Tag Archives: Sickness

The Sickness. Short Story.

John walked down the empty street, his breathing was slow and heavy, each breath came with a wheeze. Occasionally he would stop and hawk up a lump of phlegm, spitting it onto the ground. He ignored the twin streams of mucous running from his nose. He’d been sick for two weeks now and it seemed like he was the last person left in the city. When rumours could still circulate he’d heard the other cities weren’t fairing much better, at this stage he could be the last man anywhere. He was tired, so very tired but he kept going. Around him the street lights began to grow brighter, it was dawn. He started coughing, each cough tore at his chest, his vision started to swim, John stumbled forward then dropped to his hands and knees until the fit passed. He spat on the ground again, ignoring the flecks of blood that streaked through the mucous. Slowly he got to his feet, that alone took almost all of his strength, but he was nearly there now.

He stopped outside the door, it was smaller than he remembered, less imposing, about eight foot tall and ten feet wide. John went to the small computer screen at the side of the door. He’d soon find out if he was right or not. He pressed a few buttons before he found the option he was looking for. He clicked open, a woman’s voice spoke from the wall, startlingly loud in the quiet “Opening the door will expose you to harsh conditions outside and may mean your death. Should the doors fail to re-engage it would mean the destruction of this city. Do you wish to continue?” he clicked yes. His throat was sore, each time he swallowed it felt like he was swallowing razor blades. He hadn’t spoken since Matilda died a few days before, he wasn’t sure if he still could, most people couldn’t at the end. A siren started blaring from the door as red lights began to flash, “I require identification from the highest ranking member of the community. Please look directly into the camera for your retinal scan.” John moved closer, here went nothing. The computer scanned him and quickly located his profile, “John Henry Adams, you are cleared to open the door.” he stared at the screen, he didn’t expect it to actually work. So it was true, he really was the last one left. There was a loud, high pitched whine followed by a deep grinding noise, the ground around him trembled as the door opened. How long had it been sealed? Someone somewhere must have known but he didn’t. He knew what had been outside, before the bad things happened. He knew that there had been life, animals and trees and plants but now there was nothing left but great desolate plains, filled with nothing but ash and death. Still, he wanted to see it, before he died, feel wind on his face, see the world that they had come from. Besides, what did it matter now? He was dead already, he was just waiting for his body to get the message. The door revealed a large room, thirty feet by forty, it was brightly lit by intense flood lights, empty biohazard suits lined the walls. He stepped into the room and as soon as he crossed the threshold the door started to close again. The voice spoke, “Warning: Once you leave the city limits you may not be able to re-enter depending on your level of contamination.” John ignored the voice and shuffled across the room to the final door, it was as large as the first, there was another computer pad here, “please confirm retinal scan.” John moved closer to it. He was feeling weak now, he didn’t have much longer. He leaned against the wall as the computer scanned him, “Retinal scan confirmed. Door will open in five minutes.” John let out a surprised gasp that turned into a coughing fit. Did he even have five minutes? He shuffled to the edge of the door and leaned against the wall, letting it support his weight. Slowly he began to slide down it, he didn’t have the energy to stop himself.

As he waited he wondered what outside would be like, no one had been outside since the city had been officially opened all those years ago, when the doors had been sealed and humanity had been saved. He could be the first human to go back outside since then, all transport was done underground via railway and they had everything they needed in the cities. A siren started blaring, startling John from his thoughts, had it been five minutes already? There was a rush of cold air as the door opened and the air flooded into the room. He breathed deeply then started coughing. His vision swam, darkness crowded the edges of it as bright spots of black and red danced across everything. Finally the coughing slowed, then stopped. He felt light-headed and dizzy, but he wasn’t done yet. He tried to stand, but his legs quivered and shook before coming out from under him. He waited for a moment, getting his breath back, he rolled onto his stomach and started to crawl. His hand reached outside and hit something cold, but surprisingly soft and slightly wet. He peered out at the expanse of green in front of him, it was magnificent. He dragged himself from the doorway, feeling the wind on his face, flowers dotted the grass along with trees, reaching towards the heavens. The sun shone down, warm and comforting.

John rested against the tree trunk, he couldn’t go any further, this was it for him. He ran his hand through the grass again, how long had it been like this? How long had they been kept cooped up in the cities? He wondered if anyone else knew but that didn’t matter, he wouldn’t be able to tell anyone anyway. He closed his eyes, each breath coming with a wheeze and phlegmmy rumble. Nearby he could hear something moving towards him, he was too tired to feel fear, what did it matter now? A large creature appeared, walking on thin, almost delicate legs. It had brown and white fur, large eyes and slightly pointed ears that stuck up form the top of its head, it leaned down towards him, sniffing curiously. Slowly, gently he reached out and placed a hand on its side, feeling the warmth of it through its fur. He smiled, then closed his eyes for the last time. A second later his hand dropped from the creature sending it bounding off with a graceful leap. John’s chest fell still and with the sound of birdsong in his ears and the feel of wind across his skin he slipped away into the darkness.

From the Skies Above. Flash Fiction.

Nick sneezed, he pulled his hands away from his face and froze. Hundreds of little black dots covered the palms of his hands, he was infected. He had three days left, four if he was unlucky. He stood for a moment, just staring at his hands before a loud crash from outside startled him, he went to the downstairs bathroom and turned on the taps, there he washed his hands again and again, scrubbing at them with a nail brush until they were bright red and stinging underneath the spray of the warm water. He knew it wouldn’t make a difference, it was already inside him, but he couldn’t stand the thought of that black stuff on his skin. He left the bathroom and went to the kitchen, stumbling one or twice on the way. He sat down at the small wooden table and stared into the distance. Was this really how it was going to end for him? Alone in his house, unable to breath, to move. He got up from the table and filled the kettle, he needed something to calm his nerves, first he’d have a cup of tea, then he’d figure out a game plan. He still had the same food supplies as before, but well, now at least they wouldn’t have to be stretched as far.

Nick sipped his coffee, it was black, the milk had gone off the day before. The shops had been closed shortly after the first signs of sickness appeared and Nick hadn’t been outside since, not with the mandatory quarantine. No one was allowed outside their property and anyone seen doing so would be arrested or shot on sight if they appeared sick in any way. Nick had been lucky, he’d gone shopping only the day before it all started, he’d seen plenty of stories on the news of people going outside looking for food only to find a military patrol instead.

It had all started innocuously enough a week before, when there was a meteor shower, everyone had been outside watching, it had been billed as a once in a lifetime event and they weren’t wrong. What looked like millions of stars shooting across sky, visible despite the light pollution of the city. They had all stood outside, staring upwards completely unaware of what was raining down on them. Nick coughed, more black specks were on his hands, as he looked at them he felt tired, drained. The frantic urge to wash it away was gone as were all thoughts of a plan, there was nothing to do now but wait and hope that he’d be the first to survive.

Close to Salvation. Short Story.

Larry gazed up at the sun above him, he licked his dry, cracked lips with his thick, heavy tongue. It had been so long since he had last had a drink, almost two days now at this point. Yesterday he had come across an old dirty bucket that had been filled with rain water, he had been tempted but the algae that covered the surface and the tiny wriggling things had put him off. Now he would give anything for a single sip of that water. He had been foolish to think he could survive out here, what did he know about the wilderness? The closest he had ever been to nature had been sitting out in his parents back garden on a nice day. Hell he hadn’t even been to the beach in years. He had been safe where he was, he’d still have water and food, though that would have run out in other few days anyway. In the distance he could hear the rev of an engine, his heart beat faster and he quickly broke into a shuffling run, he needed to get somewhere safe, some kind of shelter, before they spotted him. Even at full strength he wouldn’t be able to take them. He didn’t know exactly who they were but he didn’t need to, he had already seen what their kind did. The strong survive, the weak perish, that was their motto. He’d seen them run down an old man, he watched from his apartment balcony as the old man had struggled to get away, watched as they gave him a head start, then all took after him at once. The old man made it another five, maybe ten feet before they caught up with him. He didn’t want to see what happened next but he couldn’t look away and as he watched they beat the old man to death before tearing him limb from limb. At least Larry hoped he was dead at that point.

He had always thought that at the core of it people were good, that if there was any kind of mass disaster people would group together, try to help one another out. He was wrong. Or maybe the sickness just took all the decent people. He had watched as they broke into stores, sometimes they didn’t even take anything, they just broke the windows because the whim had struck them. He had seen them going into apartment buildings, making their way up through the floors. Sometimes they’d come out with someone, sometimes kicking and screaming, other times unconscious. He knew it was only a matter of time until they did a sweep of his building and if that happened where could he hide? His apartment was small and minimalistic in decoration, white floors, white walls, smooth clean lines everywhere. The day he saw the old man was the day he left. He packed a bag for himself, stuffed it with food and bottled water, then at night he snuck out, moving through the city slowly, listening to every sound and praying it wasn’t one of the gangs. He had made it out easily enough and then he’d just kept going, he didn’t have any place in mind or any real plan. It seemed like an adventure and, like all adventures, it was just supposed to work out for him. He was supposed to come across lakes and rivers as he needed them, perhaps a friendly farm house or two that had managed to survive or avoid the sickness. Perhaps he’d find a small town, a group of people trying to claw their way back from the apocalypse, people who wanted civilisation, peace.

He was going to die out here, in the middle of nowhere, all alone. His throat was dry and felt as though it was sticking to itself, what little saliva he could gather was thick, more like mucous than spit. He had stopped sweating sometime ago, he knew that was a bad sign but he couldn’t remember why. His brain was slow and fuzzy and the only thing he could really focus on was the constant, screaming thirst.

Larry lay on the ground, he couldn’t go any further, he had collapsed a few minutes before, ahead of him he could see the shimmer of a lake, could hear the waves lapping against the shore. Slowly, painfully he reached out and grabbed a handful of grass and he began to crawl. The progress was slow and each movement took more and more out of him. He had kept his head down and just focused on moving forward, he looked up again and saw that the lake appeared no closer, he let out a low moan, he couldn’t do it, he couldn’t go any further. He was going to die here, alone and so tantalisingly close to his salvation. No. He wouldn’t die here, he couldn’t. This wasn’t going to be the end of him. He started moving forward again.

Larry lay on the warm ground, his breathing came in low, laboured gasps. The water was so close, maybe a fifty feet, but he had nothing left to give. He reached out and tried to pull himself forward, he didn’t move. He reached out again, trying to adjust his grip. He tried to pull again but he felt the clump of grass sliding through his fingers. There was a sick, steady throb in the back of his head. The water of the lake gently lapped against the shore, a cloud rolled across the sun sending cooling shadows across the land, somewhere a bird called out, Larry let out one last gasp, then he lay still

The Sickness. Flash Fiction.

So as I said last Wednesday there was a family situation and that was welcoming a new member to the family! My sister gave birth to an absolutely beautiful baby girl on Wednesday, which came as a surprise to everyone, including her! (the giving birth last Wednesday part, not the having a baby part!) We’ve all been running around since making sure that the Mum and Dad have everything they need in the hospital and house and of course, visiting the hospital as much as we can. Little Ailbhe (pronounced Alva) is incredibly charming and adorable, and I’m saying this as a completely unbiased third party and not as her uncle. I’m also thrilled to say that both mother and baby are doing incredibly well!

Also apologies this is up so late, the days have all blurred together and sped past, I forgot this was Friday too!

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The Sickness.

Samantha looked at the lumps on her skin, at first they had worried her but now she didn’t have the energy to be concerned. They were itchy when they first appeared, and slightly reddish, now they were the same pale colour of her skin and when she wasn’t looking at them she almost could forget they were there. She ran her hand along her arm, feeling them beneath her fingers, the lumps were warm, surprisingly so. She could see people passing outside the room through the small, barred window in the door. They had brought her in here shortly after she arrived and refused to tell her anything. So far the doctor had been in once to give her a quick examination, he didn’t seem to do much other than prod at one of the lumps with gloved hands and take her temperature. She scratched at one absentmindedly. Beyond that she hadn’t seen any doctors in the two days she’d been there. The only other person that came into her room was a small, frail looking woman who dropped off her tray of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner and took her temperature. They hadn’t even sent in someone to mop the floors of the room or to look at the bathroom. She definitely wouldn’t be coming to this hospital in the future, even the woman who came in wasn’t much help and had no answers to any of her questions. She scratched at one of the lumps again, they were starting to get itchy again. They had given her some pills in the morning, but the woman shrugged when Samantha had asked what they were, perhaps they were causing the itch as a side effect. As she scratched the bump burst open, thick, foul smelling yellow pus oozed from the wound, she tried not to gag, she looked around for the call button the frail woman had pointed out previously, she found it and pressed it.

The woman arrived a moment later, Samantha held out her arm and before she could speak the woman turned and left the room, closing the door behind her, Samantha could have sworn she heard the woman lock it too. She looked down at her arm, a thin stream of blood was flowing down her fingers and was steadily dripping onto the floor in a steady beat. As she watched something thin and black wriggled free from the wound, Samantha felt her stomach do a slow flip, she couldn’t look away as it curled around itself for a few seconds before it finally fell to the floor. It continued to squirm on the white tiles. She felt a sudden heat and wetness on her arm, she looked up and saw more of the lumps had burst, each one oozing that thick, yellow pus. The stench of it was filling the room, becoming overwhelming. The sight of so much pus and blood shocked her from her stupor, she stood and went to the door, the nurse should have been back by now, she tried the handle, but it didn’t work, the nurse had locked her in. Samantha pounded on the door and started shouting, with each thud more and more of the lumps broke open.

Half an hour later the door was unlocked with a gentle click, the door swung open slowly. The frail woman stood in the doorframe, looking at Samantha’s body. The black worms were writhing and crawling over her skin, already there were large wounds across her body where the worms had feasted. The woman started spraying Samantha’s corpse with a spray bottle, watching as the worms sizzled softly as the spray coated them. Once she had thoroughly doused the body she closed the door again. She wasn’t on clean up duty, thankfully, the stink of chemicals overwhelmed the earlier stench. Soon Samantha’s body would be incinerated, the worms burning with her. The woman locked the door, it was the only way to keep everyone safe. She felt an itch on her wrist, frantically she pulled down her glove and then breathed out a sigh when she saw flat, unblemished skin. She scratched the itch then turned from the door, there were other patients to see and the day was far from over.

Daily Dose. Flash Fiction

Thomas took a swig from the bottle, then grimaced as he felt the burning heat of it move down his throat before blooming in his stomach. He gasped, then took another drink. He started coughing, beads of sweat began to coat his face. He paused for a moment, gasping for air, there was still half the bottle left. He took a slow breath through clenched teeth, then closing his eyes he swung his head back and downed the rest of the bottle in a few gulps. His stomach clenched painfully, causing him to double over. He collapsed forward and lay on the ground, gasping and groaning as the medicine burned its way through him. His arms and legs started to jerk and twitch, he let out a gasp of pain as his muscles tensed and then relaxed. He lay where he was, breathing heavily, waiting for the tremors to pass. When it was over he got shakily to his feet and stumbled to a nearby chair, he sat down, his entire body felt impossibly heavy, every movement seemed monumental. As time passed he began to get some of his energy back, when he was feeling able he grabbed his glass of water from the small table nearby and took a small sip. He drank his water slowly, knowing from previous experience that drinking too quickly meant throwing it all up.

His finger tips started to tingle, gently at first but it quickly grew in intensity, he felt the burning heat move slowly up his arms, then down his chest. Thomas gritted his teeth, it felt like his entire body was on fire. Finally the burning started to fade. His skin felt sensitive and raw, like he had been rubbed all over with fine sandpaper. Gingerly he shifted in the chair, letting out a hiss of pain as his clothes moved over his body.

A few minutes later there was a gentle knock on the door, “Can I come in?”
“Sure.” His voice was weak, even to his own ears, Samantha opened the door, “Do you need anything?”
“No, I’m fine thank you.”
“Did it work?”
He nodded, “Yeah, it did.”
“Good.” Samantha turned and left the room, closing the door behind herself. The question was just a formality, it was clear from his bright red skin and sweat stained clothes it had worked. The treatment helped keep everything at bay, the pain, the gnawing hunger, but it wouldn’t work forever, someday, maybe soon, maybe twenty years from now, he would drink the medicine and nothing would happen. It was a day he both feared and welcomed, it would mean the end of his suffering, no one with active disease was permitted to live, it was safer and kinder to put him down. He remembered the days before, when he would go out with friends, drinking and clubbing, even just going for walks. It all seemed to long ago, and so unfair that one simple mistake had cost him almost everything. They had been standing outside a nightclub, waiting to get in when a drunk girl staggered out, she was stumbling as she went, he didn’t see how it happened but she tripped and fell forward, he had caught her, more out of instinct than any real desire to help. She had smiled up at him and slurred out a thanks. Then she had coughed, it didn’t seem like that heavy of a coughing fit, nothing remarkable or dangerous. He righted her and she continued on, he turned to his friends who were looking at him in horror. His face was covered in a fine misting of blood. It was the last time he had seen any of them without thick glass between them. He never found out who the girl was, though there were numerous attempts to track her down and quarantine her. Fifteen people were infected that night and he was the last one still living.

Sickness. Flash Fiction.

Jeremy coughed, then cleared his throat, feeling the lump of phlegm work itself free. He spat it into the sink, it was a deep black, stark against the white porcelain of the sink. He took slow, deep breaths, ignoring the bitter, acrid taste of metal in the back of his mouth. When he knew the coughing fit had ended he took a slow, deep breath then turned on the tap. He watched the black phlegm as it was washed down the drain, he took a handful of water and splashed it onto his face. The coughing fits were getting worse, despite the doctors assurance that he would be fine. He wasn’t the only one coughing up this gunk, it was happening to almost everyone he knew and at times it seemed like the entire city were coughing up their lungs. They played reassuring ads on the television, telling people to drink fluids and get plenty of rest but the ads unnerved Jeremy. They seemed too clean, too wholesome, like they were trying to hide something. They explained away the gunk, something about natural toxins, that everyone would be fine in a few weeks, but the doctors had been telling him that for months now. The cough wasn’t getting better, but then it wasn’t getting worse. As far as illnesses went it wasn’t the worst, sure the cough was annoying and so was the almost constant runny nose, but beyond that he felt fine, just a little tired if he pushed himself too hard.

Jeremy took a deep breath of the cold air, the air seemed cleaner these days, more sunny skies and less overcast days too. That was all thanks to them finally shutting down those awful factories, all automated and spewing thick black smoke into the air. He didn’t know what the factory was making, no one knew, some government contractor, all hush hush. Seemed like large trucks were coming and going at all hours too. Then the war ended, and with it that factory. They always called it a war but Jeremy never saw it as that. It didn’t have the same awful impact, mostly just posturing and bombing of the automated factories. The official death count was only twelve people, four of which were from industrial accidents.

Jeremy lay in bed, shivering, he was freezing cold, but sweat was running down his face and his sheets were soaked through. He coughed again, great hacking coughs that tore at his chest, he turned his head to the side and spat onto the floor. He couldn’t swallow the phlegm, it burned any time he tried and he had knocked over the basin long ago. He reached around blindly for the towel and finding it, he dabbed at his runny nose. He had run out of tissues, he wasn’t sure when. He pulled the towel away, dark streaks joining the other stains. He was right, he knew the cough was bad, but that brought him little comfort. He had tried ringing the emergency services but no one was answering, same when he tried to ring the doctor. He had never bothered with those smart phones, seemed a bit pointless, but now he regretted it. He was too tired, too sick, to get to the living room to look at the TV. He felt like he was completely cut off from everyone. He had tried ringing people, friends, but they weren’t answering either. He didn’t know if it was because they were too sick to answer or if they were already dead. He took another breath, it was shallow, wheezing. He knew he was dying, he could feel it, whatever it was, worming its way through his body, draining his strength.

Jeremy could barely breathe, each breath was a struggle. He could hear a gurgling in his chest. He was still coughing up that damned phlegm. He could no longer taste it, that acrid metal taste, he had been spitting out lumps and his tongue was swollen and sore. He suspected the phlegm was eating away at his tongue, and the rest of his body. Somewhere there was a ringing noise, his phone, but he was too weak to reach for it. Soon the ringing would stop, it had the last time the phone rang. He didn’t want to die here, alone, in a soiled bed, but he was too weak to move. He took another breath, listening to that familiar gurgle. It almost felt like he was drowning, his lungs slowly filling with fluid. He let out another cough, this one was weak, painful. He struggled to get his breath back, the edges of his vision swimming with darkness. It was getting closer all the time.

It wasn’t peaceful. He had hoped it would be. He coughed again, but this time he couldn’t breathe, the darkness at the edge of his vision grew, clouding everything until there was nothing left. He lay unconscious, his body struggling to breathe. He took one last rattling gasp then his chest fell still. He lay like that, unmoving, for a long time. Then black liquid started to fill his throat and his mouth, there was a wet ripping sound as it burst free from his skin, coating the bed. Then, there was silence.

Punishment. Short Story.

Grace sank back into her pillows and dabbed at her mouth with some tissue. At least the vomiting was over for a little while. The bucket was half filled with the thick, gelatinous mass and the room stunk of it. Her mother wouldn’t be back to clean it out for another hour or so. Grace was used to the stench by now, sour and strangely sweet, mixed with the heady scent of the flowers her mother filled the room with. The idea behind the flowers was to mask the smell, stop it from spreading through the rest of the house, but it was a pointless idea. Her mother left the buckets and only cleaned them once a day, maybe twice if she was particularly fed up with the smell. Apart from that Grace only saw her mother when she brought breakfast and dinner. Lunch was pointless as Grace was usually picking at her breakfast until then. The nurse usually came around the time that her mother emptied the bucket and the nurse would help her use the bathroom. Her mother was adamant that she wouldn’t do that. It had been a struggle for the nurse to convince her mother to empty the vomit bucket. The nurse would strip the bed of the soiled sheets and replace them with fresh ones. Grace didn’t like the sheets that were used, they were plastic and sticky, she missed fresh cotton sheets, soft against her delicate skin. The nurse would clean her up, usually by hosing her down in the bath, then she would be dried and put back to bed. There were new beds out, ones that would dispose of the waste, but her mother refused to buy one, always saying that there was no point, as Grace would only get a few months use of it.

Grace had books and television to keep her company during the day. The visits from the nurse were a nice break, but the nurse was always a bit distant. Friendly enough but never all that forthcoming with conversation. Grace understood. The nurse was run off her feet, travelling around and looking after people like her. It was so much to do, besides that, people with the disease usually didn’t live too long, so it was probably easier on the nurse if she wasn’t attached. Grace still didn’t know the nurses name. Her mother knew, but her mother wouldn’t tell her. Her mother barely talked to her these days, and Grace was happy about that.

When she first got the sickness her mother ranted and raved, screamed about how it was her punishment, how she went against God. Grace had long since given up trying to explain, her mother didn’t want to listen, didn’t want to know. Her mother had blamed her once she heard of the attack and wouldn’t listen to what anyone else said. So Grace just stayed silent. It didn’t bother her too much now. It did before, when she still believed in god, but the night of the attack she realised that there was no god. If there was how could he let such things happen to someone who always tried their best to be kind and courteous, to follow the words of the bible. She had done nothing to warrant a punishment, she didn’t deserve the sickness, she didn’t deserve to die in her own filth, but that was going to happen, whether or not she deserved it.

She had been on her way home when she was attacked. Grace still didn’t know why she had been singled out. Two men had grabbed her and dragged her into the alley before she even had a chance to scream. They beat her, she didn’t remember that bit. The bruises had lasted for weeks, the broken bones for months. At some point she felt something sharp in her hand, she didn’t remember what she did, but Grace remembered the warm flood of blood that washed over her. She remembered the screams. Someone found her not long after. Covered in blood, both men were dead. The police all agreed she had been extremely lucky to survive the beating, and lucky that they had only managed to make it that far. The men were known to the system, recently released and with records of violent and sexual crimes. Her mother didn’t believe Grace. Her mother had painted her own picture of what happened. Her daughter, dressed proactively, flirting and drinking with men, leading them on and bringing them to the alleyway. Grace had always tuned out at that point, covering her ears and yelling so she wouldn’t have to hear the vile stories her mother had created.

They were both infected, still in the early stages. She caught it through the blood that splashed into her eyes and mouth. There was no treatment. Infection meant death. The only variable was how long it would take. Some people could live for years before finally succumbing, others only months. Grace had it for seven months now, the doctors expected she would only live for one or two more.

The only satisfaction that Grace could find in the last few months was the knowledge that, should god be real, should he be just, then her mother was going straight to hell. When she was a child she had those thoughts occasionally, always fleeting and always leaving her feeling horrified that she could think such things. But now she could see her mother as she really was, a cold, cruel woman who wielded religion and god as a weapon, as a means to dominate and subjugate those around her. There could be no arguments made, no speeches given. Her mother was right, her mother was righteous and anyone that disagreed with her was going against the very word of god and god would punish them. Sometimes at night her mother would sit outside her door and whisper, whisper the things that god was punishing her for. Grace wasn’t worried, now that she could see her woman for what she really was.

Grace smiled. It was time. She knew she did not have long left in the world. Her mother would be in soon to change the bucket. She would only have one chance and if Grace failed, her mother would most likely kill her.

Her mother didn’t look at Grace. She bent over and picked up the bucket. Grace took a deep breath and on the exhale she slit her wrist, as her mother looked up Grace flung her arm outward, splattering her mother in blood. Her mother dropped the bucket, it tipped over sending the black vomit over the floor and her mothers trousers. Her mother started screaming. Grace allowed herself to relax into her pillows. The cut was deep and blood was draining quickly. There was no need to splash more of it onto her mother, she had seen it get into her eyes, her mouth. As darkness closed in Grace welcomed it with a smile. Grace didn’t know if god existed and now it didn’t matter. No matter what happened now, her mother would be punished.

Sickness. Flash Fiction.

Lauren heaved as her stomach cramped, expelling the contents of her stomach. She was sitting on the floor, head hung over the toilet, spitting out the remains of the vomit from her mouth. She coughed, then grabbed some tissue and wiped at her mouth and then cleared her eyes. She flushed the toilet and took a deep breath, hoping it was over. Her stomach clenched again.

a few minutes later, she was sitting on the edge of the bath, breathing shallowly. She had already rinsed her mouth out with water and it seemed that the vomiting had finally ended. She cradled her arms around her stomach, still feeling faint twinges of cramping. Lauren stood and glanced at herself in the sink, she was pale, dreadfully so. Ugh. It was happening more frequently. Doctors were stumped with the last one helpfully suggesting that perhaps she was accidentally giving herself food poisoning. It was hard to see how you could do that when all you ate were soft foods that were precooked. She had even tried keeping a food diary to make sure there was no specific food causing it and there was nothing so far. It was gross, but it at least it was only vomiting. She left the bathroom, hoping that that was it for the day. Usually it only happened once, occasionally twice. She went to the kitchen and picked up a glass of water, she had to keep herself hydrated. There was food sitting on the counter but she didn’t feel like eating, not now. Her stomach gave a faint twinge of warning. She made it to the sink before she started throwing up again. Thin, mucousy water filled the sink. She gripped the edge of the counter tightly, her eyes closed.

When it was finally over she dropped into a chair, breathing heavily. She looked at the glass of water, picked it up, then set it down again. Her stomach wasn’t settled yet, she didn’t want to start throwing up again. She rested her head onto her arms and closed her eyes. She just had to deal with it a little longer, they’d figure out what the hell it was sooner or later, they had to.

Burning/Sickness. Flash Fiction

 

Burning

John had always known he’d die by fire, ever since he was a child. He had a fascination with it, one that didn’t quite tip over into unhealthy, but was well inside the borders of unusual. It filled his dreams sometimes, always caressing and playful, never dangerous. It would twist and dance around his body, licking and teasing, leaving strokes of ash across his skin in intricate tattoos. He knew, intellectually, that fire was dangerous, that it was painful, that it would burn, but emotionally, he knew it wouldn’t hurt him. Sure he had been burned, every has, but it never changed his thoughts. He knew that one day, it would end in the warm caress of the flames.

John had woken to find the room engulfed with fire, but he didn’t feel fear, there was only acceptance. He knew this was coming and that there was no stopping it, a distant part of him had decided that he was already dead. The smoke was what usually killed, but he knew that wouldn’t take him. That would be too easy.

He lay there, watching as the flames moved across the ceiling, dripping down onto the carpet, he didn’t move from bed as the sheets caught fire. The flames curled around his body, cocooning him in liquid flame, he didn’t struggle, he didn’t scream. John closed his eyes, a grin burning into his face.

 Sickness

The boils were worse today, but that didn’t surprise her. Annie knew they were going to keep getting worse for a while yet. The creams she had were not working, they didn’t soothe as the labels claimed. Her face itched and ached with every movement, sharp bolts of pain occasionally flaring brightly, then receding to nothing. The sickness had hit her a week ago  and since then she’d been under house arrest. There wasn’t much point now, everyone had it and it wasn’t like it was fatal, just annoying as hell. The boils would continue to grow for another few weeks, then they’d pop and recede, leaving her face permanently scarred and swollen and, in some cases, with paralysis. She hoped she wouldn’t be that unlucky, but she wouldn’t stand out too much for it. It would be a long time before humans looked as they once did. They didn’t know where the infection came from, scientists were working on that and a vaccine, but Annie didn’t really care about that, after all, she was already infected. She had been assured that it wouldn’t affect fertility by her doctor and once there was no danger of that, she was happy. Those who were fertile would get special compensations once they had children, as incentives. Once she popped out a few, she wouldn’t really have to work, or do much of anything she didn’t want to. She didn’t really know what kids were like, she had babysat briefly, but the mother had been too nervous to stay away very long. Annie had basically been paid to sit on the couch for an hour while the kid slept upstairs. She didn’t have anything against children, she just didn’t have anything for them either. Some women had maternal instincts and she had none, Annie hoped that once she gave birth those instincts would kick in, but if they didn’t, that wasn’t too much of a worry, there were plenty of women out there who would be perfectly happy to help her out.

Once the boils went away, she’d probably have kids, being under house arrest had made her nervous, sure they were giving her food and making sure she didn’t have bills to pay, but what if work didn’t give her her job back? There was nothing stopping them doing that and god only knew how long it would be before she found another. She had savings, but not enough for an extended job hunt, she didn’t want to move across the country to her parents house, and a house share would be almost unbearable now. The last one she lived in had fifteen people crammed in.

She looked at herself in the mirror, tempted to pop some of the angrier looking boils, but she kept her fingers away, that would just make things worse. Sighing, she took a dollop of cream and smeared it across her face, gently massaging it in. If she used enough of it, perhaps the scarring wouldn’t be all that bad.

Surgical Precision. Short Story.

Hope everyone had a good weekend!
Sorry about Fridays post being up so late, there were some problems with my computer, though it’s all sorted now!

On with the show!

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“And how are you feeling this morning?”
“Fine, a little nervous, but fine.” Fran stifled a cough.

“That’s good, and don’t be nervous, everything looks good, I’m sure in a few hours you’ll be back here, wondering how you were ever nervous in the first place.”
Fran smiled at the  doctor, “I’m sure you’re right.”
It was her first surgery, her first and hopefully last. They had found a tumour, a small one, one that could be removed and she’d be ship shape, but a tumour none the less. “I have to check on some things, but I’ll see you in a bit ok?”
“Ok.”
The doctor left the room, no doubt off to make some last minute preparations. She trusted him, trusted them all, after all, they were good at what they did. Her parents were rich and, after their deaths, so was she. She had found the best and paid for it. She knew she’d probably be fine, but there was always risks and she didn’t want to be another statistic. There was nothing to do now though, just wait until it was over. She had two options really, have it removed and be hopefully fine after treatment, or leave it grow. To her it wasn’t really a choice at all.

The doctor stood against the wall, breathing deeply, trying not to let himself be over come by the guilt. His patient wasn’t going to make it through. They all knew, but no one could say it. It was horrific really, but the only other option was mass panic in the streets and no one wanted that. He took another calming breath. They might be wrong, it might have been a mistake and once they got in there, they’d see and everything would be fine for her. God damn it, why did he have to like her? Why couldn’t she be some stuck up bitch, demanding anything and everything? She was soft-spoken and kind to everyone. He  released a breath. It was just first time nerves. That was all. He hadn’t had to do this before, though he had dreaded the day. She was already dead, he just had to remember that. She wasn’t really there. It was just a lifeless shell of  biohazard material. He stood from the wall and started walking.

There was a pause before it was revealed, then an audible sigh. “Ok. It’s confirmed. There’s nothing we can do.” The nurse handed him a small syringe, he injected it into her left arm. It didn’t matter if there was an inquest held, no one would say this was found. They waited in silence until the heart monitor flat lined. “Ok, call it. Report we did everything we could. All that good stuff.”

He left the room, the others could deal with it. That small, green lump had killed that poor woman. He didn’t want to say her name, didn’t even want to think it. It had been reported sometime last year. Some kind of infection that killed. If it reached later stages, those around them would get infected. There was no cure, no treatment, just death. So far no one had noticed the upswing in cases of cancer, but it was only a matter of time before there was a public health investigation. They wouldn’t find anything. Something innocuous would be blamed. Microwaves or cell phones. All the usual subjects would be trotted out, maybe contamination of the water supply. They couldn’t go public with it, that much was certain. There would be panic, instant and unstoppable. Anyone could have this and there was no treatment. Their jobs would get that much harder. Everyone would start feeling sick, worrying about the smallest thing, cramming themselves into doctors waiting rooms. Those who did have it would be there along with those who were uninfected, it would allow it to spread easily through the population. That couldn’t be allowed to happen. So this was the only option that had been used so far.

He suspected they might reveal a new treatment for the “cancer”, that those who were sick would be shipped off to convalescent homes to under go it. Of course they wouldn’t return. Something would happen, a bug brought in with visitors, sweeping through the immunosuppressed patients, leaving a trail of death. Terrible and unexpected side effects. Perhaps even a couple of fires.

At some stage, someone would do an expose, reveal it all for the lie it is, but that day hopefully wouldn’t come until there was some kind of viable treatment or even a way that could be used to avoid it. Simple hand washing and avoidance wasn’t enough. Nor were surgical masks. They were placebos and, if the public knew of the disease, they’d find that out too. People reporting they got sick despite doing something outlandish, or that they were healthy due to drinking some crazed concoction. The news always loved a good scandal, something to stir up the masses into a frenzy. What better way to do it than that? While everyone is scared and panicked they can report what they like. Anything to get viewers. Of course there might be fines after, but that would be only once the damage was done. It had to be kept from the public. It was the only way.

Her body would be cremated. She had requested that herself, so there was no need to forge anything. There had been problems a few months before, when another hospital cremated some Christian guy. His family denied he would agree to it as it was against their religion, they believed to get to heaven the body must be whole. He didn’t know how much the hospital had to pay out for that one, no doubt it was a pretty penny. They claimed he had signed the forms himself and might have gotten away with it until some dumbass told the family that maybe he was too out of it to know what he was signing. Potential lawsuits or no, it was still the best way of disposal. The disease wouldn’t be able to survive those temperatures.

He left the hospital, still feeling that pang of guilt. No matter how he tried to reassure himself, it remained. There was no other choice, it was for the greater good.