part 4: the man who ran

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Feet pounded the road below. Arms pumped. Sweat streamed. Gasps for air.

He ran.

The world was blurring: buildings, houses, roads, grass, manhole covers, cars, doors… all becoming a mishmash, a mosaic of barely seen images, sights, sounds he did not have time to notice.

And yet the shouting never seemed to cease. Imagined or otherwise.

A weary arm broke rhythm momentarily to brush beads of sweat from tired eyes, eyes that were drooping ever so slightly.. tiredness, sleeplessness, fatigue, call it what you will… was taking its toll on a body that was protesting unheard.

He did not have time.

He shot around the next bend in the road and dived into a ditch, a cover… imagined protection of some kind.. any kind. It had been 3 days now, and the running and dodging seemed ever more irrational by the minute. Anyone and everyone.. people he barely knew, people he didn’t, faceless people from the shadows; they were all against him. No matter where he turned, it seemed a new enemy had cropped up.

How long could he keep it up, really?

It was a matter of time. At some point he would have to stop to recover. He would doubtless be caught within minutes, turned over to the shady Powers-That-Be, and that would be it. He had no idea what was in store for him: all he knew was he did not want it to be in store for him.

His head, which had been steadily tilting backwards, hit the wall behind him. Momentarily, it seemed as though that was all the pillowing that was needed… all the comfort he could ever want was in leaning against that wall and dropping off into a comforting netherworld of dreams. Shoulders relaxed, arms un-stiffened ever so slightly.. it seemed the toll of ceaseless pursuit was finally being paid.

Just as suddenly, his neck snapped back, body tensed… and within microseconds he was on his feet, staring wildly about himself. Something had struck a nerve, a deep-seated nerve ever on the alert for something out of the ordinary. He inched around the cover and risked the quick glance.

Nothing.

He collapsed back against the support he had propelled away from minutes earlier. His hands were shaking from the adrenaline rush, the crash of which was starting to take effect now.

Nothing.

But the shouting had never ceased. He could still hear it, sense it.. feel it drilling into his brain with its unremitting echo…

Imagined or otherwise.

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“Subject appears to suffer from disturbed sleep patterns, as per corroborated observations since initial sedation. Phase 3 to be commenced shortly.” — Journal entry, Patient #H4359874

Part 4 of a serialized story: The Man Who Was

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part 3: the man who didn’t

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Another day, another hour. Another minute, another patient.

It was his thirty-two-thousandth, four hundred and ninety-sixth patient today. Well.. it felt like somewhere in that ballpark, anyway. Give or take a few hundred.

That the apparently unceasing stream of patients would actually never end was much more than just a feeling now. It was a certainty. The number of the infected were going up, regardless of the numbers that were being released by the Powers-That-Be. It was a rare day that they found more than 20 possible survivors out of the hundreds that turned up. Today, there was maybe one so far.

He checked his watch yet again. Not that much time had passed. He still had another hour or so to go before his break.

He looked up from the chart when the next one entered the room. Female, mildly attractive, mid-30s(?), probably a size… um, well… not truly relevant to the task in hand. Did she look like she might die? Definitely, if she spat like it. Hell, she probably would die anyway. He was pretty convinced that every living thing on the planet, including him, was bound to die. Everyone on the damn planet. Everyone. Continue reading

part 2: the world that was

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The onset of the epidemic had nothing to do with the weather. It also had nothing to do with the supposed degeneration of society, disrespect to any one of a million faiths (or any of the divine reasons they had been founded), or even hypothetical recent advances in cloning or archaeological studies.

The earth was still spinning on its axis. Water flowed, winds blew, storms broke, volcanoes simmered. Gravity still existed and electromagnetism still worked. All of these phenomena continued just as they always had.

In the meantime, though, the epidemic had reared its ugly head, and was spreading. Fast.

In the corner of the globe that was incubating it, when or where the current situation had first come to pass had already started fading in memory. The numbers of the dead and the dying apparently increased on a daily basis; as such, the times when there were only rumors of human extinction in some remote area seemed impossible, almost unreal.

Rumor had it that scientists, as well as doctors, had examined a settlement whose every resident had been found dead. Whether a comet had crashed, whether a revolution was involved, or whether bloody ritualistic sacrifices had been performed was unknown. No-one quite knew who had found them that way, or even how or when they had died. The police force had started an investigation as well, with a complete lack of detail to guide them. They then held the mandatory press conference, which was mostly ignored by the media.

They all returned to their lives.

And, almost immediately, death seemed to be everywhere. Continue reading

part 1: the man who wasn’t

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Dark clouds gathered in the horizon. The kind of dark clouds that can prove ominous. The next step is a disastrous event, with grandiose destruction of all and sundry.

However, the rare exception does exist where they may be harbingers of happiness… such as for parched equatorial plants, or even residents of a small settlement nestled in the middle of plains; your every crop season reliant on a fickle monsoon.

One such settlement nestled in the middle of scorched plains is where it all began… a settlement eagerly awaiting thunder, lightning, and the accompanying rains to provide some relief from a scorching hot summer.

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Continue reading