The pain was immense. It was a white hot explosion in the back of his head. He opened grainy eyes and saw the putrid, yellow sky above him and had
time to think that his clumsy feet had once again found a patch of ice to slip on before being swallowed by blackness. No, it was not blackness.
Andrew saw colors swirling, translucent and dim at first, then becoming more distinctive. The colors became shapes, then images bleeding into
He remembered waking up beside his wife. She looked exhausted, having been up several times with the baby on the previous night. Even with her
features drawn and with dark circles under her eyes, her beauty still brought a tingle to the pit of his stomach. He slipped from the bed covertly
and went to the kitchen. While waiting for the first cup of coffee to brew so he could steel it from the pot, he flicked on the little TV on the
The newscast that was on was confusing with the sound all the way down. They were showing pictures of space rocks then switching to some foreign
country where bodies were laid on the ground single file covered by white sheets. Andrew pushed the button to increase the volume. Katrina stumbled
into the kitchen and beat him to that wondrous first cup. Apparently he was not as sneaky as he thought.
“The death toll continues to rise and the number of infected cannot even be speculated at this time. Reports are coming in from all six continents
with the same terrifying statements. Health officials have asked that anyone experiencing the symptoms to quarantine themselves in their homes and
call the number on the bottom of your screen. If the line is busy, please keep trying.” He reached for the handle on the pot…
The sky was hanging above him again. It reminded him of sickness, the color of infection and phlegm. He hated that sky. Dirty snow flakes drifted
down on him cold and lazy and never ending. He tried to lift his arm and fireworks of agony went off in his head…
“They are saying that it came from outer space….from an asteroid or space cloud or something, but I think we created it and it got loose. They
are calling it Azure Syndrome because it turns the skin blue.” He had watched the same newscasts that Katrina had seen, but she felt the need to
talk about it. Andrew understood that it was her way of dealing with what was going on around them, so he let her rehash it all to him.
“Apparently, no one is immune and it travels through the air. That’s why they don’t want anyone going to work or school or the grocery store.
It’s not killing everyone, though. Remember, they showed that one girl that didn’t have the fever anymore. True, she had brain damage and had to
be restrained so she didn’t hurt anyone, but she is alive. I’m sure they will find something in her blood to help them make a cure. Sick and
dying are terrible things but this madness that comes with the fever is so much worse. I don’t think…”
The window in the front room shattered. Andrew bolted in that direction and arrived just in time to watch Edgar from across the street grab his
wife’s head by a handful of blonde hair. He slammed her face into the carpeted floor over and over. Immobilized by shock and indecision, Edgar
managed three more slams before Katrina’s shriek broke Andrew’s paralysis. He didn’t notice the shards of glass cutting deeply into his bare
feet as he pulled his friend away, but he did notice the spots of burgundy on the cream colored rug that were being connected by a spreading pool. He
also noticed that even through his pajamas and robe, Edgar’s skin was hot enough to burn his own naked forearms as he held him struggling and
“Yesterday was their anniversary” he heard himself mumble through cold lips as he broke through to consciousness once again. Remembering the
reward for movement last time, he tried only to move his fingers. They may have moved or they may not have. How long had he lain here in the snow?
Had it been long enough for his fingers to become numb? He tried his foot. There! He definitely felt his leg twitch. Small victory, he thought to
himself. I’m laying here with my head cracked in -60 degree temperatures with no shelter to go to if I could walk, but at least I can tap my foot
if a marching band comes along. Andrew barked a laugh and swam down into the murk again.
They were huddled together in a gas station. He was listening to the battery powered radio that they had brought with them. There was no music now,
just the emergency broadcast system that occasionally played a recorded message for anyone listening. It had been the same since yesterday. Andrew
had heard it so many times that he had memorized it without trying:
“It is now believed that as much as 85% of the world’s population is infected. We no longer believe we have time to find a cure. We must make it
impossible for this disease to survive in the air by dropping the temperature of the Earth. In 24 hours 50 nuclear warheads will be detonated in the
Asiatic region, now the least populated place on the globe. The ensuing nuclear winter will drop temperatures below freezing everywhere around the
planet. Any non-infected survivors please try to make your way to the equatorial areas. We will be setting up subterranean shelters there. God
The plan had been to go to Katrina’s sister’s house in the country, thinking it would be safer to be around less people. They had never made it
out of the city. The streets were blocked with abandoned cars and blue corpses. When they had set out on foot they were chased by those infected but
not yet dead and by those non-infected opportunists. Andrew had brought all of their money and credit cards so they would be able to buy food, but it
was pointless. The stores were all raided and their shelves cleared by looters.
Andrew turned the radio off and lay down by his wife and baby daughter. He drifted off to sleep thinking that they might try to get out of town by
the drainage system in the morning.
“Andrew, wake up.” Her voice was a balm to his irritated soul. “WAKE UP!!!”
All he could see was white. He was freezing. He blinked several times and the snow slid from his eyelids. There it was… that damnable sky. All
of their hopes had depended on ruining their own planet. Making it so cold that the disease couldn’t live here had worked at least. There were no
more infected after the fever did its work of killing those already exposed off. It had turned colder within a week of the bombs. Unfortunately, it
kept getting colder. It never stopped getting colder. The first snow had come and Andrew had foolishly felt relief. Now it only snowed and nothing
else. He had walked for what felt like forever. His only hope was to make it to the equator. That was for later. Right now he had to get out of
the weather before he froze to death.
Bracing for the pain, he lifted his arm again. It was harsh, but bearable. He used the momentum of swinging his arm across his body to help him roll
onto his side. That was decidedly not bearable. Pain shot from the back of his head in two electric arcs to the back of each eyeball. He stayed
awake long enough to hear himself scream.
They had been sleeping in the sewers for what Andrew guessed was four days. It had taken a long time to find a way in and in that time he had killed
a man. They had walked right into a gang of people in an alley that were cutting
edit on 10-1-2014 by Cameoii because: Correct title