news had to report nothing but the progress of our new found microbial nemesis as it decimated the population in a way utterly inconsistent with the way of all other viruses, randomly and without any transmitting pattern.
Before the day my brother died was out, my mother had fallen ill. I had called in to work that day to advise of a death in the family and of my absence. By that evening, my mother had been taken ill. I did not make the connection then when she began to cough between my brother’s mysterious malady, my mother’s hysterical caressing of her youngest son, and her illness but within hours, she was delirious, stricken with fever that was about 43 degrees Celsius and my father gathered her up in all her blankets and ran to the car, telling me hurriedly that he was taking her to the ER. I followed in my car. He ran all the red lights, all the stop signs and we arrived at our local hospital within ten minutes. I met them at the ER door as my father was carrying my mother’s shivering, violently shaking body out of the car. A nurse met us as we came into the door, as my father yelled for help and looked around frantically. The nurse steered him to place her on a gurney just inside the door. Two more nurses and a doctor came running.

“She developed a fever…” he said, sounding like he couldn’t think what to say. The nurse was stripping away the layers of blankets and clothes to listen to her chest. The doctor was trying to get my mother to respond to him. Another nurse was pushing the bed as he and I followed them into a resus cubical. It was there that the absolout truth of the worlds situation hit me as my mother’s body began to jerk. She curled in on herself and arched her back, she turned blue, red foam was spilling out of her mouth, her eyes were wide. The nurse grabbed me by the shoulder and took me and my father out of the room to a corner of the corridor and sat us down. She said she would be back soon to give us more information on my mother’s condition. I had neglected to tell them that her son had died from similar symptoms only that morning.

I was numb. I had no idea that the kid down the street, my brother and mother would be named as patients zero, one and two in the pandemic that would be declared in a matter of days world wide.

The doctor came around the corner looking dejected. Putting his stethoscope back around his neck. My father jumped to his feet. The doctor stood there and said in what I was sure he was trying to make a sympathetic voice, that my mother had not responded to treatment and that it was the fever that killed her.

In the weeks that followed, my father would die as would hundreds of thousands around the world from the same relentless and ruthless fever, the same cough that tore at the lungs, the same lesions all over the body that bled and itched, and the same vomiting so forceful that the blood vessels popped, and the esophagus tore from the strain. People world world wide would die from various maladies which no coroner could agree on. Was it the dehydration, the strain, the hypovolaemia, the extreme fever? nobody could tell the exact cause of death in any of antichrists victims.
As the reader of this cautionary tale I speak directly to you now. Three years after the deaths of my brother, mother and father, the world you knew, is now a ghost world. Everyone in it lives on one continent in a make-shift hyper-shielded underground society.

It was thought that those who had survived, and managed to stay uninfected had suffered from extreme grief with no time for closure. I had never had the virus. I was told this when I entered this outpost community in search of work after months of hiding. This was in of itself a miracle said the doctor who had told me this fact. My mother, brother and father had all died and I was spared, at least from the virus, not from the torment of it's lethality. The swift and ruthless way in which it took the lives people cherished. As if the virus knows that it hurts more to be left alone while everyone you know and love is dead than if it had taken you too. As if this insidious microbe picks and chooses who it kills, who it deprives and who it teases for nobody is ever in-touched by it. Everybody knows somebody who had had the virus, or who had died in the inferno it causes internally. The world you, my beloved reader know in your hear and now, is connected in its advanced transport, its internet, its emotional, mental, virtual connections between loved ones, between friends, family, co-workers. Your world is huge and yet small in its intricacy. My world is small, a small drop of humanity in this vast, uninhabited ball of rock in space, ravaged and left for dead by one protein covered ball of lethal prions that has established itself as the new Beelzebub. The new ultimate terrorist, the antichrist of which not one person in ti's decimated world has not met with.

My father disappeared after my mother died, I had not even left the hospital when I, waiting for his return, herd the rush of a MET call and doctors and nurses rushed in the direction I had last seen him go. I had to get the news of his death resulting apparently from acute lung injury from a nurse walking back down the corridor covered in blood and visibly shaken.

I left the hospital.

My world will never be the same.


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