Four citizens find themselves caught in the midst of an epidemic that shatters their reality about them. As they struggle to survive and learn more of this apocalypse and its architect, will personal connections and motives be revealed?
Through the dirt caked and cracked window, and across the bay a storm was gathering. Reinard could feel its winds even now as they whistled through the cracks in his old house. The chill didn’t bother him anymore. Stepping back from the window he turned his gaze to the interior of his old colonial mansion.
Webs hung from the bent beams, dust filled the air with every step and water leaked through the warped roof to the decaying wooden floors with every rain. It was hardly fitting for a man of his greatness, he thought, but there were more crucial matters to attend to.
He moved with a somber grace through the ruined homestead, casually dipping under collapsed rafters and leaping over rotted floors. He was a small man, his body thin and of average height, long dark hair fell about his shoulders and face from under which sharp grey eyes assessed all with an unparalleled comprehension.
He wore heavy black cloth that draped to his ankles, and in his hand he held a seemingly plain staff. Closer inspection would reveal carvings etched into the old wood, and a slight knot at its peak. The wood of the staff was warm beneath his fingers, unnaturally so.
The staff was of great convenience, but hardly more than a party trick for Reinard. He could, with a bit of focus, create a cerebral connection with the seemingly inanimate tool and trigger the electromagnetic reactor inside to dismantle the very fabric of space around him, and thereby move vast distances with a mere blink.
He knew where he was headed this fall afternoon, he was to see her again. She cared about him, and he cared for her. There was nothing Rei could hide from her, she always knew. Today he was going to share his great secret with her.
He carefully made his way down the stairs, taking his time before the travel. Two steps up from the gravel of the driveway a defiant splash of color caught his eye, a brilliant red rose hidden beneath the grey green overgrowth. She would like that.
He held tight to the picked the flower, held his breath and closed his eyes. The snap was just as it had always been, and in an instant he had the warm fresh air of a Maryville afternoon on his face. The gold and red of autumn was alive with the afternoon light, his rose in hand, he moved to their pavilion.
He could see it now, just at the end of the path. She was there, her back to him. Just the sight of her hair made Reinard feel lighter again. The academic community may have condemned him, the government attacked him, but Caroline would always love him. He moved toward her, then it caught his eye.
Its blue, white and black feathers were in a ruffle, twisted and broken like its neck. The sight of the dead bird captivated Reinard for a moment. Caroline would weep to see this. He knelt before it, and took it in his hands, its body not yet taken by the rigor. He held the small creature to his chest and with one hand the mistaken genius took the medicine from his pocket.
It was a powder, slightly grey in color and fine in texture. It could mix with water, and be soaked into the subject or injected, but more effectively, rubbed directly to the skin. When contacting dead skin the powder would dissolve, its chemical would partner with the old cells, and multiply, and multiply, and multiply until it held the whole body.
The cells would react with one another, jumping small currents back and forth between themselves. Until the muscles were contracting again.
Reinard sprinkled the powder over the bird’s broken body, more than was needed, but he was in a hurry. The spasms started quickly, the legs kicking, the neck twisting back and forth while the wings flapped uncontrollably. Then it stopped, the body of the bird calmed.
He waited the moment, then, the birds eyes opened. He lowered it to the ground, its neck still twisted. It was ugly and broken, but alive.
When he finally reached her, she smiled as she always did.
Then she told him.
She was marrying David. She was leaving. She was choosing him. She was sympathetic, kind, but that only tugged at his heartstrings and made the disgust in his mouth more putrid. He couldn’t speak, he couldn’t respond.
A silence took them for a long time before she eventually couldn’t stand it anymore. She rose sadly, and kissed him on the forehead, before leaving into the dusk.
The beauty of the evening wasn’t lost on Reinard. He saw every excruciating detail of it, and despised it all. He had one cause now, that cause was his work, and he couldn’t be damned if this world suffered for it. It was time to up the game.