Boston Massachusetts. Underground Subway, Blue Line. March 2026. 4.52pm.
John Rivers made his way home from work. The busy tube train rattled and wobbled as it shot along the dark tunnel beneath the bustling city. He could not find a seat and found himself squashed near the entrance with several other passengers.
He took out his phone and began to text Laura, his best friend. They had been friends since childhood and had moved to the city together after they had finished college. Although they lived together and shared many things in common they had taken very different career paths. John worked for the FBI he was a field agent specialising in obscure crimes and serial killers. Laura was a vet her love of animals knew no bounds. She had been thrilled to be in one of the last groups to travel to Australia before it became uninhabitable in 2021.
John looked up at the notice board on the train although he couldn't hear it, he saw the information 'high risk solar flares this evening'
A curfew was in place from 6.30pm to 5.30am. "That's a long one" he thought "I'll have a busy day tomorrow for sure". Certain civilians never adhered to the curfews and that meant some of them would end up dead.
The train wobbled, the passenger swayed in unison like a Mexican wave. A young woman fell in to him and he grabbed her to stop her falling over. She turned to look at him.
"Thanks" the young girl was pretty. He smiled at her.
"Your welcome, anytime" she blushed a little. John was a very good looking man.
"Have you seen the news?" He asked "make sure your not out tonight there's going to be one hell of a solar storm". She smiled again.
"Yes I saw, crazy times we live in".
The train slowed down and prepared to stop. The young girl got off, she glanced at him and smiled. As the train continued down the line John prepared to get off. The next stop was his, Chestnut Hill. The platform at Chestnut Hill was never that busy and John stretched as he walked to the stairs leading to the exit.
His mind was considering his latest case. A double homicide both bodies were dry. Literally, all the moisture from the bodies had somehow been removed. The victims didn't seem to have any connection apart from the fact they were killed in the same gruesome way. At this point he didn't even know how they had been killed.
"What's the connection" he thought.
He continued to think about the case as he made his way across the two blocks to his apartment. He checked his watch it was 5.17, it was already getting humid by the time he arrived home. He opened the door to his apartment and called out.
"Laura!". There was no reply.
He grabbed his phone out of his pocket and started to ring her.
"Hey, are you on your way home, it's getting hairy out there?". The line was crackly, the solar flares always interfered with mobile communications.
"Yes I'm just at..." The line cracked and fizzed.
"Hey just get home as quick as you can"
"I..." The line went dead.
"Damn it!". John's voice had become frustrated, he was worried, he'd seen what the solar flares could do to people.
It was another twenty minutes before Laura arrived home. She opened the door and dropped her bag
There was no reply. She walked down the hall and heard the shower running. She undid the bobble in her hair and ragged her head around loosing her thick blonde hair which fell half way down her back. She pulled off her green scrubs, underneath she wore a tight fitting t shirt. It showed off her hour glass figure. The t shirt said 'vets do it like animals'. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror, it reminded her of the trip to Baltimore with John when he had bought it for her.
John had walked out of the bathroom just wearing a tower around his waist. He had a smaller tower over his head.
"Hey you". He walked over to Laura and they hugged.
"I was starting to get worried about you"
"It's getting busy out there, the curfew is early tonight isn't it?"
John nodded and mumbled something whilst rubbing his hair dry. Laura poured two glasses of wine and then went to the window and pressed the button. The shutters slowly clunked down, standard protection from the regular flare events. an erie orange hue was now covering everything outside. She looked down to the street as the shutter slowly closed. Laura made her way to the empty bathroom and put the shower on.
There was a knock on the door. John looked up from his seat, got up and started to walk towards the door, as he walked passed the coat hanger he grabbed his gun and continued to the door. Through the spy glass he could see Mrs Kowolski from a few doors down. He hid the gun behind his back and opened the door.
"Hello young man is Laura home?" She had a strong Jewish accent and she was more than a little deaf.
"Yeah. Hi Mrs Kowolski, she's just in the shower" John winked at her.
"One of my cats is not well, please, please! can she come round to see him?"
"I'm sure she will Mrs Kowolski" Mrs Kowolski smiled.
"She's such a good girl, she's a vet you know"
"Yes I know Mrs Kowolski" John smiled, a slightly awkard smile.
"Ok Mrs Kowolski, I'll get her to call round to see you"
"Such a nice girl, you'll tell her it's most urgent"
"There's a curfew tonight you need to get in your apartment, it's not safe to be out"
"You'll mention about my cat?"
She started to walk away. John smiled at her again. There was no cat, they weren't allowed pets in this building.
"Yes I will".
When he returned to his seat Laura was sipping her wine.
"Kowolski's cat". John smirked as he told her.
"You didn't say anything mean to her this time did you" she squinted her eyes at him. "Last time it took me half an hour to convince her that her cats hadn't all escaped, have you ever tried to catch invisible cats" they both laughed.