By Sara Codair
It began in an elevator.
Alfred sneezed on the button, and June touched it.
June coughed on the doorknob before Brandon turned it.
Brandon drank from Elizabeth’s glass and backwashed into it.
Elizabeth sneezed onto her hands. She didn’t wash them before distributing fliers.
It started out like a cold with
Stuffy nose, coughing fits and itchy eyes.
It progressed like influenza with
High fever, aching joints and sore throats.
It sprouted sores that itched like chicken pox and burned like shingles.
It attacked human brains like those rare amoeba’s that lurk in warm lakes.
It ended like the plague.
Bodies dumped in mass graves.
Scientist shunned – replaced with mystics.
Entire city blocks burned with cleansing fire.
Billie was born in a ruined world. Mobs roamed the streets like rabid dogs while families hid in the decrepit shells of suburban homes, growing whatever crops they could squeeze into fenced in yards. Illness wasn’t tolerated out of fear that it would spread like wild fire and finish the humans off once and for all. When Billie got the sniffles, he was to be burned in the cleansing fire. His mother wept and wailed. The lines around his father’s face hardened. Billie had seen other children burned. He had seen how their mothers broke while their bodies bubbled, burst and blackened. It was not a fate Billie wanted.
He ran down the streets that he had played on in the day and feared at night, past his neighbors houses to a place he had never been. The buildings were tall and leaning. Their windows were broken and their insides were black like rotten skulls.
The buildings got taller and taller and the mob got closer and closer. Billie’s feet were cut and bloody, his clogged lungs burning from effort. He was exhausted, unable to run much longer.
He rounded a bend ahead of the mob and ducked into the tallest building he had ever seen. On the outside, its walls were gray stone. Inside was mix of cracked tile, crumbling sheet rock and gleaming plastic.
The mob passed by; ignorant of the fact they had just lost Billie.
He ventured further into the building, until he found a tiny room with heavy, sliding doors. They were open just wide enough for him to slip into. He curled up in corner, wondering why there were circles with numbers on the walls.
He fell asleep.
He woke up healed.
It began in an elevator.
Sara Codair writes because her brain is overcrowded with stories. If she doesn’t get them out, she fears her head will explode. When she isn’t making things up, she is either teaching, binge reading or enjoying nature. Her short stories have appeared in or are forthcoming from Speculative 66, Ink in Thirds, Scrutiny, Foliate Oak, Centum Press, After Lines Anthology, Sick Lit Magazine, Fantasy Crossing and Mash Stories. Her fist children’s book will be published by Wizard’s Keep some time in 2017. You can find her online at saracodair.com or @shatteredsmooth.